Ask Atomic: What was your point regarding the 760 million mile per gallon carburetor?
Reader Patrick recently asked me a question about an article titled “The 760 Million Mile Per Gallon (MMMPG) Carburetor” that I originally wrote for an online publication called Power Online a bit more than 5 years ago. With current interest in gasoline prices and oil company profits, it seems to be gaining a new level of attention.
In “The 760 Million Mile Per Gallon Carburetor” what was your point?
Are you claiming that the fossil fuel industry and car manufacturers are NOT working together to make cars that use more fossil fuel?
In sales you can do three things to increase profitability:
- Increase the number of people who use your product (clients).
- Increase the frequency in which each client purchases your product.
- Increase the volume of product purchased in each transaction.
I have to believe that oil company executives understand these basic sales principles.
If your point is to defend the fossil fuel industry and call those who believe that there is something underhanded going on “conspiracy nuts,” then, sir, you are very naive. Have you considered the price of oil vs. the record profits of oil companies? I think they understand very well how to increase their profits, and mass production of automobiles that get higher gas mileage would be counterproductive toward that end.
We could go on, but it would be pointless.
Here was my response
Thank you for your question. It made me go back and read an article that I wrote more than 5 years ago and see it in a different light. It is pretty obvious from your question that I did not do a good job of making my point. Perhaps it is time to do a revision.
I agree with your statement about the ways to increase profitability and I fully agree that the fossil fuel industry is led by people that know those principles and live by them in their daily business lives. No matter what you might think of the morality of their actions, it is hard to disagree that these people run extremely profitable enterprises and control extraordinary amounts of wealth and power.
My thought piece, however, was not about cars and carburetors. It was intended to stimulate a conversation about the real sources of opposition to nuclear power.
There is a mythology in the nuclear industry that places the blame for opposition to nuclear power in the hands of “environmental wackos”. This story is illogical, but believed. The reason it is illogical is that it tries to assert that small groups of relatively powerless people holding signs and staging non violent protests outside plant gates were able to slow construction and drive up costs enough to cause large, politically powerful corporations to abandon what would otherwise have been profitable multi billion dollar investment decisions. This mythology claims that people like Ralph Nader, Amory Lovins, Paul Gunter, Helen Caldicott and a few others were able to organize sufficient political power to halt an industry that was on its way to building hundreds of 1000 MW electrical power plants.
Blaming environmentalists is even more illogical when one thinks about the huge advantages that nuclear fission power has over fossil fuel combustion from the perspective of environmental impact. Fission is clean enough to run inside a sealed submarine; it should be recognized that it is far, far cleaner than combustion and produces controllable, compact by product material that does not need a smokestack. It does not result in mountain top removal, require tankers longer than several football fields with the potential for grounding and spills and it does not need the construction of pipelines that cause long scars over thousands of miles. Why would people who really believe that environmental protection is the most important criteria for action work so hard to shut down nuclear power and allow more coal, gas and oil power plants?
The fossil fuel industry stands to more immediately gain by slowing nuclear power. Their actions add costs and slow the market entry of a potent, disruptive technology and they continue the myth that energy is a scarce commodity (leading to higher prices and profits). Humans that can do math should understand that energy is almost unlimited in a world where E=MC squared, when both M and C are almost incomprehensibly large numbers. Mankind was not given a limited amount of a product that is vital to their survival and told that it should be controlled by a very tiny minority of people.
I blame the fossil fuel industry (and its associates in banking and transportation) for financing the vocal opposition to nuclear power. I also blame them for a lot of back room maneuvering in political activities to hamper the industry by the imposition of unnecessarily complex rules and oversight requirements that lead to unprofitable project schedules and add huge financial risk.
Since all of the nuclear equipment manufacturers generally have much larger divisions that produce fossil fuel related equipment, and since utilities that own nuclear plants generally own more fossil fuel generation capacity, there has (until very recently) been no effective protective response.
I hope this makes my point a little more clear.