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Are automobiles a major cause of global warming?



  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I'll keep my cars thank you

    What if your car ran on bio-diesel, which would be CO2 neutral?

    Maybe global warming is bogus science but I personally think that equating CO2 production with quality of life is bogus economics. Is there something about getting your electricity from a coal or gas fired power plant that makes your society more prosperous than one that uses nuclear, geo-thermal, hydro, wind, solar, or any non-GHG producing source? Yes coal is cheaper than most alternatives, at least right now. In all likelihood that won't always be the case.

    People that believe global warming is a myth consider the other camp to be "chicken littles". I believe that also applies to those who predict economic catastrophe resulting from a transition away from fossil fuels.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,178
    I think you are wrong on the CO2 production, not going up with economic growth.

    For example take larsb's UCS car above. It is dependent on ethanol to cut back on CO2. How much more corn can we grow without destroying the Gulf of Mexico? The more we plant the more CO2 we produce from bigger tractors running on diesel. We can negate a bit of that with using biodiesel. We are not able to keep up with the demand for either ethanol or biodiesel currently. We use vast amounts of natural gas to produce the fertilizer required to get the bigger corn crops.

    Electricity is also a catch22. Environmentalists have all but stopped the cleanest of all energy sources, nuclear. Solar is still a ways off to be competitive and takes vast amounts of real estate in the sunny areas of the country. Wind has some promise. Just got my Audubon News letter and they are condemning the Altamont Wind generation project as it kills over 1000 raptors per year. Plus no one wants any of these alternative energy projects in their neighborhood.

    I would be interested in hearing about one country that signed onto the Kyoto Treaty and has lived up to what they signed. Tony Blair flat out said it is impossible to meet the requirements without suffering big economic losses.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "I believe that also applies to those who predict economic catastrophe resulting from a transition away from fossil fuels."

    Point of fact: fossil fuels are used where they make more economic sense. If you pursue alternate forms of energy which you KNOW going in will cost more, there is an economic penalty to pay.

    Now, how MUCH this economic penalty would be is obviously open for debate. Just as the real EFFECTS of Global Warming are also open for debate. But just as you might question those with their head in the sand with regard to the problems of Global Warming, I would question those with their head in the sand with regard to the economic cost of EFFECTIVE alternatives.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    Bush has finally become concerned about the same topic, I suspect mainly because he doesn't want to be pre-empted by the new Congress, which is clearly going to make GHG emissions legislation a priority: - ATESTNEWS

    Among other things the article says the average cost of Honda vehicles would rise only $600 in 10 years, in meeting a 4% PER YEAR increase in fuel economy standards. In a decade, that is such a small amount of money, and money would be saved in gas purchases as a result of the changes.

    Many folks seem to have an all-or-nothing attitude about this. Why no shades of gray people? We can do a lot about this problem (I know that some contend it is NOT a problem) just by tweaking vehicles that are already out there, and insisting that carmakers use modern technology in their vehicles that ALREADY EXISTS to reduce GHG emissions. Heck, you will save on gas at the same time!

    In different developments today, the CA lawsuit against the Big 6 carmakers for damages caused by GHG emissions finally came to court yesterday in San Francisco. I think California will have an uphill battle here. I think it represents a bit of a double standard that the carmakers have met all of California's existing emissions regulations for car sales in California, and yet the state is still turning around today to sue them for damages caused by emissions they weren't previously regulating. But we will see what happens. The carmakers are currently asking the judge to throw the case out for lacking all merit. I bet that doesn't happen, but I bet California loses the trial.

    I am more hopeful that the new California GHG emissions standards will be upheld - the lawsuit on that is still deferred pending the suit against the EPA initiated by the state of Massachusetts, insisting that GHG emissions be regulated at the federal level.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I would question those with their head in the sand with regard to the economic cost of EFFECTIVE alternatives.

    What if a good case can be made that these alternatives will eventually be cheaper? Then they would actually benefit the economy. So the question is when is the best time to make this move.

    Take this scenario. While the numbers are just to illustrate a point the principal has validity.

    The cost to produce a certain amount of energy from coal is $4. It's price will continually increase and in 10 years cost $8. The cost to produce this same amount of energy from some alternate source is $8 but will drop to $4 in 10 years. The catch is that this alternative's price drop won't start to occur until after it is adopted. So again, when do you start pursuing this alternative, now or when the costs are equivalent? From a financial perspective it all depends on the time frame you're looking at. If it's 5 years then stick with coal. If its 10 years then its a wash. If your looking past 10 years the wise move is to transition now.

