With the incredible events unfolding in the Middle East, it's easy to miss the fact that we're facing a revolution of our own here in the United States. And the two couldn't be more connected.
Look no further than today's headlines. Crude is back to over $100 a barrel and gas prices have gone up 24 cents in eight days. Unrest on the streets of Libya, Egypt and Tunisia has fallen squarely at the feet of Wall Street, and pretty soon will wind its way through the halls of Congress. But it's already made its way to the gas stations on Main Street.
People in the Middle East are fed up with bad leadership and they are demanding reform. But with this change in the balance of power, people in the United States are once again reminded of our nation's reliance on foreign oil. A bad day in Libya is a bad day at the local Shell station.
Luckily, there's good news, too. We're in the middle of an electric vehicle revolution. As we grapple with the high costs of traditional automobile transportation, is it any coincidence that news stories about EVs have exploded in the past few days? Consumer and auto industry reporters jumped on the news that several major rental car companies are adding plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles to their fleets. I don't know about you, but I'm already racking my brain for excuses to stroll over to an Enterprise counter and take a Chevy Volt for a spin.
Meanwhile, the Volkswagen minibus -- an enduring symbol of an entirely different period of revolution in our nation's history - is being redesigned, this time with an electric engine. Maybe this will simply perpetuate the myth that you need to be a flower child in order to embrace clean energy, and even electric vehicles. But let's be more optimistic. Electric vehicles aren't about peace, love and rock 'n' roll. They're about adding sensible options to America's automobile fleet -- and, hey, when it comes to EVs, why not have something for everyone?
And, for good measure, let us not forget the Volt and the Nissan Leaf as they continue a closely watched rollout across the country, adjusting communities across the countries to the presence of charging stations and cleaner air. These two pioneering models will lay important groundwork for the rest of the industry, so it's important that they get it right.
People are talking about these developments, and they should be. Electric vehicle technology offers a scalable solution to our country's transportation and energy problems, which will only grow as unrest in the Middle East continues. President Obama has made it clear that he'd like to see 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on American roads by the year 2015. Ambitious? Most definitely. Some might even say revolutionary. But we need that kind of ambition -- and this type of revolution -- to change our driving habits for the long term. Putting more EVs on the road will create countless jobs while reaffirming America's commitment to leading the world in big ideas that change lives and improve our world for future generations.
That's why we need to make it happen.
In the meantime, Gaddafi struggles to remain in power -- and gasoline prices go up and up. Good luck at the pump. We're going to need it!
Follow Brian F. Keane on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SmartPower_org