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Re: The myth of ethanol: Re: E-M:/ Metro Times article on ethanol

Enviro-Mich message from "William Tobler" <williamtobler@critterswoods.org>

There is not much here worth commenting on as you completely missed the point.
Your right to your opinions, which I don't share.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Gary Stock" <gstock@net-link.net>
To: <enviro-mich@great-lakes.net>
Cc: <JBull51264@aol.com>
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2006 1:33 PM
Subject: Re: The myth of ethanol: Re: E-M:/ Metro Times article on ethanol

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from Gary Stock <gstock@net-link.net> -------------------------------------------------------------------------

Enviro-Mich message from JBull51264@aol.com

With regard to williamtobler@critterswoods.org's last post:
Free-wheeling discussion is good, up to a point. The point where it crosses
the line into personal attacks and name-calling, I think it is inappropriate.
Not commenting on the substance of your post, I find the tone condesceding
and offensive. The sign-off you used only served to punctuate the nasty
tone of the rest of the message. Disagree, Disagree strongly but can't
we keep this discussion civil?

Agreed; the tone was intentionally rude, and out of bounds.

Enviro-Mich message from "William Tobler" <williamtobler@critterswoods.org>

For the record, I have disagreed (privately) with JBull's response, and
have continued the discussion with WovenWoman (courteously and privately).

If a courteous tone is within reach, you owe as much to all readers.

In my opinion, we are in desperate times and being a candy *ss is
not appropriate.

I suspect that most here would agree we are in desperate times.

If so, time wasted on personal attacks is even less appropriate.

Since "candy ass" is not part of a serious lexicon, we're left with:


...the gist of which settles any question about its offensiveness.

Even with all that, I still believe there may be merit in addressing your questions (several of which weren't intended to allow answers). If you really don't know the answers, you'll be largely unable to understand what is required of all of us, or what the informed environmental community wants. And, that's probably gonna suck for R&D output, which would be A Bad Thing(tm).

I'll hope to avoid the rhetorical tone of the original.  Whether I'll be
able to do that... just not sure.

In a message dated 7/21/06 10:47:58 PM, williamtobler@critterswoods.org

<< I'm sorry now that I didn't make my post simpler for you to understand.

The primary confusing aspect was deeply mixed messages. If you want a solution, it's essential to accept at least _one_ of the possible solutions. OTOH, if you want merely to remain upset, or to change the subject, it may be better not to _ask_ for a solution.

Frankly, having re-read your messages several times, it remains rather
unclear what you want.  That may be the most important clue as to what
led the exchange astray.

Overall, putting words in other people's mouths tends to evoke confusion where it otherwise is absent. For example, in response to:

> I agree but we, as citizens, will have little choice in the matter if
> the big six follow Ford on the path of E85.

You offered:

Now don't go out and blame Ford for the energy / fuel crisis.

Which, of course, the writer hadn't done.

Let's not pretend, however, that American industry didn't actively
promote and happily profit from the circumstances leading up to our
current desperate times.

Just how do you think any auto manufacturer is going to get more fuel
economy?  Which magic are they gonna use this time?  (If you don't
know, hint=small, which for the most part, doesn't sell).

Either fuel economy is good, or it is bad. You can't have it both ways.

If it is good, you've already given the answer.  Clearly, the industry
didn't like the reality behind the answer, so they ignored it.  Somewhat
like today, regarding ethanol.

If fuel economy is bad, well, that would have to mean that theoretical
profits for Detroit are more important than actually staying in
business.  Or, having a stable US economy... or being able to breathe..
or a lot of other stuff that most folks would place above the
theoretical profits from making only what "does sell..."  OK, fuel
economy isn't bad, and we know that.

The claim about what sells could not be more backwards.  Consumers can
only buy what _is_ sold.  If the industry simply had stopped making
absurdly and unnecessarily large vehicles, everyone would have been
safer, travel would have been less expensive, and we would be in far
less desperate times.

A company can't sell what it won't make.