    The point is that investing now to accelerate when this cost parity will occur has a financial payback.

    It's kind of the same decision an individual faces when considering whether or not to go to college. Do you sacrifice in the present for long term gain?

    While I don't dispute the impact of higher energy costs on the economy I believe they are overstated. If you asked people 10 years ago what would be the consequences of oil over $60 and gas prices over $2.50 a lot would have predicted economic devastation. I know that some time ago on another thread I was advocating $1/gas taxes when the price at the pump was under $1.50. The majority response was that this would cripple the economy. Again, I'm sure these current prices have been a drain on the economy but it does seem like "cripple" was a little bit of an exaggeration.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,500
    I heard that one of the major proponents of global warming has changed his mind about humans being the cause. I was driving at the time and didn't catch all that was said.

    Does anyone know who this is?

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,965
    I know it's hard and that a topic like this tends to wander off easily, but let's stick to discussing/debating the question in the title if we can.

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  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    sneakers -

    The title of the thread pretty much asks a "yes" or "no" question. Any DISCUSSION we have beyond simply saying "yes" or "no" will, INEVITIBLY lead to discussions of GW in general.

    If I stay on topic and said "no, I don't believe automobiles are a major cause of global warming" then I WILL get questioned (rightly so) on why I take that stance. There's no way to discuss this without talking about GW in general.

    It can't be helped. Otherwise, the only way to stay "on topic" is to turn this into simply a poll and tally the "yes" votes and the "no" votes.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I have a serious problem with the CA lawsuit. The car manufacturers aren't burning the gas, it's the consumer. They have to share a large portion of the blame and responsibility. Toyota makes everything from Tundras and Land Cruisers to Corollas, Camry Hybrids and Priuses, at that point its up to the consumer. You can't sue Toyota and state that they aren't making efficient cars because they are. Now if you believe that Toyota is capable of making 30 mpg Tundras and Land Cruiser then I'd like to see that. It's no different then suing the food producers for how fat Americans have become.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,178
    I think they are doing that in CA & NY. I agree it is all frivolous and the direction that will bring this country down. Now the state of Illinois is suing a 79 year old couple for using fryer oil in their 1986 VW diesel. They are not paying their fair share of the road tax and being sued retroactively.

    I say cars are a very small part of the GHG problem.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 7,234
    in their '86 VW diesel IMO have the right to use it. What's one less fuel tax income source for a rat race state like Illinois, anyway?

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,178
    If some fat cat Hollywood star or politician was collecting used cooking oil to power their car, they would be treated as environmental gods. Probably given enough carbon credits to power their 30,000 square foot mansion. Some poor soul living on a fixed income and they want to tax the crap out of them.

    According to the Wetzels, May told them during his Jan. 4 visit that they would have to pay taxes at either the gasoline rate of 19½ cents per gallon or the diesel rate of 21½ cents per gallon.

    A retired research chemist and food plant manager, Wetzel produced records showing he has used 1,134.6 gallons of vegetable oil from 2002 to 2006. At the higher rate, the tax bill would come to $244.24.

    "That averages out to $4.07 a month," Wetzel noted, adding he is willing to pay that bill.

    But the Wetzels would discover that the state had more complicated and costly requirements for them to continue to use their "veggie mobile."

    David Wetzel was told to contact a revenue official and apply for a license as a "special fuel supplier" and "receiver." After completing a complicated application form designed for businesses, David Wetzel was sent a letter directing him to send in a $2,500 bond.

    Eileen Wetzel, a former teaching assistant, calculated that the bond, designed to ensure that their "business" pays its taxes, would cover the next 51 years at their present usage rate.

    Tax em for using alternate fuel
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    What does Illinois plan on doing if/when people start driving electric vehicles?

    Apparently Illinois considers this a business. As such I suspect they can find numerous things to start writing off. I wonder if they can use the tax code to their advantage here to offset these fuel taxes that are being imposed on them?

    I know that on my utility bill there are all sorts of surcharges based on my energy consumption. I wonder if Illinois would start assessing these fees on someone producing their own, homemade electricity through solar or wind?

    Hopefully the agency in Illinois that made this decision gets so much negative PR over it they reverse their position.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,178
    In CA the whole business of taxing vehicles by the mile started during the EV-1 days. It was dropped when the electric vehicle mandate was dumped. Oregon is testing a per mile tax device currently. Politicians spend a big share of their day thinking of new ways to tax the people without getting beat out in the next election. I look for a carbon tax soon on vehicles that are emitting more than the average CO2.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    I agree with you, there seem to be a great many problems philosophically with that lawsuit. Legally, they are apparently convinced they have a case. Much like the way they got big tobacco settlements to the states to reimburse them for healthcare costs for cancer patients.

