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Toyota is working on a solar powered car that will eventually lead to a car that is solely powered by the sun and electricity. CNBC reports that the first version will be powered by solar cells on the car itself as well as from solar panels installed on homes (or electricity from the grid itself). The aim is to eventually develop a car that is solely charged through solar cells on the car itself. Toyota is also noting that it will not be cutting back on its environmental research despite the fact that it posted its first quarterly loss last quarter.
On the flip side Iran is now calling for an oil boycott of countries that are supporting Israel in its Gaza action against Hamas terrorists. This action along with Russia’s little row with Ukraine over the amount of a natural gas bill is driving oil back up — with the current value at $48 per barrel. As CNBC reports
An Iranian military commander called on Islamic countries to cut oil exports to Israel’s supporters in response to the offensive in Gaza, the official IRNA news agency reported.
“Pointing at Westerners’ dependence on the Islamic countries’ oil and energy resources, he (Bagherzadeh) called for cutting the export of crude oil to the Zionist regime’s supporters the world over,” IRNA said, referring to Israel.
(“Oil Prices Surge Above $48 on Gaza, Russian Gas Row“, CNBC, January 4, 2009)
Personally, I can’t imagine a dumber move on the part of Iran’s government (ok…yes I can, but this one is certainly one of the dumber moves if they actually do it) given that they rely very, very heavily on oil revenue and there are other oil producing countries out there who would love to increase their production and take market share from Iran and Co. to fill their coffers — even if oil is pretty low on the overall cost scale.
What we need to do is to work harder to encourage efforts such as what Toyota is doing to reduce the influence and power of petro-dictators like Iran’s Ahmadinejad and Russia’s Putin.
Dear President-Elect Obama,
As you are now working hard to build your new administration cabinet and team I would ask that you reflect on the fact that the hopes of millions of Americans are focused on you and your call for change in Washington D.C. The past eight years have been extremely rough on the country as a whole. We are now involved in two wars, we have watched our civil liberties erode, we have seen a government which has been mishandled and mislead, and we have now watched our value and our fortunes disappear in a puff of smoke in front of us. Many Americans have lost their retirement savings and many have lost their homes. In turn, we watch as the our government throws billions of dollars to banks who are one of the root causes of the current economic morass as well as to automobile manufacturers who have largely ignored the market conditions and refused, at every turn, to change their business models to meet the demands of the new century.
Many Americans are facing the possibility that this will be their last Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa in their homes. The new year brings with it the reality that Wells Fargo, Fannie Mae and Countrywide will allow their holiday moratoriums on foreclosure proceedings to expire and they will move forward in foreclosing on houses. Many Americans are facing the possibility that this may be the final few weeks of work for them as their employers downsize, factories close, or businesses shutter completely due to the economic downturn now facing the country. Many Americans are wondering what will become of them, their families, and their futures.
We have witnessed how the country has been led down a path of carefree spending as though the piper need never be paid, how our leaders in the White House and in Congress have resolutely refused to acknowledge that the energy infrastructure of yesteryear is inadequate and harmful for the world of tomorrow, and how our stature in the world has diminished greatly because we have failed to lead.
The world we face today is dramatically different that that faced by President Clinton in 1993 when he entered office and by President Bush when he entered office in 2001. We need leadership now in the same way that President Roosevelt led in 1932 and 1936. We truly need a new “New Deal” — one where we, as Americans, can build a better America not just for ourselves but for our children, and for generations to come. We are not asking for handouts without being willing to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. We are not asking for giveaways without a willingness to break a sweat on our brows. We are not asking for you to solve our problems without our input. We are simply asking for you to set a good example and to lead thoughtfully and responsibly.
What do we mean by a good example? Be frugal in what you do — show America that you feel her pain. Show Americans that you understand their plight. Do not be execessive in what you spend but buy what you need. Show Americans that you are saving money, that you are investing in America — in the right places — green energy projects, schools, infrastructure for the 21st century. Help us build a new economy out of the ashes of the old one so that when historians look back they will say that this was the turning point when America became a better place — a beacon, once again, for the world to see, to learn from, and to follow.
The New York Times published this article today about how the global economic slowdown may adversely affect the effort to build and transition to a green energy grid. As the prices for coal, oil and other fossil fuels have plummeted in the past two months the incentive to build solar power plants, wind farms, and even nuclear plants has dissipated. Interestingly the side-effect of this drop in commodity prices may also save Detroit’s big three automakers as it may make their vehicles (which aren’t so fuel efficient) more affordable to operate than they were six months ago.
I think President-elect Obama, though, is right. The time to move is now. We need to keep our eye on the longer goal of reducing our overall greenhouse gas emissions and preventing long term global warming that may result and be subequently irreversible. It is going to be painful, no doubt, but we have been living recklessly and irresponsibly for far too long. Mankind may be facing its own extinction level event if we do nothing to right the environmental damage we have wrought on this world. I don’t mean to sound so gloomy and alarmist but we cannot continue to pursue this wreckless behavior and expect that we won’t have to pay the piper in the end. The economic slowdown can be seen as both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand many people will lose their jobs, their homes, their dignity…and it may not be of their own doing. On the other hand we can use this opportunity, with the concurrent slowdown in emissions and pollution, to rebuild our economy for the 21st century — focusing our efforts on developing and deploying cleaner energy technologies and putting in place the necessary policies and treaties to protect the environment. Because, if the environment goes to hell…so do we as a race and probably as a planet.