Friday, December 05, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Recommended reading

I have been subscribed to emailed news from a dot-org that is working in the area where I happen to agree we need a breakthrough in order to salvage our planet and our lives...the nexus where our personal options and incentive's connect to sustainable action at all scales is the economy.  It is my emphasis that an orientation toward sustainable life choices is a new morality to benefit both personal and environmental outcomes, a morality that simply quits denying how deeply those are connected.

That is my understanding of being "green" and it is not some light or lately aquired fashion statement.

If you have read this far, you may get something out of reading J Andrew Hoerner's commentary.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

just do it, do it justice

Election 2008 Voting Information

Today, November 4th, is Election Day! Remember to vote--not just for Barack Obama, but for Congressional, state and local candidates as well.

Where and when do I vote?

Find your polling place, voting times, and other important information by checking out these sites and the hotline below. These resources are good, but not perfect. To be doubly sure, you can also contact your local elections office.

What should I do before I go?

  • After you've entered your address on either Vote For Change or Vote411, read the voting instructions and special rules for your state.
  • Voting ID laws vary from state to state, but if you have ID, bring it.
  • Check out all the voting myths and misinformation to look out for:

What if something goes wrong?

  • Not on the voter list? Make sure you're at the right polling place, then demand a provisional ballot.
  • If you're voting on an electronic machine with a paper record, verify that the record is accurate.
  • Need legal help? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE
  • Try to get video of the problem and submit it to

Want to do more?

  • Text all of your friends: "Vote Obama today! Pass it on!"
  • Volunteer at your local Obama office. Find an office here or here.
  • Make calls from home for Obama.

Now everybody go vote!!!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The silence is niether accident nor burnout

I have reached the age of 59. I have lived longer than my father did. The world of cyclic spasms he endured through depression and war has sputtered to near collapse. The world of 300 years ago, of pristine and unpopulated wild land in America and untrammeled abundance and beauty were nearly vanished when he pined for them and no longer even a memory for most of the people whom Obama and McCain seek to influence.

I have lost faith in the electorate. Not that I should ever have much trusted a population that would elect the son of a bush despite seeing four years of his turdish handiwork. They will not look with their own eyes but turn instead to whomever will show them what they want to believe.

And I have lost faith in our system. Always mislabeled and misrepresented by its beneficiaries but lately a stridently crazy scheme to go on raping nature as if there would be no consequence, whether by greed, sloth or complacency, the capitalism that claims to have brought us to this "highest standard of living" has driven the average person to become a fairly mindless microbe, a processing unit in a vast overtaxing machine of consumption. My financial conservatism is at odds with all the political labels of my day. I am in agreement with Ian Sterling when he writes at Agonist:
What Rahm should have done was just written a check to the oil companies of the world for 150 billion dollars, because that is exactly where all of that money ended up.

Hunger for unearned entitlements is, despite the incessant chants of conservatives, not an ill of liberals or the poor. Legislated entitlements, or indeed, any enactment of law, require political power and voice that we all recognize as primarily the province of the wealthy, be they corporate or individual. The rules really were made by those who have the gold...and time has come for them to eat gold. It is a lot like eating lead when you think about it. I do not expect to live for ever or even to enjoy a retirement of ease and luxury. I am ready to cut loose the entanglements of Medicare and Social security and just fend for myself and die as people always used to: without choking down pills, sprouting tubes and drawing a swarm of physicians. I will be grateful if I get another decade and do not end too fogged in with pain. This is all I wish or hope despite the fact that I am of that lucky cohort of baby boomers and educated wage earners who thought they were awake as they pocketed the American Dream in its cheap-energy hey day. I have paid into the system in the name of good citizenship more than I ever imagined I would need but have come to expect that, like our present credit crisis, the keepers of the coffers will not be able to explain where all the money went. Goodbye to all that.

In the local politics of the US, which is applied to the whole world with numb conciet and spoiled by the faded power of our dollar, the Democrats include a few who have a better grasp of our precarious place and the Republicans, the very personification of the ills that wrought our demise, have no clue. Whoever wins in November will still be at the head of a parade of lemmings.

The chief drain on my blogging time of late has been my efforts to secure a personal future that is sustainable...because I think my nation, my fellow citizens and most of the world's populations are at best muddling toward exhaustion of resources and starvation.

