Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Relocate the Endangered Polar Bears to Mt. Shasta?

Mt. Shasta + Polar Bears = !!! WINNER !!!

On Yahoo! News today:
MOUNT SHASTA, Calif. - Global warming is shrinking glaciers all over the world, but the seven tongues of ice creeping down Mount Shasta's flanks are a rare exception: They are the only long-established glaciers in the lower 48 states that are growing.

Reaching more than 14,000 feet above sea level, Mount Shasta is one of the state's tallest peaks, dominating the landscape of high plains and conifer forests in far Northern California. Nearby Indian tribes referred to its glaciers as the footsteps made by the creator when he descended to Earth. Hikers flock to Shasta every summer to scale them.
Hmm, does that mean we could save the Polar Bears by moving them to Mt. Shasta? Polar Bears and Redwood trees -- together at last!

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posted by Brian at 5:07 PM 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Finally! A Futuristic Vehicle For Sale (soon)

The Aptera Typ-1 is the protoype of a three-wheel electric motorcycle-class vehicle being offered for sale in California at the end of this year. It will be offered as either a purely electric vehicle chargeable overnight by a standard electrical outlet and good for 120 miles (less than typical commute), or as a gasoline hybrid-electric capable of 300 mpg. Yes, 300 mpg, not the lousy 35mpg our government wants the auto industry to, uh, strive for in the next 10 years. (Hmm, doesn't the Toyota Yaris already get 35mpg? Way to set your goals high there, EPA.) Granted, this is not technically a car but just look at this baby! Panaramic view. Cage made of material 10 times stronger than steel. Video cameras instead of a rear-view mirror. Enough room for three people, groceries or golf clubs if you're so inclined. Your choice of white. Bragging rights and gawkers for years to come.

For a mere $500 you can reserve one. The final cost will put it up there somewhere with a Prius (around $26-30k).

At last! We can soon buy a vehicle that looks like what EPCOT and other science museum exhibits predicted cars might look like back in the 80s. This is the iPod of vehicles.

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posted by Brian at 11:53 AM 3 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Federal Government to California: You're Making Us Look Bad

California is one of the States leading the way towards lowering car emissions responsible for Global Warming. While it's great that a Federal bill was passed recently setting a higher MPG benchmark (35 mpg) by 2020, one must realize this benchmark was a target for the mid-1980's during the early 1970s oil crisis and the technology already exists to get there. Look up 1980s car commercials on YouTube -- you'll find cars advertising 35 mpg. Basically, the administration is trying to get credit for taking action while caving to industry pressure. California has never been turned down before for having higher standards than the rest of the country, but today the historically corrupt Environmental Protection Agency announced they were rejecting California's request:
“The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution – not a confusing patchwork of state rules,” EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson told reporters on a conference call. “I believe this is a better approach than if individual states were to act alone.”
Mr. Johnson, what is so confusing? If states want to do a better job than you, then adjust your Clean Air Bill appropriately. These States are challenging you to do a better job, to start joining the rest of world in reducing the impact of Global Warming. There is no confusion; you don't want to take real action and you don't want these States to make life difficult for your friends in the energy and auto industries.

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posted by Brian at 9:03 AM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, July 14, 2006

Who Killed the Electric Car?

At work they showed the new documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? last night. (I'm proud Sony Pictures Classics picked this up).

It made me want to buy an electric car, right now. Trouble is, now there are no affordable ones for sale anymore. Thanks to a coordinated effort of lawsuits, anti-PR campaigns, and oil-baron friendly government leaders, big car companies have dropped their focus on EV for hybrids and lesser technologies. As the film illustrates quite well, EV really is the best of the technologies out there now, AND it meets the needs of 90% of people in this country. But it IS a threat to the status quo we've had for the last 80 years. It has no need for gas. It needs fewer parts. Requires less maintenance. It can be refueled at home.

GM decided that even though it had spent a billion dollars making one of the best cars ever made, it would stop production, and crush all the ones that existed (ending the leases for all those who had one, and hauling them away to be scrapped). It and others sued California to end the requirement for such cars (and won, thanks to a committee member who worked for a competing hydrogen fuel cel firm) Ironically though, all the development of low-emissions automobile technology lit a fire under Japanese car companies to get into it themselves (hence, the success of the Prius).

What's frustrating to me now is, all this technology is just sitting there. The public wants it. But's it's too expensive. If you do a search for EV, you'll find most automobile manufacturers were intent on selling by early 2001 or so. We would have had real, working, EV cars. Now, basically there's the Prius, a decent hybrid but still reliant on oil. A sports car was built (by the EV1 engineer featured in the film) that is faster than both the Porsche and Ferrari, can go 300 miles without recharging, and has zero emissions. But it is not available for sale. Aaargh! His website keeps suggesting the possibility of vehicular greatness, but sadly, nothing can actually be bought right now unless you build it yourself.

The next big thing then, will be plugin modifications to hybrids.

UPDATE: General Motors responds to criticisms in the film, and to a rant in the New York Times.

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posted by Brian at 11:46 AM 0 comments links to this post