I'm a big fan of new technology, especially when it's used for efficiency. I've got an electric scooter, used to own a Jetta TDI but now have a Ford PHEV, and would love to own a Tesla. But the downside of most of these choices is that they are moderately expensive, and many people can't afford the higher up-front costs even if it would save them money in the long run. What the world needs, especially the US, is a personal transportation choice that is both efficient and affordable.
I'm now watching a new company that has exactly that plan, and I think they've got the formula right. I've put down a pre-order deposit, and hope to be driving mine early next year. I figure there are at least 3 groups of Kossaks that may be interested in this, the technology geeks, the global warming crowd, and the anti-big oil folks, so I'm doing one of my rare diaries.
This is what I'm looking at, an autocyle from Elio Motors:
The P4 prototype revealed recently at Sundance.
The key goals that founder Paul Elio is targeting are this: $6,800 price tag, 84mpg highway, and US-built.
Yea, let me repeat those numbers, since they are really quite impressive:
Follow me below the orange turbulent flow for more information....
One of the main claims of climate denial is that carbon dioxide is harmless, that there's no proof it can warm a planet. But this claim is against the law. Which law? The Law of Thermodynamics.
The temperature of this planet's surface is primarily set by the rate at which heat from the hot Sun moves to the warm Earth, and the rate at which heat from the warm Earth moves to the cold of space. (Some heat can also come from the core of the planet, but in Earth's case this is pretty trivial.) If either of these rates change, the planetary temperature is affected. If the rate at which heat moves from Earth into cold space slows down, the temperature of the planet's surface has to rise, there's simply no other option allowed by law. The energy arriving at Earth must either stay or depart, and if it can't depart at the same speed it arrives, the surface gets warmer.
Greenhouse gasses, by definition, scatter infrared radiation. Like car headlights shining into a bank of fog, the light does not pass through the gasses cleanly, but ends up bouncing around in all directions, including back towards the source. The greenhouse property of certain gasses is simple physical chemistry, trivially verified in the lab, and beyond dispute. Clearly, greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere will slow the transfer of heat (via infrared radiation) from the surface to the cold of space. There's no possible alternative, rising greenhouse gas concentrations must make the surface of a planet warmer (if all other factors remain constant).
And with just those two observation, the basic premise of global warming becomes an irrefutable fact. It's proven. Denial of that fact requires denying thermodynamics, which is a guarantee of failure.
Scientists aren't observing a warming planet and speculating that greenhouse gasses might be responsible, they already know that greenhouse gasses must warm the planet and are merely trying to quantify the magnitude of the effect.
More discussion below the orange squiggle.
Folks, climate change is a big problem, but I don't think most people understand how big. Partly, this is because we are talking about it wrong, focusing on the least important aspects, rather than the most important parts.
Nobody really cares about Polar Bears. I mean, sure, they're cute, and they make for good Coke ads, but exactly who's life is destroyed if they go entirely extinct?
Ocean rise is a bigger problem, but most people can't see it. If they don't live within a few feet of the surf, they think their house is safe, and they aren't sufficiently motivated.
Peak Oil has a better message than global warming: the Era of Cheap Oil is Over. Well, frankly, I think we may be facing a much worse problem: the Era of Cheap Food is Over.
Forget $200/bbl for oil. If we continue on the current path, we'll probably get to $200 for a Big Mac or a Fillet-o-Fish.
Human history is best thought of in Ages. An Age is somewhat tied to the prevailing technology of the day, but also defined by how that technology is used, where our attention is focused.
We started with the Stone Age, where our first pieces of technology were stone blades. We then followed with a series of ages named after the best metal we could produce, Copper, Bronze, Iron, Steel. The early part of the 20th century is often considered the Industrial Age, and the late 20th century marked the beginning of the Information Age, based on computer technology.
But I can see the future, and the Information Age just ended. When historians look back at the beginning of the 21st century, they'll draw a line and say: "Here lies the beginning of the Climate Age."
If you've been watching diaries carefully, you've seen a few in the last couple of weeks promoting the Folding@Home project, and the Kos team within that project. This is a very worthwhile distributed computing project, where you assist the project by donating CPU power from your own machine(s). I've got a PS3 working hard on protein folding for the guys at Stanford (and the Kos team).
However, I've got another project that I contribute to with my desktop: ClimatePrediction.net
ClimatePrediction.net is run out of Oxford University in the UK, and it's goal is to build and refine computer models of the Earth's climate. Computer climate models are an important tool in understanding and solving global warming, and I'm very proud to be donating CPU cycles to this cause.
An organization called Voter GA
is filing suit in my home state of Georgia against electronic voting machines. They are trying to force the state to follow portions of the Georgia Constitution and Georgia Election Code that protect voter rights against unverifiable voting technology.
They've found a lawyer, but need some money to pay him. Can we get some assistance from the Kossacks?