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Here is the question I am asking: can we, as people, as a society, change?
I know, I know. It’s a broad, ambiguous question that doesn’t really seem to relate to cars. But bear with me for a moment.
A a human being, you are not the same person you were as a child. You’ve had new experiences, met different people, gone to places away from home. But have all these things altered who you are? Do you have new values, new attitudes, new beliefs? Do you act in a different way now than you did five years ago?
This leads to a single question: can we change? Can we change our ideas about the environment to accept new research and new understandings of how we interact with the world around us? Can we change our attitudes and behavior in reaction to this information?
Here’s the thing. Sometimes, our intentions don’t matter. Even if we have positive feelings about the earth and our quality of life, they don’t mean anything if our actions don’t reflect our feelings. You can care all you
want about pollution and carbon emissions, but the pick-up truck you’re driving won’t reflect your fluffy emotions when it spits out exhaust. Your electric bill won’t reflect your desire to turn the lights out. Your septic system won’t know that you didn’t mean to take a twenty-minute shower. It’s all inthe actions. Intentions are great; they’re a start to something better. But to make a difference, you have to do more.
You have to change, whatever that means for you. Pretty soon I don’t think it will be an option. Less dreaming, more doing. You know what I’m talking about.
It might be. But mostly, we don’t know yet.
Nine engineers talking about green automotive technology will give you ten different opinions. So where is the truth? Should consumers think about hybrids, hydrogen, or high-mileage? Are batteries the way to go? Should we give up cars altogether and start biking everywhere we want to get to?
Right now, I don’t think anyone knows. And the thing is, it’s pretty hard to figure out.
For example, take a look at this video. Take everything at face value and your jaw will drop.
I know I was ready to get signed up for this incredible invention. But then I started looking around – at the comments on the video, an early mention of this technology, a CNN report, even Wikipedia – suggests that this might not be reasonable.
The biggest problem I’ve found so far is that there is no hard data about this car. There are no published safety tests, no long-distance tests, no concrete information to back up the claims made by these companies. These cars aren’t on the roadways anywhere, like they’re supposed to be.
Another issue: the air needed to make the car run must be obtained from an air compressor, which runs on electricity. And producing electricity releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. How much? Depends on how clean the electricity is.
I emailed Tata Motors in India, one of the car companies that was supposed to get these babies on the road. I received a kind response:
We refer to you query on the compress air technology, please find below response from Tata Motors for your reference.
The compress air technology is still in the project stage. It is being developed by MDI of France. Tata Motors has financially supported the development works and is licensed to deploy the technology as an when it is ready, only in India.
Tata Motors does not have any time frame for introducing it in India.
I’ve been trying to get in touch with MDI, but no dice yet. I’ve got another contact in Germany who might be able to tell me some more, and I’ll keep you posted on what I hear.
So I’m having a bit of a conflict of interest. I’m going to try to be as honest as possible with you, and there’s something you have to know about me.
I love fast cars. I don’t personally own one (90 mph is way faster than my car should ever be traveling), but I think fast cars are pretty fun. Some of my favorite car memories were in a zippy little silver BMW Z3.
I’m not the most aggressive driver, but I still think cruising around in a sporty car is a great time. I don’t even mind riding with wild drivers, so long as they keep me (somewhat) safe. I can understand the allure of speed, that thrill of flying on land.
Unfortunately, that kind of driving is not really helpful to the environment. It’s inefficient, costly, and carbon-emitting. In the end, it doesn’t save a ton of time and the actual costs probably outweigh the benefits.
But it’s a damn good time.
So where do we draw the line? Is it still okay to buy and drive beautiful, speedy cars, even if they’re not so great for the rest of the world? Or should we save them for special occasions? Have we gotten to the point where the car you drive shouldn’t really be a status symbol anymore? Is there a happy medium where driving can still be enjoyed without completely sacrificing environmental-friendliness?
Obviously, I have questions, not answers. Maybe you can help me out. I know what I should do, mostly because it’s the only thing I can do – keep driving my nonathletic old jalopy.
I guess that conclusion’s not overly useful to anyone.
Just something to think about…