By on May 16, 2010

Here’s my daily struggle: I like cars and I like (and greatly appreciate) how I make my living. But I also really like the Earth and nature and polar bears and would prefer mankind not relocate to some Total Recall-like Mars colony stocked with Evian, Luna bars and aliens with three boobs.

I love driving. I love driving fast, powerful cars that growl at me and throw me back in my seat. So do you guys and gals, which is why you read this site in the first place. But I also love breathing, and I love clean oceans and beaches, and I love waters not filled with oil that suffocates animals and destroys the livelihoods of fishermen all over our coasts. I love that a lot.

Yet I work at a job I have to fly into and sell the American public on one of the very things that is hastening the demise of our beautiful natural world. I know that cars are certainly not going away any time soon, but I don’t know how to balance these two issues.

What can we do about it? Here are our options thus far, none of which do enough good. We have hybrids, which are increasingly popular. An efficiency hybrid (as opposed to a performance hybrid) can save a tremendous amount of fuel over the lifetime of the vehicle and significantly lowers one’s carbon emissions while driving. But even if we all drove a hybrid and lowered our fuel consumption by half, would it be enough? Then, of course, there’s the debate over whether or not the manufacture of nickel metal hydride batteries creates a bigger carbon footprint than is saved while driving.

Ethanol looked like the green fuel of the future for a while, until people realized the ecological toll of growing all that corn, transporting it all over the place and having to import more corn to use for livestock food in its place was causing more harm than good.

Electric cars are great in theory and would save drivers a lot of money in fuel costs, but in most areas would still take a heavy ecological toll. Plugging into an electrical grid in the vast majority of the country still means you’re burning fossil fuels – as a nation nearly 50 percent of our electricity is generated from coal, and only 2.1 percent from non-hydro renewables like wind and solar power. (The rest is from gas, oil, nuclear and hydro power.) Less fossil fuels are used than filling up your gas tank would, but dirty fossil fuels are still used, and the dangers of coal power are something I could write another whole column about.

Hydrogen fuel cells sound great until you realize consider the impracticality of current technology. The production process is inefficient and it has a very low energy content per unit. Combine that with having to revamp the entire fuel infrastructure and it becomes a non-option, for present day at least.

We could all just walk, but then global transportation would go down the tubes and we wouldn’t be able to get our hands on all that cheap crap from China we’re addicted to buying. Wal-Mart would go out of business and we’d have to learn how to make out own toilet paper or *shudder* use our hands to wipe. Bicycles are made of metal from open pit mines, and that metal still has to be transported somehow – I don’t think a bike will cut it.

The thing is that none of these options is going to save the world. We could try to find the lesser evil, but at this point is it just slightly delaying the inevitable?

I don’t know what the answer is. I guess if I did I’d be a gazillionaire, profiting off the idea that will save the planet. I know I do what I can by recycling everything possible, trying to eat in-season and local when possible, eschewing water in disposable plastic bottles, washing my clothes exclusively in cold water and using those fancy light bulbs that save a bunch of electricity but kill us with mercury poisoning.

So you tell me – what do you think is our next best hope of building a green transportation infrastructure, starting with the auto industry? ‘Cause even horses fart methane gas, my HOA won’t let me have livestock and I really don’t want to share a spinning turntable with something that actually kicks when surly, as opposed to just daydreaming about it like me.

The Booth Babe is an anonymous auto show model who dishes about what really goes on behind the scenes. Read her blog at http://doyoucomewiththecar.blogspot.com. And if you treat her nicely, read her each Sunday at Thetruthaboutcars.com

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75 Comments on “The Booth Babe Chronicles: Greening The Hand That Feeds Me...”


  • avatar
    IGB

    Nice bush.

    You all thought it. I said it first.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    If it is any consolation, compared to what most folks used to drive in this country, I find that modern cars are more fuel frugal than any of the ancient beasts in my driveway.

    How green do you want to be? Obviously, taking a packed Metro rail to work is more Earth friendly than driving the SUV.

  • avatar
    Mekkon

    “Then, of course, there’s the debate over whether or not the manufacture of nickel metal hydride batteries creates a bigger carbon footprint than is saved while driving.”

    There’s actually no debate there. It’s well known that there’s actually no data supporting that ridiculous “study” — which was crafted by a marketing firm. It has been widely lambasted in the scientific community for its methodology (which is severely lacking) and all studies by legitimate organizations have found results very much to the contrary. I’m pretty sure TTAC has covered this before, but here’s a decent link explaining both the science behind the myth and the popular appeal of such an “amazing” marketing-driven conclusion.

    http://www.thecarconnection.com/tips-article/1010861_prius-versus-hummer-exploding-the-myth

  • avatar
    vww12

    «But even if we all drove a hybrid and lowered our fuel consumption by half, would it be enough?»

    By whose standards?

    Because if you go by the shirthair loony mainstream environmentalist advocates’, anything short of living in a cave is “OMG killing Gaia”.

    Sheryl Crow, for instance, wants toilet paper of use of one than one square banned: “only one square per restroom visit”. Can you beat her environmentalism? Would you shake her hand?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6583067.stm

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Let’s start with some basic principles:
    1) There is no such thing as perfection here. The best that we can hope for is reducing the “carbon footprint” of our transportation system.
    2) There is no one magic solution, but rather dozens of choices that are made to fit the needs of individual situations.
    3) All of the pressure shouldn’t fall on the auto industry, e.g., land use patterns play a major role in the range of choices available to the average motorist.

    So how do I apply these principles to my life? When I bought a home six years ago I could only afford one off the bus line. So I bought the cheapest, most fuel efficient beater car I could find (a 1989 Civic) as my daily driver. My typical round trips are only 14-20 miles per day, so an electric car has plausibility, but I only buy used so will need to wait awhile for such cars to become available. Am not considering hybrids until the long-term costs are clearer. Biodiesel? Not ready for prime time.

    Ultimately, the best thing I could do is find an affordable house in the city where I work, so I can use the bus again (but keep a car for longer trips). That may not happen for a while because such a move needs to be close to cost neutral. I don’t expect that to happen unless/until gas prices more than double. In the meantime, there are other ways I can reduce my carbon footprint, such as by reducing my home’s energy consumption.

    Bottom line? Being green needs to pencil out to be viable for me. And that generally means taking the most simple, least-cost alternative. Invariably, that means the least “sexy” option. Whatever.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      “Bottom line? Being green needs to pencil out to be viable for me.”

      Dr. Lemming, you hit the nail on the head. The whole green thing needs to have enough of an economic incentive to get the critical mass of the public to buy into. This applies to cars, homes, appliances, utilities (especially water, more critical than oil), and locations of employment relative to homes. Many incremental changes will have to take place over the years. More of a slow but sure evolution, rather than a revolution. If everyone’s sitting back waiting for “they” or “them” to invent the definitive magical device that gives us something for nothing (energy), then nothing will change.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    The answer seems simple enough…..

    The “greens” should just eschew their cars and trucks, and move to the city where their commute consists of riding a train or walking.

    That means the commute from my acre+ home in the suburbs consists of more movement and less gridlock, resulting in higher MPG and fewer emissions.

    And we leave each other alone.

    Sounds like a win-win.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Why exactly does a source of electricity need to be “renewable” to be viable? There’s plenty of uranium on the planet, especially if we were to start reprocessing spent fuel like our nuclear partners already do. Here in Illinois we get more than 50% of our power from nuclear sources. I haven’t started glowing green yet. I’d love to plug into the grid for my primary day-to-day transportation needs.

