Fun fact, the original American mass-produced automobile, the Ford Model T got roughly 13 miles to the gallon (according to Ford’s official website). The average today? 21 miles per gallon, a century and we’ve managed 8 whole miles. Angus MacKenzie did an op-ed piece in April of 2008 that addressed this disparity with his article titled “The 25 MPG Model T: Why Haven’t We Done Better?”
MacKenzie makes a salient point, we have done better. We’ve done much better. Cars are now not the death-traps they once were, owners are not nearly as likely to get a broken arm with crank starters, or die in an engine explosion / drive train fracture / headlamp oil fire. Compared to the Model T modern cars are houses on wheels, they’ve even got cupholders for heaven’s sake. He even concludes by stating, as others have, that car manufacturers have tried to market more efficient vehicles to no avail.
The VW Lupo 3 was brought to market with lackluster sales, even though it got 63-78 mpg in town. The Toyota Hybrid Prius is a joke. Not because it isn’t more fuel efficient but because the battery that powers it travels around the world twice on barges after being strip-mined out of the earth before it even drives out of the show room, burning still more dino bones as it goes. Fewer, perhaps, but burns them all the same. Oh, and let’s not forget that it’s a plug and play vehicle. Which means the fuel consumption the owner avoids at the gas pump is offset to the local coal or natural gas burning power station.
Internal combustion engines are just a terrible form of transportation. My question is, why haven’t we come up with something better by now? Sure there’s the VW ‘Air Car’ which (I’m not kidding) uses a combination of air that is pre-compressed and then a fuel heater to expand the air further. The estimates are it could get 800 miles on a single tank of, well, whatever you got. Supposedly it can run on diesel, gasoline, bio-fuel, kerosene, daemon spittle, just so it gets hot and stays hot. Basically, it’s a steam engine without the steam, but with a ‘boiler’. Which kinda brings us back to that old technology from the introduction. Except self-propelled vehicles with steam engines go even further back as they were developed in the 1700s.
What about global warming? Because of a man named Sterling. Robert Sterling was a Scot who invented an engine that actually does run on air. His engine relies on the difference between expanding and contracting gasses when their temperature changes. If you put one half of a Sterling engine in the sun, and the other in the shade, you’ve got power All. Day. Long. And no exhaust, no carbon emissions, nada. Stick a Sterling on top of your house with some battery back-ups and you’ve got free power until your roof collapses.
But every time I see people debating fuel efficiency, or wind energy, or even cultural and environmental preservation, for some reason it ends up in a shouting match about green house gases and how we’re killing the Madagascar Sucker-Footed Bat (yes, that is a thing). Global warming is a frivolity, a chicane, a humbug. Not because it isn’t happening, because it has nothing to do with the solutions because it has nothing to do with the problems.
Strip mining the Appalachian Mountains for coal, fracking half of Colorado for natural gas, it’s the death rattle of a dying industry. And it’s absolutely disgusting to look at, we live here and we’re shitting in our own den. When British Petroleum got the worst case of plumbing backup in The History of Ever, the US Congress held an informal prayer ceremony. No shit, while millions of gallons of sweet crude oil and natural gas went spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, our elected officials gathered their collective power, and with the full due process of law they held hands and sang “Kum-By-Yah”.
John Stewart of The Daily Show had the only response appropriate in that situation, “You’re going to ask God for guidance? As if him sticking the oil under two miles of ocean wasn’t enough of a hint?” This wasn’t an ‘Oops’. It was an act of terrorism pure and simple. A foreign power balking at our sovereignty and poisoning our water supply. If they’d done it to the Pentagon we would be at war. But no, instead we prayed about it.
The religiosity of the whole thing isn’t what gets me, it’s the sheer grudging acceptance. This attitude of ‘Well, what were we supposed to do?’ BP says we need to drill, so we drill. And when the well decides to drain itself before we can get there to drink it dry we start talking about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or the Tar Sands like they’re some sort of black gold mine.
Nevermind that they’ll end up looking like the oil absorbing cat litter in a gas station parking lot. Oh, and we’ll have to construct a pipeline to haul the stuff. Unfortunately it’ll have to go through a few Indian Reservations violating centuries old treaties and possibly spurring an international incident. Tis but a trifle, BP and Chevron so. May ExxonMobil guide and protect you.
So why are we still talking about the Arctic Polar Bear, or the Canada Goose, or the Monarch Butterfly? Not because I don’t care about them, I actually really do. I really do a lot. But I give a shit about me too. And as long as the radical left keeps couching its language in the most absurd, inane, quasi-spiritual doggerel, the ears of everyone who doesn’t want to commune with their inner Tao and activate their 12th Chaka-Kahn are going to be slammed in our faces. So let’s get down to brass tacks, quit it already.
Money lovers don’t care about the White-Faced Saki Monkey, or the Bolivian Wombat. They care about money. Have that conversation.
Talk about old-growth forest pharmaceuticals for fun and profit. Not by clear-cutting mind you, but by truly preserving and exploring. Hell, find a Native or two and have an actual honest to goodness conversation about what the elders used to chew for a headache. Talk about eco-tourism, invite the Natives for that one too. Instead of using Eminent Domain to to give Keystone a boondoggle. Talk about being the first manufacturer of a combination solar panel / Sterling engine personal home generator. Talk about getting 100 miles to the gallon and only having to fill up your tank every three months. Gas is at $10 a quart? Who gives a crap?!
Picture it, truly picture it. Take all the ne’r do wells, all the xenophobes, all the people who think the UN is the biggest waste of real estate since we admitted Kansas as a free state. Take all the American Exceptionalists, all the people who think France will destroy us with Socialism and that Muslim terrorists are hiding in every 24 hour movie rental store. Take all those people, stick them in front of a television and make them watch as the President announces a new government initiative to tell China and OPEC to take a flying leap because the US is going oil free.