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Rich Kronfeld

Motors Meetup – March 2021

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(Inaugural!) Motors Meetup – March 2021

You know it’s funny, here we’ve blasted into 2021 with so much momentum and excitement it wasn’t until mid-February that I realized, “Wait a minute, has everybody even met everybody yet?”

Short answer: No. That’s on me. So, we recently had our first-ever (virtual) team meetup.

Note: This is an actual pic from our meeting. We did NOT forget to take screenshots.

While not everyone could attend (this time), we’ve agreed it will be good to keep these on the books on a semi-regular basis. Aside from keeping everyone aware of what’s going on, I enjoy giving out homework.

For March’s homework, a little ice-breaker made sense. Pre-meeting, I asked the team, “Be ready to share your favorite car or motorcycle and talk a little about why it’s your favorite.” I’m sharing summaries of our answers here because I found them interesting. And I thought you might, too.

Mark: Chief Hardware Design

Currently Working On: Drivetrain modifications.

Mark’s Choice: Suzuki TU250The very first motorcycle Mark purchased was an old Suzuki 250. In his words, this started his “addiction,” and now he has a garage bursting at the seams with motorcycles in various states of repair (in the super-enjoyable, it’s about the journey, not the destination…tinkering sorta way).

Max – Software Design

Currently Working On: Software enhancements for the Racer’s graphical user interface.

Max’s Choice: Pagini Huayra

Max enjoys flexing his electrical engineering skills in his free time by assembling various projects in his home. For example, during his turn breaking the ice, he demonstrated an LED array he’d crafted around his desk that could be activated/animated by our voices on the call. Pretty trippy stuff, so, no surprise Max’s favorite car is the Pagini Huayra.

Because it looks like what you’d get if an LED array had a baby with a spaceship from the future, which then spent its formative years in a wind tunnel infused with the DNA of Jeff Lynne.

Ben – Content Strategy, Marketing

Currently Working On: Website improvements, the blog/newsletter, trying to understand the concept of entropy.

Ben’s Choice: Pontiac Fiero

When Ben was much younger, he thought the Ferarri Testerosa was a pretty cool car. Though, at that age, he already sensed he’d be doing something related to writing for a living. Which is why he figured he’d never be able to afford a pretty cool car (Ben: I’ve been right so far!).

But back then, a dude who lived a block up from Ben’s house always had a red Pontiac Fiero parked in the driveway. (Probably because it wouldn’t start.) And the Fiero’s headlights flipped open and shut with the press of a button. And, despite a bit of rust, this Fiero was Ferarri red. And that was good enough for Ben.

Rich (<-that’s me) – Founder, CEO

Currently Working On: A little bit of everything, in addition to trying to help Ben understand the concept of entropy.

Rich’s Choice: ’63 Buick RivieraMy Reasoning: I’m in the camp that thinks the ’63 Riviera, with its super aggressive front end and unique pontoon fenders, is the most gorgeous American car ever made.

Though definitely not famous for its fuel efficiency, the 1st gen Riviera would do 0-60 in 8 seconds and could top out at 115 miles per hour. And with just over 2,000 made available the year it was released, the chances of coming across one are pretty slim. So, to me, they’re a bit of a unicorn.

What’s Up Next for the Team?

We’re in phase 2 of the build. This means we’ve got the Raht prototype in pieces as we make upgrades. But we’re also still talking to potential partners and investors, which means we have to be able to hustle the Raht back together for demonstrations and test drives.

Needless to say, this has made for an intense month. But you can’t have momentum without intensity, so, as I said earlier, this has all been very exciting. It also doesn’t hurt that the mercury here in Minnesota keeps inching up closer to proper Spring temperatures.

Let the Great Nort’ thawing begin…

Source: Flickr, Chris Ford

Back In The Shop January-February-March 2021

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Vehicle Progress – Mark, Max and Rich have been working on the alpha prototype 

Mark, Max & Rich have been at work on updating/improving key systems in the car. We’ve been making steady progress and have solved several tech issues which had been hampering us and hard to unravel.
Mark doing his usual; “Aw, I don’t know if I’m that great of an engineer.” He is.
Our pedal accelerator hardware had to be repaired, updated and tested. Mark made important progress getting the software and hardware to work substantially better on the pedal accelerator. The alpha prototype never had a boost adjust button, or dial, so we are installing one. The prototype uses a Nuvinci mechanical transmission for switching gears. We are updating the software that runs the motors controlling the Nuvinci.
Max is developing a new, simple GUI that displays speed, boost level and exercise program profile. We may mount it in the middle of the steering wheel, or to the side.
Get me a bucket, I’m going to throw up brake fluid.
We’re also wiring in headlights & taillights, upgrading the steering wheel and re-plumbing the brake lines.
I have considered cutting off the top, and putting it on a slider system, however I would not want to damage the body and we will plan for this feature in the next prototype.
Thanks to my great group of people; Mark, Ben, Max, Thomas and Ryan. Could not do this without you.
And also special thanks to David Ennis, who is letting us use his shop space, for free. And the added benefit is that I get to listen to really obscure punk rock from the 70’s; stuff that the only other guy with it is Henry Rollins.

Efficiency Needs To Be The Next Moore’s Law

By | Energy, Sustainability | No Comments

Beautiful, isn’t it? My mom’s 1970 Cadillac Eldorado: inefficiency at it’s finest.