    For extended range operation ethanol and biodiesel start to make a lot more sense. It doesn’t need to be as efficient as gasoline to be a viable source of quick-refill energy for long trips. I suspect that within a decade there will be major advances in quick-charge batteries that will obviate this particular problem anyway.

    Of course that just leaves us with a mess of used-up batteries on our hands then. The difficulties never end…

  • avatar

    Electric vehicles (either pure EVs or plug-in hybrids) “fueled” by solar power is a great solution for those who can afford it and whose homes are good candidates. This makes even more sense for commercial fleets operating from buildings with large flat roofs.
    Thanks to incentives for both solar and EVs, this is more affordable than most people think. And before people complain about subsidies for these industries, remember that the fossil fuel industry has been, and remains, the beneficiary of subsidies that far exceed anything provided to renewables.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Where, exactly, is our editor– and why does this column read like an Eighth-Grade essay if we’ve actually got one?

    Punctuation is your friend. Short sentences communicate things, too. Youall are car snobs. Nothing but “A-Game” allowed, right? C-Grade isn’t good enough for youall. We should aspire to more. Maybe I’m incorrect, but the collective voice at TTAC have impressed upon me an overwhelming theme– only the best. This, is not the best.

    Let me stop mincing words– BoothBabe must re-attend Composition 101 if TTAC is to retain any semblance of credibility. People come to you for advice about spending Tens of Thousands of Dollars. They deserve better than the literary equivalent of a Daewoo Nubira.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Ni-MH batteries are inefficient, and I think its time to let those go. Lithium production I think is less dirty, but it has its own political problems in terms of who has access to it.

    We should be focusing on how to produce hydrogen cheaper and more easily. We also need to start developing an infrastructure for it. There weren’t always gas stations on every corner. Pure electric cars make the most sense in cities, and there should be loads of charging stations available. If 100 years ago you could drive your Baker Electric downtown, park it and let it charge while you did your shopping, why can’t that be done now?

    For those outside of cities, before hydrogen becomes truly viable, I think diesel-electric makes the most sense, especially if the diesel generator can run on something cleaner than petro based diesel fuel.

  • avatar

    IMHO the two least bad alternatives right now for green transportation right now are a Nissan Leaf using green power and anything diesel that can run pure to high blends of locally sourced
    Bio-diesel.

    A VW with the 1.9 TDI will get 40mpg+ all day long and can last 200k+ as long as you are willing to tolerate the little stuff. Fuel it with locally sourced Bio and you have one of the lowest total “well to wheel” footprints. Sadly the newer VW 2.0 TDI is highly intolerant of bio. It also scales up nicely, you can roll down the road in a semi-tractor a 65ton long combination set on the same fuel.

    The big wild card with an EV is how clean or dirty the electric mix you charge it with. Worst case scenario if its derived from dirty brown coal with no emissions controls on the plant is an order of magnitude worse than a conventional gas car in terms of CO2, acid rain, etc etc etc. Best case with electricity coming from Solar or Wind has virtually no footprint.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Ultimately, renewable carbon neutral energy sources (and unrelated to the topic but part of the picture, only renewable resources as well), are the only alternative.

    Unless humans can consciously reduce their worldwide population to whatever required threshold that our current bio/ecology killing toxic industrial and agricultural methods such that there is no threat of collapsing the web of life on the planet, we are the endangered species. We may be the first species to not only drive itself to extinction, but know that we are doing it.

    Life will carry on. The ecological collapse we are causing may well ultimately lead to an environment that does not support higher life forms. It is conceivable even insects would not survive. Might photosynthesis become extinct? Microbes will be fine, anaerobic bacteria got along for many millions of years without oxygen before photosynthesis was “invented”.

    Ecology is very much like an economy. It is a web of interrelationships that makes large, complex sophisticated creations possible. There can be no 747′s or computers or cities without a complex economic web. There can be no elephants dogs or humans without a complex web of life.

    Sustainability is the only game in town if we envision humans surviving many generations from now.

    I accept and indeed direct some blame to myself the for the Gulf spill. I buy oil products. I create the economic demand. I have for the past thirty years made many choices that have reduced my carbon footprint. With my same personal cash flow I could easily dump way more CO2 into the air than I do. However unless and until our (worldwide) culture embraces some altered concepts of what defines “happiness” and what is valued in life, I could go meditate in a cave for the rest of my life and the same outcome for humanity will transpire.

    It seemed for a few years in the late 70′s and early 80′s that we were in fact embarking on the path to sustainability, but oil prices plunged, public attitude and politics took a childish and selfish turn, and here we are.

    I used to think mankind could make the transition from unsustainable to sustainable industrial practices fairly smoothly and deliberately. Recently, it looks more and more that it will take a systematic collapse, a kind of dark or middle age so that we can “reboot” and rebuild from the ground up. However with 6 billion people heading towards 10 billion, it is going to be ONE HELL of a collapse, one that the species Homo Sapiens may not survive.

    The astonishing thing to my mind is, humans are capable of comprehending what they are doing, and yet appear helpless to modify their behavior accordingly. We may be the first species that causes its own extinction, and does so knowingly.

    If in fact there are still humans alive a thousand or so years from now, I think it likely that they will not have a very favorable opinion concerning what their ancestors did in the 20th & 21st century.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      However with 6 billion people heading towards 10 billion, it is going to be ONE HELL of a collapse, one that the species Homo Sapiens may not survive

      Oh, we probably will. We’re adaptable, like rats or e.coli.

      What wont necessarily survive is the social structures we live in and value so greatly. This is the bit that people who don’t agree with AGCC continue to creatively misinterpret: no one (outside of the media, who love doom and gloom) is saying humanity will be wiped out. They are saying that the social structures—and the environmental foundation they’re built on—that we’ve come to take for granted could change, and not in a way we might like.

      You would think conservatives would be at the forefront of this, what with wanting to cleave to the status quo and all.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      “However with 6 billion people heading towards 10 billion, it is going to be ONE HELL of a collapse, one that the species Homo Sapiens may not survive.”

      I’m old enough to remember hearing the same doomsday warnings when the Earth’s population was 3 billion heading for 6 billion.

      The liberal viewpoint sees more humans as just another mouth to feed, taking resources from a closed economic pie. The conservative viewpoint is that more people mean more ways to solve the world’s problems, thereby growing the economic pie.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    “So you tell me – what do you think is our next best hope of building a green transportation infrastructure, starting with the auto industry?”

    You are smoking warm, fuzzy, feelgood environmentalism, apparently without understanding that greening was fabricated to be a Trojan Horse for statism, special-interest profiteering, and taxes.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      …by the way Glenn Miller played, songs that made the hit parade, guys like us they had it made, Those were the days….didn’t need no welfare states, everybody pulled his weight. Gee our old Lasalle ran great, those were the the days!!!!!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      golden2husky:

      Ya killin me smalls!!

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Other than a few of the responses, most notably ttacgreg’s, the comments are both exactly what I’d expect from a car fandom website, and why I think humankind cannot avert a disastrous crash.

    For most ttac participants, the truth about cars does not include the critical downsides to frittering away such vast amounts of energy, materials and natural resources. For them, the truth about cars comprises mostly astonishingly trivial concerns such as cornering speed, panel gaps, speeding enforcement, and private company financing. That’s ok in the context of who started and maintains this website and why they do it. It ain’t exactly Greenpeace turf, but gradually they are being displaced by people who respect cars as useful but problematic transportation appliances.

