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Ever notice how seemingly all the predictions and new regulations deal in a timeframe always conveniently 10 or more years into the future? Everybody embraces denial so eagerly, even the ones claiming to be confronting the problem. Coastal flooding, unprecedented storms & droughts, crop damage, streams of refugees... these are happening NOW, and even if you stopped driving TODAY, like leave the car right where it's parked, forever (which we all literally need to do) it wouldn't be enough to "stop" climate change, since the climate has changed, for one thing, and since driving isn't the only cause. Though it's an important one, and if you never drove again, it would help. Minimally. And most people, a.k.a. "you," are probably not even willing to do that.

This law, like most of the others, is well intentioned but still too weak; it's "provisional living" just like how a junky's plan to kick always starts tomorrow. Quitting an addiction is a pain in the ass, but hey, now that we have this great plan for 2040, we can continue business as usual today. And even this would be, politically, something of a miracle to get passed. You wouldn't even be able to get it out of committee in, say Texas.

When the United States implemented corporate average fuel economy standards in 1975 - requiring all cars a manufacturer sold to average to a minimum fuel efficiency by 1978 - in response to the 73-74 oil embargo, they basically did just that. Little to no warning or time to prepare.

The end result? The US auto industry had to retool their factories and kill or redesign many of their products in order to meet the new standards (and many just paid the fines as long as they could). It was the largest change in the industry since WWII, and it destroyed almost all of their competitive advantage - outside of trucks which had relaxed standards - and resulted in decades of poor build quality that American cars are still disparaged for to this day. The Japanese and European automakers who operated mostly in markets that already demanded small cars weren't forced to retool and American car companies have been playing catchup ever since, without time to wind down their existing product lines and get the public used to small fuel efficient cars.

The fuel efficiency standards had to happen but the way in which they were implemented nearly brought down an entire industry, one that proved invaluable for national security during WWII when the allies needed to manufacture mountains of munitions and tanks. Governments can't implement huge policy changes without giving everyone time to adapt without causing massive unforeseen problems, ones which can only make the problem we're trying to solve a lot harder.

I find it difficult to accept reasoning that a law from 45 years ago is responsible for American car brands being low quality. They know perfectly well that the fatter margins are in trucks and SUVs, so that is where they focus their efforts.

American cars currently have good quality. There was a substantial period of time in which they didn't. That time period is what GP referred to. US automakers are still playing catch-up in terms of brand image and reliability engineering (as practiced by Toyota, through which quality improvements flow for decades), which persist for decades.

Furthermore, the fact remains that they don't actually make a ton of money on car sales but instead car service[0]. So there's little incentive on making a car that is truly 'Built to last'.

[0] https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/where-does-the-car-dealer... (Sorry for all the adds - Reader View for better experience)

Edit: Spelling

I’d actually say the risk for the US is the other way round. European and Chinese manufacturers are going to jump on EV’s because of their domestic fleet economy standards, because of long-standing taxation on fuel, and because they are appropriate for domestic conditions with high population density, and American manufacturers risk carrying on producing gas guzzling SUV’s and being left behind. By the time electric cars are profitable at scale in the US, European and Chinese manufacturers will be producing tens of millions of units a year. The Chinese philosophy is “overtake on the bend” and they’re going to make the transition as sharp as they can.

They refer to WWII and it needs to be noted that the industry--broader than just autos, had to retool, for war production. It was rapid. It was govt dictum and that self-same WWII engine that they cite did what it had to do. Now. The Carter years..the oil embargo- those cars were grossly inefficient. The threat was immediate and the extent and length of the oil crisis was unknown. I do not --after the fact--assign overblown blame on remedial action. It's was called a crisis because it was. wwII was a crisis..because it was..

The issue the the CAFE law, is the externalities of the rapid change were paid for by the auto industry, whereas in World War Two, it was paid for by the government

You're right that the hamfisted approach rarely works as intended. I'm basically saying, there's no approach that will work to everyone's satisfaction; that's why we will not end up confronting climate change, only adapting to its consequences. We're good at the latter, not so good at the former. I hope I'm wrong of course.

If I were in the mood to argue with you I would ask (about the 1975 legislation) Did it raise fuel efficiency standards, ¿sí o no? I don't have an undue amount of national pride and I don't work in the automotive sector, so I don't have a strong opinion about America even having an auto industry. The only reason I would want a domestic auto industry would be to save resources currently wasted on trans-oceanic shipping and to have more lucrative blue-collar jobs on US soil for people. Give them good jobs and they are less likely to turn delinquent in various ways including at the ballot box.

