Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Ridiculous Phrase "Addicted to Oil"

Perhaps when our current president George "Dubya" Bush leaves office, his utterance of "addicted to oil" will finally vanish into history.

However, some electric car enthusiasts wish to prop up the phrase for their own promotion. I sincerely hope they abandon it.

Today, January 1st, 2009, an article on fuel consumption was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Though prices in California have dropped from the $4.50 per gallon to the $1.69 per gallon range in only six months, consumption volumes show no sign of increasing. In fact, most predict consumption will continue to drop. Does this sound like an "addiction"??


What every adult is addicted to is speed! Faster times getting to work, getting anything done, communicating....Top automotive speeds in the 1940s were less than 50 mph, and few cars could get above 80 mph. Now, you cannot sell a car without brisk acceleration, a nice top speed (130 is often touted).

Nearly a year has passed since I began this blog, and no one has disputed my claim that if we simply made cars, trucks, and buses incapable, mechanically, of exceeding 35 miles per hours, that we would soon not be importing foreign oil, the price of fuel would drop, the price of cars would drop, the amount of carbon entering the atmosphere from petroleum consumption would drop below 1980s levels worldwide, vehicular deaths would drop to an incredibly low number, the list is long for the fallout from the effect.

And, the best part about a change to a mechanically-fixed maximum speed: present vehicles can be retrofitted. Instead of waiting for a turnover in the current 220 million cars and trucks on the road in the United States, they can be set up with inexpensive escapement mechanisms, similar to those that regulate the speed of a mechanical clock or watch. You don't have to wait five, ten , twenty years for a big impact. It can be as little as twelve months after the decision is made!

Talk about "saving the planet" with electric cars and hybrids makes no sense when you consider the numbers: There are 220 million cars and trucks on the road! 220 million! People are talking about "ramping up" electric vehicle production to a million cars a year..."ramping up"!! The same with hybrids. Buying and driving a electric-gas hybrid in order to "commit" to change is absurd in face of the 220 million vehicles on the roads, NOW, in the United States. If a million hybrids hit the road and replace (most hybrid purchases do not replace existing cars, just shove them to the back of the driveway) traditional gasoline-exclusive vehicles, it will take a century to have an effect!!

My idea of speed-reduced vehicles won't save Detroit, because Detroit as it's currently set up, cannot save itself. Cars that operate at reduced speed are not in as many accidents. If vehicles begin to appear that get 100-200 miles to the gallon, the existing fleet simply will not turn over fast enough to support the Big Three (and many other vehicle manufacturers) because of the longer life for the average vehicle. The size and scale of the current automobile manufacturing structure will not allow a reconfiguration to a smaller volume of output without continuing financial losses...forever.

However, we would save Planet Earth, we would become more sane as a society, more human in our schedule and relations to others. It would take less courage than entering World War II, and cost the country nothing but its attachment and nostalgia for "the old days".