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Mercedes-Benz to Cut Petroleum Out of Lineup!

When it comes to cars, I rarely find myself asking how something works, or what kind of motor is under the hood. But after searching for the latest in green technologies I came across ecogeek.org, the site that will call you an EcoGeek if you’ve got the brains to clean up the eco-mess we’re in now. What caught my attention, though, was a post on Mercedes-Benz plan to ditch petroleum-powered vehicles from its lineup by 2015!

If the German automotive industry follows through on their as-usual promise of excellent engineering then this could potentially be a trail-blazing innovation. If Mercedes goes green then General Motors and other titans in the industry are sure to do the same, or else they’ll be left in the dust. With the Green movement becoming something of a badge to proudly wear as a sign of social conscience and wealth, car companies are sure to follow with their brands of smart cars, hybrids and prius’.

Ironically, though, making the jump over to biodiesel isn’t that far. Companies have been doing it for years, pouring biodiesel into harvest combines, semi-trucks and locomotives with minimal retrofitting. The arguments against biodiesel are pretty well known and can be found here as well. But even with the caveats, biodiesel is still a good idea.

As for engineering cars that run on electricity, John commented on EcoGeek:

“A widespread adoption of electric vehicles will only result in more electricity needing to be generated, which simply transfers the pollution from your tailpipe to a utility company’s smokestack.”

But…as William noted:

“That’s assuming that power stations will continue to burn coal as their primary fuel source….The infrastructure of getting electricity to customers is already in place, and by moving all cars to electric, the work in technology and efficiency moves from the individual car to the power company….It would be more cost efficient to improve the emissions of the smokestack than it would to improve the emissions of a million cars that would get their energy from that power station.”

Of course, both reasoning has merit, but the second offers an important solution that the first overlooks: In the future, power stations may generate all of its energy from wind, hydro, or other sustainable sources, making the entire process practically emission free, which is certainly ecogeek enough for me.

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The true cost to going green (what Ed didn’t mention)…

While I’m all for reducing the effects on the environment by fossil fuel use, I’m not for people going hungry when a person has to decide whether to put fuel in the car to get to work, pay for food or medicine. While it’s true that Europe has paid roughly four times the amount Americans have paid per gallon their society is geared more toward public transportation.

Let’s put a more realistic spin on the oil/gas issue. If you own a big SUV / Hummer and drive in the city, you really don’t have a legitimate complaint for oil / gas prices. The tax loop should be closed on these luxury items so that the buyers actually pay for the vehicles and the gas used. Any one of several mini-vans can carry more people than a large SUV with better fuel mileage. If the SUV is an actual work vehicle, have it documented as such with special plates, like dual axle pickups used for farming, and give them the tax breaks.

BIO-diesel is one of the biggest public farces I’ve seen in recent history, and on so many levels. I was a truck driver for three years, driving in the top 10% of the companies 200 drivers for fuel mileage. All drivers that tried the bio-diesel had / have at least one of the following issues: worse fuel mileage, engine damage, less power going up hills and mountains, and increased gelling of the fuel in winter time. If a driver uses 10% more BIO-fuel doesn’t that mean 10% more has to be brought in? In addition to that how much more energy and pollution is produced to make BIO-fuel, and does it actually offset the “environmental impact of hydrocarbons” of the current supply of fuel?

Next on the list would be the ‘shortage’ of crops reported from last year’s harvest. (Bio-diesel / fuel is made from corn or soy beans.) For many decades now the government has been paying farmers not to plant crops but trees. One of the reasons for this was to artificially inflate the price so farmers wouldn’t produce so much and drive prices down. Imagine reclaiming that land and planting corn on it, in fact in 2007 we had so much corn it was sitting in the open in WI, IL, IA, IN, MN, NE, and KS.

What about offshore drilling? Sure we want to protect our environment and coastline, but what difference does it make when right at the boundary of the coastal waters you have Mexico or Russia or Korea tapping into that oil deposit that is literally feet away from the American water border.

Wind generators, I would have one at my house if I had the money to finance it, tax breaks and grants from the government months after they are installed does not fill the stomach or gas tank now. Additonally, many state, county, and local laws are set against putting up a tower.

Solar panels. Right now there is a solar panel developed in South Africa that literally could supply all the electrical demands of a house by covering that houses’ roof with 100 square feet of this product. It’s not available in the United States, yet it’s cheaper and more efficient than the closest competitor.

I recently contacted a solar panel installation company for installation on my house. The quote for $32,000 would only apply to me if I were a business, which obviously could afford it. The company stated that they do not yet provide their services for the general residential needs. Bare in mind this is for the less efficient available product. Further complicating matters are the Federal, state-to-state incentives for installing these systems. Each state is different some have programs, some push off incentives to the power company. Either way a $2,000 incentive with a $2,000 tax break does not significantly reduce the installation cost.

The bottom line is that Americans want everything without paying the price. The energy crisis cannot and will not be resolved without a major change in America’s attitude.

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