June 11, 2005

And in local news...

How NOT to write a front page story.

No doubt most of the blogosphere missed this little story as it seems to have appeared only in the dead tree version of the Connecticut Post. This item, by local reporter Rob Varnon, appeared on the front page.

Energy efficiency popular with public, not Congress

Maybe the 6 percent of Americans who think "it's a bad idea" to mandate better gas mileage for automobiles are all U.S. senators, because the rest of the nation appears to like the idea.
Ninety-three percent of the respondents to a survey think requiring the auto industry to make cars that get better gas mileage is a good idea.

I may have only taken one journalism class in my lifetime, but I had writing the first sentence (who, what, where, when) down pat. So, first off, Varnon's second sentence should have been the first, and his snarky first sentence should have been on the op-ed page.

The Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, which did the national survey, blasted Congress on Thursday for being out of touch with Americans.

Varnon gives no details about how the Yalies "blasted" Congress. Was it in a press release? Was it at a press conference? Was it in testimony before Congress? Who knows. And if 93% of Americans want Congress to ban the hideous ugly and not funny Marmaduke and Rugrats from the comics page, I suppose they'd be "out of touch" with Americans for not doing something that would violate the Fist Amendment.

The survey's authors said the Senate's Energy Committee in May scrapped an amendment to the national energy bill that would have increased fuel-efficiency standars for sport-utility vehicles and minivans to the same 27.5 miles per gallon required for cars.

OK, let's get something clear. The way to increase a vehicles mileage per gallon is to make the vehicle lighter. As long as you have clean and properly guaged sparkplugs -- and nothing's out of whack and causing a "drag" on the vehicle -- gasoline can't get much more efficient than it already is and always was.

Making the SUVs lighter will only change what is attractive about SUVs in the first place. That they are heavy duty and have a metal chasis, not fiberglass. Requiring by law that an SUV be altered to go from getting 15 to 27.5 miles per gallon woud simply turn them into cars. And you can't safely tow an RV trailer up or down a hill with a Toyota; you need a heavy truck. If you want to get 35 miles to the gallon then by a 4-cylinder Ford Taurus. How an SUV can do what it can do is precisely what causes it to get only 15 mpg.

Require an SUV to get 30 mpg? You might as well require it to climb an 85 degree incline. T'ain't gonna hap'n.

The CFE [Connecticut Fund for the Envirnment] said the Connecticut Clean Cars Incentive Program was enacted this session to create consumer incentives to buy vehicles that get good gas mileage and produce less pollution. The legislature will vote on the incentive plan in 2006.

There are no clues in the article just as to what any of these "consumer incentives" are. But, in my observations, it usually means that our overlords are planning to punish our freedom to make "wrong" choices. But what if they wanna simply reward "right" choices? Read on:

At the local level, New Haven's Board of Aldermen recently approved a plan to allow New Haven residents who own high-mileage hybrid automoblies to park in the city for free. The policy is expected to be in force July 4.

I consider that little policy to be unConstitutional. Charging or not charging city residents parking fees based on the make and model of the vehicle they're parking? Ho. Ly. Krap.

Dan Esty, a professor and director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy,

Shouldn't that be the "Yale Center for THE STUDY OF Environmental Law and Policy?" Since when was academia a center legislative policy making?

said Congress is not representing the views of the vast majority of AMericans as it shapes energy policy.
He said the 6 percent against fuel-efficiency mandates most likely objected to the government forcing the changes.

Or maybe they object to the de facto banning entire classes of highly useful vehicles...

But what's most amaxing, he said, is that as adverse as many Americans are to forcing companies like these, 93 percent want it done.

Notice the absence of quotation marks. (Sorry. That's just my inner frustrated journalist talking.)

93% of Americans want it done because they actually believe that it CAN be done. If you someone if they'd like their SUV to get 35 miles to the gallon, of course they'll say "YES!". But, ask them if they want the gubmint to ban SUVs and minivans, they'll say "NO!". But that's exactly what it comes down to and that fact is nowhere to be found in this article.

Let's see what else is missing...

The survey also found that 92 percent pf AMericans say dependence on foreign oil is a serious problem.
The survey of 1,000 U.S. residents over the age of 18 included a proportionate number of Republicans and Democrats. [Which leaves out about half the population. -- TS] But what was almost shocking to Esty was that there was little difference in how Democrats and Republicans viewed these problems, despite the political animosity that's welled up over the past decade.

Some people are just dumb, I guess. This Dan Esty fella is shocked -- shocked I tells ya(!) -- that people vote for their pocketbook/wallet. "Democrats and Republicans BOTH wanna save money and be less 'dependent' on foreign oil? I'm shocked! And saddened!"