There is a little bit fuel economy
here and there with very expensive technologies.

And there's a huge amount everywhere with inexpensive, small. Get busy!

Do you really think Toyota knows anything that the other companies don't
know. For years, Toyota was a good copy cat.

Not so much. And they sure didn't copy the inbred mistakes!

Japan kicked US butt with actual _quality_ (not just an advertising
slogan) for over a decade before Detroit responded.  I watched Japan and
Korea (as did the auto industry, by the way) do precisely the same thing
with pianos during the 1960's and 1970's.  Kawai, Yamaha, and others
didn't copy Steinway or Bosendorfer -- they looked at the manufacturing
process.  They looked with _quality_ in mind.  They looked at the
_quality_ desires of the consumer, rather than at territorial
imperatives or penis envy, for example.

Then, they engineered a _very_ different manufacturing process to build
a product not saddled with perpetual failures and random
inconsistencies.  That manufacturing process -- yes, that is something
the US (years later) really _did_ copy from Japan.  But, in the years it
took for "America" (read Ford, Steinway, GM, Baldwin...) to wake up,
Nippon ate America's lunch!

Having the advantage of being a piano technician from my teens, I knew
well enough not to buy any car but a Honda or Toyota.  I don't even
_know_ an auto mechanic by name!  I give rides to my neighbors while
their Ford or Chevy is in the shop.  Get busy!

Now they have the economic
advantage with their transplant into the US, since they have little
pension and retiree health care to pay for so they can underprice Detroit
for now.

By "transplant," do you mean domination of the market? If Detroit had simply caught up with them on efficiency (as environmentalists wanted) and quality (as consumers wanted) 20 or 30 years ago, Detroit would still own the market, and be able to pay their bills.

Instead, Detroit intoned, "Consumers won't want it."  Cute; stupid, but
cute.  Also lazy, dopey, and most of the other dwarfs, but cute.

It's like Pearl Harbor: Japan waltzed in and changed the world; America slept.

Hey, it's like today, too!

Perhaps as you buy Japanese products, maybe you will soon find
the need to work for a Japanese company.  Think about that, Edie, while
you bash American products.

You think you _don't_ work for a Japanese company? You think you _don't_ work for a Saudi company? Again, better to pick a defensible position and stick with it.

Edie didn't bash American products.  It's not necessary; they do it for
themselves.  What Edie was bashing was Madison Avenue.  And, baby, they
deserve it.

Do you realize that Ford Escorts got 45 mpg+? I drove them for years. On
highway trips - 52mpg. Nothing innovative here. Small, simple basic. Too bad
that Ford chooses not to make them anymore. I think that is a big mistake.

Only a bit less than the mileage my Honda Civic got back in 1978! While CAFE standards had just been launched at 18 mpg, the Civic topped the list at something like 42 or 45. IIRC, Ford's best was down in the mid-thirties. I was the consumer; Detroit wouldn't sell what I wanted -- not quality, not economy. No MBA required.

By around 1980 the Dagenham Escort Mk III was running 70 mpg in Europe
-- in a model Ford didn't even try to offer in the US.  Any MBA might
have helped there.

Do you realize that total hybrid sales from all manufacturers combined is
just a tiny fraction of sales, even with huge subsidies. So the green impact
there is negligible.

If the manufacturer makes only a tiny fraction of its inventory in format A, format A can only produce a tiny fraction of sales. Uh, duh!?! Wait... do you really not get that?

Do you know when you consider the cradle to grave energy consumptions,

Credit, at least, for mentioning the concept. Don't tell your boss :-)

that hybrids don't really look that good?

Given the quadrillions-plus BTU sent up in smoke during the century-long establishment of the non-hybrid regime, which aren't charged against it, which is going to win? "Cradle" includes all industrially-zoned land in Pittsburgh and Cleveland and Munising and Duluth... since 1906. That seems to be forgotten on every spreadsheet. Surprisingly, new chip manufacturing facilities in Mesa or Fukuoka often appear.

