Opinion: Ready, set, save our planet Earth

Illustration by Xela Quintana and Emily Hermosillo / Clarion

The climate change crisis is one of the biggest issues of our generation. A solution to this pandemic problem will allow for the survival of the human race.

An obstacle is that the information supporting the climate change crisis is overwhelming and the ability to quantify and establish groundwork in the right direction can be discouraging. The reality of the automotive and oil industry having an impact on the natural ecological system is not as debatable as the climate change crisis.

The switch to a fuel efficient car is imperative, especially in Southern California, an area that is built on the access to personal transportation. According to National Geographic’s Green Guide, “an automobile’s environmental impact, perhaps 80 to 90 percent, will be due to fuel consumption and emissions of air pollution and greenhouse gases.”

The legacies and accomplishments of previous generations are inherited, letting the younger generations thrive in a better global community. As reported by the National Climate Change Assessment, the sins of “burning coal, oil, and gas, and clearing of forests have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than 40 percent.”

It is the fuel functionality of a car that adds to the global warming crisis. The actual process of designing, building, and constructing a car has an environmental impact that is “relatively minor.” The Green Guide establishes that three-quarters of today’s average car can be recycled.

The problem is not production, but the product’s fuel engineering and software. The cost of fuel, economic and ecological, is too high a price to deem dependable. The greatest threat to air quality in the U.S. are vehicles which produce about one-third of the nation’s air pollution.

The first electric powered car consumers were introduced to was the Lohner-Porsche Elektromobil in 1900 at the Paris Exposition. The invention was a practical solution to the smell and noise of a gasoline fueled automobile, as opposed to the environmental sensitivity that fuel efficient vehicles are produced with now.

However, a fully electric capability is not open to the average consumer. Elon Musk of Tesla Motors has set a race for a quality, fuel efficient and cost reasonable car. His company’s mission is simple, “provide zero emission electric power generation options.” However the fuel efficiency of a Tesla Motors vehicle is a commodity, regarded as an add on feature to the luxury car.

According to USA Today, one of the cheapest new cars on the market is the Nissan Versa S Sedan with the sticker price of $12,780, compared to the most economical Tesla Motors option which is priced at $91,700 with $1,000 monthly payments. However because it has monopolized the market of electric powered cars, the consumer is left with only one brand car option.

The success of Tesla Motors can no longer be ignored and while the CEO moves on to capitalizing the marketability of the moon, automotive companies are left playing catch up to produce electric powered cars that are truly affordable.

The United States has been in a co-dependent relationship with the oil industry. In research conducted in 1977 Exxon Mobil, currently one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, had found evidence that “mankind is influencing the global climate through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels” their senior scientist James Black said.

An all-electric car is not the only option. Car owners are not as limited in choice as they have been led to believe. There are cleaner, cheaper, more sustainable fuels, such as ethanol, which is a clean biofuel alternative.

Henry Ford of Ford Motor Company originally designed his cars to have the capability of running on gasoline or ethanol. Threatened by consumer choice, John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil used his power in politics to pass the eighteenth constitutional amendment of Prohibition in 1919. The ethanol option was successfully thwarted.

There is also methanol, which is the miracle equivalent of turning waste, also known as biomass, into a clean sustainable fuel. This had oil companies produce reformulated gas that was advertised as cheaper and cleaner, when comparatively to methanol, was not. The methanol option was successfully thwarted.

Some car owners realized that their vehicles were already fuel flexible, meaning the option to use ethanol, methanol, gasoline, or a combination of all three was as simple as a software update. It is now illegal to change or tamper the software of a car to accept any other fuel it was designed to accept. The software option was successfully thwarted.

The oil industry has had the opportunity to make this world more sustainable and have actively made the choice to not. The real goal is to allow consumers to have market freedom. All automotive vehicle companies in the industry have the technology and the capability to provide that same idealistic goal Musk started out with, “zero-emission electric power generation options” for years to come. If not electrically powered, then at the very least not gasoline powered.

Though global warming is not the problem the sons and daughters of the former generation caused, it can be the triumph that contends with the more glorious moments of history. This market is filled with mindful consumers searching for an option that stylistically meets their needs, ethically appeases their global warming guilt, and is set with an economic price tag based in reality.