Sunday, November 21, 2010

Part II Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles: A Fifteen Minute Writing Exercise

A continuation from the piece “Why Private industry will not save us from peak oil,” specifically analyzing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. As proposed by Joan Ogden, faculty at U.C. Davis, a rather limited network of stations is needed initially in the Los Angeles area for consumers. If so, why have vehicle manufacturers or energy companies not jumped on the opportunity? Where is the chutzpah of capitalism, why is “being a trendsetter” not an admirable title? And furthermore, why are corporations so afraid? Research has proven peak oil and it is a widely known fact that resources are limited. With current knowledge and technology – I am surprised a revolution has not already occurred.

The popularity of the automobile is only growing. In Dan Sperling’s book Two Billion Cars, he discusses the increased demand and impacts from such growth. Driving has even increased in the United States and, unless the recession continues, vehicle miles traveled will increase. Many places have more vehicles than residents, causing a variety of land use and environmental issues.

The hurdle to alternatives may not be the technology but rather the political and economic infrastructure. Our policies support and subsidize the gas powered automobile. Our economic systems do not truly reflect the cost of gasoline – to secure fuel, wars to support trade and demand, environmental impacts, or even the cost of roads, bridges and tunnels. Until the political and economic systems truly reflect the cost of gasoline and infrastructure – any alternative fuel vehicle will lack support form the industry.