Cheap Oil is the Scourge of the Earth

Editorial by Brown University student sees need for carbon taxes and other policies that encourages the transition to electric drive vehicles fueled by solar and nuclear power.

Published: 07-Feb-2008

By Tyler Rosenbaum

It was heartening to hear that Brown University has agreed to go green by cutting its carbon emissions significantly over the next decade. The authors of the emissions reduction recommendations touted the long-term cost effectiveness of their plan when presenting it to the Undergraduate Council of Students. Isn't that amazing? The relative affordability of using oil and natural gas as fuel sources has always been weighed against the litany of drawbacks to using them, but it seems that finally - finally! - this may no longer be the case. Nevertheless, it can't be expected that ordinary Americans and small businesses will be willing or able to commit the substantial initial investment that switching from fossil fuels will require. Many people, myself included, remain unconvinced that the market can provide the necessary momentum to overcome the inertia without a push.

Though the average gallon of gasoline throughout the United States has cost more than three dollars for quite some time now, when the price of a barrel of oil topped $100 on Jan. 2, a fresh sense of media-fueled hysteria gripped the country. Almost every American can remember the idyllic days of yore when gas cost a dollar per gallon and a Humvee or a gigantic pick-up truck could be driven from Los Angeles to New York for less than $300. Traveling that distance for the same price today would require a car that gets three times the gas mileage, and which would therefore be intrinsically uncool and vaguely European (read: anti-American).


Powered by advanced lithium-ion batteries and two 67bhp (50kW) electric motors to drive the front and rear axles, the Mixim is a four-wheel-drive car with a theoretical top speed of 112mph and a potential maximum range of 156 miles.

Dodge ZEO is 2+2 electric muscle car for the 21st century powered by 200kW electric drive with 0-60 mph in less than 6 seconds and range of 250 miles.

The Air Car may do better than fuel-cell cars, but experts say that using grid power to charge a battery-powered electric vehicle is much more efficient than using electricity to compress and store the same amount of energy in a tank.


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