James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Going Geo-Green

I normally don't pay attention to Thomas "I have no problem with a war for oil" Friedman, but this article makes sense. I do not see how or why energy consumption needs to be such a pollution problem in our country or world, or why transitions need to be all that expensive or burdensome. It seems only that the incentives for improvement are lacking. If we moved away from taxing capital, wages, and profits, and more toward taxing pollutants and land extractions, the incentives for energy efficiency would be there even without government mandates.

Friedman writes:

Toyota has pioneered the very hybrid engine technology that can help rescue not only our economy from its oil addiction (how about 500 miles per gallon of gasoline?), but also our foreign policy from dependence on Middle Eastern oil autocrats.
As Gal Luft, co-chairman of the Set America Free coalition, a bipartisan alliance of national security, labor, environmental and religious groups that believe reducing oil consumption is a national priority, points out: the majority of U.S. oil imports go to fueling the transport sector - primarily cars and trucks. Therefore, the key to reducing our dependence on foreign oil is powering our cars and trucks with less petroleum.

There are two ways we can do that. One is electricity. We don't import electricity. We generate all of our needs with coal, hydropower, nuclear power and natural gas. Toyota's hybrid cars, like the Prius, run on both gasoline and electricity that is generated by braking and then stored in a small battery. But, says Luft, if you had a hybrid that you could plug in at night, the battery could store up 20 miles of driving per day. So your first 20 miles would be covered by the battery. The gasoline would only kick in after that. Since 50 percent of Americans do not drive more than 20 miles a day, the battery power would cover all their driving. Even if they drove more than that, combining the battery power and the gasoline could give them 100 miles per gallon of gasoline used, Luft notes.
Then add to that flexible-fuel cars, which have a special chip and fuel line that enable them to burn alcohol (ethanol or methanol), gasoline or any mixture of the two. Some four million U.S. cars already come equipped this way, including from G.M. It costs only about $100 a car to make it flex-fuel ready. Brazil hopes to have all its new cars flex-fuel ready by 2008. As Luft notes, if you combined a plug-in hybrid system with a flex-fuel system that burns 80 percent alcohol and 20 percent gasoline, you could end up stretching each gallon of gasoline up to 500 miles.

In short, we don't need to reinvent the wheel or wait for sci-fi hydrogen fuel cells. The technologies we need for a stronger, more energy independent America are already here. The only thing we have a shortage of now are leaders with the imagination and will to move the country onto a geo-green path.

1 comment:

  1. Taking Freeman at his word without double checking his facts is to proceed at your own peril risk. His style is similar to the current police philosophy - throw a lotta shit out and hope something sticks. I remember (with faulty human-type memory) when everybody went gaga over the lexus and the olive tree. it would be interesting to go back and read it again and see how much of the self-proclaimed dilusion actually was even close on the effects of globalization. EE - elite equality - the suppliers of labor and goods get shafted by the demanders, who set price, profit and word-load. The carbon game is stacked with this type of win/loss disguised as win/win type thinking.(It is win/win - win for the money, win for the legal beagles - bad bad bad for the public and freedoms - another bureaucratic boondoggle!)