    But I don’t think that conversion has gone far enough to allow Booth Babe’s column to endure. Like humanity on a toxified planet.

    Speaking for myself, I recently retired. I became aware of environmental issues about the time I started working around 1970. Vance Packard and Rachel Carson. Because I was aware of those issues, I was able to limit my car commuting to only 9 months during my various jobs and places of residence. It wasn’t because I couldn’t afford or didn’t own cars, and I certainly don’t feel I suffered because of it. In fact, there was some suffering at the hands of militant motorists when I cycled to work, but on the other hand I’m far wealthier and healthier than if I’d embraced car commuting.

    Driving and car ownership is extremely addictive, and we’re going to make no progress until the car junkies realize they are addicts with a very bad problem, and see how they are manipulated by pushers and pimps.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    Hey Babe.
    When motor cars were invented life got much sweeter because folk were spared the pollution caused by horses in the city.
    The best hope for the immediate future is the hybrid. Diesels are popular in Europe now , because they are low on CO2 , but they are high on soot , and as the authorities restrict soot emissions , diesels become more expensive and more troublesome. Getting a petrol/gasoline engine to run like a diesel engine is the holy grail ,clean and economical, but such an engine might not be nice to drive.If you use it simply to generate electricity in a hybrid car then that isn’t a problem as it can run at constant speed.
    Here’s a thought. Most of us in Europe consider the USA to be extremely polluting because of all the CO2 from gas guzzling cars.In China most electricity is generated from coal , and they have huge stocks of coal above ground. When you stockpile coal in big piles you get spot-fires. It is a full time job putting out the spot-fires in Chinese coal stockpiles.The CO2 from spot-fires in China exceeds the CO2 from motor vehicles in the USA.

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    There are so many prongs to this discussion.. but ya have to have a concept of common sense..

    Its been said that any Hybrid wont make its value back on the extra price paid for the system, ntm the weight of the unit.. for at least 10yrs.

    1. Ya’d have to be pretty ignorant to see how bad BIG OIL has been screwing the govt as a whole..

    2. Meanwhile the utilities are reaching their caps.. and will be exceeding them.. now passing on the higher prices for power, gas to the taxpayer.

    3. Eventually.. the utilities will as much of a thorn on ya ass as the oil companies.

    4. On top of.. the smart electric grid dystem.. Nice to know the Utilities will be WATCHING OVER YOU and how much power you suck from the grid.. so they will be able to turn it off.. and ON as they see fit.

    In the end..
    I really do as much as I can.
    Recycling as much as possible, into a SINGLE STREAM container and driving a 4cycl 10yr old midsizer.

    But the movement for being an environmentalist.. is just starting.

    As far as the auto industry..
    It sickens me that mid-sizers are getting larger with every company pushing a further larger vehicle.. as it equates to their marketing plans. So stupid shit like the A8 can come into fruition.. with a 4ltr 8cycl motor.. and yet they crow about saving fuel economy.. with a aluminum frame. — Hello, if ya want to save weight.. REDUCE THE DAMN WEIGHT / SIZE ON THAT OVERPRICED GERMAN P.O.S.

    In the end..
    Hybrids are a farce, and those think otherwise.. are KIDDING THEMSELVES.

    Electrics are only shifting the power “weight” from BIG OIL, to BIG POWER.

    Hydrogen is being considered.. — Honda has the FCX gen 2 for LEASE in California for about 600mo, including ins.

    Neither I’d waste my time on.

    P.S
    Some contextual adjustment / updates to current terminology and or news would do WONDERS to her story.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Hybrids are a farce, and those think otherwise.. are KIDDING THEMSELVES.

      Why? No really, why? Has fuel injection proven to be “a farce”? How about variable valve timing, is that also “a farce”?

      Because a hybrid powertrain is similar: another way to increase the efficiency of an internal combustion engine, which, last I checked, was a good thing.

      4. On top of.. the smart electric grid dystem.. Nice to know the Utilities will be WATCHING OVER YOU and how much power you suck from the grid.. so they will be able to turn it off.. and ON as they see fit.

      They do this now, except it’s called a brown-out, and they do it because the infrastructure is underbuilt and we don’t manage demand properly.

      They also “watch over you” for the purpose of, you know, billing you for what you use. Oh, the horror!

      The purposes of smart meters, eventually, is to work with house systems in such a way that brownouts don’t happen by staggering demand. We do this because it’s a lot cheaper to buy a few thousand smart meters than it is to build a new powerplant. Currently, most smart meters do little more than allow billing by time of day to encourage people not to add more load to the grid when it’s already under stress.

      Would you rather they charge you more for electricity because they need to build a new powerplant? Especially when you’ll have to endure brownouts for the five to ten years until that plant is done, at which point you’ll probably need another plant because you’re still mismanaging capacity?

      Do we have to answer every attempt to do better with knee-jerk conservatism? I swear, sometimes I think that, if God created the world today, “Let there be light” would be met with “Why? Darkness has always been good enough for us! Light is a liberal conspiracy!”

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    @iNeon,

    I agree with you 100%. This story reads like it was written by a valley girl from back in the day. I come to TTAC to read about cars, not the vapid thoughts of a self important model. Is it time to put the “Booth Babe” back in the booth and throw away the key? Perhaps the “Best and Brightest” should be allowed to decide, but I for one, think the space could be put to better use.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      For real– this column, since it’s debut, has read like a homosexual baiting hetero scum on Craigslist.

      If we can ceremoniously shove a spit up Susan Docherty’s rear-end(at every available juncture) and roast her to no end over being ill-equipped to handle her post at GM, I see no reason for us at TTAC to endure the same at BoothBabe’s hand.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    “Total Recall-like Mars colony stocked with Evian, Luna bars and aliens with three boobs.”

    BTW , if God meant women to have three boobs , he’d have given men three hands.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Amusing to observe whose sacred cows are being slaughtered on this thread.
    Mine is not a call to selfishness, it is for selflessness. Humans are nothing if not social creatures. There is truth to the saying. “One man cannot build a house. Ten men can build ten houses.”
    The current absolute individualistic selfishness that is valued in our current culture is in fact sociopathic, and is, or will be the cause of our downfall.
    My aspiration is that mankind may persevere for many generations to come. I’d suppose in the current cultural/social climate that makes me a “wacko”. Relative to where the mentality of the general populace is, yes I am a wacko, and damned proud of it.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    What has been is not what will be. If the emissions of cars from 40 to 60 years ago were our static reality, but scaled up to the numbers of people driving now, we’d have a far more damaged world, and climate change would be much less worrisome than the presence of lead and truly toxic compounds amok in the ecosystem. So this problem of the tension between private transportation and environmental stewardship has been moving toward a sustainable equilibrium for decades. Stop worrying, live your life, make sensible choices and know that this problem is taking care of itself.

    Mobility is elemental to opportunity, and mass transit alone doesn’t suffice. High density cities have their own consequences anyway. There are three inevitables: 1/ world population will peak sometime in this century, declining as wealth spreads; 2/ vehicles in every decade hence will be progressively cleaner than those preceding them; 3/ correct or not, the focus on carbon reduction is now politically and attitudinally embedded and persistent. If you like powerful cars, the powerful car you buy today is greener than its predecessor from circa 2000, while having more power still. If you like small, light, efficient cars, generally the same applies, in a safer stronger package. Even today’s 6000 pound SUV is more efficient than its ancestors from a decade ago. Meanwhile we don’t have rampant typhoid from horseshit and dead beasts in the streets like 120 years ago.