    I would much rather see a gas tax than this lawsuit against car manufacturers.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    I suspect that the lawsuit is actually a game of "I call your bluff.". California has been the most proactive state in trying to reduce vehicle size, switch to alternative energy and regulate emissions. All attempts at reasoning with the car manufacturers likely failed. Thus, the next step was to sue the car companies. Hopefully, the objective is to "settle out of court" or reach a compromise.

    In order of fault, I would list it as follows:
    1. the consumer for being susceptible to advertising and actually buying a vehicle far heavier than his/her needs
    2. the car company for building the vehicle and promoting the use of inefficient vehicles.
    3. the city planner and developer, for building houses in the middle of nowhere increasing commute times.
    4. the oil companies for producing the actual material that emits CO2 and not strongarming or at least reasoning with the transportation sector to increase efficiency.
    5. the government itself for being complicit and accepting fees and taxes from 2, 3 and 4.

    I agree that this has no way of winning unless everyone is indicted. But then again, OJ Simpson is a free man.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I don't think you can really blame a company for trying to maximize their profits. Afterall that's the primary goal of business. The automakers derive bigger profits from bigger vehicles and oil companies obviously make more money by selling more oil. To expect these corporations to put society's interests above their own is unrealistic. Afterall, as individuals we tend to act in a self serving manner. Whatever social conscious a corporation has will be given to it by the people running it. Why would they conduct themselves any different in the corporate world than they do in their personal lives? Especially when they have shareholders to answer to. It's hypocritical for individuals to hold corporations to higher standards than they impose on themselves.

    I read today that gasoline consumption in the US is up 3.3% over the same period last year. We're like a guy who's hitting himself in the head with a hammer and complaining that it hurts.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,178
    It is not all the consumers fault either. Why buy a little Highlander when a Tahoe will haul more passengers, tow over twice the weight and is comparably priced? The Highlander in reality will only get a couple miles to the gallon better mileage. And it is cramped compared to the Tahoe. I for one opt for comfort if all else is close to equal. If you like cars a Lincoln Town car gets close to the mileage of a Honda Accord. My point being for me to downsize and squeeze into a little vehicle I want significant MPG increase. Not 5-6 MPG better. The added comfort is worth that to me. If the politicians and automakers were serious about increased mileage & lower CO2, they would have embraced the diesel engine as they have in the EU.
  • pernaperna Posts: 533
    My wife and I are what you think of when you think of stereotypical liberal tree huggers. We think global warming is real and we contributed to it.

    That said, I personally think that in the scheme of things, commuter-type cars share very little blame. I drive a Maxima and wife drives a Town and Country. They're not the MOST efficient vehicles we could have bought, but they are the most efficient vehicles that happen to match our wants and needs.

    I think that as individuals, recycling and preserving ALL our natural resources are much better "bang for the buck" type pursuits than buying a Prius.

    GM announced the Chevy Volt is coming in 2010, which as an American makes me want to stand up and give a big ol' Texas-style YEEE HA in Detroit's general direction. Toyota has been given a pass for far too long on stuff like Land Cruisers just because they happen to make the Prius.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,178
    You have repeated my sentiments very well. Life is a compromise on many levels. Driving a Prius into an 8 car garage of a Beverly Hills mansion is hardly what I would consider "green". You are also correct about Toyota. They are now planning to sell 250k new Tundra PU trucks this year built in San Antonio, TX. Hardly a green vehicle. Of the 4 major companies the Tundra PU gets the lowest mileage rating of all. Toyota gets the last laugh on those that think they are green for the environment sake. Sell a Prius and while the environmentalist has his back turned sell 3 Tundra gas guzzlers.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Gary, how long does Toyota get NO CREDIT from you for being the number one seller of CLEAN GREEN hybrid vehicles in the world?

    They sell Tundras because there is a MARKET for that vehicle.

    It's not Toyota's fault there is a market, is it?

    Did Toyota create that market? No.

    Why would Toyota abandon that market to GM and Ford without trying to compete? That would be idiotic.

    Until people stop needing large pickup trucks (i.e., never) any company who wants to should be able to provide vehicles for that market without getting smacked around for it.

    The bottom line is this:

    No other company in the world sells as many clean green cars as Toyota.

