Two and a Half 11/1/19

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Anybody reading my blogs knows, no doubt, of my trials and tribulations with the repossession of my car, and my public transportation adventures. It costs me $2.50 round trip between where I am currently living and work. That’s a dollar and a quarter one way. But, that’s not the true cost.

There are much deeper expenses to riding public transportation. On cold days, watching people drive by, warm in their cars, music blaring reminds me of how I used to have warmth and music in my life as well.

It is interesting, though, how it changes priorities. Having a car is having freedom. My friends are coming to town. It’ll be a four-hour drive for them to visit the outlet mall (I didn’t even realize we had one), because it’s easy to just jump in a car and drive. I would need to track down a bus schedule, probably with a transfer, or spend a relatively large sum of money to take an Uber.

The point of this blog is not, in any way, shape or form to begrudge anybody their “wheels”. I intend to purchase another (very cheap but hopefully reliable) vehicle as soon as I can myself. But, in this day and age, maybe we could all put a little more thought into the trips that we do take.

We face a critical environmental crisis. I know that, when I had a car, if I thought about the carbon dioxide at all, it was a tangential thought at best. I love getting into my car (when I have one) and just going for a drive. It’s how I clear my head, forget my troubles, or sometimes, just sometimes, just listen to my music, loud, screaming along at the top of my lungs so nobody can hear, although a ton of people assume that I’m yelling at them.

Well, hopefully not.

There’s a chance that somebody is reading this and thinking that it doesn’t apply to them because they drive an electric car. The thing about electric cars, though, is that they don’t really cut greenhouse gas production. Electric cars move the energy necessary from a self-contained fossil fuel burning engine to the central power grid, but as long as we continue to burn coal, oil or gas to produce electricity, even electric cars generate carbon dioxide.

At a recent seminar, I heard that Nebraska, my current state, is ranked in the top three states for both solar and wind power generation. Imagine that; one state so supremely situated for both major forms of alternative energy, and yet, it is one of only two states that has actually increased its reliance on fossil fuels in the past decade. In other words, a larger percentage of the power generated in the state is based on oil and coal today than in 2010. So electric cars today are actually generating even more carbon dioxide than a decade ago, and because batteries are the least source of energy storage available (even with new battery advances), there’s a good chance that this means that electric cars actually generates more carbon dioxide than combustion engines, especially in states where a very large percentage of the electrical generation is fossil fuel based.

So, we are in an ecological crisis caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (it’s not the only one, though), but even electric cars are part of the problem. So, what can we do about it?

First of all, maybe it’s time to start thinking about the trips we take. My friend coming to the outlet malls is really fine; they are all carpooling together and don’t make the trip often. It’s kind of a special trip, more of a mini vacation. Their trip is actually kind of a model for the kind of thing we should all do; all traveling together, making a traveling for vacation and doing it uncommonly.

It’s also a great idea to look at the bus routes, especially if you see them frequently. Sometimes, take the bus. Yes, buses also produce carbon dioxide, but the reality is that they will produce these gases whether they have riders or not. So, since these greenhouse gasses will be produced anyway, the more people taking advantage of buses cuts individual carbon emissions. Modern buses are clean, safe, modern, heated and cooled and very comfortable. Do you want to impress a date? Try showing up in your car to pick her up with knowledge of the bus routes, and ask if she would like you to drive, or cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Yeah, I went there.

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