Full disclosure: I am a gearhead.
It goes, I suspect, with the natural inclinations I have that resulted in me wearing an iron ring. I am fascinated by things mechanical, electrical, electronic, hydraulic, pneumatic, electro-mechanical… well, you get the picture.
Now, let me also say that as an engineer, I have a great appreciation for things that are well designed, efficient, economical of resources, elegant and fit-for-purpose. Bling is not high on my list of what’s important, though I can appreciate well wrought bling, judiciously applied.
Which leaves me in a position, as Tom Lehrer once said, of feeling “like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis” – my passion for cars is at odds with the future survival of the human race (not to mention a few other species with which we cohabit the planet but who are, sadly for them, along for the ride).
Yes, internal combustion engines are, all at once, marvels of engineering technology and in their most recent incarnations pretty efficient as well – but with few exceptions, they still take dead-dino juice a.k.a. petroleum products and, in an insignificant fraction of the time it took Mother Nature to convert that decaying biological matter into said liquid hydrocarbons, break the rather strong bonds between the carbon and hydrogen atoms to release the energy required to haul us and our cargo hither and yon.
And in doing so, we alter the composition of our environment (and I’m not just talking about the atmosphere, after all there’s the process of extracting the dead-dino juice which affects both the land and the oceans) by moving carbon out of long-term storage into the air and the water, plus releasing a significant amount of wasted energy as heat (despite significant technological improvements to the internal combustion engine which have increased their efficiency dramatically, they are still bound by an ultimate theoretical efficiency limit of about 37% by the laws of thermodynamics – we throw away about 2/3 of the released energy as waste heat).
So as much as I love cars (and I do love me them some), I am painfully aware of the negative impact that cars have had. Which is why I choose to drive less and walk, bike or use public transit when practical (although like many complex problems, there are real constraints in life which can tip the balance of choice towards driving, but I try not to find convenient excuses to stack the deck in favour of driving – as Kermit the Frog said “It’s not easy being green“).
Now, having got the letter C out of the way (for the A-Z Blogging Challenge) please excuse me while I go out for a walk. Feel free to chat amongst yourselves while I’m gone.