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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (5/6/07)
Mike Millikin, 6 May 07
Article Photo

Mitigating climate change is feasible without sacrificing economic development and is affordable, according to the summary report for policymakers released by Working Group III of the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

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IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri noted that:

This report for the first time has dealt with lifestyles and consumption patterns as an important means by which we can bring about mitigation of GHG emissions. You can look at technologies, you can look at policies, but what is an extremely powerful message in this report is the need for human society as a whole to start looking at changes in lifestyles and consumption patterns.

It is probably naive to believe that merely developing technologies in labs and workshops would be the answer unless there is a package of policies, unless there are market forces which in this case are represented by the price attached to carbon...we are not likely to get a major dissemination of technologies, no matter how meritorious and [desirable] they may be.

The Chinese government’s restrictions on Beijing motorists during a three-day conference last November succeeded in cutting the city’s NOx emissions by 40%. More...

Ford UK has provided performance data illustrating reductions in fuel consumption of up to 19% resulting from driving a cross-section of its Transit van models at governed speeds of 60 and 65 mph as opposed to 70 mph. More...

Despite Japan’s steady economic recovery, the domestic new-car market continues to level off, according to surveys conducted in fiscal 2006 (ending 31 March 2007) by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. More...

US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, introduced a bill (S.1297) increasing the volume of low-carbon and advanced renewable fuels to as much as 35 billion gallons by 2025. Separately, Senators Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Ted Stevens (R-AK), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee, released compromise legislation that would establish a nationwide new vehicle fleet fuel economy average of 35 mpg by 2020 for passenger cars and light-duty trucks—about 40% higher than the current average of about 25 mpg. More...

Bipartisan legislation that requires improved energy efficiency, promotes renewable fuels diversity and invests in research on carbon sequestration also headed out to the Senate floor. Among other provisions, the bill authorizes $2.3 billion for research into advanced automotive batteries. More...

For the first time since the American Lung Association began issuing its annual air quality report card, the data reveal a split picture along either side of the Mississippi River, as particle pollution (soot) increased in the East but decreased in the West, while ozone (smog) decreased nationwide from peaks reported in 2002. More...

Arctic sea ice is melting at a significantly faster rate than projected by any of the 18 computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in preparing its 2007 assessments, according to a new study by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). More...

HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

Reported US sales of light-duty hybrid vehicles rose 26% in April 2007 from the year before, representing a more than 2% share of the new vehicle market—the second month in a row for that level of penetration. More...

Lithium-ion battery manufacturer A123Systems intends to begin marketing battery packs in 2008 for third-party conversion of hybrids to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), according to A123Systems CEO David Vieau.

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Moving briskly to realize that goal, A123Systems acquired Hymotion, Inc., a fabricator of aftermarket plug-in hybrid conversion modules. More...

CalCars received a two-year, $200,000 grant from Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, to support its work in educating the public regarding plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs). More...

Odyne Corporation, a leading developer of advanced plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology for trucks and buses, is working with Dueco, Inc. to develop a proprietary plug-in hybrid electric vehicle propulsion system optimized for aerial lift truck applications." More...

The new Aspen full-size SUV will join the Dodge Durango as Chrysler’s first volume production hybrids next year. Both vehicles will use a 5.7-liter HEMI engine coupled with the advanced two-mode hybrid technology being co-developed by GM, DaimlerChrysler and BMW. More...

US Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX-21) introduced legislation to provide $250 million in annual funding from 2008-2012 for the research and development of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, as well as $50 million in annual funding for pilot deployment programs. More...

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

ZAP signed an exclusive agreement this week for an advanced wheel motor technology from PML FlightLink Limited of Hampshire, United Kingdom. ZAP secured the PML wheel motor technology to play a key role in the development of next generation electric vehicles being developed with Lotus Engineering. More...

ENERGY STORAGE

Feel Good Cars Corporation, operating as ZENN Motor Company, has made a US$2.5 million equity investment in Austin-based energy storage developer, EEStor. More...

Firefly Energy Inc., developer of a carbon-graphite foam lead acid battery for commercial and military uses, has formed a battery manufacturing partnership with NorthStar Battery Company to enable prototype and production support of Firefly’s “3D” battery technology to serve the US Army. More...

BIOFUELS

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will provide up to $200 million, over five years (FY’07-’11) to support the development of small-scale cellulosic biorefineries in the United States. More...

