olling blackouts arrived in
California last week, just as OPEC solidified plans to roll back
production to keep oil prices where nobody else wants them -- up.
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run in a future issue!
Anybody who recalls the energy crisis of the 1970s will recall that
it was not a happy time for the travel industry. Fuel-intensive
activities, such as aviation, were hit hard. Many perfectly good
airplanes were mothballed, and a few worthy airlines were
irreparably damaged. Capturing an image of the nation's new tilt
toward conservation, this newspaper ran a Page 1 photo showing what
was then the Pan Am building on Park Avenue in New York -- with the
lights on the Pan Am logo at the pinnacle ominously turned off.
"Recreational travel" was tagged initially by federal regulators
as an easy target for energy conservation along with home swimming
pool heaters and other "nonessentials." Much of the tourism
industry's lobbying power in Washington today, and its ability to
marshall the facts about its contribution to employment and the
balance of trade, can be traced to those dark days.
We've been lucky since, and we remain fortunate today. So far,
the outlook for continued discretionary spending on travel has not
been compromised. And so far, the experts are not predicting a
return to our former preoccupation with thermostats, insulation,
gas mileage, sweaters, wood-burning stoves, energy tax credits and
other icons of malaise. So far.
Still, it would be prudent to give your homes and businesses a
brief energy audit to spot any gross excesses. Review your
lighting, insulation, HVAC systems, vehicles. If your agency is
delivering tickets using a three-ton sports utility vehicle, you
might want to ask yourself if there's anything wrong with that
picture. Factor in energy use when evaluating old equipment for
replacement. Caulk the windows.
It may not be time to get fanatical about it, but any time is a
good time for heightened awareness.