Comments on: Embracing CAFE Society Thu, 21 Jul 2016 07:57:19 +0000 hourly 1 By: Mekhong Kurt Mon, 08 Jun 2009 14:23:52 +0000 Don, good observations.

There *is* good news. Electric cars are finally beginning, if only beginning, to come into their own. Yes, there’s the hidden cost of recharging via a coal-fired power plant, but work’s being done on that front, too. If power sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal can be worked out on industrial scales, we can move past that.

And though natural gas isn’t perfect, it is better than coal, and some heavyweights — such as T. Boone Pickens — are throwing their support towards vehicles powered by natural gas. A step — well, half a step — in the right direction.

Nuclear makes me a little queasy, even as I readily admit that over the decades we’ve had nuclear power plants, they’ve established an enviable safety record, overall. But I remember meeting a Russian lady at a party whose home was very near Chernobyl, and she and her family just happened to be traveling abroad when it went into meltdown, something my colleague who had invited her later confirmed. She and her family weren’t allowed to go home, for obvious reasons. (Not that they really wanted to, mind you.) Plus, eventually someone has to deal with the waste, unless we find a way to use it, too (and scientists are working frantically on that even as I type).

Air-powered vehicles aren’t making any splash, though apparently they hold tremendous promise. The techno wizards have already worked out the problems with the compression tanks, by replacing the metal ones with carbon fiber ones (or some such), redesigning them so if they get broken in an accident, they split, not explode, etc.

Even on the ordinary fossil fuel front, cars such as the Smart for 2 and Tata are quite fuel efficient.

I personally feel we ought to be paying more attention to mass transportation, expensive though it is. In the case of the U.S., I understand, as an American myself, we’re very much wed to our cars etc. Heck, way back when, one of my favorite pastimes was to hop in the carry on a beautiful weekend afternoon and spend hours driving around exploring “blue highways” and dirt lanes with a carload of buddies. Of course, back in that Stone Age, I could get gas at 14 cents/gallon, considerably cheaper than now, even adjusting for inflation. Besides, I usually borrowed Dad’s VW Beetle!

I’m from Texas, and Texans, like people from a number of other states, strongly believe in two things that are virtually identical: “They’ll take MY gun away when they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers!” — and “They’ll take away MY keys when they pry them from my cold, dead hand!” (Apologies to my fellow Texans who *don’t* feel that way — I know you’re there, but our reputation is spread wide and far. Smile.)

I sure as heck don’t believe building more and more and more highways is the answer; we’ve let the ones we have fall into an unforgivable state. We ought to fix those up first — while we’re building mass transit, both urban and long-distance.

Yes, people are driving more now that oil prices have dropped significantly — but several articles I’ve read say a variety of polls indicate that we’re finally “getting it.” Best of all, apparently people are striding rapidly towards efficiency, particularly at home. Turning off light. Lowering the thermostat on their hot water heaters and lowering the temp at which they wash clothes. Adjusting the aircon up and the heating down. Buying efficient stuff. Unplugging “energy vampires.” And so on.

So, there’s a lot out there that’s encouraging — but we can’t take our eye off the ball.

Last point: what to do about the fossil fuel industry’s employees if we do move away from use of such fuel in a truly big way? I don’t want to see those companies thrown into bankruptcy and their workers into the breadline. Maybe we could help those companies, as a nation, transition to greener activities. That would likely mean more tax money, unless the price of re-tooling and production drops significantly. If I were young enough, I’d likely go back to school and make a huge career change from being a (retired) university English teacher to something like making or installing solar panels/films, windmills, or the like. Maybe the oil workers could be helped do exactly that.

You know, I’ve long been a supporter of going green, though I wasn’t all that vocal about it until I read the interview an Austin paper had with T. Boone Pickens in which he said he was moving into windmills in a big way. I was well aware of the man long before that, and my jaw hit the floor. He was an *oilman,* for pete’s sake — and he’s saying “oil’s dead”??? THAT sure blew my socks off.

Well, okay, I’m probably up to a dime’s worth by now, so I’ll shut up! ;-)

By: Don Tue, 26 May 2009 16:48:23 +0000 CAFE standards make a lot of sense because the focus is on efficiency. Consumer behavior is not easy to predict. Taxation is not enough of an incentive to encourage responsible spending. Manufacturers for their part almost never change unless they have no choice. We only hear about manufacturers taking radical steps to change when their operations are struggling or close to bankruptcy. So having a moving bar up on the upside is good for industry, profits, investors and consumers.

By: Mekhong Kurt Sat, 23 May 2009 16:19:32 +0000 Okay, let me start with a full disclosure: (1.) Though I’m American, I live in SE Asia; (2.) I don’t drive here, and don’t own a vehicle at all, not even an assisted bicycle.

Still, in the U.S. fuel prices are two low, especially gasoline. Look at what our friends across the pond and elsewhere pay. In the city in which I live, excluding the rich (since the wealth divide is enormous here), the average monthly income is about $200, at current exchange rates. Gasoline is currently running around $3.80 per gallon. Yet the streets are choked with cars (and other vehicles). Yes, there’s a fair sized middle class in this particular city, and that accounts for a substantial portion of the traffic, but you’d be surprised how those towards the bottom of the pyramid have been able over the years to buy cars. Many more buy motorcycles.

I recognize the political difficulty — impossibility? — of raising the taxes at the pump, at least raise them by much. Perhaps spreading the tax around (as including oil and coal companies) might make this more palatable all around. Of course, that would require two taxes. Also, the effects would be limited. But *any* effect would be for the good, I assume. And for sure we could have increased revenues to research everything from clean coal to clean nuclear to green alternatives.

My two cents’ worth —

By: Sideburn Sat, 23 May 2009 08:16:53 +0000 What are we talking about? Gas prices? Come to central Asia where the real income is about $100 but people are managing to pay for their gas that costs $4 a gallon. Besides, cars that cost $3000 there costs about $11000 here but people are managing to buy those cars ever more expensive ones. Maybe it depends on the nation? Either you don’t know how spend or either you don’t know how to earn there is something wrong in your system.

By: Dan Dan Dan Fri, 22 May 2009 23:08:13 +0000 How sad, I thought cafes were going to be implemented in every street corner for the enjoyment of the inhabitants, thus saving fuel.
One of the major issues nobody seems to want to deal with is how real estate, infrastructure and division of commercial, residential and industrial areas is made at the moment. I’m referring to the United States, of course. You’ll see miles and miles of houses, no small commerce in sight and then you’ll have enourmous commercial areas with your Walmart and so on.

Corner cafes and better corner stores to get a cheap gallon of milk would help curb global warming. Might even give local police something else to do besides writing tickets.