In a report published by the energy and environment blog of The New York Times, Green Inc., two analysts from the financial services firm Raymond James indicate that hybrid cars won't curtail the world's oil consumption over the next two decades. The analysts, J. Marshall Adkins and Pavel Molchanov, state that even in the most aggressive modeling--projecting that one third of all automobiles purchased in 2020 will be hybrids--oil consumption will be reduced by only 200,000 barrels per day, or a total of 1%.
Well then, it's apparent that we should scrap the whole hybrid idea if these two have anything to say about it. Obviously such meager savings will amount to nothing in the long run, right? Not exactly. The report fails to account for several variables. First of all, who knows what the automobile will look like in ten years? Yes, there are prototypes on the drawing boards, but only one out of hundreds actually come to market. Secondly, there is a high probability that the cars a decade from now will have a higher average miles per gallon due to technologies we haven't even seen yet.
On the other side of the equation is the fact that hybrid automobiles also reduce the amount of greenhouse gases, which is more than an added benefit. There is a quantifiable accounting of how the hybrid's lower carbon footprint affects the environment. Cleaner air and a healthier planet offer a return on investment that goes way beyond reduced consumption of barrels of oil. The report concludes, "No matter how 'cool' and popular the concept might be, from the oil market's standpoint, hybrids will be irrelevant as far as the eye can see." It's this kind of static financial analysis that gives those who don't believe that global warming is a serious problem a skewed sense of righteousness.
Jonathan A. Schein is President and CEO of ScheinMedia, publisher of MetroGreenBusiness.com
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