The European Commission has launched a public consultation concerning the biofuel issues in the new legislation regarding the promotion of renewable energy, addressing concerns such as how to achieve a 10% biofuel share while ensuring environmental sustainability.

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The city of Chattanooga, Tennessee will shift its entire 385-vehicle diesel fleet to run on B20 biodiesel in the next couple of months.
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C-TRAN, the rapid transit agency serving Clark County, Washington (which includes Vancouver), is shifting its bus fleet to B20 biodiesel from B5. More...

Energy crop company Ceres, Inc. and Rohm and Haas Company are collaborating on a three-year project to determine if energy crops planted for cellulosic ethanol could simultaneously produce methacrylate monomers, a key raw material used in the manufacture of many products including paint and coatings, building materials, and acrylic sheet and resins. More...

SYNTHETIC FUELS

Southern Research Institute plans to open a Carbon-to-Liquids (C2L) Development Center in the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina. More...

A European research consortium is working to develop a process to allow a range of different biomass feedstocks to be co-fed to a conventional oil refinery to produce renewable fuels and oxygenated chemicals. More...

Synthesis Energy Systems, Inc. (SES), a coal gasification company, and Yima Coal Industry Group Co., Ltd. (YIMA), a large Chinese integrated coal company, have signed a preliminary agreement to establish a joint venture company to build and operate a new integrated coal gasification to methanol to Dimethyl Ether (DME) plant in China. More...

HYDROGEN and NATURAL GAS

British Columbia is providing C$45 million (US$40.6 million) more toward the production of 20 hydrogen fuel cell buses and accompanying fueling stations in Whistler and Victoria.More...

Australia’s Eden Energy Ltd., the owners of the Hythane Company, has acquired US-based HyRadix, a company specializing in on-site autothermal reforming systems for the production of hydrogen from methane or LPG. More...

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide has signed an agreement for the marketing, sales, and distribution in India of its leading alternative fuel vehicle products and systems for compressed natural gas (CNG), blends of natural gas and hydrogen, and liquid petroleum gas (LPG). More...

DIESEL

A new cerium-oxide catalyst developed by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is showing promise for the efficient reduction of NOx emissions in diesel engine exhaust. More...

Audi is extending its highest-volume model series, the Audi A4, with two new models based on its 1.9 TDI e engine. With an output of 115 hp (86 kW), the A4 1.9 TDI e, available as a sedan and as an Avant model, consumes 5.2 l/100km (45 mpg US) and emits 137 g CO2/km. More...

A new study found that exposure to a chemical component of diesel exhaust particulate matter can compromise the ability of resistance arteries to regulate blood flow to bone marrow. More...

Corning Incorporated has entered into a long-term agreement with Detroit Diesel Corporation for the supply of advanced diesel emissions control products.

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OTHER

A research team composed of electrochemists and materials scientists from China and the US has produced a new form of the industrially-important metal platinum: 24-facet nanocrystals, the catalytic activity per unit area of which can be as much as four times higher than existing commercial platinum catalysts. More...

ZF has designed a new 8-speed automatic transmission for passenger cars based on a new transmission concept featuring four planetary gearsets and five shift elements. The automatic ZF 8-speed transmission enables additional fuel savings of approximately 6% compared to the current generation of 6-speed transmissions. Compared to a 5-speed, the new 8-speed reduces fuel consumption by about 14%. More...

Freightliner Trucks has introduced the Cascadia—a new Class 8 truck for on-highway applications that offers a 3% improvement in fuel economy over earlier models. More...

Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) will deploy 38 ships of its container vessel fleet with Alternative Maritime Power (AMP) technology over the next few years at a cost of $22 million. More...