Hey: they get a hundred-year freebie, they get an advantage on paper.

However, mild hybrids are pretty attractive for urban drivers
because of the braking regen.  A net loss for expressway drivers.

Hybrids in town; smaller units for longer trips. Still obvious. Also, still not being shipped in quantities that will dominate the showroom floor.

Do you know from a $ point of view, a consumer is unlikely to recover the
extra manufacturing cost of a hybrid even with $3 gasoline?

That notion is... relevant in which fairy tale? Do you know from a $ point of view, a consumer is _never_ going to recover the extra manfuacturing cost of any of the useless trim on a Hummer? People routinely spend thousands with no hope of cost recovery; that list goes on for fifty thousand lines. Back to the subject!

Somewhere beyond 10 years.

Much faster than that unfortunate "never" that everybody loves!

Don't you think that a consumer has to want to be green and put his
money where his mouth is?

No; the green consumers are doing so, but it doesn't define everyone else.

The non-green consumer has to buy something smaller.  That will _never_
happen when Detroit constantly instructs them to buy something bigger.
(...and then blames them for buying something bigger!?!)  That answer
applies to nearly _every_ question here.

Dollars speak to most consumers.

However, they constantly spend for things they do not need. They're plunking tens of thousands of dollars down every second of every day, yet their average choice (not including trucks) has a curb weight of over 3,200 lbs?

  "The average CW decreased from 3,620 pounds in model year 1970
   to a low of 2,870 pounds in the early and middle 1980s and
   then gradually rose to 3,240 pounds in model year 2004."
   (USGS Fact Sheet 2005-3145)

...and that's with a tripling of aluminum to _reduce_ GVW! Get busy!

Do you realize that the gap between EPA sticker fuel economy and real fuel
economy is the biggest for the Toyota Prius hybrid? A big lie? I wonder why
you don't hear about it?

Actually, it's hard to avoid hearing it. I've heard several different reports, and one lengthy discussion, on NPR, and read at least a half dozen different articles in the MSM detailing the problem. The consensus even among the manufacturers' representatives was that the test is out of date. Toyota publicized their desire _not_ to make the misleading higher mileage claim, but they were required to publish it by EPA (that appeared on the CBS Evening News). EPA has not updated the test, blaming in part manufacturers' resistance to any change. As to any big lie, there's a full circle of it.

Do you understand the pollution problems from battery manufacturing and
disposal resulting from hybrids?

I do; a lot of people do. I don't know whether Edie does.

Do you realize that some of the biggest "quality" problems and
things-gone-wrong were on the Toyota Prius?  Quality?  Safety?
Lemon?  I wonder why you don't hear about it?

Again, I certainly have heard about it, repeatedly.

The argument is properly described as "a red herring."

As an R&D rep, perhaps you could have more accurately characterized the
comparative likelihood of quality issues associated with:

A) major roll-out of relatively new technology,
  or rapid scale-up of developing technology to thousands of units,
  sold to a clientele unfamiliar with the technology,
  by salespeople few of whom are comfortable with the technology,
  when repair stations have little experience with the technology

B) continued production of a common platform that is decades old,
  or minor revisions of a stable platform at millions of units,
  sold to a clientele that grew up wedded to that platform,
  by salespeople who learned the trade on that platform,
  when repair stations were invented a century ago for that platform.

Lemon? I wonder why we didn't hear about it...

Do you know from a power train viewpoint, that the Prius and Escape Hybrid
are virtually the same design made by Aisin?

Apparently an otherwise irrelevant set-up for the next paragraph...

Do you know that Aisin has refused to supply Ford with increased volumes of
various patented components used in hybrids, at least at competitive prices?

Apparently a criticism of free markets. Again, don't tell your boss.

Do you know that Aisin is a subsidiary of Toyota?

So, Toyota sells a product that uses components made by its subsidiary. The Toyota subsidiary offers better pricing to Toyota, which owns it, than to Toyota's competitors.

OK; wait. Do you know what a subsidiary is?

