Friday, April 17, 2009

He keeps asking. Seems a shame not to reply.

Newsnight's Ethical Man is really pleased with this one.

Test driving an electric car in Motor City

Not being a journalist I am not sure what his personal views on how good it is has to do with much, but it is the blog complement so OK.

I fear that, as one of not very many to devote a fair whack of time to reviewing as requested, I still cannot find it easy to agree that the series is really beginning to get to grips with the issues.

For the investment (ROI or enviROI), I found it again factually sparse and lacking in persuasive content. The Volt is an embarrassment (Post 3 is very pertinent) ,though I do wonder why many posters seem more concerned as to whether it was first.

Well, let's see if this week we can discover what the US can teach us (other than how to use 2 x more energy, which I'd rather we didn't), as this might well yet validate the pleasure of finding what was promised for the series gets delivered.

Sadly, the thoughts of a few of a few in a near empty hall - or Mayor Steve (a real people-s champion if he can be swayed to sign up to a commitment on no more than being told to on camera by a UK reporter) - have to be viewed as potentially interesting, but hardly representative. And speaking of context, as well as a matter of interest, if 911 mayors (may now be 935 - )in the US have signed up to cuts, what might the total number be? And what?s the breakdown? I just ask because if Boris signed up London he'd probably be OK. As to a pol with a constituency in the boonies with one bus a day to work... not so sure.

I am also not clear what is meant by 'low carbon travel'. The distance alluded to when this was first raised is surely irrelevant in the context it was mentioned. Yes, the size of the country and population has meant more inevitably is used just shunting a few hundred million folk hundreds of miles when we deal in scores here. The more important issue is efficiency. I see no need for a 6 litre car there to get from A 2 B in comfort and safety any more than I do here. Hence I was as unimpressed with Gov. Arnie's Hummer as Sir Stuart Rose's 7 Series Hydrogen effort, as they made potentially good points in a totally compromised way.

As to whether democratic societies are capable of making short term sacrifices, I would certainly like to think so. But as been pointed out by such as President Obama and PM Brown, we are now in the era of world economies. I guess we should be grateful then that India is a democracy, but there is a small concern as to what the Chinese government may decide for its people when the Shanghai Nano is rolled out. That one will be crossed when arrived at.. all very Prisoner's Dilemma. But if North Korea can be persuaded to stop the whole nuke thing by us getting rid of ours, then anything is possible. And in any case this is, should be, about the technologies and policies of reduction and efficiency domestically.

I also get a bit eyebrow cranky on anything with the word 'carbon' and any term meaning money or trading being bolted together. So nice in theory, so hard to grasp in practice without thinking that such as business class travel will soon only be for politicians, City traders... and journalists that get invited aboard to take us for a ride.

Getting all global, with a touch of egalitarianism thrown in, in our new world order I wonder if there might not end up being some 'them' and 'us' still to avoid further 'issues' cropping up.

Because if I am to be bestowed with an allowance of one log to heat the home, a trip to Tescos to feed the family and an annual short haul to Majorca on Ryan Air, which I can trade with Madonna on weekly kid shopping expeditions, or BBC eco-reporters for visits to Antarctica to see the damage caused by folk going to Antarctica, it seems only fair that every soul on the planet gets the same, from Kalahari bushpersons to Mekong fisherfolk.

And while the latter might not be able to afford the trips or goodies, they would be theirs to trade. Which rather leads me to wonder if the whole thing might not get a lot worse as a consequence of a bunch of rich, or expenses-driven individuals and/or businesses simply buying what they want, only now with a guilt-free sticker. And there are a lot of rich folk and ratings-thirsty journos with places to go and people to see, who I am sure our poorer cousins will be happy to trade with for cash to buy Chinese Nanos. Expectation of better things is part of the economy-growing cycle.

Nothing less than saving the world for climate change? If all $1B gets ?us? is the Chevy Volt as featured, I?d say that the US might be stretched to show us anything worth a darn for now. But nice that it all comes to complement the coincidental PR assault on the airwaves and columns over here, right now, from the likes of trusted pols such as Mandelson, Brown and now Hoon (see Richard Black?s latest post). Sadly not getting as easy a ride from many quarters (even... especially eco ones) that seem inconveniently now able to raise some concerns, from where the battery raw materials are to come from to how the 'leccy gets generated and then delivered. I merely wonder if trying to get our cross-pond cousins into 2 litre diesels delivering 60mpg might not be a more productive effort for now, whilst other, cleaner, higher enviROI options are honed before leaping to a green crowd pleaser. Hence I doubt that Mr. Clarkson, and his audience, are too concerned yet. But at least they might know that you use a lot more fuel at 100mph vs. 60mph, and how much it costs planet and licence fee to replace a piece of kit not fixed down properly in seeking to get a bit of nifty TV footage more than any other consideration.

So, again, to paraphrase what the nice lady said at one point, 'what's all this supposed to prove??'

Guardian - NEW - Tesla's Elon Musk: the democratisation of electric cars is speeding up - 'The automotive industry has reached a clear consensus that the future is electric and is offering consumers more affordable and effective vehicles' - has it, indeed.

I would love one of these cars. It certainly was raised in comparison, very positively, if not by the investigative reporter, after a paean to the joys of the $1B (and counting) Chevy Volt, by Newsnight's Ethical Man.

But just as I worry what Gordon & Alistair might do to spoil my growing affection for my £3500 (meeting my definition of affordable, if not some others better placed, perhaps), '02 LPG Volvo, there is a rather worrying question mark on the future of the 'fuel', especially its cost.

But , it's nice to know the automotive industry has reached a clear consensus that the future is electric and is offering consumers more affordable and effective vehicles... at least for the auto industry, I guess.

And while advertorials are not unheard of in the media - today the BBC was helping a lady sell tacky flog spy stuff for about 5 minutes - I tend to respond better to the message, and the medium carrying it, if the information is objective, allowing me to make up my own mind. A bit like the DamGreen 'affair', this is not proving easy, as most 'official' info is carried by a rather suspect establishment, from Hoonian press releases on the BBC website to, well, many from the rest of a certain section of the MSM that knows what's good for us.

Leaving the much bogey-personed blogosphere to offer alternative views, from such rampant oil-pocket entities as Uni Engineering Professors and the Green Party.

So while I am grateful to affluent early adopters, I am also hoping they got their dosh by being challenging of what they are told too, and are making their decisions based on the future of all our kids, and not just what some in the right circles tell them will look good.

ps: I think most credible boffins have stopped using the warming thing, opting for the more accurate, as far as it goes, climate change, with even this now evolving, as planetary things tend to do.

pps: 'a fleet of electric Smart microcars for zero-emission urban commuting' - now, how does that 'zero' get arrived at?

The Ecologist - NEW - Can electric vehicles overtake competing green car technologies? -

The Gaurdian - NEW - The flaws in the electric car scheme

The Gaurdian - NEW - Where's the chemistry in electric cars? - I thought it was going to be about science!

The Gaurdian - NEW - Watt an idea

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