Category Quick Jump
Electric Car Technology is Here: So Why Wait For Hydrogen Fuel Cells?
I just saw the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? last night. I'll spare you a full review, but I would strongly recommend seeing this movie as it illustrates that alternatives to conventional gas guzzlers, in the form of electric cars and hybrids, exist right now.
The affordable Toyota Prius is probably the best-known example of using electric car technology to lower fuel needs. More exotic, the amazing Tesla Roadster shows what is available on the high end of the market. It is 100% electric, goes from 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds and has a 250 mile range.
With electric car technology having matured, it would make sense that we would see more electric cars on the market, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
If electric car technology works right now, why aren't American car companies mass-marketing it? Why is society supposed to wait for the hydrogen fuel cell?
A Convenient Dead End
Hydrogen fuel cells, it seems, are pushed by the oil and auto industries solely because they are a dead end that poses no real threat to gas dependency. Dr. Joseph J. Romm, author of "The Hype About Hydrogen" summarized the impracticality of fuel cells in a study submitted to the US congress:
A key problem with the hydrogen economy is that pollution-free sources of hydrogen are unlikely to be practical and affordable for decades. Indeed, even the pollution-generating means of making hydrogen are currently too expensive and too inefficent to substitute for oil.
So hydrogen fuel will be more expensive than gas and will require, inconveniently, that drivers fuel up at special stations. Yet electric car technology relies on comparatively cheap electricity and cars be recharged from home or the office.
If this is the case, why is it that hydrogen fuel cells are where research money is being spent?
America's Missed Opportunity
As gas becomes increasingly expensive there is going to come a point where an electric car is successfully mass marketed. US auto manufacturers, however, are making no real effort to pursue this market, so it is likely that this money will be made by European or Asian auto manufacturers.
Why are American auto manufacturers choosing to market SUVs rather than electric cars?
The reason for this is that the auto industry is tightly allied with the oil industry. Oil, in comparison to electricity, is scarce: production and distribution are tightly controlled. The end result of this scarcity is great wealth for those that control it. Oil industry wealth has bought massive political access, and political access loosens public purse strings. For this reason the oil industry, and its ally the auto industry, have historically received massive public subsidies.
So rather than dealing with reality and taking the opportunity to reinvent itself for long-term success, the US auto industry is banking on remaining the oil industry's sidekick.
G.O.P. = Gas, Oil, and Petroleum
The Bush-era US Republican Party has taken public aid for the oil and auto industries to a new level.
Most people know about the administration's oil and auto industry links. Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, former chief of staff Andy Card... all are former oil and auto industry executives. The oil and auto industries used to pay a a lot of money to lobby the government. Now they don't need to... because they run it.
In addition to stifling adoption of electric vehicles, the present dominance of the oil and auto industries means a number of things.
First, oil industry domination means global warming. An America run by the oil and auto industries is not going to deal with fossil fuel emissions and is going to pressure others to follow suit. The status quo will remain... and surface temperatures will continue to rise. And even uf global warming doesn't cook us, smog will poison us.
Second, oil industry domination also means constant war. An America run by the oil and auto industries will continually work to consolidate its supply chain, insuring cheap access to oil by use military force to coerce countries whose leaders can't be bought. This will undoubtedly increase terrorism.
Last, oil industry domination means global poverty. The Bush adminsitration is spending obscene amounts of US taxpayer's money on advancing their agenda, an agenda detrimental to the interests of the US itself. They also use taxpayer's money to induce governments of other countries to play the same game.
What To Do?
The supression of electric car technology is just one of many signs that an America controlled by the oil and auto industries is heading the wrong way fast. It is time to grab the steering wheel and, as we do it, imagine the good things we can do with the world once it's back in sane hands.
Consider what you can do. Be creative. stop pulling punches, stop being afraid, stop treating Bush supporters with the respect they neglect to afford you. Let them know that how they have betrayed their country won't be forgotten.
There are many more of us than there are of them. Their only protection is that we believe we are powerless.
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