Obama’s Footprint On America

It’s no secret that the President likes to travel in style, and safely as well. With such vehicles as the Air Force One jet, and the Presidential state car, you’d think his travel needs would be met. Think again.

Earlier this week President Barack Obama rolled out in his new, behemoth tour bus on a three-day, campaign-style trip across three states. Obama plans to get into the heartland of the United States and discuss ideas to help the economy grow. All politics aside however, how do the President’s rides effect our environment? As the head of a country one should lead by example. Is Obama fulfilling this role?

Known as the “flying oval office”, Air Force One serves as a mobile command center for the President. “Air Force One” is the name given by the Air Force to the two Boeing 747-200B’s that carry the President at any given time.

While aircraft pollution only makes up about 3% of the total amount of air pollution, experts expect this number to rise significantly in the coming years. The average aircraft traveling a distance of 1,500 miles generates the same amount of carbon dioxide that an SUV does—in a month.

Now, look at the Boeing 747, with four massive jet engines, a 52,400 gallon fuel tank. It’s one of the biggest aircrafts in the world. It can’t be the greenest option for flight. Take into consideration that other planes are usually flown ahead of Air Force One to provide any provisions the president may require during his trips. That’s a big carbon footprint that the president is leaving behind.

Next in the President’s garage is “The Beast”. Said “Beast” is, in fact, a fully modified Cadillac Limousine. Custom built by the Secret Service, it serves as the presidential state car.

The state car, dons bullet-proof windows, a body that can withstand a blast from a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), and a structure perfectly sealed against biochemical attacks. “The Beast”, however, remains a car at heart, and is by no means a hybrid.

Automobile emissions are responsible for 51% of the total carbon dioxide in our atmosphere; they are also the chief cause of smog. The presidential state car is part of this, alongside with the motorcade or escort that usually travels with it. In addition to its own emissions, the presidential state car adds to that. Anytime the President travels, be it to a foreign country or within the states, the state car is shipped ahead of time on a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III.

Oils reserves are shrinking everyday. Experts have calculated that 46% of the global oil supply goes towards fueling cars and light trucks. With Cadillac recently presenting its new Hybrid concept car, perhaps it’s time that “The Beast” be put down.

Finally, we come to the new wheels, the VIP H3-45 coach bus. With fortifications identical to that of “The Beast”, this bus looks more like a fortress on wheels. It set out on its journey across Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois this past Monday.

The “Obamamobile”, as some are calling the President’s new tour bus, is not exactly a jolly-green giant. With an average 4MPG (miles-per-gallon), the bus has a hefty thirst which was surely quenched more than once on its journey spanning hundreds of miles. Pollution from automobiles is responsible for the majority of air pollution, a fact that Obama’s fuel-inefficient bus isn’t helping to change.

The Secret Service was said to have purchased two of these massive buses, it was day viewed this past Monday on the President’s bus tour, but they will continue running long after this trip is over. The two buses will be made available to others who need secure modes of travel, for instance the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.

President Barack Obama has set in motion many things that will hopefully, in the long run, help and benefit the environment. With plans to reduce our dependence on oil, and reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, Obama is striving for a shift to green. However, the change to a greener lifestyle, like any good change, should begin with oneself. President Obama may have many plans to help the environment, but if he doesn’t begin to make a change for himself, how can his supporters be expected to as well?

Photo credit: whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/16/president-obama-why-i-wanted-get-public-service-first-place

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