    If every private vehicle in the US personal transportation fleet had the fuel economy of a Prius today, the carbon reduction would be less than 2% of the annual cut the UNIPCC believes is necessary annually by 2050. The climate change leverage is not in your choice of cars. It takes a couple of decades for serious changes to ripple through a country’s fleet of cars. we have *far* more powerful and immediate gains available by slashing carbon release from electric power generation. It’s really mostly a matter of concerted policy. We could have made a $1T stimulus package a $5T infrastructure changeover package. We have the sheer sunlit acreage for scaled solar power generation. We can intensively develop and deploy coal plant carbon sequestering via chilled ammonia, ammonia-related compounds, zeolitic imidazolate frameworks and other emerging technologies. The government could subsidize massive adoption of rooftop solar, both residential and business/industrial. And then there are personal choices. I live in the hot zone of Los Angeles, but the longer I live here the more comfortable hot becomes. My A/C runs 12 degrees higher than I ran it 20 years ago, and I live in a tighter house. In the winter, my heating system runs eight degrees lower than 20 years ago. I buy as local as possible, and that includes American cars. No point paying the carbon cost to ship a 3500 – 4000 lbs. vehicle across an ocean. But look at the world we have now, as drivers! 400+ hp V8s more efficient than 225hp engines from 15 years ago. 300 hp V6s more efficient than 180 hp engines from 1995. 260hp fours more efficient than 150hp mills from the ’90s. Now if we could just move consumer preferences to lighter mass, the horsepower war could abate.

    Personal transportation is on a one-way street toward environmental neutrality. Global demographics and econometrics (notwithstanding the temporary setback of 2008 – 2012) assure the human population load on the planet will subside. Technology development as usual is already proven to mitigate every anthropogenic offense to the ecosystem. Stay alert to the decisions you can make in everyday life to limit your impact, make choices that work for you, worry less, have more confidence. We’re going to have climate change. We’re not the only reason. We should be paying a lot more attention to manage and mitigate change that’s coming and have more confidence in the long-term mitigators that are already underway.

    Phil

  • avatar
    50merc

    First: Guys, don’t you know how to treat a lady? Jeez.

    Second: Ms. Babe, don’t fret about killing the earth. Environmental wackos, like zealots of all stripes, make a living by stirring up fear and guilt, and predicting apocalyptic doom. They’re rent-seekers. I refuse to listen to a guy who owns several multimillion dollar mansions but tells everybody else to reduce their standard of living. Recycling aluminum cans makes sense. Traveling by oxcart, not so much. Enjoy your life.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      I cannot resist asking. Is it okay for someone in a multiple million dollar mansion to tell you to be a wasteful resource glutton?

      Seems you are parroting a certain missive right wing talking point about Mr Gore.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Is it okay for someone in a multiple million dollar mansion to tell you to be a wasteful resource glutton?

      When you pay millions of dollars in offset credits, yes, yes it is.

      One of the points of carbon trading is to more appropriately ensure that the cost of our lifestyle is reflected in what we actually pay. Currently, the cost is heavily externalized, and that externalization is going to bite us in the collective ass.

      This isn’t a left-wing thing, by the way. There are lot of people on the right side of the spectrum talking about ensuring that the cost of a sustainable domestic energy policy (without a mention of the word “green”) is reflected in what we pay because, currently, even that cost is externalized.

      Al Gore has proven himself quite the lightening rod. This is unfortunate because it’s allowed people who don’t think any further than “ZOMG!!ALGORE TEH SUZKZORZ!!” to avoid thinking about sustainability at all, even though “sustainability” includes things they might like, such as not killing soldiers and propping up dictators for the betterment of Big Oil’s profit margin.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      “Environmental wackos, like zealots of all stripes, make a living by stirring up fear and guilt, and predicting apocalyptic doom.”

      +1

      “The world will burn up in 10 years.”
      Al Gore in 2005 – 5 to go!

      “Global Warming will kill everyone on the planet.”
      Michael Bloomberg

      “Global Warming will turn us into cannibals.”
      Ted Turner

      “Fearmongering is counterproductive.”
      Nancy Pelosi – you said it!

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    To address BB’s question: “what do you think is our next best hope of building a green transportation infrastructure, starting with the auto industry?”

    As BB’s article explored, alternative fuels won’t make enough difference to save our bacon. Alternative fuels are a boondoggle and a red herring and a delaying tactic. While electrics have merit, hydrogen is an outrageous fraud and neither they nor ethanol will make much of a difference to the traffic clogging the roads and befouling the planet.

    Cars are one of the main ways we interact with others. In that sense, cars foster community. Humans are social beings, and community is how that drive manifests. But cars exact a heavy price on community, and there are plenty of other ways to build community. Most of humanity has done without cars, and has often enjoyed far less personal alienation than currently evident in North America.

    How about venturing that there is a matrix of solutions rather than one best solution?

    - learn that driving is not life’s main purpose
    - minimize driving
    - live closer to work and play
    - reject directly motorized recreation
    - get rid of things that need to be towed
    - embrace European-style train and bus systems
    - embrace Euopean-style acceptance of bicycling
    - support zoning that encourages less car use
    - keep your cars in good shape
    - shift to more efficient cars/trucks/suvs
    - support politicians advocating mass transit
    - consider riding a bicycle or walking sometimes
    - get kinetic thrills from amusement parks and physical sports
    - separate your self-worth and virility from your ride

    Wealth is not created by maximizing waste. Although such changes will eliminate some jobs, others will replace them. Oxcarts aside, these changes improve, not degrade, quality of life. But they all start with adults making individual decisions, rather than waiting for daddy government or business to make the decisions for us and then having tantrums about it.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Look, I’m a car guy… but I have to come down on the side of ttacgreg and brandloyalty. It’s clear that, over the long haul, if humans don’t adopt sustainable polices, the problem will solve itself. The Earth will simply shrug us off. Now, it may not happen as quickly as many of the hysterical greenies say it might. But, make no mistake, that’s the direction in which we’re headed.

    If one is paying attention, early but visible signs of what’s to come can be seen all around us. But the political discourse has become so toxic – in broader society and in microcosm (like on this Web site) – that not only can we not have a useful discussion about solutions, we can’t even get consensus on the facts. That’s because those with vested interest in the status quo are working full time on obfuscation.

    I clearly don’t come down on the side of those who want us all to either live in caves or even all live like the Amish. We couldn’t feed the world’s population – hell, even the nation’s population – if we farmed like that. I know that I’m a part of the problem like everybody else. I drive cars and buy oil products. I live in the ‘burbs, not in the city.

    On the other hand, I’ve adopted plenty of “green” practices in my own home. I recycle and my local power utility says our house uses less than a quarter of the juice consumed by the typical suburban home. I purchase replacement power from renewable energy sources – and pay more for it every month. I program my heat and air conditioning to use less energy. I live in a smallish townhouse even though I could afford (and use) a larger single-family home. I take mass transit to the city where I work each day.

    But it’s not enough and I know it. As ttacgreg points out, “Unless and until our (worldwide) culture embraces some altered concepts of what defines “happiness” and what is valued in life, I could go meditate in a cave for the rest of my life and the same outcome for humanity will transpire.”

