FUEL – A Road to Alternative Energy Sources (the Movie)

I recently watched this movie – Fuel – on Hulu and it made me rethink all that I knew about renewable fuels such as Bio-diesel, Ethanol, Oil, and the way transportation is powered. I had a wealth of knowledge on this topic, but after watching this movie, my motivation to be greener in the way we get around, went up by tenfold.

Before I jump into my thoughts, I will state a few facts and what I think about the Oil crisis (peak oil theory) and how we ABUSE our limited resources.

Energy use in the US:

Americans use about 25 percent of world’s energy resources, while our population makes up only about 2 percent of world’s population. We also use about 25 percent of world’s oil. About 65 percent of oil consumed in US goes to private commuters – myself included. Every time you drive somewhere you burn gasoline (or diesel fuel), contributing to this astonishing number. Trucking and aviation combined, make less than 30% of America’s oil consumption. So it is you and I who are burning all this oil!

1 – Carpooling and ride-sharing

What really bothers me is when I go into Boston, from the south, there is a 5 mile traffic that barely moves. You see all these cars, trucks, buses and 18-wheelers standing there, moving at 5 miles/hour. And almost every one of these vehicles has only one person in it! And every day, they are willingly standing in this traffic, wasting their time, burning gas, and polluting the atmosphere.

Boston Express way has an HOV lane (express lane for 2 or more people in the car) but almost no one uses it, because the “can’t” carpool. Why? Not only is it’s cheaper – it is also faster! But no – we will stand in traffic, and burn money and time.

I will not even argue the point of global warming, as too many people still deny it. But as a matter of convenience and practicality – why don’t we ride together or use public transportation?

2 – why the hell do you need a V8 full size pickup truck to go shopping?

I don’t know about you, but I see this all the time. A medical office receptionist or a soccer mom driving a huge SUV or a pickup truck. I just want to throw them out of their vehicle. You don’t need this monster to get around, and buy groceries. Get a freaking Corolla! … and don’t forget – this is Boston – not Alabama!

And why do people sit in the car, while it’s idling? Just a week ago I went to the Wallaston Beach in Quincy, MA and there is this guy sitting in his car, reading a newspaper. It was 90 degrees out and of course he had his windows up and AC blasting. Go for a walk or a swim – isn’t that why people go to the beach?

What can be done to stop wasting fuel, and switch to more economical cars, as well as alternative fuels, such as bio-diesel?

Do you still remember when gas was $4 / gallon? I do. It was only two years ago, and that’s when I got my Honda Civic hybrid – actually I got it just 3 months after the oil market and global economy crashed. During the record oil prices, reaching $140 / barrel, it was nearly impossible to buy a hybrid, and they were sold at a $2000 premium over sticker price. And at the same time American car industry crashed, as they mostly produced the stupid SUVs and trucks that no one was buying.

So the solution in my mind is simple. We need $4 or even $6 / gallon gas in this country (as is the case everywhere else in the world) – only then will Americans wake up and switch to economical cars.

You want to drive your Hummer – sure, it will cost you 50 cents per mile! I have no real problem with trucks and SUVs – in fact I own a Toyota Tundra myself. Its a V6 though, and I rarely drive it – only when I really need it. In fact, for the last six months (with VERY rare exceptions) I’ve been driving my Toyota Prius to most of my roofing appointments, and I get around the the situation with ladders just fine. I have an 11 foot telescopic ladder, and all my tools and rubber roof repair materials fit in the car just fine, and there is even room for my folding bike. Most homeowners have a ladder in their backyard, so I don’t need to bring one, and therefore I don’t need my truck!

Yes I do drive a lot due to the nature of my work and there is not much I can do about it – I need to get to work, and usually there is no public transportation there and I can’t carry 5 bags of tools and roofing materials with me on a bus. But I drive in the greenest way possible.

So I’ve identified the solution to switch Americans to more economical means of transportation – since we only react when something becomes too expensive, we need higher gas prices. But how do we go back to $4 gas?

Fuel – the movie – switching the world to green fuels

First, I want you to watch this awesome movie, so you and I are on the same page. Bellow is the embedded player, so you can watch it without leaving this site.

So what can be done to switch from gas and diesel fuel to ethanol and bio-diesel?

First – you should know that most of the car fuel used in Brazil is home-grown ethanol. And diesel engines were actually designed to run on vegetable oil – back then there was no diesel fuel! And Ford model T was 100% compatible with ethanol, which Henry Ford produced and sold, until Standard Oil pushed for a ban on all alcohol production in the US.

As I said before, the only thing that will move the masses is economical reasons. We can scream “global warming” all day long, and nothing will happen. People don’t care – I know because I’ve been trying to convince my friends not to waste energy and other resources for years, and they look at me like I’m an idiot :)

First, the reason gas is so cheap in the US is because of the subsidies to the oil companies, for which we pay anyway, through our taxes. The only way it will change is if the government removes these subsidies, and so far the “oh-so-green” Barack Obama has done NOTHING. And neither have the republicans. In my opinion, we need to vote most senators and congressmen out of office. New people will not have such strong ties to the Oil Industry as the current gang of politicians (both democrats and republicans). And it is doable – Scott Brown became a senator in a predominantly democratic Massachusetts.

Second – the new blood must be more educated. I will personally buy a few copies of “Fuel” and distribute them in public schools in my town, so it is shown to all kids there. Hopefully my plan will work, and school management agrees to show it – after all Mass is all democratic and green :)

I am also starting my research on small algae plants to produce bio-diesel and will work with local green-collar businessmen to possibly set it up here for mass production.

Why am I doing all this – why do I want green fuels?

Besides my personal outrage with the current situation with energy and resources, I will be a daddy in just two short months, and I do not want my daughter to grow up with polluted air, dirty lakes and oceans, and other perks of global warming. Its time to start doing more than just driving a hybrid and turning down the thermostat. It’s time to get the general public involved!

PS – join the unofficial “Boston Prius club” and share your story.


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