I am not qualified, by anything more than common sense and having managed to earn or build whatever I now possess, to pronounce my acceptance of the gloomier prospects for humanity, economic or ecological. But moments come when all that you have been and done are seen together and invite a seeking of vantage point, call up a vision of their balance with what may remain for you to be and to do. Sharp and stinging so that I cannot hold them long, the questions come:"Will nothing I have done help? Will those sweet souls I have caused to be on this planet only know more strife and less contentment than I have? "
We have a casually overused turn of phrase, "You bet your life"...but at some level, that is what every decision we have ever made, and worse yet those we make for others, really amounts to.

A bit more aware, I have been placing my final bets. They do not involve six billion people.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Who Should Blog? Assembling the Most Important Voices in Environmentalism Today

About Environment
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

The not-so-great generation

New York Times Op-Ed columnist Bob Herbert urges us to take Al Gore seriously, the way we took JFK seriously when he said we should shoot for the moon. But Herbert notes that a spirit of inadequacy, dependence and apathy seems to have stolen our resolve and our capacity to respond to inspiration where it is needed and when it comes. Don't you know that in so big and diverse a nation, there is always someone who is saying the right things? The question is, who is listening?

In Herbert's view, one I largely share, the nation is stuck in the conventional belief that we Americans just won't and may even think we can't make do without petroleum in earth-parching quantities. Perhaps we should do to the car company ad campaigns what we did to the tobacco company ad campaigns...we are after all a very suggestible population.

Herbert asks but does not quite answer this question:

The correct response to Mr. Gore’s proposal would be a rush to figure out ways to make it happen. Don’t hold your breath.

When exactly was it that the U.S. became a can’t-do society? It wasn’t at the very beginning when 13 ragamuffin colonies went to war against the world’s mightiest empire. It wasn’t during World War II when Japan and Nazi Germany had to be fought simultaneously. It wasn’t in the postwar period that gave us the Marshall Plan and a robust G.I. Bill and the interstate highway system and the space program and the civil rights movement and the women’s movement and the greatest society the world had ever known.

When was it?

Now we can’t even lift New Orleans off its knees.

But he does confirm that that sense of helplessness is more substantial than mere perception by a few liberals like myself:

Americans are extremely anxious at the moment, and I think part of it has to do with a deeply unsettling feeling that the nation may not be up to the tremendous challenges it is facing. A recent poll by the Rockefeller Foundation and Time magazine that focused on economic issues found a deep pessimism running through respondents.

According to Margot Brandenburg, an official with the foundation, nearly half of 18- to 29-year-olds “feel that America’s best days are in the past."

Well, I have my suspicions. And unfortunately, my generalizations don't sound any more tolerant or aware than Mike Savage's. In a word, I have to blame my own generation, the so-called Baby Boomers. We were the most privileged and pampered cohort...and one of the largest economic human history. We quickly took for granted our ease and the historical aberration of having resources that cost a tiny fraction of our incomes. We came to act as if this accident of prosperity were our earned entitlement. When? It is hard to say because it creeps up on us as we grow accustomed to ease. The relative fossilizes into the absolute. The phase becomes the norm and expectation. I share the view that it was that coddled mindset, unconsciously wincing at the vicissitudes of age and the clamoring third world, that quietly betrayed its future and its fleeting '60s values. We did not grow soft suddenly, but by turning from the dogged do-good morality of Jimmy Carter to the comfortable twaddle of Ronald Reagan, we marked a point of testing when we came up against something hard to do. Reagan was too simple to be the cause of anything. He was the symptom.

While the "greatest generation" had worked hard and suffered to bring us to the height of what was in fact a very unbalanced advantage:

  • so far ahead of the undeveloped world we could buy them out
  • so unscathed relative to the European countries that we could buy cars and dishwashers while helping fund their reconstruction of ruined cities and factories,

It is also true that America's decades of apparent ascendancy carried two distinct messages around the world:

  1. We seemed to have found some key to prosperity and lived a desirably luxurious life
  2. We took our prosperity as a mark of our superiority in every other measure you can make of a people.
We are the same kind of people that our parents were but that is the problem: we are just human. It is in our natures to take good times for granted but to find the virtue in hard work and sparing use of our supplies only when hardship enforces the lesson. The mental frameworks and illusions in which we dress our times and circumstances allow us to think or preclude our thinking in constructive ways about what is coming at us on the path of history. That path, some of us need to be told, is on the earth. The extent to which the sun, the water and the dirt have yielded the goods we commanded in our heyday is still largely unacknowledged in the daily media bombardment that has become so prominent a part of our experience. There was no profit in objectivity in the short run. In the long run, we are finding out we may not be so long running as our lulled and conceited self esteem would like to believe. I suspect that on a psychological level, the baby boomers simply never had to face the massive uncertainties and discomforts of the generation that endured a massive depression and fought an overt and hateful fascism all at once. Our willingness to deal with uncertainty has atrophied. We leave it to the children of the baby boom to relearn this strength.