But here's the thing. If we cut our, oh say, Saudi oil imports by 50% tomorrow, the Saudi's would simply cut production by 50% and raise the price accordingly. The market price is not not NOT simply a due to how much oil is in demand, but also of how much oil is supplied. The Saudis can increase and decrease production in order to get their price. Period.

Lookee here: We could end our "dependence" on foreign oil. But, since we're importing no oil from other countries, we'll have to stop exporting our own oil to still other countries. That's an isolationist policy and we'd have to give up a lot of neato things.

F'rinstance, we'll sell oil to China and in return we'll buy rubber beach clogs that cost us 99 cents. If those clogs were made in the U.S. they'd prolly cost about 5 or 6 bucks. But, we get el cheapo crap from China and China buys our oil. If we buy no more oil from Saudi Arabia then they'll stop buying our... our... our whatever the hell they buy from us. It's called "foreign trade" and it's a lot bigger than just frickin' oy'ul.

Oil is the second-most efficient energy resource we've found, and that's why we're "dependent" on it. Solar energy is an efficient energy source for tomatos and cucumbers, but it's not an efficient energy source for motor vehicles. Solar, natural gas, hydro-electric and even biomass are viable sources of energy, but they are suitable only as a suppliment, not as replacement for petroleum.

The problem with oil is that it's a finite source -- ther's only so much much of it. Even though we tend to keep finding new and bigger reserves here and there, it's still a finite resource. There wont be as much oil in the ground in 10 years, and less in 50 years, and still less in 200 years. Relying on oil as an energy source is not a long-term strategy. But, like I said, it's only the second-most efficient energy resource.

With soldiers fighting in Iraq and unrest in other parts of the petroleum-rich Middle East, Esty said Americans realize that they are locked into the struggles of that region because of oil dependence.
"It looks to me that the public has some pretty strong views on the need for a non-oil energy strategy," he said.

Since any "non-oil energy strategy" that I suspect Esty would endorse couldn't run a locomotive from one side of Nebraska to the other, I expect that he will offer no suggestions as to what a preferred "non-oil" energy resource might be.

The survey found that gas mileage improvement was the most popular way to kick the oil habit. But building more solar power facilities and wind-turbine farms was attractive to more than 87 percent of respondents.

Which just shows to go ya that most people don't understand the agenda being the sneaky questions they'r being asked. Solar panels? Windmills? Shall we fire up the old whaling vessels so's we have enough oil for candlelight on them calm and cloudy days and nights?

But this just makes my day. Notice how, in this next paragraph, the word "foreign" is missing:

Esty said the popularity of reducing dependence is common sense, because oil-based and fossil-fuel products increase pollution -- and everyone likes to breathe.
"It seems liike common sense, but what plays out in Washington is nothing near it," he said.
[End of article -- TS.]

What's playing out in Washington is probably more sensical than wishing for things that don't exist.

I said that petroleum is the second-most efficient energy source. No matter how many as of yet untapped reserves we can find, petroleum is still, and always, only a temporary source of energy. In a thousand years it will be a long forgotten memory.

Whether we wanna preserve a status quo or explore more than our own filthy corner of the galaxy, we need to think further ahead than the next election cycle. Are we destined to reach the next star or are we destined to settle for this one? If the future is now then let's see the correct future, not an idealistic wishing-might-make-it-so future.

The only inexaustible energy source is nuclear energy. That's not an argument, that's a fact.

The problem is that's it's pretty tricky for us right now. But, I promise, it wont always be.

Imagine the first critic of fire. "OUCH!" he cried because was new to him and he didn't quite know yet what to make of it. But, eventually, we learned the rules how to work with fire.

Chernobyl will never happen again. I say that with confidence only because I know that, after Chernobyl, nobody wants to make that one dumb mistake ever again. Maybe I'm whistling past the graveyard, but I do think that, after thousands of years of history, if humanity is going to be around and grow(!)0 after another thousand years then we have to face the fact that nuclear energy is the only only only way we're ever gonna get there.

Some want us to go back to picking weeds and "living off the land". Remember that from the early '70s? But we're going frther than that. Of "getting back to nature" is all we're destined for then we're just running backwards. Our future isn't here, it's out there! Accepting what we are is easy. Dreaming of what we can be is... easy, too!

If oil has to go then so does everything we know. We'll be the little house on the prairie in an idyllic quest for the truth that we deny ourselves. Heaven-on-the-range and no more. We've made our choice.?

Not yet.

Posted by Tuning Spork at June 11, 2005 08:39 PM
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