RE: [hreg] Hydrogen-based transportation
Try to argue a point of view too forcefully and risk a flame war. Try to be polite and tactful, and it comes across as pompous. Sometimes it is hard to know how to have dialogue online! People say things to each other that they probably wouldn’t in person. Though we are a club, I have not been able to attend many meetings, but did have the pleasure of meeting Charlie at early meetings I attended, including the HREG formation meetings, and share several of his goals if not all his beliefs on how best to achieve them. I enjoy discussing these topics with him and the rest of you nonetheless. Cameron, I hope that I can have the pleasure of meeting you someday too so that you can put a face with the words and not be offended by what I write, as you say you were this time. And if THIS sounds pompous too, forgive me!
We are all in the “corporate womb” if by that you mean that our livelihoods, society, culture, politics, etc. are largely affected by the relationships between us. To say that “none of us is an island” is a clichéd expression, but the evolution of our society proves that when we act corporately we are most successful. That is why HREG was formed in the first place—so that we could pool individual knowledge and experience so that each of us could be more successful in learning/practicing whatever it is we want out of HREG; in the process HREG as a corporate body also accomplishes things for the community that none of us would have done on our own. I don’t see business corporations as being that different fundamentally. Would you be opposed to craftsmen/apprentices of the guild era if that were the dominant form of business organization today? Corporations to me are an evolution of that, where larger groups of people with more diverse skillsets can take on more challenging projects, assume larger risks, achieve greater rewards and accomplish more significant things than a guild craftsman could. The growth of multinational corporations is not because they are evil, but because they are successful.
You presume to know what I can and cannot see from my womb-like corporate roost. Truth is, I think for myself (yet influenced by others), even if I am employed by a corporation. I don’t agree with all my company’s positions, nor they with mine. My colleagues are the same way. All of us together shape the corporate culture and actions. If the corporation is evil, it is because all of us collectively are evil. I have trouble seeing things that way, frankly. My colleagues and I may be corporate trees, to borrow your figure of speech, and what we accomplish together is the forest; I think that I have a reasonably clear picture of what my company does/does not.
I don’t know Ralph Nader. Some people are very good at promotion. In the process they become associated with the ideas they are championing, even though they may not be the only or even primary force behind them. I think Ralph Nader deserves credit for promoting auto safety, even as Rachel Carson does for chemical waste handling. But many other people were (and are) involved, including thousands of engineers at the companies involved. I realize my viewpoint may be different than yours, but as a scientist, I find it difficult to give so much credit to lawyers without acknowledging the contributions of businessmen and engineers. I think the challenge of finding economical and practical solutions to technical problems is a much more difficult task than that of pointing out that problems exist. The latter is an important task, and often sets people working in the right direction, but the work of actually solving problems and implementing solutions in everyday products is a task that thousands of people have been involved in and is not the work of a lone crusader or activist group. These thousands of people were largely employed by corporations.
As for hydrogen fuel cells, if someone has a workable solution that can be implemented quickly rather than in decades, I wish they’d come forward and save all of us the tax dollars Bush plans to spend. Seriously, I don’t know if it will take decades or not. It IS a challenging technical problem. It is prudent to not raise unrealistic expectations early in the development of a new paradigm like this. Already there is too much hype about fuel cells; for evidence, one only needs to look at the stock market bubble developing around such technologies (I guess there are still a few folks with money left over after the collapse of the dot bombs to “invest” in another round of speculation). Announcing a new federal program and providing funding for the long haul is prudent; one can always hope for a breakthrough that will shorten the time, but it is hard to rush new science and technology. (If it were so easy to develop new technology, why don’t we have reliable space-based anti-missile technology implemented yet, ~20 years after Reagan pushed and funded it? Or fusion power? The left is quick to criticize as impractical, costly and unlikely to be successful those technologies that don’t fit their ideology, but don’t seem to have much patience for those who criticize their own pet technologies on the same basis. I think fuel cells will be successful—maybe with biomass based methanol rather than electrolytic hydrogen. But it will take a long time).
Frankly, I think the efforts to “drive” SUV’s and pickups off the road are misguided. For some people these are the best vehicle choices. If you want the rest of the people to choose different vehicles, then don’t blame the automakers for delivering what people want to buy, but focus instead on consumers and changing their attitudes towards vehicles. For example, in the Houston area, if we must have lower speed limits for ozone abatement, as TNRCC/EPA seem to think we should, then why on earth do these regulatory bodies punish everybody the same way?! Why not set emissions goals for individual vehicles, and allow those beating target levels to drive 70 mph? Or those that include more riders (carpooling) to drive faster? Our regulatory folks seem to only understand legislation of uniformity and enforcement thereof, not use of free market forces. Don’t you think that if SUV’s, pickups, and muscle cars with single occupants were the ones driving 55 mph while the hybrids and low emission Honda Civics were whizzing past them at 70 mph, that the definition of “high performance vehicle” would change, and that there would be a shift in purchasing habits? The car makers would respond to this. Trying to drive consumers by strong-arming the automakers seems to me to be a backwards way of achieving desired environmental goals.
The government can help ensure effective markets by encouraging true pricing. If ozone abatement is worth $x, then that should be reflected in costs some way. I sense that Charlie and I are in agreement that removing subsidies (and I might add, penalties) that unfairly increase the relative cost of one technology vs. another is generally a good idea. Everything is so interconnected, however, this is not easy. (I still need to read that book on Eco-capitalism, but the concept sounds reasonable to me).
Anyway, enough rambling from my corporate roost. Time to tuck in my feathers and get some sleep.
- I have accepted to be at the Woodlands event on April 8.John Gardner
Michael Ewert <mewert@...> wrote:Looking ahead to Earth Day, Id like to get an idea how many of you will be willing to help staff an HREG booth at one event or other. Im sure we will have many opportunities and I dont want to accept more than we can handle. Please let me know if you would like to staff the specific request below or if you would like to sign up tentatively to staff another Earth Day event. Most will be on Saturdays in April. Please e-mail me at mewert@.... Thank you.-----Original Message-----
From: Eric Duran [mailto:eduran@...]
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2006 11:35 AM
Subject: Bellaire Earth DayMr. Ewert,I'm writing to ask the Houston Renewable Energy Group to participate in Bellaire's Earth Day Festival on April 22nd, 2006. We'd like you to have an informative booth at the Nature Discovery Center site, from 10am to 2pm. We're asking the exhibitors this year to make the booths as interactive as possible, but information would be okay, as well. We look forward to having your organization join us.Thank you,Eric DuranStaff NaturalistNature Discovery Center713-667-6550