They too are human. They can do this.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

old loves

There are at least two influences I can identify that shaped my attitudes about sustainablity and the compromises to convenience it must pose.

Diffuse, but pervasive would be my father's unquenchable urge to camp, hunt, hike, fish and just generally be as far out of sight of "civilization" as possible. We kids and the camping gear were loaded into the car on many a Friday after noon and not let out until it bumped and lurched to the farthest point it could safely reach on some jeep road in the sierras. Camping, and the experience of unspoiled nature generally, were more spiritual exercises for our family than any visit we had ever made to a church.

Much more focused and slow in evincing its present influence was my high school encounter with the works and words of Bucky Fuller. Already a fan of Leonardo DaVinci, I was thrilled at the pure power of a determined and uninhibited mind that Fuller exemplified. After reading of his works and ideas, the geodesic dome particularly, in Time Magazine, I bought a copy of his book "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth". I was of course impressionable but his analysis of history simply blew away anything I was hearing in school or out. And my ability to form reasonably short sentences may have suffered permanent damage. Soon after, my attitude about a number of things that were unquestionably wonderful in the esteem of high school boys of my era began to sour. Cars particularly seemed dirty dinosaurs to me. I managed to put off learning to drive a full year while classmates bussed tables, bagged groceries and skimped on homework in order to nurse some old Chevy back to conspicuously powerful or at least noisy health.

So I was delighted to discover today that the Whitney museum in New York is running a summer long exhibit of collected works Fuller. Then I started digging around in the BFI.ORG website and found a delightful document on the levels of change this world could use. I imagine that Gerry would grasp and enjoy Dr. Meadows little essay...assuming he hasn't already read it.
The essay is constructive advice in the gets delicious:
People who cling to paradigms (just about all of us) take one look at the spacious possibility that everything we think is guaranteed to be nonsense and pedal rapidly in the opposite direction. Surely there is no power, no control, not even a reason for being, much less acting, in the experience that there is no certainty in any worldview. But everyone who has managed to entertain that idea, for a moment or for a lifetime, has found it a basis for radical empowerment.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I hope you know how to eat money...

The third world is mad at the US for taking food off the market to put in our gas tanks. People who need fuel have cars and therefore have higher incomes than people who only need food. The former say "more fuel!, More FUEL!" and are heard by the market. The latter are not heard until the food has been turned into fuel and the feed stocks have gone into play as yet another commodity in which to speculate. The people who do not have food will go without because no one but speculators plan ahead and the fast actors in the whole scenario are the speculators. Quit calling it "Green fuel", MSMorons! its just Greed Fuel. Ethanol is the darling of the grain futures traders and the giant middle men like ADM. The moral solution would be for those who bought cars under the myth of perpetual petroleum for pennys to put the damn cars in the garage for 3 days a week and to drive them at lower speeds only to car pool to work and for well organized and less frequent shopping trips. The US alone is in a position to SAVE more oil by reducing unnecessary use than most countries USE.

Where did we go wrong? I live in a country that has seen hard working farmers dispossessed of farms their families had worked for generations because market conditions for their products were poor while money and fuel were expensive. Now capital on a Buffet and Rockefeller scale swoops in to buy up formerly unprofitable land. Why have we made it so easy for the rich to get richer and the poor poorer? That is not sustainable social organization. And it does much to foster unsustainable use of the earth. The US Department of Agriculture was an afterthought, added to the structure of US administrations in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln as a minor office under the Department of the Interior and raised to cabinet level 25 years later due to heavy lobbying by farm industry representatives. So despite the noble stated purposes of the department, I see that all of the planning and monies that have shaped American farming have been entirely the work of lobbyists and hardly ecological. It has devolved from "the peoples department" of Lincoln's intentions to a gobbledygook encrusted shell only a commodity trader on the take could love ...but it does have the shiny homeland security color codes. Though USDA has dozens of programs with the word "conservation" in their titles, the efficacy of farming and the financial well being of farmers has not been conserved so much as milked, put on life support and forgotten.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The festering sore at the top of the food chain

This NY Times editorial on proliferation of inhumane and dangerously unhygienic feed lots reminds us of many reasons why "free range" is not just a chic and politically correct adjective to prefix to meats so they can sell for a higher price.