But the harsh fact is, to mitigate the present crisis, the entire auto industry would need to go away, forever, and not just in the US, but worldwide. I think the scope of the change to our daily way of life, that would be necessary to achieve a low carbon footprint, is hard for most people to imagine. The closest thing would be maybe homelessness. Which doesn't quite capture it, but is in the ballpark. Or maybe a return to quasi-feudalism, where you're a serf working some lord's land with hand tools to produce food. Jim Kunstler favors this vision. It's plausible enough as sci-fi although I think he might be being a bit sentimental. At any rate they're both situations people don't want to imagine. So, we simply don't imagine it.

that's why we will not end up confronting climate change, only adapting to its consequences. We're good at the latter, not so good at the former.

Here's a Sci-fi scenario for the 22nd century. We have a burgeoning Solar System wide society. There are huge rotating space colonies, and the beginnings of a Dyson Swarm around the sun. There are inertially suspended orbital rings and space elevators around the rocky planets. However, there is one huge discrepancy. The Solar System appears to have two Venuses.

We really don't have the luxury of waiting here. The stakes are too high.

> and resulted in decades of poor build quality that American cars are still disparaged for to this day.

Wrong. The American carmakers failed to adapt to this new rule properly, while the Japanese carmakers fully embraced it and ended-up benefiting from it.

It's not so different from what's happening today with EVs. Some are pushing full-steam ahead for EVs, gaining all that know-how and expertise to build high-efficiency and high-reliability EVs with long ranges, while others drag their feet because they don't like change and they would rather keep milking their current ICE technology for decades more to come.

Guess which type of company is going to do very well in the future, and which will do poorly.

This fails to account for the fact that in the Japanese home market fuel efficiency was already a key requirement

> resulted in decades of poor build quality that American cars are still disparaged for to this day.

The poor build quality was there before 1975. There was no sudden decline in 1975.

From the article:

> "She says the legislation would set target dates of 10 per cent zero-emission sales by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2040."

They are doing something within ten years.

Trying to ban all gas cars that quickly, apart from being infeasible, would be self-defeating because it would cause a backlash that would elect anyone who promised to undo the changes.

Just for comparison, check out what Ontario is doing:


"Gas stations in Ontario could be fined $10K/day if they don't display anti-carbon tax stickers."

We don't just need to ditch our cars: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428120658.h...

> But the "floor" below which nobody in the U.S. can reach, no matter a person's energy choices, turned out to be 8.5 tons, the class found. That was the emissions calculated for a homeless person who ate in soup kitchens and slept in homeless shelters.

Energy isn't the problem, our dominant energy sources are the problem, as we all know.

Telling people they have to live like a homeless person isn't realistic, helpful, informative or true.

It's helpful to the extent it demonstrates just how much our energy infrastructure needs to change.

I think the statistic is useful. However, "telling people they have to live like a homeless person" isn't true, and the statistic needs that additional framing.

edit: Anyone care to explain the downvotes? The fact that we can't even discuss the possibility that "our way of life might not be sustainable" to me is a huge part of the problem facing us.

It's extremely misguided to think that we can maintain anything like our current standard of living and still reach anything like sustainable energy (or resource) use.

Our current lifestyle in the developed world is based on exploiting solar energy that has been stored millions of years ago. There is no pathway to a renewable energy system that anywhere meets the needs of global capitalism.

First off, renewables (45% of which in the US is just burning biomass) are serving more to supplement energy demands rather than replace fossil fuel usage. We also have no current path way to a majority wind+solar grid. The intermittent nature of these power sources requires energy storage or fossil fuel based "peaker" plants. There is no solution for energy storage on the grid at the scale that would be required to meet current energy needs, let alone the growth of energy demand.

But even if we completely solved the grid, we have no solution to the biggest part of the problem with is resource transportation. Transportation is vital to our current economic model and transportation requires high energy density fuels, otherwise your fuel becomes your cargo and you can't ship anything. Again, we have no solutions to these problems.

And most fundamentally, our economic model is predicated on borrowing against the future to pay for today. This requires that in the future we must always produce and consume more, which is impossible in a closed finite system.

The only realistic path toward actual sustainability is a considerable degradation in the quality of daily life. But very few people will even honestly discuss this fundamental reality, so we continue to move forward, using more energy, and more oil and producing more co2 each year than the last.

What you say is false. We are surrounded by far more energy than we need. We just have to continue solving difficult engineering problems in order to harness it. We are doing an OK job from a technical standpoint (especially in the last 20 years), but a god-awful job from a political standpoint.

