Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Green - The Electric Car

When Kermit the Frog first sang the line “it’s not easy being green,” I don’t think he was talking about the environment. We live in the green age in which there is an overwhelming drive to reduce our impact on the environment.
Recycling is a way for everyone to do their part for the green movement. California has been green for a long time. I remember separating paper, plastic, aluminum and glass from garbage for recycling at least 15 years ago, if not more.

Al Gore is doing his part by talking about the relationship of greenhouse gases to climate change. Although some people doubt this connection, most people would agree that the weather is not what it used to be. That’s climate change in my book.

What about fuel efficiency?
With gas prices well over $4 at every pump I visit, I have been thinking about hybrid cars. I know many people who own a Toyota Prius, which can get about 45 miles per gallon While this gas mileage sounds terrific, I was thinking about alternatives to gasoline powered engines.

The federal government is making a big fuss over hydrogen fuel cells and throwing a lot of money into developing this technology for widespread use. While the idea sounds good, I'm really concerned about the storage of hydrogen and oxygen, the fuels that makes the car go. I don't know enough about this technology, and I’m sure there are some very smart people working on this problem.

What about an electric car?
Believe it or not, this has already been done.

When I was in college, I was introduced us to a car called the EV-1, which was made by General Motors.

An electric car? Surely it would be wimpy! I was wrong. The EV-1 was fast, it could go from 0 to 60 mph in 8 seconds, and its surprisingly quiet. The EV-1 had a range of 120 miles on a single charge.

I figured this car would be all the rage in California, since the state was into being green before it became popular. Interestingly enough, 1997 was the last I heard of the EV-1, and then I saw a documentary called “Who Killed the Electric Car?” in June 2008. This documentary discussed the EV-1 and points out what an amazing machine it was. The car was ahead of its time.

Eventually the program ended. Why? Was it corporate greed? Was it there not enough demand? Watch the documentary and come to your own conclusion.

I imagine that high gas prices means that there would be significant demand for an electric car. I hope General Motors and other car makers follow up on it. Technology has improved over the past 10 years, so I imagine the next electric car will be even better. My fingers are crossed.

Dr. Dave

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