We may protest that sewer-like living conditions and force-fed confinement don't match our personal values for how to treat other creatures...or we may feel so disconnected from cows and pigs exactly because we are so connected to steak and sausage by our stomachs. In the end consumers make the choice for a cheaper meal, regulators make a choice for happier consumers and producers and a handful of vegetarians ask what choice the cow had. With the stench and disease of feedlots far away from the mass of consumers, its "out of sight, out of mind" and business as usually exploitive. The communities that have the feedlots right in their back yard accept them because they mean a few more jobs in places where water pollution is a secondary concern to employment.

A point not brought up in the Times condemnation of these conditions is the green house gas consequences of feedlots. A point that even the Pew Trust study, to which the editorial was a response, fails to note is the petroleum used in moving cows from the places where they are born to these fetid fattening factories and then moving vast amounts of feed. The fuel costs of raising Big Macs this way will become apparent if you start charting the price history of your fast food. Yes we are having a mild food crisis in parts of the world that could barely afford their rice and bread. The efficiency by which a barrel of oil is turned into so many pounds of meat is a fraction of that for just eating the grain ourselves. But my point is that a pound of feed-lot beef is a meal from which you cannot divorce the fossil fuel. If you join a local CSA farm that provides meat and poultry, you really can cut most of the petroleum out of your meal. [not to mention, its fresher and has not been raised wallowing in wall to wall dung.]

Keeping in mind that methane is 20 to 30 times as effective as CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere, consider this graph of all human caused sources of methane release: its telling you that around 1980, livestock breeding and feeding became the largest single source.

[click on image to enlarge]

Friday, May 30, 2008

Even the best of the bad guys can't see the big problems

Dr. Steven Koonin has quite a distinguished resume. He has a tremendous intelligence and has used it effectively to lead top notch research organizations such as Cal Tech. Here is a video nearly identical to a lecture Koonin recently gave at my workplace on what he sees as the most likely course and the biggest question marks as humans try to keep themselves supplied with energy. He is speaking as a kind of CTO of BP. That such a wide ranging science talent is in charge of BP's hunt for oil as it may be found in coming decades squares with the general impression that BP is a bit more enlightened than your average giant oil company. I enjoyed the lecture, an hour crammed with facts and insights. But I conclude that this best-of-breed oil company still opts for business as usual and owes too much to its shareholders to strike out in a new, radical and finally rational I will explain after the highlights. I will just list them and I remind you, they are Dr. Koonin's assertions give or take my tendency to embellish.

That is an hour of video so you may want just a few high points:
  1. Koonin makes no bones about it: we have global warming and fossil fuel consumption is the chief extra source of greenhouse effect.
  2. While absolute rates of extraction may have peaked or soon will, we still have up to 40 years worth of oil and oil equivalents in the ground to meet current demand...the problem is that demand is definitely going to increase.
  3. wind could never deliver more than 20% of US domestic power needs. Right now wind and solar combined are barely 1% of consumption. Hydro cannot grow much in absolute terms and so will probably shrink in relative terms as a contribution to total energy used.
  4. The carbon efficiency, i.e. how much carbon goes into the air before you even start getting BTUs out of the fuel is worst for coal and is becoming poorer as lower grades of oil and less accessible oil must be extracted.
  5. a realistic price to put on CO2 emissions is hard to establish but even the minimum would ruin the economics of burning coal and put a real damper on oil and natural gas as don't expect realistic "carbon taxes" to be imposed until after dramatic climate degradation has caused widespread suffering.
  6. A $30/ton carbon tax would add about 35 cents per gallon to gas at the pump. [ That does not seem so bad to me but some people think if you can REDUCE the price that much at the pump you will be elected president of the united states. ]
  7. The various "trigger point" levels of atmospheric CO2 that have been suggested as concentrations at which irreversible and catastrophic climate change will be initiate vary from below the current 380PPM to perhaps 450PPM will be exceeded by any reasononable extrapolation of existing trends in extraction, demand and consumption, probably reaching the neighborhood of 600PPM.
  8. ...consequently, the best strategies for those who contemplate a relatively livable future lies in adaptation to climate change...if only we could predict what that will be.
  9. Political and economic expedience and inertia simply must be accepted and worked around: it is political suicide to propose the cutbacks in consumption that would alter the basics of the unfolding scenario.
  10. The devloping countries output of CO2 is soon to exceed that of developed US and European sources.
  11. solar PV is presently too costly to deploy for a significant reduction of fossil fuel for non transportation use: A carbon tax of as much as $40/ton emitted would be needed to make it competitive...but that cost is being driven down by research.
  12. Technical fixes to the problem are not entirely beyond us but we tend to focus on overly narrow parts of the problem. Fuel used for transportation has our attention but it is only 14% of the carbon we dump in our air. A four-fold increase in the efficiency by which we take usable energy from a ton of carbon we emit would be needed...across all uses.
  13. Coal is the only fuel substance that actually tends to lie within the national borders of the countries with the biggest appetites for energy...its political strength is thus enormous despite the fact that it is by far the dirtiest energy source.
  14. In an ideal world where rational scientific choices guided politics, advanced biofuels [and that definitely does not mean the brain dead money-grab for ethanol] are one of the few things that meet sustainability criteria and for non-transportation use, solar PV is best. But for transportation, no technology yet beats the energy density you get when you gas up your car. These are the "big picture" thoughts that drive BP's research efforts.
  15. Nuclear energy breakthroughs like fusion are decades away, and even conventional nukes, ignoring their hazards, require massive up-front capital, which in turn requires strong expectation of predictable markets and political stability. In general, remedies for growing energy shortfalls using old or new technology will need investments which neither industry nor government may have the nerve to make
  16. Political mechanisms are too weak to change the price or reduce the emissions significantly but they must not fail to mitigate the impact of escalating carbon prices and climate change upon the poor.

