By John Addison
Excerpt from the Prologue of Save Gas, Save the Planet: John Addison’s book about hybrid and electric cars, pathways to low carbon driving, and the future of sustainable transportation. © 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.
As a small child, I was distraught to learn that Santa Claus was not the person that I imagined. And after reading Harry Potter, I searched the Internet trying to book a stay at Hogwarts. We want to believe in magic.
When I tell people that I write about clean transportation, they often lecture me about their one magical solution. Some tell me it is the plug-in hybrid; some say diesel. One fellow was angry that I did not immediately accept that the one answer is railroads. Another felt the same way about motorcycles.
Some believe that the answer is electric vehicles. Others believe that electric vehicles will only encourage people to use cars without guilt; these enthusiasts want car-free cities and zero suburbs. Some promote ethanol; still more don’t believe that the answer is converting food to fuel.
Some believe that the future is a hydrogen economy; others believe that hydrogen is an evil conspiracy. Some believe that energy efficiency is everything. Others will take 10-percent efficient solar power over 40-percent coal power any day. Too many people argue that there is no problem. These people do not like change. Surprisingly, the people who do not lecture me are those who walk, bike, and live car-free. Perhaps these people, free from the stress of driving in gridlock, are more flexible and optimistic.
Even the friendly walker cannot escape the critic. By one calculation, if two people walk a mile and a half, then replenish the burned calories by each drinking a glass of milk, less greenhouse gases would be emitted by driving. This contrived example works because cows emit lots of methane and milk must stay refrigerated throughout the delivery chain. Skip the milk, and the argument falls apart. Ditto, if the car is driven solo. We all need a little exercise and more than a little common sense.
There is no one magical solution. Save Gas, Save the Planet captures over 120 different ways that people are making a difference by riding clean, riding together, and riding less. Many people can avoid some driving but not all. Not everyone can take transit or carpool all the time. A busy parent in the suburbs with three kids has different requirements than someone with no children who lives in a city. As you read Save Gas, Save the Planet, you will discover a number of ways to burn less fuel without needing a new car. When, and if, you are ready for a new car, you will make a better choice.
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© 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.