Environmentalists still trying to kill the internal combustion engine

By Mischa Popoff on November 4, 2009

Remember when global-warming activists screamed for the electric car? They weren’t bothered that it could only go 100 miles, or that it could only carry kids and golf clubs, or kids and groceries, but never all three. This new breed of green believers was willing to lead the way by vastly inconveniencing themselves in the hope the rest of us, overwrought with guilt, would follow suit.

According to the 2006 documentary Who killed the electric car? blame for the demise of woefully inadequate electric vehicles rests at the feet of nasty automobile companies and evil oil companies. You’re supposed to believe that a dirty, inefficient technology is being artificially propped up while a clean and perfectly viable technology is being suppressed, all in the name of greed.

Future-of-internal-combustion-engine--Steve-Dinan-6_resize.jpgAppreciating that people need to go further than 100 miles between charges, some manufacturers took a giant leap backwards and combined a small internal combustion engine with a generator and an electric motor. Nothing new there, but the marketing department dubbed it “hybrid electric technology,” which is like calling yourself a “hybrid vegetarian” because you sometimes eat vegetables.

A new “hybrid faith” was born. Emboldened by government purchases of huge fleets of hybrids  the environmentalists started to attack the naysayers. But whatever the guilt trip, this revolutionary crowd has never found time to contend with actual science. They haven’t because they can’t.

The amount of energy required to move a given weight over a given distance at a given rate of acceleration is immutable. The eternal hope that there will someday be advances in battery technology won’t change the laws of physics as described by Isaac Newton in his 1687 work Principia Mathematica. In fact, this should be recommended reading for any hybrid owners who wonder why they get such abysmal mileage.

Switching our fossil-fuel based economy to a sometimes-electric economy will not save any energy. None. It will only change the source of energy.

For the faithful, 35 or 40 mpg in a hybrid seems reason enough to brag, in spite of the fact that many gasoline vehicles do just as well. Then there’s the diehard hybrid owner (perhaps one who practises the fine art of granny-driving) who claims to get 50 or 60 mpg. Many diesel cars do that well, but evidence shows that such mileage is actually a pipe dream for a hybrid. Don’t take my word for it, or even Newton’s…

Phil Edmundson, former New Democratic MP and author of the Lemonade Car Guide, says categorically, “We don’t recommend electric and gasoline engine hybrids because their fuel economy can be 40 percent worse than the automakers report.” That should rock anyone’s faith, unless of course Edmundson turns out to be in the pocket of Big Auto or Big Oil. Think that’s likely?

Clearly it’s not the cleanliness or efficiency of hybrids and electric cars that propels their sales. It’s an avowed hatred fostered by some for the oil industry, and nothing more.

Never mind that all the CO2 stored in fossil fuels once floated harmlessly in the earth’s atmosphere. Never mind that the oceans absorb 98 percent of CO2 emissions and that burning all known oil reserves tomorrow would barely elevate atmospheric CO2 levels over time. Never mind that manufacturing batteries for cars is detrimental to the environment and that disposing of them will prove even dirtier than the dreaded ship wrecking business.

No, never mind all that. You’re supposed to invest in this inefficient technology in spite of Edmundson’s warnings that “long-term reliability is unknown, battery replacement cost is estimated to run as high as $8,000 (U.S.), [and] expensive electric motors are predicted to have a high failure rate from corrosion.”

Go on, the self-righteous environmentalist says, Take a financial hit and do your part to put a nail in the coffin of the internal combustion engine! In the public relations campaign to advance a “green” agenda, it hardly seems to matter to politicians that doing so could lead to the crime of the century against civilization and nature.


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