Dr. Koonin elaborated on the adaptations [he called it "Plan B" but I don't see how these developments are anything but necessary, merest survival choices] we are likely to need:
  • hardened infrastructure
  • drought and heat adapted crop species
  • move people to where the new habitable climate zones emerge.
But Koonin also said he was excited about clathrates. That was where I began to suspect that he was, as are most car-addicted western consumers, slightly insane: in these minds, there is no such thing as a bad and cheap source of hydrocarbon fuel. Its true that there are massive amounts of methane ice locked up in a kind of sludge thought to blanket various spots at the margins of the continental shelves. And maybe that is where it should stay.

The inevitable mistake, the one conditioned by his industry and his position in that industry is to repeat without question the conventional wisdom: "We know of no way to both decrease energy use and maintain economic growth." Using less seems to me like the clearly implied mandate of the many facts and trends pointed out in the lecture but the assumption on Dr Koonin's part and probably every person in the present administration is that no one will voluntarily use less energy if they can afford to use it at all. And not once was there any suggestion that there are too many of us on the planet. In fact, several of the calculations presumed a steady march to at least nine billion people on earth before any leveling begins to occur. That is crazy. Economic growth has always been at the cost of the environment and the environment has come around to collect the rent at last.

It is a widely observed fact that when societies achieve affluence and high levels of education for all citizens, birthrates fall to near maintenance levels. The one-sentence explanation of that phenomenon is that people are living happier lives with less children. If birthrates fall only because most of us literally cannot get heat and food enough for ourselves, happiness is going to be a thing of the vanished past.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I assume much of the failure to respond to climate and fossil fuel crises in a timely manner really is the gradual way they emerge. Al Gore's ridiculed frog in a pot of hot water won't seem so funny when more people are financially or physically harmed by shortages, diseases and weather calamities. The recent spike in oil prices may be a favor in disguise. I do not know why most Americans chose to ignore the warnings 30 years ago...or the many research reports since then. Consequently, I have no charitable estimate of average American intelligence and an even worse opinion of the leaders they have chosen. We have lost precious time and advantage that cannot be recovered. We have not prepared ourselves in our expectations for the reduced consumption that will be forced on us.

I am making my plans for a transition to nearly self sufficient local production of the food and energy I will consume in living and moving about for the rest of my life. Some of these plans were made long ago but only to the extent of reduced oil consumption in domestic heat and commuting. Much more may be needed in terms of changing how we farm, where we farm and how we build our homes and offices. Those elements of our life support are about to become unsustainable.

