Saturday, January 26, 2008

Environmentalism and Forgetfulness

This from an owner of a supposedly "green" car:
From this site

"The Aptera is a new, much discussed vehicle, a gas-electric hybrid, that the developers claim will get around 300 miles per gallon of gasoline. It will retail for about $30,000. However, it makes sense only for someone who wants to show off his (or her or transgendered) environmental bona fides. As a money saver, it doesn't.

For example, I bought my car (a Japanese compact) ten years ago, and it was one year old at the time. I paid $11,000, which The Inflation Calculator says is about $13,600 today. Gasoline currently sells for about $3 a gallon. If I were to fill up the tank weekly (in reality I fill up far less often), the cost would be about $1560 a year. The Aptera's yearly gas cost would be only about a tenth of that, or $156, for a savings of about $1400 a year.

However, the difference in price between the two cars is over $16,000, so if an Aptera had been available ten years ago, and I had bought it instead, I would still not have saved enough money from lower gasoline costs to make up the difference. Furthermore, you're going to have to replace the Aptera's batteries every 8 years (I think) at huge cost. And even further, despite my car's status as a small car, it's a lot more solid and probably safer than the Aptera, which looks pretty flimsy.

The Aptera's price would have to come down considerably to make it price competitive with most current cars, and you'd still have to get over an aversion to driving in a cramped tricycle."

A comment logged in response to this post:

"I look forward to the day when horseriding as a form of transport make a comeback. That whole cowboy chic is very appealing, Brokeback Mountain notwithstanding."

Reference note in a study about transportation in New York City at the eve of the 20th century:
"The Automobile Age by James J. Flink. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1998:. Sanitation p.136: Horse manure responsible for the spread of diseases in New York City. Flies which fed on manure also spread disease. Dead horses blocked streets."

The conclusion-too many people are so shallow in their knowledge and so lemming-like in their behavior, that they will buy and use products just because they claim a "green" status. Since our educational system has relegated the study of history to a minor status, we have countless people who like to pretend the Old West or the Victorian Era was a romantic wonderful time. They discount the scourges of disease, death, and danger which were always part of any person's life. Back then, there were no guarantees of survival past infancy. There were no safety nets, no social programs and no taxes to pay for such things. But this is the key problem that I have with so many of those who like to call themselves environmentalists. They want civilization to take a giant step back and they are willing to use any means necessary to do so. They are so ignorant of the realities of life without things like air conditioning, heating, cars, and such that they think doing without would be a picnic. People will do what they can as long as it doesn't negatively impact their lifestyle. And while those folks in the chichi mansions on Cape Cod and Malibu are really good about telling us little folks how we should do without, I doubt very much they would limit their own very large carbon footprints to do the same.

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