Robert Q. Riley Enterprises: Product Design & Development
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World Car Population
Number of Cars in the Developing World
Will Increase 300% Between 1995 and 2020

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    This slide shows the worldwide growth in automobile population.  In North America and Western Europe, the growth in automobile population is roughly equivalent to the growth in human population.  But in the developing world, growth is almost exponential because of expanding economic growth.  So business will be good, and none of us will have to switch careers in order to make a living.

    This accelerated growth in the world’s automobile population is accelerating the pressure on finite oil reserves.  Experts have been predicting a decline in oil supplies for the last 50 years, and they just keep finding new fields and pushing the envelope forward.  But we all know the problem of basing the prospects for future events on past events.  If that worked, then healthy people could drop their insurance, train-wrecks that haven’t happened yet, never would, and we would always have plenty of petroleum reserves.  There have been no major new oil field discoveries since 1988, and today, the best estimations are that we can expect to see a permanent global decline in oil production within 15 to 20 years - which doesn’t stack up very well against the growth in demand.

    Another pressure for change centers on greenhouse emissions, global warming, and climatic change.  From the last ice age until the industrial revolution in the last century (~10,000 years), the atmospheric level of CO2 had varied only about 5%.  But beginning with the industrial revolution and projecting forward to 2030, the amount of atmospheric CO2 will have doubled - all in about 150 years time.  Global warming and the resulting climatic changes are about as close to proven as something like this can be, and the post-industrial increase in greenhouse gases looks like the culprit.  One of the biggest single contributors to the rise in greenhouse gases is the burning of fossil fuels.  With hydrocarbon fuels, C02 emissions are roughly proportional to the amount of energy consumed, so a reduction in energy consumption naturally reduces CO2 emissions.

    So when we look at the entire picture, there are compelling reasons for a switch to more efficient transportation technologies.  And one doesn’t have to subscribe to the Malthusian meltdown theory in order to appreciate it.  Ultimately, the justification comes down to the task of insuring economic stability over the long haul.   The economic ramifications of mounting environmental problems, changing weather patterns, and future monopolies and instability in energy supplies could be enough to threaten the very foundations of our industrialized societies.   It’s in our own interests - it’s just good business practice - to create a more energy efficient and sustainable system. And I think it even makes sense in terms of profits.

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