Thursday, July 19, 2012

Record Temperatures and No Radical Solutions in Sight

At least we aren't seeing images in the news any longer such as Senator Imhofe's kids building a snow igloo and asking Al Gore, "What Global Warming??"

But we are seeing an increase in sites such as "Carbon War Room", filled with earnest pronouncements ("There is no Planet B") and endorsements by high profile individuals (such as Richard Branson).

So what's a good litmus test to divide the committed from the conversationalists??

My idea, really.

Make 34 miles-per-hour (55KMph) the maximum speed attainable, physically, by any motor-driven land vehicle on the highway (excluding emergency police, fire, medical).

If you endorse this idea, you are for immediate action to stop Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). If you say, "It can't be done" or "I don't want to drive so slow" or "No one will accept it" then, really, you are not committed to saving the planet...our only planet.

So be realistic.  This idea of "maximum attainable speed" is the only large scale idea that can be implemented in three or four years, that can significantly affect AGW.  Maybe if China would reverse and destroy many coal-fired power stations, it might equal this idea.  And maybe they would, if a sacrificing idea such as "max attainable speed" was actually drawn up and implemented.

Reader, you should go back through my previous posts in this blog.  There are a lot of details and side-issues in the old posts that I will pass in this second post for 2012.  But let me say, all issues and "..But" comments have been thought out.

Here are the salient points:

Existing vehicles can be retrofitted so they can be restricted to 34 mph top speed.  The mechanism would be an escapement (that's the mechanism that makes old clocks go "tick tock") mounted on a vehicle's axle.  At even 1 million new electric cars a year, we're never going to replace 220 MILLION vehicles on the road today, in time to save the planet.    Cannot be done!

Vehicles could be fitted with escapements that would all be initiated on the same day, so you would not have a mix of high-speed and low-speed drivers.  Everyone goes from current conditions, to low speed, on the same day.  And, I would make it mechanical, so no one could have a 'cheater switch' and go back and forth from low-speed to high-speed as it suited them.

Cars that don't need to be safe at 60, 70, 90 mph, can be lighter and smaller, and use far less steel and energy to construct.  Highways would use less concrete, and so forth.  The savings in fuel are immediate, but the savings elsewhere are enormous.

A new industry of retrofitting existing autos will small, two-cylinder engines would create considerable employment benefits.  No more smog tests, no more Highway Patrol, less money for insurance.

Mass transit, such as rail, would receive an enormous boost, and that would be energy saving as well.

Most people are violently opposed to this "low speed" vision of the USA.  They think of themselves, and how BAD it would be, driving to a ski resort or grandma's house.  A hundred years ago, there were no ski resorts...!!  There is huge myopia in the current world, comparing what has been, what is, and what will be if the humans on planet Earth don't come together in a sharing way, letting go of privilege in a time of required sacrifice.  Too many people think "Doing Something For the Planet" is turning off lights, or recycling aluminum, or driving a Prius at 70 mph.  That kind of commitment is useless, considering the scale of the problem.  It will take worldwide sacrifice by all that can afford it.

The heatwaves in the spring and summer of 2012 are the delayed responses to our increased CO2 production in the 1980s...long before China began taking coal production from 700 million tons in 2000, to over THREE BILLION TONS in 2008!!  We have a huge problem to come, and simply reducing the maximum attainable speed of motor vehicles, by making them unable to exceed 34 mph, will seem head-slappingly obvious in hindsight, by 2040.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

2012 - And the Fast Car is Still King

Now in 2012, for the first time in a long time, I have a very long commute each workday, and it's done by automobile. I try to keep my speed down, in order to save real money (about $10 per day if I can go 55 mph instead of 65+ mph). Let's face all longtime drivers on the road, I trade time for money. And lowering your speed to a 'crawl' of 55 invites an atmosphere of extreme tension the entire (one hour) drive. At a slow speed, you incur the obvious wrath of drivers who feel you are in your way.
Then there are the NASCAR wannabes. Even if you are traveling well above the 65-mph limit, they get on your tail, pass in the tightest of circumstances, and weave down the road. It's entertainment!! Not transportation. And Detroit is still doing its darnedest to sell cars that easily accelerate from 65 to 85...that makes them fun!!