    Booth Babe’s column may not belong in Columbia Journalism Review, but the author asks some honest and relevant questions. She acknowledges that many of the feel-good “solutions” available to us now are probably not the answer. She merely asks the question: “So you tell me – what do you think is our next best hope of building a green transportation infrastructure, starting with the auto industry?” Instead of stimulating some intelligent ideas and debate, she gets people trying to toss her off the site. Sounds to me like she hit a nerve.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming

      All good points. Although it is unfortunate to see Booth Babe bashed, I appreciate the fact that TTAC even runs her column. When Farago was still in control I drifted away from TTAC because of the incessant right-wing, anti-environmental screed. It’s one thing to have a strong opinion, but it tended to lack a factual grounding that makes meaningful debate possible.

      Let the winger blogs trade in cheap shots at Al Gore. What’s really needed right now is an automotive blog that really digs into the deeper implications of global warming on the future of the auto industry.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    To BMWFan and iNeon: you don’t like it, don’t read it.

    As for the thrust… don’t fash yourself as the Scots would say. This WILL be fixed. Not until it is economically feasible which might be a while from now, but it will be fixed.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Yee gads! BB’s piece has brought out the ad hominers, misogynists and Luddites. I suspect that if this had a guy’s byline, we’d be seeing a lot more respect, if not agreement. Where are the fair and balanced voices?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Come on, it’s an article about the green movement and cars by a confident, attractive woman familiar with automobilia.

      How could anyone possibly find their masculinity threatened?

  • avatar

    In the US, cars cause only about 15% of carbon emissions, roughly the same as agriculture. A huge amount of emissions could be mitigated if people greatly reduced the amount of meat they eat, because it takes roughly the same amount of plant material to grow a pound of beef as it does to grow a pound of H. sapiens. There is no excuse for any buildings built today to have to use more than negligible amounts of fuel for heating and cooling. There are plenty of other areas where carbon mitigation can be had far more easily than in transportation. But this sort of thing can’t be micromanaged. Thus, by far the best policy is a carbon tax, as I describe in great detail here: tinyURL.com/ycumbr6

    The other thing: the fewer people there are, the better off we are. And especially the fewer people in the US, where we consume more resources per capita than in any other major industrialized nation. But current policies are taking us from the current 308 million to 438 million by 2050. And 4/5 of that growth will be due to mass immigration (Pew Research Center, 2008). Immigration is not a matter of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, either, as the average immigrant’s carbon emissions go up four-fold after arrival in the US (Center for Immigration Studies, 2008). So a very important policy for the US is to stabilize the population. Besides reducing immigration from ridiculous numbers to maybe 100,000 annually, native increase could be pared some by making sure birth control is easily available, and incentives for having children, such as tax deductions for children, should apply only to the first and perhaps the second child. Additional children should be taxed.

    • 0 avatar
      aznconfused

      +1
      A UN report stated that the meat industry is one of the top two most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads. Eating 1lb of meat emits the same amount of greenhouse gasses as driving an SUV 40 miles.

      Its as simple as eating less meat. Eat mostly vegetarian and drive that Hummer you SOOO want to drive (Warning: Expect nasty glares and rude gestures from Prius lovers! Then summarily retort that you are “greener” then they by abstaining from meat (mostly).

      http://www.goveg.com/environment.asp

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      So you support government-mandated birth control (ultimately, abortion), but saving the cows and trees? Or maybe just for immigrants?

      You’ve correctly articulated the far-left viewpoint: that people are the problem, not the solution. Given your perspective, I hope you were first- or second-born. Too bad for those who might follow. Incidentally, Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy were children #7 and #9 in their family. Surely we’d have been better off without them?

      What happened to the values of peace and love extolled by the liberals in the 1960s? TTAC is that it’s boiled down to population control, diet control, and xenophobic immigration control – all statist, centralized policies. Sounds like a blend of WWII Germany, Soviet, and PRC policies to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      @David Holzman
      +1 on the population issue. Enviro-greenies can bash cars all they like, but to see the real issue as to what is putting such pressure on the environment, just take a look at world population figures. In 1800 there were 900 million of us wandering around on the globe, in 1950 there were 2.5 billion of us, and in 2008 there were 6.7 billion of us. Thats the big issue. But who’s up for ‘reducing’ the number of humans on the planet? No-one. So blame the cars instead.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population
      @aznconfused
      +1 on the meat issue. I turned veggie a month ago for exactly that reason. Now I can drive whatever the hell I like and not feel guilty about it. Oooooh the smugness.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Hmm… I haven’t shaken her hand, but she did sign my guitar (a Gibson Sheryl Crow). Luckily it’s on the sticker mounted inside the body…

  • avatar
    ruckover

    Well said.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Really, I don’t care about the Earth very much. Our resources would be best spent finding: 1) a rock as habitable as this, our current home, and 2) a way to get us there. There’s no need for a more breathable bra, 15 styles of undershorts, an iPod for every occasion, 60″ LCDs or the RonCo Showtime Rotisserie Grille, but I have them. Guess what? Everyone else does too.

    As someone who has owned only 4-Cylinder penalty-boxes, I’ve done my part. Suck it if you think I’ve got to do more, because… I haven’t. My state doesn’t have emissions or basic safety inspections. If I wish to drive a t-boned car with a white cloud in my wake– I’m allowed. I don’t, but I see it daily. I never even think about the environmental hazard inherent in such a car. Quite frankly, I applaud any vehicle that lives long enough to throw smoke.

    My refusal to latch onto this most recent green movement is simply because it’s happened before. It’s a marketing gimmick designed to separate fools from their money. The quest for technological-advancement is a bonus to, not the focus of, what we do.

    ‘Best and Brightest’ has lost all meaning with the continuance of this column. There is no news, rumor or review in this writing. It is CliffsNotes on environmentalism, and it insults our collective intelligence. I take issue with that.

    BoothBabe– Punch it up earlier than Saturday evening next week.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming

      You have a right to your opinion, which is very clearly and passionately expressed. Alas, your rhetorical gambit is all too common among contemporary “hot talk” polemicists: Trashing their opponent as unintelligent while dishing out a counter-argument that has a decidedly flimsy factual basis.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      I don’t know where you got this idea of a hidden agenda. My posts have been nothing more than sharp critique, which is par for this course.

      Are we, or are we not, allowed to express dismay at the release of a more-than-substandard product? I’d like to know for future postings.

    • 0 avatar
      newcarscostalot

      iNeon, I think Dr Lemming is referring to your view in regards to environmentalism, not your opinions about the quality, or lack thereof, concerning the article itself.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    When are we going to get cars that fly?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Three subjects:
    1. Global warming.
    2. Pollution.
    3. Inefficiency.

    Four comments:
    A. These three are not related and not the same.

    B. Man-made global warming is bunk. 350 ppm of CO2 won’t kill us, and we’re at the peak of a warming period between ice ages. All answers to global warming seem to involve reaching into my wallet, which automatically makes me suspicious of the urgency.

