Lo, these many moons ago, the big buzzword was “mega“. This was followed by “turbo” and “laser” and a whole host of others. Now we have a new buzzword: “green“.
You can tell when a buzzword has officially arrived when everyone and his Madison Avenue Marketroid is flogging their product and/or service with the word. And so it is today. Everything is green these days- even when it ain’t.
I have no problem with people wanting to buy cars which get better fuel economy. So long as the pursuit of fuel efficiency does not sacrifice things like safety or functionality, this is simply a logical reaction to the rising cost of fuel. That said, I am continually bemused by the fact that many of these so-called “green” vehicles don’t actually get very good mileage.
Because of various and sundry physical infirmities, I drive a Buick. It’s a large behemoth with all the bells and whistles, and yet I get 23 MPG in town and 33 MPG on the highway. Please compare these figures with the latest so-called “green” vehicles being flogged by the various auto makers. I’ll wait.
A casual perusal of ads on TV reveals a lot of vehicles being declared “green” with advertised fuel efficiency far worse than my 4 year old Buick. Furthermore, many of these “green” vehicles are tiny little plastic boxes which tend to fare poorly in collisions due to the Law of Gross Tonnage- unlike my car, which gets very good ratings from the Insurance Institute.
I am also continually disgusted by the average environmentalist’s complete ignorance of engineering. Those little econoboxes which are the darlings of the environmental movement for their fuel economy are generally less safe than larger vehicles and are manufactured with large quantities of plastic. For those of you who might now be foaming at the mouth in outrage at my words, plastic is made from petroleum. Those little green cars aren’t all that green after all.
I think electric cars are kinda neat. It’s really cool to watch someone get into a car and drive away with only a slight buzz from the motor and the crunch of their tires on pavement. That said, I won’t be buying one anytime soon. I’m an engineer, and I know that the batteries in those vehicles will need to be replaced one day, and the cost of battery replacement will probably exceed the cost of buying a new vehicle. They may be fuel efficient, but are not cost-efficient in the long run.
Here’s what it will take to get a lot more electric vehicles on the roads:
1- They will have to be less expensive than the equivalent gas guzzler- both long and short term.
2- They will need to be capable of recharging quickly and cheaply.
3- They will need to be capable of maintaining highway speeds for more than 200 miles without needing a recharge.
Battery technology is currently not capable of delivering these requirements. Batteries will need to become lighter, less toxic, and cheap.
This constant push by environmentalists to “go green” has a tendency to backfire. Preaching at Americans isn’t very effective- especially when it would cost them money. If you want to get Americans to change, don’t appeal to their love of nature. Don’t try to frighten them into believing the End of the World is Nigh! The best way to get a response from Americans is to appeal to their self-interest.
There are a lot of ways the average person in this country can be more environmentally friendly that do not involve dramatic changes in lifestyle or adherence to unproven science. Keep your car in good repair. Keep your tires properly inflated. Car-pool when possible. Plan your driving to reduce travel time and redundant trips. Buy an electronic thermostat for your home to reduce energy consumption. Once Americans figure out how to get more out of their paycheck, the changes start happening.
The current frenzy of “green” advertising has convinced me that the Environmental Extremists have lost. Once the Marketroids get their hands on a concept, it will quickly and permanently be warped and twisted until every last penny has been wrung from it, after which the concept will be discarded. The religion of Environmentalism will start to fragment into orthodox and reform camps- each of which will be more interested in destroying the other than in the core tenets of their religion.
Maybe then we can start listening to some sane people about the environment. Someone like Bjorn Lomborg. I have to admit that my primary reason for liking Mr. Lomborg is the fact that Environmentalists start screeching and foaming at the mouth whenever his name is mentioned. Then I read some of his work and listened to him talk. I think he makes a lot of sense.
But what do I know? I’m just an engineer.
Current status: Not “Green”
Current music: Asshole Song by Dennis Leary