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Tim Castleman and

In the wake of 9/11, after concluding that reliance on foreign oil was a root cause of the disaster, Californian Tim Castleman founded the Drive 55 Conservation Project.

"To a large degree, Castleman says, "our cars are us, and restricting how we drive is tantamount to threatening our independence. Coming from a culture that values liberty, we balk at such restrictions. In the bigger picture, however, this is just a reactionary response. The critical thinkers among us know that freedom requires responsibility, knowledge, and considerate action. We have good reason to reduce the speed at which we drive, for personal gain as well as the good of the nation. This is why the Drive 55 Conservation Project is asking Americans to make the choice to slow down to observe all speed limits and never exceeding 55 MPH.

"The reason is painfully obvious: This is a time for conservation and moderation. Our nonrenewable fossil fuels, like gasoline, are diminishing at an alarming rate. Climate change caused by human activity poses a significant challenge for future generations…And our roadways have become dangerous places, with almost 39,800 motor vehicle- related deaths in 2008.

"Slowing down our vehicles has significant political, financial, and environmental rewards. All we have to do is obey posted speed limits and keep the speedometer from exceeding 55 MPH. As the Drive 55 Conservation Project puts it, the result is modern day alchemy. By reducing your vehicle's speed, you change the lead in your right foot into gold in your pocket." U.S. News and World Report, July 27, 2009

"It's scary"

It's driving too fast that worries Martha M. She recycles paper-metal-glass, donates old clothing to a local homeless shelter, keeps the family thermostat at 60 degrees through New England winters. Her compost heap is rich with every scrap of peelings, coffee grounds and table scrapings; anything not composted goes to the next meal – no waste. It's not that she drives fast on her commute to work, at least not faster than anyone else on the interstate, but her speed control is set for 69 MPH all the way. "It's too scary when everyone else on the big road whizzes by me," she says. "I'm fine at 55 or less on smaller roads, but it feels as though I'll be run down on the big ones."

Our ideas: Some action is better than no action - drive 55 or less as often as you can. If you're on a big road at a low-traffic time, try slowing down then.

What happened: Martha's trying, especially on the way home since her workday ends before rush hour. In a month, she figures she's saved half a tank of gas. She even said, "It feels good to think I'm doing something good for the planet fairly easily. Being aware of how fast I'm going is kind of grounding."       P.O. Box 276, Dublin, NH 03444       Inspired by Tim Castleman