GMs Last Defender of Business as Usual
As I have mentioned to many, I have spent a little bit of time since we launched the GM Virtual Stockholders Meeting http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/GM-Virtual-Stockholders-Meeting/129954779615?ref=ts on General Motors own fan page on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/generalmotors. It is an interesting site given to optimism on the wall portion and under attack in the discussion sections. My preference is the discussion section because it reflects more the feelings of America towards this iconic corporation. And in this area I have met the great defender of GM.
If you visit there you'll know who I mean but suffice it to say that the gentleman in question is a 20 or so year-old college student who is likely what we used to call a "gear head" when I was that age. He hates hybrids and electric cars and wishes the V8 were a V12 because climate change is not happening and, even if it was, it is not our fault. Our debate has been an interesting one and I am even willing to overlook his name calling--idiot smarts a little, but my all time favorite is: Geezer--because it is through these debates that all sides are kept honest.
I am disturbed, however, that a college student at his level has not learned how to sort the wheat from the chaff. He doubts climate change because 650 scientists doubt it or portions of the prevailing version. While 650 is certainly a lot of scientists if they all come to your house, their presence within the roughly $30 million scientists worldwide would be very, very difficult to even spot. This argument, however, does not undermine his resolve. I find this troubling from a quality of education perspective. It seems like we should be preparing all students to independently evaluate issues.
But most of our debate has revolved around the life cycle assessments (LCA) of hybrids, electric, and internal combustion engine (ICE) automobiles and light-duty trucks. Most analyses of this type are broken up into three parts: production, operation and recycling. When all three are fully taken into account across the spectrum of sustainability issues hybrids and electric cars win hands down--not even a close race. But what our young friend focuses on is that the production of these greener vehicles has more impact across the board than their ICE counter-parts--not a lot, but some. But since 85% of this equation is in the operation, small differences in production are over-shadowed by massive amounts of post-production fuel use.
All this said, we have to keep at our collective job of trimming the impact on all vehicles. So skeptics such as our young and often rude young friend are important in keeping us pushing and trying always to be better and better.