[Coral-List] What can SCIENTISTS do??

David Tapley dtapley at salemstate.edu
Wed Jan 2 09:12:02 EST 2008

Well, hold on now.

Just who is this CNMR?


They don't sound like a reasonable, reliable source to me. Sounds  
like one guy and his family operating out of a garage somewhere.

A cursory examination of their article suggests they have more of an  
axe to grind than an honest desire to be green. For example, why  
compare a Prius to a Hummer? Why not compare to a compact or mid- 
sized sedan? The comparison to a Hummer provides the "hoots of  
laughter and howls of derision" factor in which folks of a certain  
political stripe delight when it comes to green issues.

And did you notice that they have inverted the real--world likely  
life spans of the vehicles? In their alternative universe, a Hummer  
H1 will roar merrily along for 379,000 miles, whereas the Prius will  
quietly crap out at 109,000. They are building three Priuses for  
every Hummer and counting all the manufacturing inputs thereby  
required. Talk about stacking the deck! I'm an old enough flatus now  
to have owned enough Japanese and American vehicles to make a  
comparison. Japanese cars usually easily make it to the 300,000 mark,  
albeit with significant rust, at least the earlier ones, whereas my  
American cars have generally been rusting piles of mechanically  
failed, incipient dust by 100,000. Admittedly, American manufacturers  
are beginning to try to to make cars that will routinely last longer  
than the 80,000-100,000 miles that they used to be designed for, but  
manufacturers have some work remaining before they achieve that goal.  
(Before anyone writes about their old Buick Special that they drove  
for over 500,000 miles and that's still going strong, please consider  
the statistical status of your old car, OK? That's not a typical life  
span for an American car. Sorry.)

Amory Lovins has rebutted the CNW story here:


Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute has rebutted it here:


There are real concerns about hybrids. I am concerned about the  
materials contained in the batteries, especially the metallic ones  
such as the nickel, a notoriously dirty element to mine and process.  
I think a legitimate comparison of a hybrid to a cognate vehicle such  
as a small or compact sedan would find the hybrid lacking, certainly  
in economic terms. But I need to see an analysis from a source that  
does not immediately raise red flags when I go to their site and try  
to find out who they are.

-David in Gloucester

On Jan 1, 2008, at 4:24 PM, Michael Risk wrote:
Hello Bill, colleagues.

On this first day of 2008, I am reminded that environmental decisions
are often thorny ones. We need to start thinking of embodied energy,
lifespan utilisation, etc etc.

My nephew Dave teaches environmental science at St Frances-Xavier, in
Nova Scotia, and he put me onto some neat, surprising data, some of
which are summarised on


Hybrid cars are no solution. Owners feel good as they drive them, but
the embodied energy in the high-tech components is very high, and
disposing of the components upon junking the vehicle is not easy.
Hybrids consume more energy in their entire lifespan than a Tahoe SUV.

In fact, much to my amazement, Hummers turn out not to be not that bad,
environmentally!! But for reasons that bring them no credit. They are
badly made, from crap components: relatively low embodied energy. They
don't last long, and when they die, they simply rust down into nontoxic

There will be no quick fixes. We will not save the planet by buying
hybrids. We need to consider all the elements, and even then there will
be gray areas. I just had an argument with a local, about wood heat. He
maintained that pellet stoves, that use compressed sawdust from
softwood logging and processing, are the "best" answer. I argued that
transportation energy was high for pellets, and that sustainably
harvesting one's own hardwood bush (as we do) was better. I am not sure
which of us was correct.

Yours in confusion-


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