It’s not easy being green
Kermit the Frog famously sang that life is not always trouble-free; it’s not easy being green, he crooned. I recently thought of his words, albeit in a different context, while watching a rerun of the BBC show Top Gear.
The particular episode I saw began with the hosts examining the claims of green, or environmentally friendly, cars- specifically, the Toyota Prius. They asked: is it as good for the environment as everyone is led to believe?
The lead presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, started the show’s first segment by highlighting the assembly process for the batteries in the Prius. According to Clarkson, the nickel for the battery is mined in Canada; it is then shipped to Europe to be refined. From Europe it is hauled to China to be turned into a type of foam and finally transported to Japan for assembly into a finished battery.
The result is that in assembling the batteries for the “green” Prius, more long term damage is done to the environment than is done by driving a Land Rover Discovery every day.
In the next segment, the Top Gear presenters drove a Prius and a 400-plus horsepower BMW for 10 laps around their test track at 40 mph, with the BMW following the Prius. The test was to determine which car averaged the highest miles per gallon.
The Prius averaged 17.2 mpg, while the BMW averaged 19.4.
As a result, Top Gear found that it isn’t what you drive; it’s how you drive it that matters.
I mention this because the nation’s “premier” (i.e., one and only) conference for the electric vehicle industry, Plug-In 2011, took place July 18-21 at the Raleigh Convention Center. This was the first time the conference was held outside Silicon Valley.
As indicated by the name, there were a lot of electric cars on display and being driven. So, if you experienced brown outs with your electric service that week, you know who the culprits were.
The goal of the conference was to showcase current and future electric and hybrid vehicles. Additionally, the conference brought “automakers, engineers and scientists together to talk about the future of transportation” in general.
Nowadays, it seems that everywhere I turn I am confronted with the “greening” of society. For example, my family and I went to Boone last weekend for the reunion of I was involved with while in college. On the way, we stopped at North Carolina’s first green rest area outside North Wilkesboro. Being largely unobservant, my first indicator that this was not a typical rest area was when I saw the Reserved for Hybrid and Alternative Vehicle parking spaces next to the handicapped ones.
At least Al Gore, III, now has a place to park when he is stopped for speeding and reckless driving.
The rest area boasts many environmentally friendly ways of heating and cooling the water and offsetting the electric use- geothermal wells, solar panels and a rainwater collection system are just a few. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the facility’s carbon footprint listed anywhere.
However, given the proclivity to believing folklore in the North Carolina mountains, I bet the rest area’s carbon footprint is probably found somewhere near Bigfoot’s.
After all, carbon footprints and Bigfoot have the same relevance to modern life.
Why is our government, as well as other governments in the Western world, so obsessed with forcing environmental-based restrictions on its citizens? These leaders know that increased regulations lead to increased costs, which is why they are willing to subsidize green initiatives regardless of what else must be sacrificed. For example, in a fit of fiscal responsibility, Democrat legislators wanted to get rid of tax breaks for corporate jets, but they were strangely quiet when it came to addressing tax breaks for hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles.
In the same vein, President Obama recently announced tougher fuel usage standards for heavy trucks. These engines must be developed, tested and built- the costs of which will not be absorbed by the automotive manufacturer or the shipping company. He either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that this will lead to increased cost of goods and services at the retail level.
How will that stimulate the economy?
Like Kermit said, it’s not easy being green. It’s not cheap either.