Do you realize that the sale of diesels in the US has been a repeated flop
over the past 20 years

Do you realize the US industry is still arguing its own 20 year-old mistakes, while the business world (and the rest of it) are moving forward?

  May 8 (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest carmaker,
  said its U.S. sales of cars with diesel engines reached a
  record 22 percent last month...

  Volkswagen's overall sales in the U.S., the world's largest
  automobile market, last month rose 11 percent to 20,528 vehicles,
  with its market share gaining to 1.4 percent from 1.2 percent...

  The U.S. market share for diesel-powered cars and light trucks
  will almost quadruple by 2015 as automakers meet fuel-efficiency
  demands and as state emissions rules become uniform, J.D. Power
  & Associates forecast last month...

  Diesel vehicles will account for 11.8 percent of U.S. sales by
  2015, increasing from 3.2 percent last year, the marketing-research
  firm estimates. Worldwide share will rise during the same period
  to 34.2 percent from 24.7 percent in 2005, according to the study...

Maybe in 20 years US industry (or what little is left of it) may catch on!

because the US public does not want them?

Using "because" to introduce one element of any larger phenomenon will be seen as misleading by many readers. Again, if a business simply does not place a particular product in a predominant position in the market, it would be disingenous at best -- perhaps simply absurd -- to waste time trying to assign blame for a failure in sales. If it ain't there, it ain't gonna sell.

economically, it is a bad choice for most consumers other than those evil, fuel
consuming men truckers?

Geez, I suspect they wouldn't appreciate your calling them names.

Do you know that a significant percentage of the fuel economy "advantage" of
diesels comes from the fact that there is a larger carbon energy content in
diesel fuel? Do you understand the relationship between carbon content and
global warming?

Well, I do enjoy a subtle diversion from phrases like "carbon energy content" (itself clever enough) to "carbon content," as though soot were CO2, or vice versa, or whatever happened there. That will certainly hush up some people, since it sounds almost scientific.

(Personal note:  I started http://www.googlewhack.com/, so I'm quite
intrigued by any combination of words that _never_ appears in Google,
but still sounds like it means something.  You should be proud to
realize that the phrase "carbon energy content" is entirely unknown to
the Google index!  Even if we allow for dashes, parentheses, and
inadvertent juxtapositions, there still are only 42 near-misses, and
besides:  the phrase just doesn't _mean_ anything!  Very cool!  Three
words, not two, so it's no Googlewhack, but still, very, _very_ creative!)

Do you understand the relationship between carbon content and diamonds?
Yeah, no, sorry, that's not relevant either.

Do you understand the Euro diesels generally do not meet the US air quality
standards, and that the cars generally do not meet US crash standards?

Well, that one belongs squarely on R&D, eh? Get busy!

The part that we seem to agree on is that the US public is addicted to large
heavy vehicles with lots of creature comforts, plenty of performance
acceleration, 4 wheel drive, all terrain tires to get to the supermarket, and extremely
poor aerodynamics resulting from truck and SUV configurations.

See, now, that's helpful.

On the other
hand, a part that we apparently disagree on is that women make up a sizable
percentage of the driving and commuting public,

It's certainly not apparent that anyone disagrees...or how it matters.

and I see more road rage from
women driving their SUVs on the freeway than from men.

Well, you must be driving somewhere other than I-94, where both sexes are doing their best to take the prize.

So let's not use the sexist BS.

Ouch; foot shot! "Hello, Kettle, this is Pot. You're black!" Ouch.

Maybe, woman=consuming fuel with one hand on their makeup compact and
the other on their cell phone, and with no hands on driving?

Ouch! First foot again! Now other foot too! Ouch, ouch!

My original point was that enviros need to educate the public to shape
consumer demand that currently isn't there.

Ah, so it's "enviros" causing the problem? Ahh, of course.

So, what will "enviros" do to encourage demand for smaller cars, while
the industry spends -- what, ten or fifteen billion dollars annually
encouraging the opposite?  Suggestions?