Here is a short article from a recent NY Times telling us the Bush administration has given up on its cover-up of global warming. Three cabinet members have actually signed a report that summarizes dire predictions of drought in the western US. "About time" you might say but I am saying "Too late". The times article has a small map showing where rain will increase, decrease or fall unchanged. I am sitting pretty up here in Massachusetts according to that map. Fifteen or twenty years ago, my subscription to Science News brought me a similar map. At that time, the computer models of the climate were not quite so accurate nor was as much data available but they got it nearly right. The map I saw then postulated a small increase in global temps [most of which has already come to pass] and calculated what effect that would have on circulation, jet stream etc. It predicted a drier southwestern US and a corridor of cooler air diverted from Canada across the northeastern states that would cause slight increases in precipitation. I checked NWS data history for rainfall in my area and found it has a very slight upward trend. 42 years ago, I was a high school student, reading Buckminster Fuller's "Spaceship Earth" when my classmates were reading Hot Rod magazine. When I had a chance 28 years ago, I built a solar heated house. As I now contemplate setting up a large garden or small farm, it appears I will have the rains I will need for the rest of my lifetime.

While many acquaintances my age [nearing retirement] seem eager to decamp from the nasty New England winters and move to Florida or Texas, I have never seen that as a sustainable long term option. They will be wishing they could come back north in less than 10 years because they will find the mere numbers in which they stampeded south have outstripped health care facilities and the constant smoke of burning everglades will take the shine off the sunshine state.

How does it get to be too late? How far ahead should one fix one's gaze in order to avert disasters and stave off ruin? All those horizons I mention: 10, 20 and 30 years have meaning in your life: when will you pay off your mortgage? When will heating cost more than you can afford. When will food use up your car payments or be completely unavailable? What is the right perspective?

You are eating the food and drinking the water your grandparents left you. Hows that? We cannot see more than a decade or two forward for weather. We can know the trend but not the timing for resource exhaustion. Real estate developers should be reminded land is not the only thing they stopped making, air and water too. Look forward as far as you possibly can and use every tool of science at your disposal and that will barely be adequate. If you will not trim your consumption, the most brutish and chaotic future awaits. If you will not look forward, you will back over a cliff.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The more things should change...

The way Toyota trounced domestic US automakers with its Prius hybrid electric car has finally been noticed. Billions in losses, and many lost factory jobs later, you can almost sign up to get a hybrid Vue or maybe that me-too runty Ford mini-SUV.

New York Times published this report of a Nissan-Renault product launching soon in Israel and scheduled to debut in the US in two years. This is an all-electric vehicle that solves the short-leash problems of decent sized/decently peppy electrics by a simple stroke: you can swap the battery for a fresh one quickly rather than wait for an hours-long recharge. The article is taking comments and maybe 1/4 of the respondents are clued in that the sustainability claims for electric cars are a hoax. The rest of the comments in reply to the question "What would get you to buy an electric car?" with pavlovian drooling about the specifications they demand in order to spend their dollars. I got annoyed at them:
The error, IMO, of most of the wish-list specifications of an acceptable "electric" car that have been set forth in these comments is that there is little understanding of the underlying collective energy consumed.

IF the electric car were driven in, say, Montreal or Tacoma, one might claim they were powered by carbon neutral [though hardly "fish neutral"] hydroelectric. Back here in Boston, the electricity I buy for my electric car would come mostly from coal burnt somewhere upwind of my driving range: environmental degradation is simply pushed into someone else's back yard though with less dependence on foreign oil. To go the greater distances gas guzzlers can cover, even with a lithium battery, requires a bigger, heavier vehicle. Moving nearly a ton of metal just so your one tush can get from here to there means more kilowatts per person mile are needed than the light electric cars now on offer. [you can't afford a Tesla!] Result: Negligible net reduction in energy consumption AND continued dependence on burning fossil fuels. You are all kidding yourselves. And baring a huge biotech breakthrough, hydrogen is just as illusory an improvement: hydrogen is primarily obtained by electrolysis of water and you only get out the watts you put in.

The one virtue of the Nissan/Renault plan as it is to be implemented in Israel is that the battery can be readily swapped for a fresh one. At the cost of doubling the number of batteries that must eventually be disposed of, a very significant power source phase issue is avoided: Most of us drive during daylight which would make conventional built-in batteries UNAVAILABLE FOR CHARGING FROM PHOTO VOLTAIC SOURCES DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS. And Israel has the sunshine.

Most of you are still thinking like the consumers you were bred to be. Unless we replace the original sources with something clean, sustainability requires that we each INDIVIDUALLY consume less energy. Period.

The electric car is not going to solve our problems. Consumption us our problem and why get excited about yet another way to consume? The possibility of entrepreneurial types putting up solar powered recharging facilities [e.g. parking garages with a roof of photovoltaic panels ] is the one viable and potentially sustainable idea that could salvage the environment that heedless consumption via electric cars would leave us. Lets just see what Exxon convinces congress to do about the licensing of such structures!