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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Some good news for environmentalists:

I'm not an environmentalist, at least, not in the current meaning of the term, because I actually prefer science over alarmism. That isn't to say that I don't believe that we should be looking for ways to be better stewards of the earth and using cleaner fuels more efficiently, because nothing could be further from the truth. I also support the use of reason and science to determine policy, and it is on that score that my grievances lie with the current environmentalist movement. In that vein, I have added some new sites to my Cool Blogs and Cool Links listings on the sidebar, and encourage everyone to visit those, as well as some older sites you may not have seen. Some of these sites have not been updated in a very long time, but still have some interesting information. The sites are as follows: EnviroSpin Watch, Greenie Watch, the Hybrid Diesel blog, Mark Humphrys' website, the California Cars Initiative, Journey To Forever biodiesel, the Alternative Energy blog, The Scientific Alliance, CNE Environment, and the Diesel Technology Forum. The last six are sites that I haven't gotten around to adding to the sidebar, but that may have changed by the time you read this. This brings forth a completely unrelated question to Snave about obsessive-compulsive disorder, but I digress.

As I was traipsing through the internet, I found the good news, an article based on information provided by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. They have released their Greenest Vehicles of 2006 list. As expected, hybrids ruled the day, though the Honda Civic GX, which runs on compressed natural gas snuck in at second on the list despite fuel efficiency comparable to autos much lower on the list. This happened because natural gas burns far more cleanly and completely than gasoline. I found this of particular interest because of the sheer number of vehicles on the road. While I would be interested in finding out the methodology they used to arrive at their scores, I think it's very good that someone is at least making the attempt.

Another bit of good news is this news item about buses in India. Apparently, hybrid buses may rule the road in India if one company has its way. And it isn't just India that's researching large hybrid vehicles. The Detroit auto manufacturers have been seriously looking at hybrids, but instead of focusing on smaller vehicles first, they took a different route and started with larger vehicles, such as large buses.

BusinessWeek recently wrote an article about the top 10 myths of hybrid cars, and the points are sound. Also, Ford has announced its Reflex concept car, which, barring major design modifications to the back seat, I would never buy unless I only wanted one passenger at a time. However, it scores major points for being innovative, and the car looks cool to this geek who was raised on Star Trek, Knight Rider, and other science fiction classics. Finally, IC Corporation and Enova Systems are collaborating to create the first hybrid school bus, a move they estimate will allow for a 40% increase in fuel efficiency and drastically reduce emissions. As someone who has to dodge enough of the bastards during my morning commute, I cannot see this as being anything other than a good thing.

The loudest voices in the environmentalist movement have been braying for years that the sky is falling. I have a hard time believing that based on the science. Instead, I think we're just getting taller and growing up.


Snave said...

Thanks for the links and information! I love reading news of this nature.

Whether or not the sky is actually falling, it certainly isn't hurting anything for us to try and get our country off the oil habit. It just seems there would be so many advantages to converting to another system; not having to be held over a barrel (so to speak) by OPEC could be like our nation being independent all over again, in a sense. The more of this kind of innovation we see here in the U.S. and around the world as well, the better I think the world will be!

Sheryl said...

This is the kind of "science" that will earn the human race a darwin award. Unfortunately no one will be around to collect it.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Sheryl, I still think the data set is far too small to postulate climate shifts, and the predictive models thusfar have been more than a bit off. The very few decades this has been seriously researched are far too small to accurately describe and predict that which occurs in centuries, millennia, or longer, and blatantly ignores facts that disagree with it, as well as failing to account for technological advances that have allowed for far more accurate and widespread collection of climatic data. For example, thermometers have increased dramatically in precision and accuracy since the Little Ice Age, and meteorological satellites have only been around for a very few decades.

My opinions stand in full, and will continue to do so until I see more complete information. As stated above, I'm very much in favor of scientific progress, especially in the field of energy production, and I'm also very much in favor of kicking us off the petrochemical habit and finding and developing alternative fuels. The main difference between my stance and yours on this issue is the underlying reasons behind wanting this to occur.