Wednesday, August 2, 2017

And now ----- No more cars !!!

First things first. This post is written with inadequate knowledge. I am not an economist, scientist or environmentalist. My conclusions may appear highly opinionated. And are arrived at based on superficial observations, inadequate and questionable data, and with no scientific research. Oh yes, no pictures.

You would have read that in the UK, following France, motor vehicles with diesel and petrol engines cannot be sold after 2040. In other words the internal combustion engine will be history. That is in some 20 odd years. I would imagine that while 2040 is the date, no one would buy such a car at least 5 years before the ban, so effectively the time for selling cars, trucks and so on will be over in about 15 years.

I am reasonably certain that soon other western European countries like Switzerland, Germany, and Austria etc. will also similarly ban the internal combustion engine. When USA, Japan, China and India get around to doing this is anybody’s guess. But the writing is on the wall.

So, if the internal combustion engine is banned, vehicles would have to be fueled with electricity which would be stored in cells. Not particularly different from the electric cars we have around today. I assume that there would be dramatic improvements in efficiency of the cars as well as cells.

One matter that bears some thinking is the volte face by the many experts [read tree-huggers, Greens, NGO’s, fat cat employees of fatter cat NGO’s etc.]. Initially they led a strident chorus that emissions by petrol engines were really filthy. All problems in the world were attributed to petrol engine emissions. You will remember the alarmist ozone layer threats, the greenhouse gasses, global warming and what have you. The experts claimed that the way forward was diesel engines. Diesel engines emitted far less poisons. Fine. No problems. It became trendy to have a diesel fueled vehicle. Suddenly, in the volte face I was referring to earlier, now the very same experts say hello, diesel is poison, we were better off with petrol.

While that nonsense has been going on, we have this, literally earth shattering news that by 2040 the internal combustion engine will be banned. Why I brought this volte face business up was because if we have another volte face, and the experts say actually electric cars are poison and we really need the internal combustion engine, where will we be. Anyway, leave that thought in your mind while I plunge into my rant.

This decision on the ban of the internal combustion engine and the rise of electric cars got me thinking. Before going further, I have still to come to grips with how dramatic this decision really is.

Firstly, according to experts, they estimate that the consumption of oil will fall by approximately 200,000 barrels per year, year on year till 2040. I am unsure if this number of 200,000 is just for the UK or is a global figure. But the number is not the point, the principle is. There will be a year on year fall in oil consumption. Of course, it is not only the internal combustion engine that consumes oil; several other uses for oil exist. So on cars alone there would be a big reduction. Now, where does this leave our traditional oil producing countries? Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Venezuela, Qatar etc. etc.? Do those countries go broke and have domestic turmoil? If they do not go broke but have a more painful survival with a vastly and rapidly contracting economy, what happens to the large number of migrant workers there?

Jobless? Presumably.

And then they return home? Presumably.

And what happens in India? India has literally millions of people in the Gulf. They all come back and then what happens to their jobs in India?

Do we have massive unemployment?

Do we have a rise of the ISIS in the Gulf?

Will Kerala – which already has a fledgling ISIS – have a full on ISIS problem?

Think about that!

What about transport? By this I mean the huge business of transporting oil. Ocean going oil tankers, road going tankers, and, pipes. What would happen? Would the traditional oil tankers be a thing of the past? Sailors, shipping yards, ship builders and all the industry auxiliary to shipping – pumps – what would happen?

Fine, all that I have written about in the preceding paragraphs is vastly depressing. How about something a little more positive? Yes, pollution would fall and we would have less sore throats and chest disease.

To run all those electric cars you would need electricity, naturally. Electricity is finite. By this I mean that there is an installed capacity for electricity production. You have electricity generators that operate on nuclear fuel or water or wind or coal. You have to build plants, which is time consuming and expensive. You have to build windmills, and, wind farms which have their own challenges. So, unless someone gets started on building electricity capacity right now we will never be able to meet the rapidly increasing demand for electricity by the electric cars. Imagine in Mumbai if we have electric BEST busses, silent, rather than the cacophony causing bus we have now. Imagine all trucks and busses similarly electric and silent.

If we are to have all these electric plants built what would all the Jholawallas say? Especially if new plants were to be nuclear? That should keep lots of Jholawallas quite busy. What would they say to the millions of wind farms that would dot the hillsides or pepper the oceans? What about the favourite topic for all Jholawallas, rights of the downtrodden to land which has been forcibly usurped by rich corporates to set up wind farms. Aaha! I see a new business model here! Let’s make a project report and get funds to protest this new menace..

Of course, we already have our Jholawallas protesting saying that the tribals are being oppressed/cheated/exploited [fill in your favourite adjective here] by the filthy rich corporates who are mining coal in mineral rich India. The coal being used to fire thermal power plants to fuel us rich electric car owners.

Diversion of rivers to drive Hydel plants. Hmmmmm. Now that should be fun too. You can protest destruction of rivers, forests and, needless to say, the poor dis-housed tribals.

So at the end of the day the cynical me asks, is this a grand scheme to keep Jholawallas perennially busy? Formulate a grand scheme – let’s ban petrol, now let’s ban the internal combustion engine – and then protest. Keep writing proposals for more and more funds?

What company shares should you sell? Where would our Indian oil companies BPCL, HPCL, Indian Oil, and, Reliance be? What would happen to Maruti? What company shares should you buy? Suzlon?

So what really is worse? Diesel, petrol, electricity?

So many questions?

My mind is spinning.

Any thoughts?

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