    C. CO2 is not pollution, but I’m a fan of reducing real pollutants.

    D. Better fuel economy can now come with worse pollution numbers. The new Hyundai Elantra “Blue” has a smog reading of 5/10, while the “PZEV” model reads 9/10 (cleaner). The Blue gets 1 mpg better. All Elantras earn an 8/10 (very good) on the global warming scale, whatever that is. So pick your poison.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Psarhjinian’s view I understand, issuing as it does from an academic, government-growing, disinformation-spreading system player. But where did all these eco-loons come from? Could it be they’re UAW-linked flaks angling for a a bonanza of taxpayer-subsidized greenfraud jobs & contracts?

    • 0 avatar
      newcarscostalot

      Could you expound on your opinion concerning Psarhjinian’s POV?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Oh, man, I felt that. Right in the cojones.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      OMG you blew my cover!!!

      Indeed, I am a “UAW-linked flak angling for a a bonanza of taxpayer-subsidized greenfraud jobs & contracts” :)

      In fact my degree is in Biology. It was obvious in the 70′s when I was doing those studies that mass extinction was already underway, and caused directly by human beings.

      I have long since given up on the idea that mankind’s intellect is the master of its emotions. Selfishness, and greed rule. Cognitive intelligence and deep spirituality are ineffective counterweights.

  • avatar
    zigpenguin

    1. Nuclear power
    2. Electric cars and plug-in hybrids

    We can reduce the carbon footprint of cars considerably with those two things. For the vast majority of people, it wouldn’t even have a huge impact on their quality of life.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The world is coming to an end!

    I’ve been hearing that since I was in grade school. I seem to remember a certain Paul Ehrlich claiming that we would be experiencing famines and shortages of critical raw materials by 1980. He placed a bet with the late Julian Simon, who predicted that no such thing would happen…and Mr. Ehrlich lost.

    How about we look at this rationally, instead of indulging the usual hysteria so often promoted by the environmental lobby? Indeed, the entire “we’re all going to die for our environmental sins” mantra is eerily reminiscent of the “sinners will all die” storyline contained in the book of Revelation.

    Funny, then, that so many in the environmental community scoff at those who believe in religion. Interestingly, much of the environmental lobby relies equally on faith, and likens skepticism of their claims to belief in creationism. (Lots of the psychological phenomenon known as “projection” going on here.)

    They possess an all-knowing belief that they are just somehow, someway, correct, and anyone who disagrees with them is a heretic or a sinner who is “addicted” to something of which they disprove.

    Because disapproval, not saving the earth, is what really drives them, much like the Sunday School teacher who dislikes Playboy or eating at Hooters.

    I guess for some people enjoying a well-tuned V-8 is as naughty as stealing a peak at Miss February. Environmentalists as uptight prudes….who knew?!

    The simple fact is that we’ve made considerable progress cleaning up the air and water over the past 50 years. The air is cleaner than it has been since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Even with more cars being driven more miles than ever before, the major pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act – ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and lead – have fallen dramatically over the last 40 years.

    Carbon monoxide and lead have been virtually eliminated as major pollution concerns.

    The air in Los Angeles – remember, it was the terrible air pollution problems in southern California that first spurred the nation to act on this issue – is much cleaner than it was in 1970, and is getting cleaner ever year. The number of days when the air in Los Angeles is unsafe to breath has been declining for years, and will continue to decline.

    Here are a few facts – particulate emissions declined 14 percent in the 1990s alone, and continue to fall. (Between 1980 and 1999, man-made particulate emissions plunged 50 percent across the country.)

    Acid rain emissions from power plants fell 41 percent between 1980 and 2000, and have continued to fall in this decade. Nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants have declined 33 percent since 1990.

    Meanwhile, the average pollution from the vehicle fleet is dropping by 5-10 percent per year. Remember, this has been happening while the number of vehicles and vehicle miles driven has been INCREASING. This progress isn’t surprising – a brand new Ford Explorer actually produces one half as many hydrocarbons as a 1987 Chevy Sprint did when it was new. Other new vehicles are even better.

    For that matter, a new Explorer emits fewer emissions running than a 1969 Ford Galaxie emitted with the engine turned off (because of gasoline vapor leakage).

    Many engines emit exhaust CLEANER than the ambient air.

    We’ve also made significant progress in cleaning up our lakes and rivers. I can remember, as a boy, hearing about when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught FIRE. Now people fish in it. Pittsburgh’s water front is now an attraction instead of an eyesore.

    When we visited our relatives in Lorain, Ohio (which borders Lake Erie), in the early 1970s, I remember being told not to even wade in the water under any circumstances. The beaches were closed. When I visited there in 2000, the beaches along Lake Erie were again open, and filled with bathers.

    No one was dropping dead in the parking lot from having taken a dip in the lake.

    Yes, the environmental lobby deserves credit for raising the issues in the 1950s and 1960s and spurring the nation to enact the necessary laws and regulations to clean up our air and waterways. Businesses didn’t do this out of the goodness of their corporate hearts. GM and other automakers didn’t make engines able to run on unleaded gasoline because its executives were striken with guilt. But, having won those important early battles, I get the impression that today the movement is as much about finding new bogeymen to justify its continued existence (and people sending in those checks) as it is about saving the environment.

    Here’s what everyone seems to be missing – we made these dramatic gains without banning cars, or forcing everyone to take the bus, or making everyone live in a rowhouse or high-rise apartment in the middle of the city. Why will the future be any different?

    Pollution will continue to decline as older vehicles are scrapped and replaced with cleaner ones. The bursting of the housing bubble will force a decline in SUV sales, without any government action, so people will be choosing more fuel-efficient vehicles on their own, guided by their wallet, not scolding from the environmental community.

    Lots of people will still live in the suburbs (surveys repeatedly show that families with children overwhelmingly prefer a single-family home on a separate lot), and still drive cars and shop at Wal-Mart and Costco.

    For that matter, everyone I know who lives in the city isn’t giving up his or her car anytime soon.

    People will still buy brand-new cars, because it’s fun to drive a new one, and they will, more than likely, be better than the old ones. What’s wrong with progress and wanting to enjoy it?

    People will still drive, because it’s more convenient, and we don’t want our social life or economic life (where we work, shop, etc.) to be limited to those areas accessible by mass transit. Most of us have moved beyond that limited lifestyle. Plus, our population is more spread out than that of other nations, as it has always been. Mass transit does not work with those population patterns.

    And to all of you people who keep pointing to Europe as the ideal – have you ever been there? Because I have been (Germany, Ireland, Italy and Great Britain, all within the last four years), and I remember seeing lots of traffic, and city centers jammed with cars. In Germany people drove as fast as they could on the Autobahn, and in Italy anyone who loafed along in the passing lane on a multi-lane highway would be quickly tailgated. It was impossible to find a place to park in London because there was so much traffic.

    Looks to me like lots of Europeans love their cars, too.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      “I guess for some people enjoying a well-tuned V-8 is as naughty as stealing a peak at Miss February. Environmentalists as uptight prudes….who knew?!”

      The soul must be broken through SIN to understand the glory of salvation! YOU must FEEL the power under thine right foot! Hear the rumble of dual exhausts! Can I get an AMEN!

    • 0 avatar
      picard234

      AMEN!

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Nice entry, thanks. Cognitive, evidence based, invective an slander free, thoughtful, and polite.

      May I offer my perception here? You are looking 20-50 years ahead, whereas I am looking 1000 and more years ahead. The earth is already a far more biologically impoverished place than it was 100, 1000, 10,000 years ago. The only true losers in the loss of biodiversity is we humans. The biochemical code contained in different species is a form of knowledge that is now and undoubtedly has extreme potential yet to be discovered, and much never will be. Unfortunately, we short sighted humans, justifiably trying to scrape by an existence here and now, could care less. We are burning the biological equivalent of the library at Alexandria. A shameful, and debilitating loss.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      But, having won those important early battles, I get the impression that today the movement is as much about finding new bogeymen to justify its continued existence (and people sending in those checks) as it is about saving the environment.

