I was sitting in traffic recently, when I noticed that the license plate in front of me featured a majestic bald eagle, its wings spread in flight above a caption that instructed me to “Conserve Wildlife.” Clearly this is a worthwhile sentiment, although I was surprised to see it on a license plate from New Jersey (a state better known for grand-scale corporate polluting than for saving the wetland habitats of nesting ospreys). But the real surprise of the conservation license plate was that it was attached to the back of an enormous white stretch limousine – a vehicle one does not immediately associate with conservation, wildlife, or any other earth-friendly concern.
The fact is, limos are really only known for two things: one is for transporting totally hammered young adults to and from bars, clubs, and bachelorette parties – the other is for crapping on the planet by using an obscene and unnecessary amount of gasoline. Either way, it’s hard to see the limousine as a friend to bog turtles, when it is more commonly associated with inebriated meatheads who insist on popping up through the moon roof, fist-pumping and woo-hooing their way through residential neighborhoods.
I have to admit to a certain prejudice against limos. For one thing, whenever you see a young man in a powder blue tuxedo, he is almost always coming out of a limousine – as far as I’m concerned, this alone should be grounds for outlawing them. Limos used to be the vehicle of choice for prime ministers, brides, and captains of industry – they evoked an image of class and gracious living. Now they are likely to come with a “vomit deposit,” in case the backseat mini bar leads to an unpleasant, yet not entirely unpredictable conclusion.
Of course, limos are not the only fuel-inefficient cars sporting conservation license plates – the state of New Jersey will issue one to anybody willing to fork over $50.00 (most of which does actually go towards protecting endangered wildlife).
Promoted with the tag line of “Drive Conservation Home” these plates are intended to “let everyone know you believe in conservation, and let them know you’re doing something about it.” A noble sentiment, but the message is somewhat diluted when it’s attached to a car that’s bigger than my first apartment”¦a car with disco lights and a plasma T.V. …a car that is charged a “gas guzzler” tax to compensate for the pollution it creates.
Perhaps 33-foot party-bus limos should be charged $100 for conservation plates – or even $1,000. The extra money would go a long way towards helping the smog-choked peregrine falcons of Jersey City.
You have to wonder if encouraging citizens to take public transportation might not be a better way to protect animal habitats. But then we’d have to live without the unintended hilarity of having wildlife conservation promoted on the back of Hummers, SUVs and stretch limousines. Those license plates should really read: New Jersey: The delicious irony state.
Image: Gene Hunt