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My wife and I spent five wonderful years in Ithaca, NY. It likes to think of itself as a leading example of an environmentally conscious community. That was one of the attractions for me, at least when I was 24 years old. We coined the term “Ethican” to describe those Ithacans who took this idea seriously. But it occurs to me today that many of them were early adopters of hybrid car purchases, living in the city, and so on. But if these folks were truly Ethican, wouldn’t it make sense for all of them to buy Hummers and 10-cylinder Chevy Suburbans? Or for all of them to purchase every home in the suburbs and exurbs?

Seriously, I am not joking. As an insight into what I mean, consider that when I was in the market for a small car in 2004, we had to get on a very long waiting list to get a Prius or Civic Hybrid. At the time, we knew one of us had a roughly 60 mile round-trip to commute to work upon graduation. Instead, a Ford Escape ended up making that trip until we managed to sell one of our cars and replace it with a Mazda 3.

3 Responses to “On Being “Ethican””

  1. Harry says:

    Anyone living in the snow belt east of the Great Lakes should buy something that can handle what the weather puts down on the roads. In my twenties my first priority was to drive something that would be affordable and attract girls, and I never gave any thought to deeper, politically correct concerns. My car was a yellow Mustang six-cylinder convertible that lasted roughly 180,,000 miles before I sold it It got about 27 miles per gallon on toll/”free” highways, and in the winter I put on studded snow tires. It had no air conditioning (a convertible with air conditioning?) and an AM radio.

    I have seen the Mazda, a great car.

  2. Alex A. says:

    Why the focus on the short run? In any one year a wealthy-enough group could buy up most of the Hummers and Suburbans, assuming the automakers aren’t anticipating this. But what’s the supply elasticity look like over 3 years?
    I see your point more re:housing, though I imagine it still only takes 3-10 years to create plans for a new subdivision depending on the local planning board.
    Overall though, you yourself should buy used! Get a 3-year-old Honda Fit from a Southern state; the money you save over a new Prius will buy you a small grid-tied solar installation if you wire it yourself (it’s a neat project).

  3. Rod says:

    Or, you could just spend the money saved on $5 gas. Enjoy!

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