      I think you’re forgetting that there were very recent “wins”, well past the 1960s:
      * Eliminating the use of lead in fuel in 1970s. There are theories that suggest the rising (and summarily falling) falling crime rates are directly linked to the introduction and removal of lead.
      * Eliminating the casual use of dioxins and PCVs in the late 80s/early 90s; we’re still seeing problems from this, and it’s only recently that we’re starting to be able to eat lake fish in much of the Great Lakes again.
      * Reductions in oxides of sulphur and nitrogen which largely solved the acid rain issue in the late 80s/early 90s, and significantly improved air quality in many cities
      * Reductions and restrictions on chloroflourocarbons, which have seen the ozone layer begin to repair itself.

      But we still have some very serious problems:
      * Ocean acidification is going to cause real and serious harm to ocean biodiversity. We’re seeing whole columns of water unable to support life.
      * Air quality is still a problem in many geographically-challenged cities.
      * Biodiversity is still on the decline/

      Is the movement self-perpetuating? Probably, to a degree**. Is there a good reason for it? Certainly. What you’re advising could have been said in 1970, or 1980, if not earler. We’d still have (more) acid rain and (bigger) holes in the ozone.

      All the things that “turned out to be not such a big deal” ended up that way not because they weren’t a big deal, but because the will was exercised to fix them.

      Climate change is a little more problematic for that reason: we saw the hole in the ozone layer and the bump in skin cancer rates. We saw dead lakes in Canada from excessive acidity. With climate change, the problems are a little further out (like shifts in arable
      land), or subtle (like ocean acidification). There’s no galvanizing image to rally around.

      Actual scientists understand this, just as they understood that the danger of acid rain wasn’t that you’d melt like the Wicked Witch of the West come the next thunderstorm. The media doesn’t do a good job of portraying stuff like this (because technical accuracy doesn’t sell papers, or at least not to the degree that sensationalism does), and skeptics do a worse job of picking single quotes out of context to invalidate the need to do something about the larger issue.

      ** Most movements are like this, and for good reason. If you don’t keep pushing for things like environmental quality, human rights and the like, you’re going to be in for a surprise when you find out that polluters and tyrants don’t respect your tendency to moderation.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      ttacgregg: Nice entry, thanks. Cognitive, evidence based, invective an slander free, thoughtful, and polite.

      Thank you.

      ttacgreg: May I offer my perception here? You are looking 20-50 years ahead, whereas I am looking 1000 and more years ahead. The earth is already a far more biologically impoverished place than it was 100, 1000, 10,000 years ago.

      If species have been dissappearing for 10,000 years – or even for 1,000 years – then we cannot blame automobile use (or widespread fossil fuel use) for it. It has been happening throughout the ages. We really only began using fossil fuels on a widespread basis in mid-19th century.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      psharjinian:
      *Eliminating the use of lead in fuel in 1970s. There are theories that suggest the rising (and summarily falling) falling crime rates are directly linked to the introduction and removal of lead.
      * Eliminating the casual use of dioxins and PCVs in the late 80s/early 90s; we’re still seeing problems from this, and it’s only recently that we’re starting to be able to eat lake fish in much of the Great Lakes again.
      * Reductions in oxides of sulphur and nitrogen which largely solved the acid rain issue in the late 80s/early 90s, and significantly improved air quality in many cities
      * Reductions and restrictions on chloroflourocarbons, which have seen the ozone layer begin to repair itself.

      Items one and three were addressed by the 1970 amendments to the Clean Air Act. The others had their roots in the late 1970s. Perhaps we are all getting older, but, for most of us, “the late 1970s” is not very recent.

      phsarjinian: *Air quality is still a problem in many geographically-challenged cities.

      Not in American cities, or even cities in Western Europe. If it is a problem in China, it is because of what is happening in that nation, not because someone here lives in the suburbs instead of Manhattan, or takes the Focus out for a drive. Nations must deal with their own problems. The U.S. and Western Europe, however, show that it can be done.

      psharjinian: * Biodiversity is still on the decline.

      It has been on the decline for centuries, before the advent of the private automobile, or widespread fossil fuel use.

      psharjinian: What you’re advising could have been said in 1970, or 1980, if not earler. We’d still have (more) acid rain and (bigger) holes in the ozone.,/i>

      No, it couldn’t have been said, because we weren’t doing anything to address those issues at that time.

      psharjinian: All the things that “turned out to be not such a big deal” ended up that way not because they weren’t a big deal, but because the will was exercised to fix them.

      I never said that they weren’t a “big deal.” I said that we have successfully dealt with them, and the environment is improving as a result. The environment is not getting worse in this country. People don’t need to feel guilty about driving to work, or taking the Mustang GT for a drive in the country.

      psharjinian: Actual scientists understand this, just as they understood that the danger of acid rain wasn’t that you’d melt like the Wicked Witch of the West come the next thunderstorm. The media doesn’t do a good job of portraying stuff like this (because technical accuracy doesn’t sell papers, or at least not to the degree that sensationalism does), and skeptics do a worse job of picking single quotes out of context to invalidate the need to do something about the larger issue.

      Over 600 (and the number is rising) actual scientists are skeptical over the claims of manmade global warming. If Climategate did anything, it showed that this is still a theory, not a proven fact. The earth has been warming and cooling on its own for centuries. Fossil fuel use will decline as prices rise. Fuel efficiency will also improve as the market share of light trucks declines, in response to continued concerns over volatile gas prices, and lower home values (no use of home equity loans to pay for vehicle).

  • avatar
    picard234

    ‘Cause even horses fart methane gas, my HOA won’t let me have livestock and I really don’t want to share a spinning turntable with something that actually kicks when surly, as opposed to just daydreaming about it like me.

    Ummm, what?

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Hello, gslippy

    Quoting you,
    “The liberal viewpoint sees more humans as just another mouth to feed, taking resources from a closed economic pie. The conservative viewpoint is that more people mean more ways to solve the world’s problems, thereby growing the economic pie.”

    1. Is all “Liberal viewpoint” absolutely 100% wrong and evil?
    2. Conversely is “Conservative” absolutely 100% correct and good?
    3. Just exactly what are “Liberal” and “Conservative” ?
    4. May I point out that the economic pie and the ecological pie are two completely different, although inextricably entwined things?

    By the dictionary definition, I am Conservative, I want to keep things (ecologically) like they are. Those who want mankind to continue on its current course of environmental destruction are the Liberals. Liberals (more often than not right wing political schools of thought) want changes made, and boy are they succeeding.

    May I suggest getting past the popular culture “Liberal vs Conservative” conflict? Buying into that conflict is the cornerstone in the foundation of many people’s brainwashing by those who want to control your mind. Open your mind, look deeply, think for yourself.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    “But where did all these eco-loons come from? Could it be they’re UAW-linked flaks angling for a a bonanza of taxpayer-subsidized greenfraud jobs & contracts?”
    “My refusal to latch onto this most recent green movement is simply because it’s happened before. It’s a marketing gimmick designed to separate fools from their money.”
    “All answers to global warming seem to involve reaching into my wallet, which automatically makes me suspicious of the urgency.”

