Tuesday, July 1

Cars After The Age Of Oil Part I - EVs Go Back To The Rickshaw

The rest of the world knows this is the end of The Age Of Oil.

Our planes are dropping from the skies. Truck drivers are striking on the highways. Our oil-based agriculture is going belly-up. We are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Gas prices will not be going down.

We are now facing a radical change in how we get around, akin to the end of the horse and buggy era.
There are various options going ahead. Cuba shows us one way to end The Oil Age. They have been painstakingly restoring and are still running the 1950's cars we abandoned to them over a half century ago.
Some will no doubt find ways to convert the stock we have to new uses, as they have. The SUV you trade in next is unlikely to still run on gas in 20 years. If you are handy you might want to consider the conversion options I listed here last year.

This turning point in history: the end of The Oil Age, need not be the end of a functioning economy. We switched painlessly from the end of the whale oil age. Think of the era of oil as a blip in our transportation history. We can switch to a new tech that is older and simpler than the Internal Combustion Engine - the electric horseless carriage was first created in 1830:
Our early designs for horseless carriages had a certain elegance that grew from the simplicity of the electric motor driving them, like this 1900 Porsch EV.

What are the feasible options after The Oil Age ends?

I have zero faith in alt fueled climate disasters such as ethanol (interesting new take on why it doesn't make sense), hydrogen (why it doesn't make sense) and coal fumes (duh): so I am not covering these. I will cover here my favorite options. Both return us to before the oil age, back to the 18th century: the Age of Reason. These are

1. Human powered (electric assisted)
2. Electric vehicles (covered in Part II)

And of course use renewable energy to power them.

1.Human power
OK. Human powered vehicles have come a long way in dignity since the rickshaw, but essentially that is what these are. Perhaps we have to make peace with our animal nature to accept again what looks pretty outrageous to the modern eye. People moving other people. Shocking. Disgusting.

Yet. Times change. Now as part of a health conscious age we see this differently.

Pedicabs. Post Oil Age Cuba has fleets of them to show us how its done.
En France we have the ubiquitous Urban Cab

Spain too.


They are really noticing the desert creeping towards them in Europe, where they still have a fourth estate to keep them apprised of these matters:

The Sahara has crossed the Mediterranean, forcing thousands to migrate as a lethal combination of soil degradation and climate change turns parts of southern Europe into desert.

A major UN conference was told yesterday that up to a third of Europe's soil could eventually be affected.

A fifth of Spanish land is so degraded that it is turning into desert, according to figures released for the first time yesterday, and in Italy tracts of land in the south are now abandoned and technically desert.

Whereas here we don't even know that Cedar Rapids just sunk due to climate change. The IPPC predicted increasing flooding and precipitation in the Eastern US droughts and wildfires in the Wast due to climate change. There has been a fourfold rise in dangerous weather incidents in the last decade.

Zero emission vehicles make sense.

NYC uses pedicabs, they are big in Indonesia, the New Amsterdam Project delivers groceries with these cargo rickshaws they designed and built.

Electric assisted pedicabs make a lot of climate change sense, even apart from the end of oil. If you image google rickshaw you'll see the many new designs being developed, clearly there is a movement in this direction. The human powered vehicle is also good for moving kids and groceries, and in Europe where towns were designed for a human scaled life people do ride more bikes.

This is Part I of a series:
Cars After The Age Of Oil - EVs Go Back To The Rickshaw
Cars After The Age Of Oil - EVs Coming To The US By 2010
Cars After The Age Of Oil - EVs Now If You Have The Time Or Money
Cars After The Age Of Oil - EVs In A Mad Max World