Combating climate change with cleaner, smarter cars
By Margo Oge, former director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, EPA
336 pages, Arcade Publishing, $25.99. Copyright 2015.
Book Review by N.R. Mallery
“Dedicated to all individuals and organizations who are working for a cleaner and more sustainable planet.”
Margaret Oge wrote this book for all of the right reasons. Oge and her numerous colleagues struggled for decades to implement regulations to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, knowing it is one of the major reasons for climate change.
Her thirty-two years of trials and tribulations are important to reveal for us all what is really going on behind the scenes. The power that our government has upon our future for a sustainable planet can make or break us.
And while we can learn from the past and the many power struggles that the author’s personal experiences make clear, the landmark deal with automakers in 2012, with direction from the Obama administration, has finally moved us in the right direction.
Chapter 15 concludes with a real glimpse of what the landmark deal means. Oge writes, “The move from vehicles powered by hyper-efficient combustion engines will be one of the most noticed transformations over the next few decades.” She goes on to say, “After more than a century of near monopoly, vehicles powered entirely by gas or diesel will need to surrender the roadways to cleaner, alternative vehicles in just a few decades. To meet a 180-mpg average for new cars in 2050, all new vehicles sold in the US should be a mix of plug-in hybrids, battery electric and fuel cell vehicles. Any self-standing internal combustion vehicles (ICEs) in hybrid powertrains would have to run on low carbon fuels.”
Unfortunately, what is proposed for the powertrains that drive vehicles will “stop short of the reductions we need,” Oge maintains. Additional factors that include aerodynamics, weight, strength and the importance of the tire rolling resistance will all be necessary in order to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in time.
The tasks ahead of us may seem daunting and insurmountable at times. Oge states in the final chapter, “Future efforts will be even more important as we face the most extraordinary environmental challenge of climate change. Our inaction will have devastating impacts on every corner of the planet and on each one of us, especially future generation. Climate change threatens our food supply, water sources, where we live and work, our national security, and our economy. We have a moral responsibility to act now, and history will judge us by how we as people, and governments, rise to this challenge.”
I think this book is importantly revealing and will help to clarify why transportation issues in the USA have taken so long to address, the challenges we face today, and also the path that can lead us forward.
The hope for continued change is now in place thanks to the Obama administration and the perseverance of Margaret Oge. A hopeful future and what that might look like is portrayed in the beginning of the book, and Oge makes this hope seem real.
We can only pray the next administration does not change all of the advancements. I recommend that you all read this book. I could barely put it down. It’s not only important information, it’s that good.