    How do eating less meat, maintaining your car, and walking or cycling sometimes, cost you money? Or reflect the priorities of the UAW? I recently reached into my wallet to buy a high efficiency boiler. After it’s paid for itself in, say, 8 years, it will save me money as long as it lasts. No doubt there are frauds being perpetrated in the name of carbon savings, but it’s pretty easy to dig out the truth about foolishness like the hydrogen highway.

    “Many engines emit exhaust CLEANER than the ambient air.”

    Still, please don’t run your engine in a closed garage.

    While geeber’s post appears to be a well-reasoned and conclusive dismissal of climate change, it relies on oversimplifications and cherry-picked informational equivalents of sound-bites.

    While certainly the air is cleaner in London than 50 years ago, it just doesn’t matter compared to the mix of elements in the air and water on a global scale. Just because someone picked up all the large litter off the beach, doesn’t mean the oceans aren’t infested with trillions of microscopic bits of plastic. Which weren’t there 50 years ago. Similarly, anyone posing that lifeforms on land and in the oceans are better off than 50 years ago, simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

    Geeber also repeats the denier’s red herring that environmentalism is a religion. This accusation from the far right is just an elaborate way to call someone crazy. Which is odd, given the right’s religious proclivities. Debating whether environmentalism is a religion is a really stupid waste of time while the ecosystem collapses around our ears.

    As geeber says, Europe is not immune from parking problems, traffic jams and speeding. But in a far more relevant perspective, Europeans use vastly less resources percapita than North Americans, and arguably enjoy at least as good quality of life. And it’s not just because they live closer together. North America has cities too.

    I appreciate geeber pointing out that the environmental gains that have been made, have not generally degraded our quality of life. Hopefully those who parrot that cleaning up our act means reverting to oxcarts will take note.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      brandloyalty: Still, please don’t run your engine in a closed garage.

      The Hemlock Society and other right-to-die advocates have warned that new vehicles do not provide an effective means of committing suicide. Their exhaust is too clean. They do not recommend gassing yourself in a new car. It doesn’t work. That shows how clean the exhaust of modern cars is.

      brandloyalty: While geeber’s post appears to be a well-reasoned and conclusive dismissal of climate change, it relies on oversimplifications and cherry-picked informational equivalents of sound-bites.

      Everything I posted is true, and the figures come from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

      brandloyalty: While certainly the air is cleaner in London than 50 years ago, it just doesn’t matter compared to the mix of elements in the air and water on a global scale.

      Using this logic, and turning it on its head, we shouldn’t have done anything about air pollution back in the 1960s, because it wouldn’t have made a difference.

      Notice the bait-and-switch you are pulling here. We were told that cleaning up air pollution was important – so the U.S., Canada, Japan and Western Europe mounted a concerted, very expensive effort to do just that. It has largely worked – and now we are told that it really didn’t matter. It wasn’t enough.

      brandloyalty: Just because someone picked up all the large litter off the beach, doesn’t mean the oceans aren’t infested with trillions of microscopic bits of plastic. Which weren’t there 50 years ago.

      You’re mixing apples and oranges here. You started out talking about air pollution in London – which is relevant to automobile use – and segued to plastic in the oceans. Which is a problem completely separate from automobile use.

      Incidentally, 50 years ago, garbage from New York City and other metropolitan areas was being dumped directly into the ocean, so plenty of plastic and other junk was there.

      If you want to ban or limit plastic drink bottles or “six pack” holders, fine with me, but that has nothing to do with living in the suburbs or driving a brand-new car. People in the cities drink out of plastic bottles, too (probably more than people in the country or the suburbs – they usually don’t like the taste of city water).

      brandloyalty: Similarly, anyone posing that lifeforms on land and in the oceans are better off than 50 years ago, simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

      Which is why several major species of animals in the United States, Canada and Europe are mounting major comebacks. To simply say that everything has gotten worse over the last 50 years ago is simplistic.

      brandloyalty: Geeber also repeats the denier’s red herring that environmentalism is a religion.

      Sorry, but I have dealt with them in my job, and for too many, blind faith is a substitute for rational thought.

      brandloyalty: Debating whether environmentalism is a religion is a really stupid waste of time while the ecosystem collapses around our ears.

      This is the kind of hysteria that is better suited to the women jockeying for the attention of The Bachelor than a rational discussion about the state of the environment. The ecosystem is not collapsing.

      If anyone really believed this, I would expect he or she to run around naked and live in a cave, not spend time jetting from one luxury resort to another for expensive conferences featuring very pricey foods to warn us of the error of our ways.

      For that matter, I wouldn’t expect him or her to spend time posting on the internet using a computer made of plastic and filled with metals that poison landfills, and powered by electricity that is more than likely generated by fossil fuels.

      brandloyalty: As geeber says, Europe is not immune from parking problems, traffic jams and speeding. But in a far more relevant perspective, Europeans use vastly less resources percapita than North Americans, and arguably enjoy at least as good quality of life. And it’s not just because they live closer together. North America has cities too.

      North America has cities, but it also has a much lower level of population density than Europe. People are far more spread out in North America than they are in Europe.

      Europeans, as a result, have different concepts of what constitutes a long distance. My relatives from Germany think that three hours (in a car) is a long trip. Here, it’s not that big a deal – especially in the western states.

      As someone once said, “In America, 100 years is a long time; in England, 100 miles is a long trip.”

      People here do not think it’s a big deal to drive 100 miles to shop or visit friends.

  • avatar
    George B

    “So you tell me – what do you think is our next best hope of building a green transportation infrastructure, starting with the auto industry?”

    It’s all about incremental efficiency improvements. I wouldn’t be suprised if the next car I buy has a 4 cylinder engine, 6 speed automatic transmission, and electric power steering. Might have flex-fuel capability, but most of the “greenness” comes from just using less gasoline. Not as sexy as electric cars or some other major departure from the internal combustion engine, but small efficiency improvements applied to the majority of new cars sold add up to greater reductions in gasoline consumption than building a few super “green” cars.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    People should not worry too much. The Earth has many billions of years to go.

  • avatar
    davejay

    So here’s what we do:

    #1: Revitalize the urban centers: give urban neighborhoods walkable grocery stores, clothing stores, libraries, good schools and office buildings/manufacturing buildings with jobs for people to go to. That way, people won’t have to drive so much.

    #2: Urbanize the suburbs: break suburban sprawled neighborhoods down into smaller, urban-like chunks with the same things listed above, so that people won’t have to drive so much. With so much suburban real estate available cheaply these days, some creative rezoning would help with this.

    #3: Expand ZipCar-like services for use by people who need to travel long distances on occasion, add motorcycle parking and bicycle racks to encourage smaller-footprint vehicular travel, and expand local public transit for people who can’t get around on foot (the handicapped, the elderly, the injured and ill.)

    #4: Encourage shipping distribution methods for groceries and goods that rely (mostly) on trains/planes to move materials between hubs, and small efficient trucks to distribute from those hubs out to the urban centers (much like FedEx and UPS do currently.)

    #5: Start subsidizing growth of food that doesn’t rely on oil to produce, and doesn’t require polluting pesticides et al, and move away from factory farming to something more sustainable/less polluting.

    Will this ever happen? Dunno. I suppose it depends if you think it will happen now, before the damage gets worse, or later, when it’s the only valid option we have left.


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