Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thoughts on hybrids, global warming and the global economy

No pictures with this post -- just a few observations. I saw an ad on television last night, right after arriving home from Friday happy hour, touting the new Chevy Suburban Hybrid. Give me a break! A hybrid suburban? Hybrids seem to be all the rage, but from what I have heard, that are ecologically unsound. The amount of energy used to manufacture and recycle the battery negates any savings of driving the vehicle. Further, there is very little savings in energy over the operational life of the vehicle.

What does a suburban weigh? 6,000 lbs? Laws of physics are still in effect. Hybrids have not created some kind of wierd new science, as the automakers, government, and ecology dorks would have you believe. It takes EXACTLY the same amount of energy to propel for its life of say 150,000 miles no mater whether it is a hybrid, a diesel, or gasoline. The battery can produce only so much energy without being charged. Guess what! The engine has to burn gasoline to recharge the battery. All you really get with a hybrid is a short span of fuel efficiency when moving slow, all to be wiped out when doing highway driving. The the mininal fuel savings over the life of the vehicle are wiped out by the added cost of manufacturing and recycling the battery.

Some ecological do-gooders want to trade in their gas guzzler NOW for a hybrid. They mean well. This creates demand for new hybrids. Manufacturing ANY new vehicle takes an enormous amount of energy. The better route is to continue to drive your gas guzzler until it is worn out. The energy used, and money spent by creating demand for ONE hybrid, are more than continuing to operate the low mpg vehicle you already have. When the old vehicle is worn out, the feel free to buy any new vehicle you want. Of course, I would advise everyone to buy a motorcycle. They are much more environmentally friendly than hybrids. But that is just my opinion. :-)

The federal government can't say this, but to REALLY cut down on carbon emissions the way we need to would throw the global economy into severe depression. They advocate use of hybrids, low wattage light bulbs, etc. These are miniscule savings in carbon emissions. Cars, trucks, buses and airplanes account for less than 50% of oil usage. Manufacturing and electric power generation are the huge emitters of carbons. To encourage people to buy fewer manufactured items would not be a good thing for the economy.

I don't know the answer to global warming, but I think converting our entier vehicle fleet to hybrids would have little to no effect. Maybe it would help to encourage people to drive less. Maybe gas needs to be $7 per gallon, so people will make adjustments and drive only when the must. Maybe encouraging people to buy less manufactured "stuff" that they don't need would help. But we know that will never happen.

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Sarch said...

Mike these are some ugly truths that most folks aren't willing / ready to look at. Don't confuse people with logic and common sense man....they want to FEEL good! :)

Conchscooter said...

Changing direction isn't easy, but for those people who have offspring its necessary, and how to do it without buggering up the economy is the question. I'm lucky in that i don't like SUV's and can be snotty about my 43mpg motorcycle. which is my replacement for a car in daily use. But I think mindfulness is where change works- using re-useable bags instead of plastic bags at the grocery store, disposing of used oil properly,turning out unecessary electrical uses, talking civily with your neighbors about what works and what doesn't. Ploughing on wasting resources isn't going to work for too much longer. Getting educated and thougytful might help.
Having said that- who can diagree with your SUV/Hybrid considerations?

bikerphoto said...

ovRiding a 41 mpg motorcycle makes me feel good about conserving fuel and money. But there are days when riding the bike to work is not practical. I do have a "small" SUV, a Chrysler Pacifica. In the past year, I'm proud to say i drove it 3000 miles less than the previous year.

There is no doubt that we need to conserve resources wherever we can. My main point is that hybrid vehicles really offer only miniscule conservation, if any at all.