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Proud, patriotic & green

As war with Iraq edges closer, conserving oil and resources has become the new mantra of flag-waving Americans, who argue that true security will come only when the US stanches the flow of foreign oil.

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The nation's green movement is taking on shades of red, white, and blue.

In ads, articles, and websites, environmentalists have pulled a page from President Bush's patriotic playbook, selling their cause of energy conservation against a backdrop of national security.

One online video, created for Greenpeace by cartoonist Mark Fiore, plays the Marines' Hymn while flashing scratchy images of US government posters from World War II. "When you drive alone, you drive with Hitler," admonishes one. The video then cuts to a modern cartoon character slapping a flag on his SUV before driving away from home, water running, lights blazing.

Another website, launched by an 80-year-old Colorado woman, asks readers to "make history" by pushing for energy-efficiency legislation. A headline on her Smart Energy site, comparing the effort to the race to develop the atom bomb during World War II, calls it "a Manhattan Project for our times."

And the "Patriot's Energy Pledge" promises signers of this online petition that they can serve their nation by keeping their car tires filled, riding the subway, or buying a Toyota Prius.

Energy security "is an issue that has percolated very quickly to the top over the course of the past 15 months," says Jon Coifman, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group in Washington. "People are saying, 'We want to meet our needs for mobility and transportation and hauling the soccer team around, but we don't need to make ourselves dangerously dependent on foreign oil to do that.' "

In some ways, this message is old hat. During World War II, citizens eagerly answered the government's pleas to use less gasoline and other household items. In 1973, Americans sat endlessly in lines at the pump during the Arab oil embargo. And a few years later, President Carter spoke somberly to the American people, calling the battle for energy independence "the moral equivalent of war."

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