They are screwing up again. Our politicians listen to scientists a little bit, and then bring in the lobbyists to see how they can screw up perfectly good policies.
We already knew that if you take corn and soy out of the food chain and put it towards fuel, there will be a smaller supply of food. Why was this surprising? Worse, Soy and Corn are of the two worst plant from which to get fuel from. Palm oil has the highest yield of current crops, but its cultivation is ruining the rain forests. We spent 20 years learning how to grow algae, we know how to get orders of magnitude more oil from the algae than from any other crop.
There are other processes being developed that use non-edible parts of plants to create fuel and energy.
When scientists said, "let's get oil from plants" They didn't mean "Lets see what the lobbyists have to say about that". They meant to endorse the idea of spending money to complete this development and start getting cheap energy again from what is ultimately the sun.
Hybrid technology came into play, and the politicians said "Hey! Let's give tax breaks for people who employ them!". Idiotic! Why should someone gets a tax break for a car that gets 20-30 MPG just because it has a hybrid drive in it, when other people buy ICE cars that get 40 MPG.
No, when the scientists said "Lets endorse high efficiency cars" they didn't mean "Lets give tax breaks for a technology whether or not it gives any efficiency improvement at all"! The tax break should have been simple, the more mileage you get, the more of a tax break you get. Technology independent. Believe it or not, I just heard a similar idea coming from the McCain camp.
"For every automaker who can sell a zero-emissions car, we will commit a 5,000 dollar tax credit for each and every customer who buys that car. For other vehicles, whatever type they may be, the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit."Of course it would have been nice if it was actually the consumer who got the tax break and not the car company, but at least there was a little clue in there.
So, what's the latest? Again they are focusing on the specific technology, not the goal. Its idiotic. Instead of actually getting people to recognize their immediate costs regardless of technology, they figure that if gallons per mile was what was specified, people would be more aware of the differences between one car and another (because the numbers would appear farther apart).
STOP FOCUSING ON GAS!
I have a better plan: how about simply mentioning dollars/mile. Now the car can be electric, air, gas or diesel driven and all the cars will have the same standard. I realize that electricity, gas, and diesel cost differently around the country. Also the value of a dollar changes with time. So what? Choose a standard and apply it to all of them. Choose the dollar value of the year 2000, or use the most recent year, for all I care. Choose average electric costs, choose average gas or diesel prices. It doesn't matter, just choose one and compare them all the same way. Its really not that hard.
I'll even help them out to start.
Ignoring maintenance costs, using average nationwide electricity costs, average gas price, and reported mileage per tank/charge:
Average price of electricity: $0.11 / kWh
Average Price of Gasoline: $4.10 / gallon
|Ford escape Hybrid||27||0.15|
|Chevy Malibu ||23||0.18|
Look at that! If you choose to drive an electric car you could reduce to driving costs by an order of magnitude!
The calculation is easy, you can do it for your car. Simple divide your average local price of gas by your miles per gallon (from the government fuel economy site).
For electric vehicles its a bit harder. You need to find the total Watt hours your battery can hold (total stack voltage times the amp-hours of one of the batteries). Multiply this number by the cost of electricity in your area. Then divide this number by the estimated range for your battery pack. This will give you $/mile.
There is one more thing the Government could help people out with. Make it mandatory to install MPG gauges in all cars. These gauges should not be able to be be turned off. Everyone could improve the mileage they are getting in their cars if they have something that could help them learn to drive it efficiently. If its out of sight, its out of mind. They would see temperature effects, effects of driving 70 MPH, effects of acceleration and so forth.
Here are some other tidbits:
- 85% of you drive less than 25 miles to work. All of the modes of transportation mentioned above will work for you
- if you work at an industrial site, you can often charge up for half the price! (you coudl probably convince you boss to let you charge up for free)
- Mass transportation is better than everything (except biking).
- If you commit to a high efficiency car for you daily needs, rent a car for your infrequent long trips!
- Buying a used car is better than buying a new one.
- Don't buy a new car unless you have driven you current car into the ground
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