Saturday, October 19, 2002

Why not a 40 MPG SUV? - By Mark Fischetti, MIT Technology Review  November 2002

Here's the good news: The Technology exists to build a 40 MPG SUV. The article goes into the geeky details of all the various things that can be done. It's worth a read just from that perspective.

Here's the bad news: The technology has not moved into production because the United States Congress hasn't changed the MPG regulations in 17 years! Without regulatory pressure, the auto industry has only had market pressure to respond to. In the market individuals have chosen more power at 1985 efficiency levels.

But isn't that what company's are supposed to do? Give people what they want. Yes! But it's the government's role to look out for the common good, especially for things like clean air. And that hasn't been happening in the US or Canada.

I spent March – June in Toronto, and in June the air quality plummeted due to smog. The day before I left, it hurt to breathe. Now I do have slight asthma, but it never bothers me in the summer, nor in humid conditions, but the smog was killing me. I don't understand how people survive all summer dealing with days like that. Maybe it's like the frog in the hot water, increase it little by little and you can boil him. For me though it came as quite the shock. If I had to put up with it hurting to breath much longer, I would have been out campaigning to ban cars in the Greater Toronto Area. Yet people in the GTA seem resigned to having painful air to breath.

There is also a spiritual component to this, consider the words of the prophet Ezekiel

Is it not enough for you to keep the best of the pastures for yourselves? Must you also trample down the rest? Is it not enough for you to take the best water for yourselves? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? All that is left for my flock to eat is what you have trampled down. All they have to drink is water that you have fouled.

Can we admit that painful air and our failure to deal with it is a reflection of our morale decay in a way that Buffy or Harry never could be?


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