Global environmental challenges
U.S. gas prices hit RV enthusiasts, campers
Cranky kids, mosquito bites, burnt marshmallows and soggy sleeping bags – camping in the summer is an American family ritual right up there with baseball and apple pie.
But like other aspects of American life involving big vehicles it has also been hitting the brakes in the face of sky-high gas prices.
Statistics released on Thursday by the Texas Association of Campground Owners showed that the state’s “RVers” — owners of recreational vehicles such as big camper vans – are camping less often and not travelling as far afield.
The association said in a statement that an on-line survey found that ”47 percent of Texas RVers are camping less often and closer to home as a result of rising fuel costs.”
U.S. oil demand during the first half of 2008 fell by an average of 800,000 barrels per day compared with the same period a year ago, the biggest volume drop in 26 years, the Energy Information Administration said earlier this week.
One wonders if there is not a double-edged sword here.
On the one hand Americans driving less is obviously a plus for the environment as it means less green house gas emissions linked to climate change.
Many people will applaud a change in U.S. driving habits including fewer big RVs on the road going shorter distances.
On the other hand data elsewhere has shown declining numbers of visitors to U.S. national parks . There was a small rise in national park visits in 2007 but the overall trend this decade has been down.
If less people are out there camping and visiting national and state parks, will it mean less interest in the outdoors and wild spaces? And will that ultimately be good for conservation?
For some of our coverage on the broader issue of declining oil consumption in America you can click here .
Photo: REUTERS/Dept of Justice U.S. Marshalls handout, May 11,2008