Posts Tagged ‘cars’

Economies are based upon a simple principle: supply and demand. This can be restated as: “You have something I want, so I’ll give you something of value in exchange for it”.  In the past, economies have been built upon things that are produced and desired, things like food, cars, homes, clothing, and so forth. The list can go on and on, but the distinguishing thing about most of these items is that the items that are being bought and sold are necessities. Or maybe they are things that are greatly desired and affordable: things like music, jewelry, gold, Hummers, and so forth.  Whenever there is a strong demand for a product, and the ability to pay for it, you can create a viable economy.

The problem with Green Technology is that while it does some very good things, like making the environment cleaner, it’s hard to find a lot of people who are willing to shell out extra money for that.  We all know its a good thing and we all know that if we don’t take care of our environment we will all suffer, but how many people really want to pay extra for it?  For the answer, just recall how many Americans bought SUVs two years ago compared to those who bought Hybrid cars.  The only reason Hybrids are becoming popular now is that they can save on gasoline costs, not because they emit less carbon dioxide.

So, I have to wonder, if we transition to a green technology economy will that actually stimulate economic growth and create ten times more jobs than we have now? Or will we just replace existing jobs with new, green jobs? One for one job replacement is not economic growth.  Will the average American rush out to buy a new Green Car because it pollutes less?  I don’t think so.  Will we all go out and buy a ton of Green insulation for our houses so we won’t have to burn so much carbon-based fuel? No, we could have already done that, and we haven’t.  Green is an admirable goal.  Green might even save the planet, but I doubt that it will save the economy, because while we might create a huge supply of Green products, I don’t believe we can create an equally huge demand for them just because they are Green.

If we want to stimulate our economy we need to create the new, next  generation of products that people actually really, really want. We need to create products that people want so badly that they will work extra hard to get them.  That’s what makes economies tick.  Here’s an example: I am tired of driving long distances on interstate highways at 70 miles per hour.  It can take all day or longer to get anywhere that is 1,000 miles away.  I suppose flying might be am option, but what if there are no major airports near where I live and where I want to go? Suppose the interstate highways are really my only option?  Is there a solution for this? A technological solution? Sure there is.

Suppose we took a giant leap forward an created cars that could go 200 mph. 300 mph, or more! I know, I know, we would all kill ourselves.  But wait.  Suppose we also equipped the high speed lanes of our interstates and our new, next generation ultra high speed cars with a pseudo GPS system where we would have an “autopilot” in the car?  Suppose all I had to do to drive from New York to Atlanta would be to select my destination and then get into the Pseudo-GPS-enabled high speed lane.  (This pseudo-GPS would use surveyed ground stations, not satellites.)  I could zip along to Atlanta at two or three times my current speed – maybe more.  It would be like high speed rail, only it would be more flexible.

So, would there be a demand for that technology?  Would Americans buy cars that would go coast to coast in 12 hours or less?  Of course.  We are an impatient people, we want to go everywhere fast.  This sort of thing would create a ton of new jobs in pseudo-GPS technology; high-speed, computer-controlled cars; high speed road technology, and much more.  If it also used Green technology, so much the better.

Green is good, but reducing the amount of CO2 we spew into the environment isn’t going to create a rush to the malls. It is only exciting  innovation and new products that dramatically improve the quality of our lives that will spur the next major growth spurt in our economy.  Green can’t do it alone.

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