Creative Commons Photo Credit, Photographer's site

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Comments

Most of the problem is exactly the same thing that happened when emission controls for autos were introduced way too son, before the advent of the cheap computer chip. A ton of money was spent to very little effect too soon. There are a number of alternative energy ideas currently in development, many quite impressive. Instead of studying these technologies , the country is throwing aeway money on primitive basically useless and overly expensive technologies like wind turbines, which produce garbage, unreliable electricity that would ahve been deemed unsatisfactory at the turn of the century.
Emissions have increased each year while the turibines have been errected at breakneck speed - the effect on emissions has been totally insignificant.
Excellent alternative energies like Enviromission's Solar Towers, the seadog wave machines, nuclear power
(which by far has the greatest ability to reduce emissions and is the cheapest electricity produced)
goethermal hot rock and geothermal heat pumps (which are twice as effective as wind in reducing emissions and more than three times cheaper overall), and heliostat solar towers - all of which produce RELIABLE electrical power under our control. It is worth three times as much as wind power to any grid operator. It's time to tell the wind industry to stop
depending upon massive Federal subsidies and produce a product that a grid operator would actually want
to buy. The free ride for crappy wind power is over.
Wind, because of its unreliability and dependence upon coal an gas power backup, isn't even a clean source of energy.


Posted by: kent beuchert on 8 May 07

If human beings evolved on Earth (did not descend from heaven or come here from some other place in the universe) and the emerging data of human population dynamics and the human overpopulation of our planetary home are somehow on the right track, then humanity could soon confront daunting global challenges.

Perhaps hubris, illusion and preternatural thinking confuse human reasoning about the “placement” of humanity within the natural order of living things. There is the rub, I suppose. We have learned from God’s great gifts to humanity— natural philosophy and modern science —that Earth is not the center of the universe (Copernicus); that we are set upon a tiny celestial orb among a sea of stars (Galileo); that such things as the Law of Gravity and the Laws of Thermodynamics affect living things equally, including human beings (Newton, et al); that humankind is a part of the general evolutionary process (Darwin); and that people are to a significant degree unconscious, mistake what is illusory for what is real and, therefore, have difficulty both adequately explaining the way the world works and consciously regulating our behavior (Freud).

Now come unanticipated and unfortunately unwelcome evidence from Russell Hopfenberg and David Pimentel that indicate the scientific community has widely shared and consensually validated an inadequate understanding of human population dynamics and willfully refused to appreciate the necessity for regulating certain distinctly human “overgrowth” activities. That is to say, humanity could soon be presented with a predicament resulting from 1) increasing and unchecked per capita consumption of limited resources, 2)seemingly endless expansion of production capabilities in a finite world, and 3)unbridled species propagation.

Unchallenged research from Hopfenberg and Pimentel (2001) and Hopfenberg (2003)indicates that human influences could directly and primarily result in excessive extinction of biodiversity, creeping environmental degradation, and the voracious dissipation of limited natural resources.

From my humble vantage point, it does look as if the challenges posed to humanity by certain unregulated human activities overspreading Earth now are huge ones. Even so, we can take the measure of the looming challenges and find solutions to our problems that are consonant with universally shared values.

METAPHOR

Is there even a remote possibility certain activities of the human species now rampantly overspreading the surface of Earth could soon become so dominant as to precipitate the mass extinction of biodiversity, the pernicious destabilization of the climate and the irreversible degradation of Earth?

Perhaps noticing the magnitude of the human influences resulting from a rapidly growing human population (6.7 to 9.2 billion human beings in the first half of the twenty-first century) upon the natural world is like finding a proverbial “elephant in the living room.”

No one can say how so large a creature ever got into our planetary home. Its very presence does not make sense. Even so, every person on the planet can see some part of the leviathan-like creature. Some people see a gigantic tusk or a tail. Others see its head or some part of its massive body. Because the creature is so big that no one person can see the whole of it, we are free to believe and mistakenly conclude the elephant simply cannot be real, not really.

We can agree to make the choice to deny the creature's existence within our home by simply ignoring that which, in any case, cannot be completely seen by anyone. Henceforth, there is no reason to talk about the elephant. There is also no point in discussing either human limits or Earth’s limitations to support the elephant.

And not surprisingly, if we continue to ignore the elephant in our living room long enough by not talking about the potential threat it poses to a sustainable future for our children and coming generations; to biodiversity; to the viability of ecosystems; and to the integrity of Earth, as one of the world’s most prominent, visionless political leaders (gesturing by throwing up his hands toward the sky in dismay) recently put it, “We’ll all be dead.”

An unannounced, unwelcome and unacknowledged elephant lives among us......and can be seen in the offing, even now, as a potential threat to human and environmental health.


Posted by: Steven Earl Salmony on 10 May 07

Thanks for featuring my photograph. I'd appreciate it if you could give me credit aside from the "creative commons" link you have already included. Thanks again.


Posted by: TC Lin on 10 May 07



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