Mail Bag

Sticking our heads in the sand


To the Editor:

After reading the opinion about wind and solar, and hearing the same ideas parroted by the right-wing media for a while now, I just think we all need to stop and think a little.

First my entire life has revolved around the internal combustion engine.

I have made my living fixing them, taught others how to work on them, raced them, and restored them. I would say that maybe I understand them a little bit more than the average person. With all the love I have for them, there is one truth that I would like to point out, the technology was invented at the turn of the century, and even with all the new technology involved with computerized engine controls it is still only about 22 percent efficient.

So when we burn gasoline in our cars, 78 percent of the energy released goes out the tail pipe and radiator cooling as wasted heat. Stop and think about that.

Lets also stop and think about another truth — fossil fuel is a finite resource. It will one day run out. It took the earth millions of years to turn dead plants and animals into coal, oil, and gas. How long before it runs out?

I don’t know, but if oil companies are mining tar sands at huge costs, that tells me the easy oil to get is already gone.

The average “energy returned on investment,” or EROI, for conventional oil is roughly 25:1. In other words, 25 units of oil-based energy are obtained for every one unit of other energy that is invested to extract it. Tar sands retrieved by surface mining has an EROI of only about 5:1.

The radical right, I read on the internet, says the earth will just keep on making fossil fuels, no need to worry, they also talk about space lasers starting wild fires, and cults of baby eating, pedophiles running the world. REALLY?

So how long does the human race plan to inhabit the world? 100 more years, 1,000 years, or a million years?

I do know one thing, we need to plan and set priorities for decades, and centuries, rather than changing directions every four years, if the human race is going to survive.

Solar is a new technology, even so the efficiency of new solar panels is 22.8 percent of the sun’s energy striking them is turned into electricity, the cost per KWH of solar is only eight cents, with a 25-year life panel. Yes I know the sun only shines during the day. But solar is just one part of a new energy plan.

What did the people who made their livings from horses in the early 1900’s say about automobiles?

Farmers’ Anti-Automobile Society of Pennsylvania proposed the following law in 1905: “Automobiles traveling on country roads at night must send up a rocket every mile, then wait ten minutes for the road to clear. The driver may then proceed, with caution, blowing his horn and shooting off Roman candles, as before.”

And a little less stringent law, “If the driver of an automobile sees a team of horses approaching, he is to stop, pulling over to one side of the road, and cover his machine with a blanket or dust cover which is painted or colored to blend into the scenery, and thus render the machine less noticeable.”

If we had let those voices drown out the scientific work being done with automobiles, what would the future of the automobile have been?

Manufactures are in a race to develop electric vehicles, including China. In China, 4 percent of all new vehicles produced are electric, more than Europe, or the United States. Let’s stop and think about that.

If you listen to Fox news, China cares nothing for the environment.

My son works for John Deere, and sells equipment in China. The Chinese mandated that all equipment sold in China has the same tier 4 emissions as equipment in the United States. On bad air days the Chinese actually shut down factories to improve air quality. Imagine if we did that here?

I wonder why China is spending so much on electric cars? Let’s stop and think about that.

I see on the news, Texas is suffering black outs due to their energy grid not handling the cold weather. Texas has it’s own power grid, separate from the rest of the country. It has a long history going back to the 1970’s but basically Texas did not want to be under federal regulations.Sound familiar?

The governor on Fox news blamed failing windmills for Texas power outages, I hate to be rude, but that is a Bold A** Lie.

Lots of my friends hate the idea of electric cars. It will kill racing, etc.

Ford introduced an electric Mustang. It ran 8.27 seconds at 168 MPH in the quarter. For those of you who don’t know, that is really FAST.

Are there challenges with electric vehicles, wind power, and solar power? Absolutely. Can those challenges be overcome? If history is a judge, then absolutely they can be.

I used to buy tools from a Snap-on truck. The owner had a sign on the step, “ there is no security, only opportunity”

When I asked the owner why he had such a sign, he told me a brief history of his life. It had been a hard one. That sign was a reminder not to ever get complacent.

Like that tool truck driver, the human race, and especially Americans need to remember that there is no security in life. At what price do we stick our heads in the sand, and believe that everything will always be just fine?

Jimmy Brandon

Bland, Mo.


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