Monthly Archives: May 2012

When we CANNOT Fly

Most of our public discussions about dwindling oil supplies center around our love affair with the automobile and its impact on our lifestyle. It is strange how we overlook its impact on aviation. Almost all the places where we use energy there are several alternate sources. We can run trains with electricity or steam. We can drive ships with nuclear power or steam. We can power automobiles with electricity or fuel cells. We can heat buildings with heat pumps or coal. We cannot power airplanes with coal, with wind power, with solar power,  or with nuclear power. Of all sources of energy known or dreamed of kerosene and gasoline have the highest ratios of stored energy to weight and the only sources for which that ratio is high enough for flight. (We are not considering rocket flight.) If we continue on our present course the air age is doomed.

We should not only seek to reduce our dependence on oil we should make every effort to divert our use of oil to alternatives wherever possible. In particular, it is insane to use oil for heating buildings.

A measure of how serious we consider the problem to be is how serious we are about looking for solutions. Our current approaches are all inadequate. A solution is not going to be found by tinkering with our current habits. We are racing to disaster with glazed eyes. Even a reasoned and visionary solution must be more drastic than anything that has so far been proposed.

It does no good to make our cars more fuel efficient if we continue to use gasoline as our primary fuel and continue to use our cars as we do. If a can gets 10 miles per gallon and is driven 5000 miles a year it will use 500 gallons of gasoline. If it is replaced with a car that gets 20 miles per gallon it will use 250 gallons, a saving of 250 gallons. There is no way to save an additional 250 gallons no matter how efficient the car. Making cars more fuel efficient is a step in the right direction. It will not be sufficient without driving less and devising cars and transportation systems that use no gasoline at all.

There has been much discussion about new hybrids and battery powered cars. Their high prices will make the rate of expansion of their use slow, particularly if the benefit after buying such a vehicle is modest. An effective policy must consider usage. A policy must be devised that makes it advantageous to use these vehicles and to reduce our use of all gas powered cars.

I am going to make a suggestion for such a policy. Forgo any tax on a car based on its price or value. For one thing this discourages buying an electric car. Instead tax its impact on its use of gasoline.  When it comes time to renew an automobile license it is customary to measure the car’s emissions and record its current odometer reading.  The emission reading tells us how much the car emits per mile and the odometer reading tells us how many miles that car has been driven since the previous emissions test. This gives us a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide the car has dumped into the atmosphere and also an approximation of the amount of gasoline the car has consumed. Base the tax on that approximation.

You can keep your Hummer and you won’t be penalized if you don’t drive it much. You can tool around very nicely in your Volt.

This is just a suggestion of the type of drastic policy that must be considered. It is not perfect and it is fair to criticize it. I just hope you will try to think of alternatives that will be effective and find acceptance. There is a worthy goal out there and just turning our backs on the problem will not make it go away.

Evar D. Nering

I invite your input, ideas, comments and questions on producing and designing eco-friendly green events. I am hoping to include some of your comments or share your ideas in my presentations around the country not just on greening events but ALL the challenges we face in the special events industry and America as a whole. I will try to answer all your questions or at least point you to someone who is an expert in their field for their opinion.

To start a new subject please email me and I will post it so everyone can comment on it