Cars Are Green

The primary environmentalist war of choice, today at least, is against the car. Environmentalists want to drive us out of our cars, in spite of the fact that cars are green and smart, and they are getting greener and smarter all the time.

The most liberating personal transportation innovation since the discovery of horseback riding must be systematically eliminated, or so one would think. What would the streets of our cities be like if bikes had to slow to pedestrian speed? Is this next? In the real world, goods and people have got to move fast and independently, and just like bikes, cars are the way to do it.


The GM “Flextreme” – a diesel series hybrid.


Green cars will proliferate. If every one of California’s 33 million registered vehicles used about 10kWh per day, it would only take about 50 gigawatts of output for eight hours to recharge them all each night. And that’s on the high side, overall electrical consumption if half the transportation miles in California were electric powered would probably only require a 15-20 gigawatt increase to off-peak output, since solo commuters drive lighter vehicles than average. So break out the solar thermal plants and store the steam, or build a few nuclear power stations – they are awesome generators. There are plenty of fuel options, and the superior energy density of gasoline and diesel will ensure heavy-lift and long haul transportation duty cycles remain mostly reliant on internal combustion – at least with today’s technology.

Cars are green. You can charge a car in the sun with today’s technology, a car with photovoltaic skin would store about 2.5 miles of range per hour in full sun – not bad supplemental fuel, and great in a pinch. The greatest breakthrough in automotive technology of the 21st century, the series hybrid, has now had its second iteration announced – General Motors announced last week the “Flextreme” concept car, another of what they term their “flexfuel” vehicles. The Flextreme runs on batteries only for up to 34 miles, using 16 kWh. But the Flextreme’s seven gallon diesel tank will propel it another 410 miles by turning an onboard generator to continue providing power to the all-electric drive train. The Flextreme’s diesel-only mileage is 59 miles per gallon!

Cars are green. You can charge a car using your roof with today’s technology, with 1,000 square feet of photovoltaics you’ll get about 25 miles of range per hour of full sun. You can recycle virtually every shred and scrap from a green car today, and build another car, or fire a furnace with the waste. Cars have zero emissions using today’s technology. Electric cars can run on abundant decentralized solar and wind generated energy and nothing more. Cars can use roadways with smart lanes. Smart green buses can extend transportation options to far more transit-dependent people. Cars are green.


The Series Hybrid:
Onboard diesel powers generator powers electric motor.

Thanks to green cars, sprawling suburbs with green homes, no sidewalks, and giant new trees, watered by new rains brought by tree canopy, will moisturize and cleanse California’s Central Valley. New towns will arise spontaneously, instead of as walled-off square mile blocks of ultra high-density eco-concentration infill compounds.

Thanks to green cars, across the foothills along new aquaducts and ponds, and pretty much everywhere a free landowner and a free developer (in this free country) want to build something, new roads, wide and sweeping, blasted through the hillsides, will traverse ranchettes and gentleman farms with trees of all types planted and thriving, trees of all the world. What blasphemy! But cars are green. Whatever else some environmentalists may say about why they want to cram us all into infill, instead of letting cities grow naturally, don’t say it’s because of the cars.

Cars are green.


5 Responses to “Cars Are Green”
  1. I never thought of this! If cars are green, this removes one of the biggest arguments against low density housing! Keep up the good work.

  2. Brian says:

    Jeanne, that’s just not true. Low density housing (sprawl) has many negatives such as destroying our open spaces (what precious little we have left) which affects wild life due to habitat destruction. This comes back to bite humans as well. Low density housing is the reason why the Hudson Valley, NY is the worst place in the country for lime disease. Already, there is not enough open space to support predators who would prey on deer. Deer in turn carry ticks, which carry lime disease. Deer, by the way, are a huge pest. Good luck growing any kind of garden. It will be eaten before it has a chance. Other wildlife is crammed into our backyards, too. Further north, in the adirondacks, housing sprawl has pushed people into Bear territory, and vice-versa. I could go on, but my point is that car pollution is only one of many many arguments against low density housing.

  3. Ed says:

    So we can’t have low density homes because in low density communities the deer survive but their predators stay away, and lime disease becomes a problem? Oh, and because there is “precious little we have left” of open space?

    I respectfully disagree. There is plenty of open space in the USA, and we can hunt deer to thin their numbers.

    If you are truly concerned about open space, address the underlying issues of human population growth.

    You might also consider the unintended consequences of urban infill and greenbelts, which is to force more people into the exurbs, such as the Hudson River Valley.

  4. Jeff says:

    Sprawl / low density housing is a huge threat to farms and ranches. If you don’t see too many farms in your area, it is because residents have priced them out of business. If they are in your area, then those close to residential areas have issues with escalating land prices and taxes and a cost effective means to raise livestock. Farms cannot be forced into small 50 or even 500 acre areas and still be economical. If you want a low cost food supply, they must be managed in 1000+ acre tracts. If you don’t like that idea then more of our food source will come from non-US areas that might clear rain forest to obtain their land. Yes, spawl impacts everyone, not just deer.

  5. Ed Ring says:

    Well one might at least ask where we draw the line. In my region – Sacramento, California – mandated growth guidelines defines “low density” as eight homes per acre. They are actually building detached homes of 14+ per acre! These are not nice places to live, and they are grossly overpriced because of the artificially low supply of entitled land.

    Read “California land use choices” and verify the numbers for yourself. California’s population is set to increase by 13 million between now and 2030, and if you put 100% of these newcomers on farmland on 1 acre lots, you’d only use up 16% of remaining farmland. But that is a very extreme case – in reality many people like living in high density urban core environments. And of course, for every square mile of farmland in California (40,000 square miles) there are three square miles of non-farmland, much of which is fine for homes.

    It’s not as dire as you may think, if you run the numbers. And if you are truly concerned about supplies of land and water, at least in California where all of the farmland is irrigated, then stop subsidizing corn ethanol on land where irrigation is required.

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