You sound like you're quoting from the Limits to Growth or some equally pessimistic mutli-decade-old study.

> We just have to continue solving difficult engineering problems in order to harness it.

But that requires large amounts of cheap energy to do. The last 200 years haven't been an insane time of innovation just because we, as a species, got magically more brilliant. It's because we had unprecedented accessed to cheap energy.

That fuel became available because of the industrial revolution. Further technological advances will make other forms of energy cheaply available. As for intelligence, our civilization certainly has become more capable since technology and science build upon each other.

Address the grid storage issue? There's not enough lithium resources on the planet, for instance, to use lithium batteries to store even a day's worth of USA energy usage?

Your inability to imagine better energy storage technology is your justification for declaring that civilization as we know it is doomed?

What you're talking about is exclusively chemical storage. Check out thermal and mechanical storage. Those are likely the more promising large scale solutions and both are already used in a variety of different ways at industrial scales. I'm particularly partial to the use of heated salt via solar thermal plants as an affordable and scalable solution. Several such plants are already in operation.

The ad hominem attack is not really necessary. I'd need a citation for a grid storage solution at scale? Else its just more wind.

Correct, wind power is one part of the future solution.

Ignoring any future and ongoing discovery of lithium resources, yes, just like there wasn't enough oil to put us where we are now, there isn't enough lithium today for a day's worth of storage of all of US's energy needs. That is not a fair assessment, however.

Why not deploy nuclear power and electrified rail for freight?

> 8.5 tons, the class found. That was the emissions calculated for a homeless person who ate in soup kitchens and slept in homeless shelters.

Emissions of EU are, on the average, 6.4 tons CO2 per capita. There is large variance between different countries, though.


(But these numbers don't include the carbon footprint from goods imported from outside and consumed in the EU.)

What is the nature of those emissions? Mostly from agriculture and food distribution?

>These basic services--including police, roads, libraries, the court system and the military--were allocated equally to everyone in the country in this study.

In other words, poor metrics give meaningless results.

I haven’t read the source, but some other examples could be clothing and water.

For years, I've been telling people they probably couldn't even fart without a significant carbon footprint. Now I have proof.

> Ever notice how seemingly all the predictions and new regulations deal in a timeframe always conveniently 10 or more years into the future?

This isn’t correct, the EU and China both have fleet emission standards for cars which bite in 2021 at around 100-120 gCO2/km, which is already strict, and scale down from there. This is one of the reasons why VW is aiming to massively scale up EV production in the next few years.

Historical legislation has been increasingly (not linearly) tough as well. https://imgur.com/a/O7mLqOp

Citation for >> Coastal flooding, unprecedented storms & droughts, crop damage ?

Looking for significant increase from baseline and root-cause being human-caused climate change.

And streams of refugees? Surely they're not feeling from their war-torn home nations. This post is sensationalism and part of the reason why people don't take climate alarmists seriously.

> And most people, a.k.a. "you," are probably not even willing to do that.

I'll be honest - right now, I fall into that camp. I enjoy driving. I enjoy my vehicles, both on and off the road. Probably not the right answer, but as you noted, even if I and everyone else stopped - it's too late. It was probably too late back when I was a child, and didn't even know how to drive.

But let's say I were willing. How am I to get to my job?

I live in Phoenix, Arizona - where in the summertime, midnight temperatures can easily break 100 degrees F; yes, it is literally possible here to fry an egg on the sidewalk during the daytime in the summer (you can use a slow cooker inside your car, too! multipurpose vehicles!).

I live approximately 30 minutes away from my work. Walking is out of the question. I could potentially bike to work - but my work doesn't have showers, nor are there any places nearby enough to shower and then ride to work (without needing to shower again). This of course assumes I won't die of heatstroke (but let's say I'm fit enough to avoid that).

You could say "well, you need to live closer to your work" - this would be great - if there were any homes nearby my work, which there really isn't. It's inside an industrial park area, that surrounds a municipal airport - not much in the way of houses; maybe some apartments (in very seedy areas, mind you - this area used to be a truckstop not too many years ago, and there are plenty of holdovers from that time).

Then comes the question of how to transport all of my crap from my house to this new (fictional) home, without having my own vehicle (and, since we've all stopped using them - well, not sure what you do then).

I suppose telecommuting might be an option - maybe in such a scenario as "no car for you...or you...or you" employers would go for that more? Not all jobs of course could do that...

I guess what I'm getting at is that here in the United States, for the most part outside of some very singular municipal areas - most people simply cannot easily do without a vehicle of some sort, whether for personal transportation, or to transport others.

