By Robert Smith
For the Holidays, I went to visit my grandparents in Ireland. One of the first things I noticed was the gas prices, which were €1.50. Sounds great… Right? Well, actually, petrol prices over there are done by the liter. In other words, that amazing €1.50 per liter is equal to €6 per gallon. But wait― that’s not all! When converting euros to dollars the current exchange rate is 1 dollar = 0.76 euro. So six euro is roughly eight dollars. The craziest part? The Irish do not complain. Now, obviously, they are not happy with these prices; however, the mentality of Europeans is quite different than that of Americans.
I asked a few friends I met in Ireland about how they view Americans. They all concluded that the majority of Americans are, “Imperialistic, fat, stupid, and … full of it.” Many Europeans, instead of complaining and feeling sorry for themselves, face problems with a good attitude. They get the job done.
As a result, Europeans are mending their energy dilemma by building fuel efficient cars, convenient public transportation systems, wind farms, and solar panels. They construct buildings with skylights and have designed showers that use less water. They are simply trying to save energy and water wherever they can.
Europeans also continue to lead the way in safety. A vast majority of buildings in Europe are made of concrete, cinderblock, stone, brick, or marble. If one’s house was to ever catch fire, the only things that would burn are paint, carpets, furniture, doors, and roofs. In the U.S., however, houses are being built more and more from wood and cheap building materials, resulting in homes that are capable of burning down in minutes.
When I went to Toulouse, France and Brussels, Belgium, I noticed a safety precaution in their public transportation . Unlike the D.C. Metro, the metro systems there have either a railing or wall. So when the train comes into the station, the doors on both the train and walls open allowing passengers to board without any risk of injury.
Why can’t we Americans follow in their footsteps. Are we really too proud to be able to change our American lifestyle? Could we not walk instead of drive? Can we not turn off lights when we leave a room? Do we really need to keep the water running when brushing our teeth.
If Americans honestly took a moment to change a few little things in their daily lives, we would create a positive habit that would trickle down to the media and then to politics, and then to businesses. We do see some of this today― but it takes every citizen making the change to save our planet and country. And that’s what it takes to become an independent, green nation.
(Please note, the views expressed in this article are solely those of the author.)