As Simon points out, the increased cost of fuel cuts into the pocketbook so much, people make active decisions to give up activities that were supporting their local economy. The answer is not in oil, no matter how you look at it.
The answer is in the alternatives, but the alternatives are not yet at the point where they're truly marketable when taking into consideration mass production, cost factors, current legislation, market resistance, and other factors such as media and marketing by controlling interests that sway public opinion. Utilizing alternatives is going to require a massive revamping of life as we know it, and there's not going to be anybody out there who's going to be ready for overnight changes. The innovators who step forward and make the market work for them, however, are going to make a fortune. Over the next fifty years, as emerging technologies vie for lead positions in the market, we're going to see a lot of "Beta vs VHS" competition as alternatives are marketed, touted, chosen, and discarded.
I've never disagreed with you that higher fuel taxes could be a primary mover for this process. Disgruntlement and desperation drive innovation in the US... that and the almighty dollar. What is unfortunate is that the majority of the innovation is coming from overseas.
Bush's legislation on MPG forecasts for the US was laughable. Who's pocket was he in for THAT one? I'm sorry, but there's no other way to see that issue. 35 mpg by 2020??? Are ya kiddin' me??? The technology's already there to make vehicles that fuel efficient. It's already being utilized by foreign markets."These numbers are very challenging. They will stretch the industry to innovate in ways they haven't had to do in the past and will continue to set us on a course to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new autos," said Charles Territo, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co. and others.
That's a total joke when you compare what we have in the US and some of the models that are coming out overseas. On top of that, incentives for wind and solar power were pretty much stripped from the bill, and the requirements for ethanol production were jacked up disproportionately. The ONLY reason to support ethanol as an alternative is as a boost to the farming community, but it's a stopgap measure, a spotted elephant used to make people think real measures are being taken. Economics and technology both are going to overtake the artificially low standards set forth in this law. Bush didn't set a law for anything that the automakers don't already have. You want real change in the industry? Have the government put its money where its mouth is and use the collective buying dollar to offer incentives to industry. Federal vehicle purchase contracts requiring consecutively higher standards might generate some interest.
Do you think Charles Territo has read ANYTHING regarding some of the more innovative hybrids edging their way into the market lately? Do you think he's hoping that none of the general public has? Has he checked out the Aptera? It's too bad it's being produced by one of those innovative private companies, instead of a corporate structure that could bring mass production costs down. With plug-in hybrid and ethanol technology where they stand RIGHT NOW, we could have vehicles on the road with an average of $0.75/gallon comparative cost in fuel efficiency, not even taking some of the more extreme hybrid choices into account.
I'm not a huge fan of plug-in vehicle technology, because it all boils down to a dependence on fossil fuels, but over the next fifty years we'll have to move in steps to get where we could have been today, had we only started working on the "fantasy" fifty years ago. China and India aren't going anywhere, and their fuel consumption isn't going to magically decrease. As those countries expand their resources and markets, their consumption will only continue to climb until it reaches the critical stage where necessity steps in. I'm at a loss to even consider how their differing cultures will impact the "economy vs environment" debate, but I'm not predicting a huge environmental win over corporate and government interests any time in the near future, and the heavier they play, the more we pay.
We can begin to wean ourselves off the immediate hit at the pump, but oil prices drive more than the cost of our own driving. Eventually the cost of maintaining even a high efficiency plug-in will make us question how we'll be able to pay our electricity bills. With the reduction of incentives for alternative source
fuels, the oil companies maintain their hold on the markets, no matter what type of vehicle we drive. It will be individuals that drive the move toward solar and wind resources, and eventually the government will have to recognize the need and institute legislation that will encourage innovation in the field at a rate that will make it available for the common man. You think it's not possible? Move to Oregon and learn what it means to backfeed a meter.
Oregon is a wonderful state to use as an example of a community showing growth in interest and marketability of renewables technology and green industry. While they have their issues, they're working to overcome those admirably, as can be seen in the huge strides the wood harvesting industries have made in the conservation of natural resources and reductions in emissions and pollutants. Oregon is a leading community in the US in encouraging a strong renewables market. As both the local governments and the private industries adopt a greener stance on how they do business, the trickle-down effect leads consumers to appreciate the benefits of a more environmentally-driven economy. Green innovations from soy-based clothing to rainwater-based cooling systems are making leaps and bounds in an environment that fosters and encourages such breaks from the fossil fuels-driven markets box the majority of the US is contained in.
If I was going to entertain any fantasy of me in Congress and real legislation that has a chance of making a difference in this particular field, it would probably involve the rate at which states remove barriers to the production of alternative source
fuels by individuals. Instead of demanding a whopping 10 mpg increase per fleet, it would make more sense to encourage the usage of clean-energy vehicles driven through power supplemented by individual suppliers backfeeding their meters, powered by incentives to assist individual homeowners in becoming part of the community supply grid. When backfeeding becomes an economical reality, thus reducing dependence on fossil fuels, then I will become more of an advocate for the plug-in.
If you could take some of those fuel taxes and channel it into the reduction of solar/wind barriers and the implementation of viable local systems, I'd be all for it.http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/pdfs/ ... 8-2012.pdf