Whatever ultimately happens, we're all probably going to be painfully forced into it. We won't have a choice, it likely won't be gradual. Imagery from Brin's Earth comes to mind. In the end, we all very well might have to "leave everything parked" and simply walk away.

I don't think it's going to be pretty.

I'm in much the same camp. I'm in the military. So I live only a few miles from work and have plenty of shower/locker facilities. I could very easily ride a bike. I sometimes walk to work. But I don't have the luxury of a regular workday. Sometimes I need to get to work NOW, an asap situation. Sometimes I work 16-hour days and any time waiting for public transport means less time sleeping. Sometimes I have to bring 100lbs of stuff with me. I just cannot see how any sort of public transport would ever be practical.

An electric car would probably work for me on a daily basis, but I also have family to visit that are 500+ km away (in woods, no trains/bus options). Somtimes I have to go to training events at locations many hundreds of KM away. I cannot afford to own two vehicles. So until EVs can do both daily commutes and long weekend road trips, my one car will remains IC.

The situation might be different if there were an absolute standard on battery packs and there were quick swap stations where a pack could be replaced in the time it presently takes to fill up; by a completely automated system.

In that environment the storage cells would end up being leased, probably by a third party that sets up a contract among the stations and end users (ok several for competition).

It might work out; but it just isn't anywhere near as simple as dispensing 20 gallons of toxic, volatile, extremely flammable material.

>> toxic, volatile, extremely flammable material.

It doesn't have to be those things. Diesel isn't volatile, or even very flammable compared to other bits of your car. Toxic depends on perspective. Don't drink the stuff, but it is possible to source diesel from renewable sources. Zero-carbon doesn't necessarily mean not burning fuels in an engine. There are zero-carbon fuel cycles, even fuel made from atmospheric carbon.

That was the BetterPlace model [0]. All is left are several deserted battery-change stations across Israel [1]. I think the fact this model failed miserably in the tiniest of countries is telling.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Better_Place_(company)

[1] https://images.haarets.co.il/image/fetch/w_544,q_auto,c_fill...

Just get an electric car? What's so hard about your situation?

> I could potentially bike to work - but my work doesn't have showers

You could perhaps use an electric bicycle, electric moped, or a 1+1 two-seater like a Renault Twizy:


All cheaper options than a full sized electric car and still pretty practical to get around in.

Hydrogen burning ICE is really the only viable solution for a country as big as the US. I am not sure people understand how undeveloped the US is.

2nd best option IMO would be hemp oil diesel. While not the best on emissions the fuel would offset carbon during production.

Neither option will be able to defeat the oil industry

Battery storage is too inefficient to do at scale but a battery in every home with solar panel roofs and intelligent grids would do quite a bit to offset issues.

Again the companies would fight and prevent this... in fact they are fighting solar successfully even in states like AZ

Where do you expect to get that hydrogen? Electrolysis is too inefficient to be economically practical. Currently most hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, which rather defeats the purpose.


That's good of you, but it that wouldn't scale to everyone without crashing the economy.

I challenge you to come live where I do without a car. Come during the summer.

When the average temp gets over 105 and your body simply doesnt cool itself guess what happens to that long walk you want to do ?


The "children" comment may have been out of line, but this type of response only makes the thread worse.

>> even if you stopped driving TODAY, like leave the car right where it's parked, forever ... it wouldn't be enough

rdiddly - have you got a citation for that? more importantly - did you ride your bike today?

Not sure why that would be the most important, but yeah a bike has been my main mode, daily, year-round, for 27 years except for a few-month period in 1994 and again in 1998 and 2001. That includes commuting, regular grocery shopping, 2 years of Costco runs (trailer), and 5 years of transporting 120 lbs of music gear to gigs (trailer again). Haven't owned a car exclusively since 1987 and haven't owned a share of one since 1998. On the day you asked that, I walked instead though, because the destination was close enough and I was in the mood.

Edit: I also drove a cab for a couple of years, if you want to count that (but I biked to the garage).

California attempted a zero-emissions rule in 1990, with a target of 5% by 2001. That failed.

Industry has fought this for far too long. Tell that to your grandchildren, if you (will) have any.

For three decades, California has set the benchmarks for auto emission standards. But now, all that may be changing. In a series of recent cases, California's regulations have been challenged in court, not just by the auto industry, but by the federal government....

In 1990, the California Air Resources Board adopted a regulation requiring that 2% of new car sales by 1998. 5% by 2001 and 10% of all large automobiles sold from 2003 onward be zero-emission vehicles (ZEV's) — cars powered by electricity or alternative fuels, like hydrogen....


