In my youth I could buy a gallon of gasoline for 25¢ and the service station attendant pumped the gasoline, checked the radiator water, engine oil, tire pressure and cleaned my windshield. Yes, they literally “pumped” the gasoline up into a glass container with a lever in order to drain it into your tank. That is why we still call them gasoline pumps, even though we now have mechanical pumps.
Today, 60 years later, we pay $2.50 (or more) per gallon, pump our own gasoline, clean the windshield ourself and pay for routine service checkups. We even have to pay for air if our tires need it and then do it ourselves of course. Coincidently, the price of your car has increased tenfold as well.
Many thousands of service station attendants have lost their jobs in the process. We called them “grease monkeys,” but not to their faces and they were our friends and neighbors, and I miss them.
Today’s cars get much better mileage per gallon, perhaps double or triple more miles per gallon. However, people formerly lived closer to their work, drove less and didn’t have to pay for parking or red light camera fines – we didn’t need stop lights in my small home town. With the “new normal” of working at home after this COVID-19 pandemic, we may have rediscovered today a good way to save fuel.
I can’t forget to mention the hours wasted in rush hour traffic jams by commuters. Of course this congestion occurs on our so-called “expressways” that cost 100’s of billions of dollars to build and maintain. They now want to put us in self-driving cars? And battery powered cars! And of course bicycles are back. The personal injury lawyers will get even richer if they can figure out who to sue in the driverless car.
So this is progress?
Woops! I almost forgot to mention the 10% Ethanol (biofuel) added to our gasoline to save the planet from the scourge of fossil fuel emissions. This has most certainly been progress for farmers whose incomes and land values have soared. However, I wonder how much fossil fuel is burned in creating and buying the seeds, cultivating the soil, planting the seeds, fertilizing with manufactured chemicals, cultivating and then spreading poisonous weed suppressant manufactured chemicals on the plants, harvesting the crops, delivering them to grain elevators who ship them by diesel powered trains to be manufactured into Ethanol and then shipped again to oil refiners to be blended with our gasoline to produce a lower octane product that requires more energy consumption to power your car.
At what point in this process designed to reduce fossil fuel emissions do we get overwhelmed by the law of diminishing returns? Is this progress? Or the fool’s gold of politicians and their tree hugging constituents? Has anyone calculated the costs vs benefits (if any) of this so-called progress?
Since we are now energy independent, and will be for at least another 100 years, conserving our clean air and natural resources is no longer a credible excuse for driving wimpy little cars to conserve fuel and save the planet.
We all like clean air and water, so let’s plant more trees and build more dams. Hydro power has been with us for centuries. Cavemen taught us how to heat with fires. Christopher Columbus discovered America with sail boats, as did the Vikings before him. My great grandfather powered his farm with windmills.
Perhaps it is time we use our abundance of fossil fuels as both a shield and weapon in dealing with rogue Middle East nations, Russia, China and other belligerent oil financed sponsors of terrorism and their anti-America disturbances around the world, and their uncontrolled pollution.
That would be progress!
We have the technology needed to clean the noxious byproducts of fossil fuels. It might be a prudent and more cost effective approach to clean air and water instead of littering our landscape with windmills and solar panel farms. That too would be progress. We have already made giant progress with catalytic converters in our cars and trucks.
As our nation moves forward in its search for clean energy sources while we endure the lunacy of Green New Dealers, our engineers should be required to study history, especially American economic history. We are at a back to the future moment in dealing with the save the nation advocates who are willing to destroy our nation in the process. That would not be progress.