Hybrids and Ethanol

According to today’s New York Times, “Barely a month after world leaders signed a sweeping agreement to reduce carbon emissions, the global commitment to renewable energy sources faces its first big test as the price of oil collapses. Buoyed by low gas prices, Americans are largely eschewing electric cars in favor of lower-mileage trucks and sport utility vehicles.”

Well, if you look around, it may be possible to do two things at once. We just bought a 2016 Toyota RAV 4 Hybrid which drives like a dream and gets around 40 mpg on average. This is not a commercial, there are a number of such vehicles on the market. They give you the hauling space you need without guzzling undue amounts of fossil fuel.

I will never forget buying my first hybrid automobile after watching Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” on a long, cross-country flight in the 1990s. It was not that I was unaware of, or unconcerned about, climate change and humankind’s “contributions” toward making it worse before seeing that film. But it simply made the argument in such a cogent and compelling way that I really did begin to make changes in my energy lifestyle after that.

Of course, as Iowans, we also are supporters and users of ethanol. I am not unaware of the debate about its effectiveness, on balance, but until something better comes along (and since most of our Iowa corn feeds cattle not people, directly…and we shouldn’t be eating so much beef anyway!) I feel good about continuing to use ethanol.

So, even though the global warming problem will not be solved by individuals conserving energy, but by real commitments by governments and industry, driving our hybrid on ethanol at least makes a small contribution — and keeps us aware of, and working on, the problem.

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