Sierra Report

On a semi-regular basis I share some of the information that comes in the monthly Sierra Magazine. They have a page they call “Up To Speed: Two Months, One Page.” I summarize some of the information on that page here:

The Bad News:

• March 2016 was the warmest month one record. It was the 11th straight month to set the record, which was also unprecedented.*

• Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide rose by the greatest margin on record.*

• For the second year in a row the Arctic Sea ice has shrunk to a record low.*

• Mitsubishi admitted that it has been exaggerating the fuel economy of its cars sold in Japan for 25 years.

• The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that local governments, such as those in Longmont and Fort Colins, cannot ban fracking in their jurisdictions.

[*And yet we have a presidential candidate who insists that Global Warming is a hoax while, at the same time, he petitions the Scottish government for permission to build a sea wall to protect his golf course in Scotland from rising sea waters. (This would also come under the heading of “bad news,” except that it deserves its own category — perhaps: More Insanity?? )]

The Good News:

• Oregon announced that it will stop buying coal entirely by 2030.

• Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company declared bankruptcy.

• ConAgra Foods, General Mills, and Kellogg said they will voluntarily label foods containing GMOs.

• President Obama withdrew his earlier proposal to open the southeastern Atlantic seaboard to oil and gas drilling.

• Within a month of the Tesla Model 3’s unveiling, nearly 400,000 people had paid $1000 apiece to reserve the all-electric car.

* Seaworld announced that it will stop the captive breeding of orcas.

 

 

 

 

The Lone-Brain State

I am so happy not to live in Texas where stories like the following are commonplace:

Despite Tesla’s best efforts, the Texas legislature this week opted not to pass a bill which would have allowed the electric automaker to sell cars directly to consumers. Instead, if Tesla wants to sell its highly revered vehicles in the lone star state, it looks like it’s going to have to do it through local franchise dealers, something the company has no intention of doing.

Unfortunately, this is a story we’ve seen play time and time again in many states over the past few years. Tesla, which prefers (read: demands) to sell its cars directly to consumers, is forced to lawyer up and fight against powerful and influential auto dealer lobbyists who want to protect their cash cows.. . . .

The following criticism from Texas state Representative Senfronia Thompson highlights the challenge Tesla is up against.

“It would have been wiser if Mr. Tesla had sat down with the car dealers first,” Thompson said.

Yes, if only Mr. Tesla came back from the dead to sit down for a nice little tete-a-tete with car dealers, perhaps then they could have hammered out a mutually beneficial agreement.

The losers in all of this, per usual, are the citizens of Texas who continue to have to jump through hoops if they want to purchase what Car and Driver recently called the “Car of The Century.”

Tesla, of course, is the electric car that now boasts it can go 250 miles on a single charge. This is well beyond the range that was previously thought possible for electric cars and now makes it reasonable to expect those cars to go from coast to coast, timing their stops at well-placed charging stations. The fact that the cars cost a small fortune makes them rare, but the latest news is that they will soon have a smaller model that sells for around $35,000, which is not out of reach for a much larger buying public.

The CEO, Elon Musk (not Mr. Tesla!) has insisted that the cars be sold directly to buyers in order to bypass dealers who would tack on unnecessary costs and he has announced that he will make his technology available to other car manufacturers — in order, no doubt, to make electric cars more available to a wider buying public, and to guarantee that there will be more charging stations in this country. He is also building a large plant in Sparks, Nevada (powered by solar energy) to manufacture his batteries in this country rather than to continue to import them from Japan, and the efficiency of his batteries continues to improve. This plant will not only employ a great many people, it will help to reduce the costs of his automobile. He is a very astute business man and is so far ahead of the rest of those who make and sell gas guzzlers that Car and Driver are not exaggerating when they call Tesla the “car of the century.”

But with moron legislators in Texas making decisions like the above, cars like the Tesla will not sell as rapidly as they should — given the benefits they bring with them to the environment — and this is, once again, a sign of short-term self-interest trumping wisdom; steps backwards rather than forward toward solutions to our environmental problems.