1998 data, perhaps 30 to 50% below today:


  "GM alone spent $2.94 billion on advertising, or about
  $643 per passenger vehicle it sold that year."

Hmmm... that sounds suspiciously like the point Edie was making!

Try looking across the product lineup of all companies and you will see
falling fuel economy everywhere as they fill the US consumer demand for inefficient

As before, calling the chicken the egg won't make it so. Detroit don't make 'em, Detroit can't pretend to blame anyone else for not buyin' 'em.

Maybe expecting leadership from a corporation is just, well, stupid.

Just like with the population discussion, the enviro community has failed
miserably in educating the consuming public.

The United States government (both parties) has failed miserably.

Companies are in the business to make money, not go out of business.

Hey, that whole deal is really working out for GM!

The solution to several problems: discontinue all models over 2,500 lbs GVW _today_. Engineer and retool for 60 mpg plus (regardless of CAFE), and produce every unit with the same quality as the average Toyota today. Commit to an additional 10 mpg more inside two years.

Whoever does that would have so many investors they'd not be able to
cash all the checks.  Units would fly off the floor at 20% over average
industry-wide retail, from day one.

Whoever does that, they'll own the market in five years.  Oh, and by the
way, also likely avoid World War III, if that ship hasn't already sailed...

Namaste yourself.

Oops; your inner light is showing...

"In bitterness, employ only the most familiar of tools."

In that case, more were amused by the irony, than insulted by the intent.


----- Original Message -----

From: WovenWoman@aol.com
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2006 11:38 AM
Subject: Re: The myth of ethanol: Re: E-M:/ Metro Times article on ethanol

  In a message dated 7/20/2006 1:14:47 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
williamtobler@critterswoods.org writes:

Now don't go out and blame Ford for the energy / fuel crisis.

Henry Ford himself might do just that. I think he's turning in his grave
over what his company has become. The recent ethanol campaign starring Mr.
Bill Ford has (some) people thinking "Wonderful! The gas crisis is almost over!"
CEO Bill Ford appears in the 30-second television commercials with a Ford
Escape hybrid sport utility vehicle and passionately (and compassionately) states
that â?oFord Motor Company has a dozen models that get at least 30 miles to the
gallon. While we can't control the price of fuel, we're innovating to reduce
need.â?* In the background is a car with an open fuel cap with stalks of corn
poking out.

All of my daughters friends think this is just terrific and so do most of
their parents. In the 70s my Datsun got at least 45 mpg and my friends Datsun
1200 got over 30 mpg. They obviously were not hybrids. I cant see the
innovation Bill speaks of. (regarding consumption of fuel)

When consumers had two choices of fabric to make dresses, they made the
choice between the two. If American auto manufacturers made decisions to be more
earth friendly people would purchase the vehicles, just as they do elsewhere
in the world. Smart cars, Japanese Kei-cars, Euro diesels.....

Powerful advertising campaigns can change the world. Are Americans that
gullible? By the sheer # of SUV's out there, it would appear so.
Man, purchasing tofu while the guy behind him has the counter stacked
high with meat meat and more meat. The tofu guy rushes out of the store and
goes directly to the HUMMER dealer where he "reclaims his manhood" through his
purchase of a gas guzzler. Being a man=consuming fuel.

I don't see any commercials showing a man pulling back a curtain to reveal
evil/greedy oil tycoons exploiting humans/animals/plants/water
sources/landscapes/lifestyles and then showing the same fella rushing out to purchase a Sm
art car to "reclaim his humanity". Being a man=being mindful.

Soon Madagascar will be destroyed and the unique life that is there will be
sacrificed for a few more commutes to work. I don't see that on TV either.

How can people ask for/desire alternatives when they are not informed.



----------------------------------------------------------------------- Gary Stock gstock@unblinking.com UnBlinking http://www.unblinking.com/ Googlewhack http://www.googlewhack.com/

      It's not that the Kansas School Board is full of idiots.
      It's just that idiots outnumber the rest by six to four.

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