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The car: liberating? Or ball and chain?
A followup on fossil fuel dependence and climate change / national security — a organization called EnergyTrap has been surveying people and collecting data about Americans’ income with relation to the amount that they have to spend on gas. The first infographic I found on the site was pretty telling, see below. It compares the price paid per household, per state for gasoline in 2010 compared to 2011, using deepening red tints to show rising costs.
This article starts with a short video of a guy that “works in security” who spends more than 50% of his income on transporting himself to and from his job. He adds up his travel expenditures (gas, car payment, insurance, tolls) on a whiteboard, while smiling. That short post ends with a comment about Americans and their obsession with driving, debunking the myth that Americans love to drive, claiming instead that it is a simple necessity because there are no alternatives.
It is true that there are few alternatives to personal transportation in this country. But it is interesting to note that the American way set an ideal for the globe, and many nations have followed the US development model, building huge highways through cities and suburbs connecting to them.
Regardless of what infrastructure is already in place, Americans are also marketed an unattainable ideal. I haven’t actually surveyed this, but I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to watch TV without seeing a car ad. It’s definitely impossible to watch sports without seeing 5 car ads. Another infographic from Energytrap.org below shows gas spending as a % of income.
I venture to guess that lots of the people in the lower income range who pay lots for gas are in the same boat. They purchased vehicles when gas prices were lower, and now cannot sell their vehicles for more efficient ones because they will end up losing essential income. Nor can they choose another transportation option, because alternatives are rare.
I don’t mean to say that this data is 100% dependable or that these scenarios hold true for all Americans, but I think it provides a decent snapshot into a growing problem that will only worsen as time passes.
Electric Cars - Solved
2012 - The Year of the Electric Car. A Bridge Too Far?
Let’s not lie to ourselves; electric cars suck. At least at the present. As Top Gear most recently pointed out, there are major downfalls to current electric cars designs, particularly battery longevity. Despite research breakthroughs in electric cars, it still stands that they are very much a slave to current technology, limited by resources that can’t stack up against the good ol’ internal combustion engine.
So, the question remains, how do you make electric cars practical? And answering that question only leads to another, how can you make them better than current automobiles?
After watching a video on wireless charging of an iPad, I believe I’ve come with a pretty good work around. *Disclaimer* People smarter than me have already done a lot of work along these lines already, I’m just looking to offer a quick breakdown on theory.
Already, we are seeing the discussion of smart roads and bridges, as well as seeing inventive alternative energy solutions to take place along highways. Technology clearly has a future in the way we will further sculpt new infrastructure and renovate older roads and byways. And with all of the innovation, why not apply it more directly to our transportation?
In a world that is seeing an ever shrinking presence of cords and physical connections, giving way to WiFi and wireless capabilities, why should our transportation be the exception?
A direct integration of energy supply (preferably alternative, such as wind recapture on highways) into the roadways would create a unique ability for electrical cars to wireless charger while driving. Similar to electrical race-cars on a track, wireless induction could be used to help power electric cars while on the road.
What this means is no need to wait hours at home to refill the car’s batteries - they can be recharged while driving - and virtually no need to stop to recharge while traveling. This grid solution creates a clear advantage of the electrical car over the traditional - eliminating the need to stop for fuel, and decreasing commuting time. And if the car decides to go off-road, away from the highway charging grid, it will still have its battery backup to power the car.
This idea ultimately requires a complete restoration of all of America’s highways and byways, but would still enable cross country trips of electric vehicles, adding practicality to the new wave of transportation.
In just six hours, the world's deserts receive more energy from the sun than humans consume in a year.
If even a tiny fraction of this energy could be harnessed – an area of Saharan desert the size of Wales could, in theory, power the whole of Europe
The Guardian wrote a brilliant informative article - read it here
We need to get moving. How has this not been tapped yet? We know why - because of Oil, but that aside - it’s clear that the earth provides everything we need (and more…)
Lets get these installed and have free power! Show us where to invest…
(quotes sourced from the Guardian)