Something that has been on my mind for a while now is the non-renewable resource known as oil. You hear most every day another story about how we are forever the slaves to OPEC due to our dependency on oil. It's in nearly everything we do, from the most obvious, which is the gas we use in cars, the the obscure, which is the oil used to make traditional plastics. The keboard I'm typing on right now was made using oil. We are stuck with it. We are slaves to oil.
Something else that weighs heavy on my mind is the fact that oil will not be around forever. Well, that's not entirely true. It is a renewable resource in the sense that more will be created in a few thousand years. It's a long, slow process that can be treated as lifetime non-renewable. We may not see the end of oil in our lifetimes, or our children's lifetimes, but someday the oil will cease to flow and we will be screwed as a race. Is that what happened to the dinosaurs? Did they use up all of their oil and die off? Who knows?
The third, and final worry that I have about oil comes from everyone's favorite moonbat, Arianna Huffington. Do you remember the spoof commercial she put out about gas guzzling SUV's supporting terrorism? I do. I've had plenty of time to think about it. Even though it was a joke she has a point. Many OPEC nations have princes that are avid terrorist supporters and always have been. In fact, one of the Prince Husseins in Saudi Arabia donates around a million a year to terrorists in Palestine. Many others have similar issues. Remember that many of the accounts in the oil-for-food program are still suspected to have been funding Al Queda and other groups. Your SUV wants its Jihad back.
So what the hell can we do about it? If you drive a car you use oil, the terrorists win. If you use a keyboard you use oil, youbring us closer to oil extinction. If you play with yourself your petroleum jelly is oil based, your are an OPEC slave...and you kill kittens (kinda kinky, a slave kitten killer). Lend me your ear and I'll explain how we can fight to good fight at home. There are solutions with cars. There are solutions with home power, corporate power, plastics and even your favorite lube, mechanical based or otherwise.
The ultimate goal of alternative fuel vehicles is to make vehicles capable of running forever on nothing. Unfortunately, that is a long way off; Possibly 100 years off or more. Until then, we have to do the best we can with what we have. So what do we have right now today that can help us; What will be the next cars to hit the market; And what will be the vehicles of the future?
On the streets today, there are several interim solutions to absolution. There are pure electric cars and trucks that you plug in at night, horrible horsepower and eat your home electricity so bad you may as well have never gone electric. There are the various gas solutions like butane and propane. These cars have very little get up and go, as well as a limited amount of fuelling stations in America. The third and fourth solutions are good though. These solutions are diesel and hybrid electric.
Diesel is an alternative fuel? Isn't diesel just a crappier, dirtier gas? Well, yes and no. The diesel of years gone by was very dirty and gave off soot like you wouldn't believe. It gave America a very bad taste in its mouth. It rather sucked to get started in the winter as well. Many years have gone by and Europe has been very adamant about the potential of the compression explosion technique to combustion engines. I've heard of some of their vehicles getting as much as 70 MPG. Most of the ones you will see in America, from Volkswagen, get 30 MPG or better with cleaner than unleaded results, with no power loss. (The 70MPG diesel is called the Fourtwo and is currently available through Europe, Mexico and soon to be Canada. It is currently being tested in the D.C. area. It should be here in a few years time.)
Diesel is a sleeper fuel in this country that no one except truckers and large SUV owners contemplate as a solution. They should contemplate it. Not only do you get better gas milage on average, you normally pay less for a gallon of diesel than a gallon of regular unleaded. If we were to move to the foreign made diesel cars, manufacturers would have no choice but to change to a diesel engine in American made cars as well. Take note that the only American vehicles to use diesel are big trucks or SUV's. You can't even get an S-10 or a Ranger in diesel.
Hybrid electric vehicles get a bad representation as well. Early hybrids were either one or the other and usually involved a wall plug somewhere, as well as diminished performance. This is no longer the case. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It's like using two engines instead of one. They are now quite synergistic and have improved performance. In fact, if you've got 75,000 to spend you can purchase the Toyota Priapus in a few months. Not only does it go from 0-60 in about 4 seconds, it gets about 30 MPG as well.
If you're not into fast cars but SUV's the Toyota Highlander will be coming out with a hybrid version this year with similar gas milage to the Priapus. Of course, you could always go with the number one car of the year, the Toyota Prius. If you're seeing a trend here don't worry, Honda, Lexus and Ford have hybrids available in 2005 as well. Ford has the Hybrid Escape and should have the extremely popular Explorer in hybrid available within a year or two.
These vehicles are not the end all, be all for alternative vehicles. Currently in research and development are alcalol/gasahol vehicles that can run on vegetable based derivatives. Your car wants corn whiskey. The solution being backed by President Bush is the hydrogen fuel cell. I did a ten page research paper on the topic that I can no longer locate. If I knew where it was I would have posted it a long time ago. Suffice to say that hydrogen fuel cells are nearly the perfect solution. They create two things: electricity and proton purified water. There is no polution. The only problem is extracting the renewable resource of hydrogen into a usable and portable form.
Cars are now covered. You know what is available for use and what will be available in the future. I could go on for many pages about current and future vehicles. If you would like me to go nuts on the subject I can. Just drop me a request and I'll give you the skinny on just about every viable alternative vehicle on the market today, or in the future.
This is part one of two or three. I'm not sure if I'll be able to finish the whole thing by tomorrow night. Until then...
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