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The Alternative Fuel Wars June 5, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Rarely do I feel the need to voice my political views here.  Mostly it’s because I want to avoid conflict; the only topic that is more divisive than politics, after all, is religion (another topic I avoid, yet will mention here!).  However, I hope that this post will be less of a rant and more of an open forum for discussion.

About what, you ask?  About alternative fuel sources.

Five years ago, if you would have told me that gasoline would be obsolete in half a century, I would have laughed at you.  I also refused to believe that things I was doing as an individual were impacting the environment for the worse.  Things today, however, are quite different.  Within 50 years, the world’s fossil fuel supply will be gone, according to many experts.  Though I am often distrustful of statistics, the fact is that the United States is the leading consumer of fossil fuels in the world, and the majority of that use is in motor vehicles.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that America needs to start making a change, and that it needs to begin with the largest chunk of the pie.

Everyone seems to be developing alternative fuel sources.  Biofuels, electricity, hydrogen, solar, wind…all viable sources of power.  However, until we decide on ONE alternative fuel for our motor vehicle fleet, all efforts will be in vain.  Here’s an example for you: back when HDTV was first coming in style, there were a few different kinds of DVDs that claimed to capitalize on this new format.  Regular DVDs upgraded their quality, but ultimately, there were two–HD DVDs and Blu-Ray format discs.  Both of these formats tried to coexist peacefully.  It wasn’t long until problems started to emerge.  In order to use one format or the other, you had to buy special players, which required special cables.  Some movies were only available on one format, so you had to have both to watch the movies you wanted at the quality you wanted.  Eventually, HD DVDs folded to the power of Blu-Ray, and everyone lived happily ever after.

This is the problem with offering A MILLION different fuel sources.  There’s no way that there can be the widespread availability necessary to run America’s fleet without settling on ONE source.  Not only that, but the fuel source that wins out will be the one that can be converted to fit existing gas-burning vehicles.  Can you imagine every car on the road being obsolete in 5 years?  Crazy.  Whichever fuel source we pick will have to be adjusted to fit classic/current gas burners.  I’m not sure how this can work, only that I think it has to.

In terms of fuel sources, I think electric cars are the way to go.  If you want to see a compelling speech calling for the use of electric cars, watch this 20 minute video on TED.  Trust me, you’ll love it.  I know that this causes issues in terms of how we produce electricity itself–but what better way to move away from coal power plants to wind/solar/water/nuclear power plants?  It seems like choosing this kind of car will ultimately force a change in the power grid as well.  Both Chevrolet and Tesla have developed electric cars, and with battery distribution points and a standard battery system, problems should be (at least moderately) solved.

So, what do you think?

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