Hasty and radical changes will certainly lead to even more harm.

I'm curious as to what a realistic climate policy would be, if such a policy exists. We're generally acting too slowly reduce climate change but if we act too quickly there'll be a lot of social and political backlash. But as things get worse there will be more mass human migration which generates more social and political upheaval but not in a direction that would improve the environment.

A broad carbon tax with offsetting rebates would be a good start. It's a free market solution that requires minimal direct government intervention, and will have effects across all sectors. Start with a level that wouldn't be too great a shock, then ramp up on a pre-planned schedule so businesses and individuals can plan ahead.

BC implemented a carbon tax in 2008:

In 2008, the province implemented North America’s first broad-based carbon tax, proving that it is possible to reduce emissions while growing the economy. Between 2007 and 2015, provincial real GDP grew more than 17%, while net emissions declined by 4.7%. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/climate-chang...

Obviously a 4.7% decline over a decade isn't enough, but it's better than a 17% or greater increase. Increasing the tax should increase the effect. (Of course, even with rebates making it revenue neutral, it will also cause some pain for those in industries that are heavy producers of greenhouse gasses, but unfortunately some amount of disruption is inevitable with the degree of change that is required.)

Also, allow for negative carbon tax on carbon extraction—there are already systems in place that can extract carbon from the air, and planned systems that should be able to do so for ~$100/tonne currently. This should keep improving, but if we rely on carbon extraction to be profitable without considering the positive externality, it will be needlessly delayed, and we need to get started scaling this up asap.

Finally, even with these changes, it's likely that some form of geoengineering will be required as a stopgap, to prevent temperatures rising to catastrophic levels while we're in the process of bringing CO2 emissions down, and then negative. So we should be doing small-scale testing of the most promising interventions (such as stratospheric aerosol injection) now, to prepare for when they're needed.

The Paris agreement, even if it were implemented faithfully, was still woefully inadequate. Not only that, but the longer we wait, the more severe cuts will be necessary.

Because of these considerations and our previous track record, I just really don't see the world cooperating on this issue well enough to meaningfully cut emissions. Eventually, renewables will become much cheaper than fossil fuels. At that point, emissions will hugely drop just due to market forces. We'll already be locked into some pretty bad outcomes by then though.

Best commentary I have read on the subject is from Bill Gates. Here's an example:


The climate changed, that's a fact. Driving partially caused it, that's a fact.

So what?

The climate changed, that's it! Learn to cope with it.

I think the idea is to try to prevent further changes in the same direction.

legislation hasn't been linearly more difficult to reach, it's actually been quite aggressive over the years to say we are setting "convenient" regulations just seems uninformed. The strides automakers and legislators have made have not been perfect but they have been very good.


True, but it nonetheless encourages manufacturers to invest in zero emissions vehicles. Switching to clean energy can't happen overnight, and the real solution is population control, but it's still a signal in the right direction.

Having said that, I have no strong opinion on whether humanity is smart enough limit its own growth enough to avoid decimating all the other species and the natural balance, though if I had to guess I'd say "no". We seem to be kind of like locusts that way.

> Coastal flooding, unprecedented storms & droughts, crop damage, streams of refugees

None of these claims are true. Sea level is stable. Storms and droughts are more moderate than ever recorded. Crops and food production is amazingly abundant and constantly improving. There are fewer wars now than at any other known point in history.

> Sea level is stable

Wow, this level of denial is amazing. You can literally see how the rising sea level is effecting parts of the US. If you live on the East coast it's not too hard see the rising sea level with your own eyes. Driving along the NH coast for example and you can see a huge number of "beach front" homes for sale with water on both sides of 1A and in the front lawns of all of these [1].

Miami is another place where sea level rise is having a visible affect on the city [2].

Tangier Island in Virginia is disappearing [3] you can look it up on Google Earth time lapse and literally watch it yourself.

[1] https://www.nhpr.org/post/rising-seas-are-already-costing-nh...

[2] https://www.businessinsider.com/miami-floods-sea-level-rise-...

[3] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/09/clima...

Obviously the land is sinking in places as it is also rising in others. If the sea was rising we would see this same problem on every single coastline. Get a clue.

untrue, actually, but I'll let you google. There are several features of the eastern seaboard that make it uniquely vulnerable.

would you believe that the behaviour of enormous ball of rock, ice and water is not easy to intuit? that seems pretty obvious to me.

> Sea level is stable

What are you talking about? Even the most ardent denialists do not deny sea level is rising. More recent data show the rate of increase is accelerating. Hard to take anything else you say seriously after that.

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