    In the words of Dennis Hopper from the great movie True Romance, "So, you tell me - Am I lying?"
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,178
    If Toyota wants to earn the respect of those that are real environmentalist, they have to earn it. If they are all you believe them to be why are their large vehicles some of the biggest polluters in their classes. The hybrids are just a front for a far less than green automaker. No problem if they want to compete against the other automakers building full size PU trucks. I am just pointing out they are not the cleanest in their classes. The only full size truck that is dirtier than Toyota is Nissan.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Just visited for some truck numbers:

    2007 Dodge Ram 4.7L 4WD: 11.6 tons GHG, EPA Air Score 6

    2007 Chevy Silverado 5.3L 4WD: 11.1 tons GHG, EPA Air score 6

    2007 Ford F150 5.4L 4WD: 12.0 tons GHG, EPA Air Score 3

    2007 Toyota Tundra 4.7L 4WD: 11.5 tons GHG, EPA Score 6

    By those numbers, the trucks are from Cleanest to Dirtiest:


    So both the Ford and the Dodge are dirtier than the Tundra, and the Tundra is barely dirtier than the Chevy.

    Care to adjust your argument, Gary? :shades:

    PS The Nissan Titan does 11.9 or 12.0 tons, and has no EPA Air Score.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,178
    Maybe if you were to look at the 2wd PU trucks and match the engine sizes you would see where the Tundra gets the worst mileage with a smaller V8 engine. 4WD trucks are probably less than 20% of the market so why did you choose them? Maybe to make Toyota look better than it really is. If it is the Greenest it should be at the top and it is NOT. The simple truth is that Toyota wants a chunk of the 2.5 million full size trucks that were sold last year. They could care less if they are the cleanest running with the best mileage.

    Now, do you care to adjust your thinking about that sleazy brown Toyota company?
  • ponderpointponderpoint Posts: 277
    I relayed at a party that I still have a fifteen year old car that gets 35 mpg and use it for the bulk of my driving. I also have a new truck, an '06 Tacoma V-6 that gets considerably less, and seldom use it because of it. Somebody commented approvingly on my "conservation" efforts and concern for global warming. I laughed and said I wasn't an earth muffin, just really cheap.

    You guessed it, an argument started about global warming, which of course, gets people to scatter immediately.

    I did too. The "global alarmists" are starting to get boring. Any in-depth conversation usually reveals they have very little basic earth science knowledge. Ask them a question like "what was the name of the last ice age" or "what's a dryas" or "what was the Pleistocene Epoch" and that's enough to get them away from you.

    Give it another twenty or thirty years and will go back to the global cooling fanatics again, I don't know who I prefer more.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Give it another twenty or thirty years

    I agree, this debate will be very different in 20 years.

    Generally speaking when there are these issues where two groups strongly disagree I've noticed that there is usually a disproportionate amount of name-calling coming from one side. Just an observation.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,500
    The Toyota company wants to be perceived as producing only economical cars, much more economical to buy and to drive than those evil US "old" companies. They need to forgo all the gas-eating trucklike vehicles and work to earn that Green image.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The simple truth is that Toyota wants a chunk of the 2.5 million full size trucks that were sold last year.

    Absolutely correct. The notion of "green" truck is an oxymoron, almost like healthy cigarette. I guess Toyota could adopt a policy where they'd only sell trucks to those people that could demonstrate a need. The problem with that approach is that they'd have sales in the single digits. So they were put in a dillema. What's more important, corporate profitabiltily or green image? They chose profitabilty and I don't blame them. Afterall, what would it accomplish to do otherwise? If the didn't sell full sized trucks and SUVs Ford and GM would just sell more.

    What's your take on the fact that Toyota is dragging its feet when it comes to embracing E-85 vehicles? Is it that they're less green or do they see this as the short term boondoggle that it is?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    I think they are too invested in hybrids to bother to develop E85 vehicles as well. Neither is the long-term solution to automotive propulsion, as I think most of the automakers agree. The fuel cell development continues apace at all the large carmakers for that very reason...

    And diesel will complement hybrids in the short term.

    And for the LOVE OF JIM, can we PLEASE have one thread on the N&V board this week that doesn't degenerate into
    "Toyota is the GREATEST CAR COMPANY EVER!!!!!"
    "No way, Toyota sucks dirt and its success is based on lies!!!"


    This is a discussion about all carmakers and the automobile in general, I believe.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,965
    We're talking about automobiles and not brands here. Let's try to limit the us vs them stuff to topics where it's more relevant. :sick:

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