Miriam waxed terrified about the oil peak a couple of days ago, and I have to explain why I’m not worried. Because it’s in the bag. Problem solved. We got it covered. The key? batteries.
Americans use 20.8 million barrels of petroleum day, and cars use about 9 million of those barrels (the rest of in truck, construction equipment and airplanes). Now, how can we dramatically reduce those 9 million barrels? Better batteries, of course. The Chevy Volt will travel 40 miles purely on battery power, while EDrive has developed a battery add-on for Priuses which can last about the same distance. Both have to be plugged in to get a full recharge, but both carry gas engines to get you home.
And consider also that 87% of Americans commute less than 20 miles one way. That means battery-added hybrid or the Volt will allow most Americans to use zero gallons of gas on a daily basis. That ought to put off the oil peak for a while.
The trouble is time. We need to get these types of cars onto the driveways of American consumers fast. We can’t wait for an oil scare that will force us to tap the scant reserves Miriam describes. The U.S. government needs to create incentives so that more people can afford these cars. This isn’t just a greenhouse gas issue. This is a security issue. Because if we dawdle, some of Miriam’s nightmares could become a reality.
P.S. I know plug-in hybrids will require more electricity generation. I solve that by advocating for more wind and solar energy. Lots more.