First, the good: It appears Americans have finally gotten over their love affair with large SUVs and trucks. With gas at over $3.50 a gallon and no relief in sight, Americans appear to be choosing smaller (in some cases, really small) cars over Detroit's former cash cows.
I guess this is bad news for most American automakers (except for Ford), since they have been slow (big surprise) to tool up to produce smaller, more efficient vehicles, the profits from SUVs and trucks being pretty good while they lasted.
Some good and really interesting news from the Sightline Institute: Pacific Northwest gasoline consumption is off by about 10 percent, down to--get this--1966 levels. I expect gas consumption will continue to drop off, especially after 2009, when some kind of cap-and-trade system/carbon tax may be adopted either nationally or regionally.
On an entirely different subject: last week brought the bad news that Portland sportswear company Nau is ceasing operations, having run into the credit crunch at precisely the same time it was trying to open new stores and expand into new geographic locations.
I will miss Nau terribly for so many reasons. First, no one else sold the activewear-meets-fashion clothing that they did. It was essentially a new category, tailormade for bike commuters like me who need to jump off our bike and run directly to our next meeting.
They were also among the most sustainable companies ever founded, with an authenticity of purpose and a transparency about the environmental impacts of their products that no one else has yet matched. In the future, I think we'll look back on Nau as a company that was way ahead of their time--the grandparent, as it were, of the sustainable companies to come.