Even A Blind Hog

 As my dear old Granny used to say, “even a blind hog will root an acorn every now and then”.

The “blind hog” theory can be applied to a lot of professions. I think one profession/industry that has done more disservice to the world by ignoring the tools at hand, is the automobile industry. Before you think I’ve dropped third gear, let me elaborate.

Most of the world’s ills are being rightly laid at the feet of the oil industry. Even our current stock market collapse is “fueled” by the drop in price of oil. People all over the Middle East are killing one another, and folks everywhere else are helping them do it, to get to the oil. People in South and Central America are suffering cancer rates and birth defects that are epidemic due to the oil industry pillaging their countries and not cleaning up the environment. Dirty air is everywhere, the polar caps are melting and according to most scientists, we are on the precipice of destruction. How did we get here, why did we get here?

It seems that a very self interested man, one John D. Rockefeller, was the fellow who convinced Henry Ford to abandon his efforts on an engine that ran on alcohol, and instead focus on the gasoline engine. Other car manufacturers of the period were developing electric cars, even Ford, but they all abandoned their efforts when Ford started mass producing his Model T. We’re talking early 1900’s here, 1908 to 1910.

Over a hundred years ago, the automobile industry had the capability that powers today’s Chevrolet Volt. Rather than following an environmentally safe path of electric, or even alcohol fueled vehicles, they were influenced to instead follow the path of environmental destruction we are currently on. Sadly, even the “father of electricity”, Thomas Edison, is tainted by this mess, as he worked for Rockefeller at the time.

So, how does a “hog” that is feeding at the right trough, get influenced to change troughs to a trough that is long term less desirable? Well, I guess I should point out, “hogs” are notoriously short-sighted. Ford wanted to be the preeminent car manufacturer, and he was willing to abandon better designed, more efficient engines to please his benefactor, Rockefeller.

Rockefeller was willing to do anything to increase the demand for his product, even to the point of destroying other industries. Rockefeller went so far as to finance temperance movements to influence Congress to pass Prohibition, and thereby close all of the distilleries. Rockefeller’s ruthlessness has continued on to this day. Follow up on Chevron’s lawsuits in Ecuador and other areas in Central and South America to see their callous disregard for human life. John D. would be proud.

What does a world look like with vehicles running off of batteries recharged by alcohol burning generators? Obviously, a lot cleaner than we see now. Is the question that Americans can’t get past, “Does it really work?” Well, look at our train systems. Millions of tons of freight are moved daily by trains powered by electric motors. Can the train’s two power systems, electric motor and diesel generator, be more efficient than the truck’s one diesel engine?

According to the Department of Transportation, a truck uses a gallon of diesel to move a ton of freight 59 miles. That same gallon of diesel moves a ton of freight 202 miles on a train. That’s nearly four times as efficient. Where did we go so wrong with our transportation?

To my mind, we ignored science, were “blind” to what science told us, and then piggishly pursued the same path, even after we knew we were wrong. With the electric car revolution, it looks like the public has finally “rooted an acorn”. Even though I love my muscle cars, I love my planet more. Here’s hoping we don’t get drug off path again.

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