Let me ask you a question:

When you make a meal for 4 people, do you instead cook for 40 people and throw the rest away? When you run the dishwasher, do you run 10 dishwashers with one plate and fork in each? When you brush your teeth, do you turn on 1 sink, or 10 sinks? This is essentially what we do when we drive a car as a single occupant. Single occupant cars are horribly inefficient, but cars in general are horribly inefficient.

I am obsessed with efficiency, I hate waste. I overfill the tires on my Prius to decrease road resistance; in winter, I leave the hot water in the bathtub until it equalizes with the ambient air to get all the stored heat out of the water; I keep the furnace in my house around 67 degrees and I eat all our leftovers – much to the disgust of my family. Like George Costanza complaining about anathemas, (things people hate), waste is an anathema for me. But there are areas of our disposable culture that revolutionized efficiency.

So I don’t have to re-invent the wheel and come up with a better definition of Moore’s Law, I will insert Wiki here:

Moore’s law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit (IC) doubles about every two years. Moore’s law is an observation and projection of a historical trend. Rather than a law of physics, it is an empirical relationship linked to gains from experience in production.

We all know the key takeaway from this law: over time, computers get faster and better. I remember reading a book by Ray Kurzweil regarding the exponential explosion of computer power that made an analogy to the world of transportation. It said that, (I’m paraphrasing), if cars had evolved as much as computers have, they would get a million miles per gallon, be able to go 100 times the speed of light and cost about $2 dollars. This stuck with me because it’s a great comparison that shows what can be accomplished if there is a will to do so.

In the story of the computer revolution, gigantic amounts of money and talent were brought to bear because there was a market need, an incentive which translated into profit and growth. This is a good thing; profit, business success should be a driver for technological advancement. But in the story of the automobile, gigantic amounts of money and talent were brought to bear against technological advancement. Sure, I know, cars have a LOT more technology in them compared to 30 years ago; they’re more reliable, last longer, are supposedly safer and some of them get substantially better gas mileage, (hybrid technology, which is an old idea from the 60’s). But all that technology hasn’t made cars able to go 5,000 miles on a tank of gas, or made them substantially cheaper, actually cars are more expensive than ever. And they still can’t go faster than the speed of light.

So, why? The big automakers resisted any and all change when it came to safety and gas mileage. When Ralph Nader went after GM, and in turn all of Detroit in the 60’s with his book, Unsafe At Any Speed; attacking the dreadful safety record of the Chevy Corvair, the industry knew for a long time the dangers of their products and did little, or nothing; (sound familiar – like big tobacco)? Most every safety innovation and requirement was at first rejected by big auto, but now none of them would want to make a car without seatbelts and air bags because their customers demand them. But gas mileage? Most cars today get about the same, and in many cases worse gas mileage than they did 40, 50, 60 years ago.

The answer? Over time, the government required safety systems in cars and customers came to expect and want more of them. As for gas mileage? The government has made some requirements with the CAFE standards, but the Trump administration, stripped them away. And gas is cheap.

The CAFE standards were enacted in the late 70’s as a response to the “oil crises”, ever since then carmakers have slowly increased their fuel efficiency, drip by drip, but not substantially. In 2011, the Obama administration, in collaboration with all the big car makers announced a goal of minimum 54 mpg for all cars and light trucks, by 2025. and in 2018, the Trump administration halted those ambitious goals. What a tragedy.

Without the directive from the government and the consumer, big auto has little interest in building a car that gets 100, 200, 300 miles per gallon. And if there is any cross contamination in leadership at the helms of big auto and big oil, then surely they have no incentive to dramatically reduce the need for gas. If I believed in conspiracy theories, the first one I’d spout would be the conspiracy between big oil and big auto to keep the oceans of gas flowing as abundantly as possible.

Remember when gas started going in the neighborhood of $4/gallon and higher? The market began looking for solutions, because that’s the great thing about markets. People were really looking for gas guzzling alternatives and the EV market was born. Then, big oil said; “um, okay we’re not doing that anymore” and gas prices came back down. They know full well that as long as gas is cheap, the general public will not seek out alternatives to gas.

Unless we decide to exponentially increase efficiency, (like Moore’s Law), in all aspects of our civilization, whether through profit motive, or government regulation, we’ll never make it to a sustainable future. Your car burns 80% of it’s fuel into waste heat; the power grid losses most of its power, (200 billion kWh/year) in transmission to your house; trains are 1,000 times more efficient than trucks, but trucks are more convenient, so they clog our highways and pollute our lungs.

It’s time for the efficiency revolution; to make waste and inefficiency an anathema.

The Epiphany That Started A Long, Strange Trip

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I’m a car guy. I have to admit it. I’ve been a car guy since I was 7 or 8 building car models with my friend Steven in his mom’s basement. We built many a Monte Carlo, Lincoln and Cadillac, (his favorite). One year, the model maker company cut corners and didn’t make the small change to the grille of one of their models, which had been an update by the car manufacturer that year. Steven, all of 8 years old, wrote a customer complaint letter threatening to sue and the company sent him a whole case of models to make amends. Actually this happened again and they sent him another case of car models. I believe they sent Steven so many car models; he may still be making them.

My first, true car was my dad’s BMW 2002, which was a hit at my college with all my friends and me. I loved the car and kick myself all the time for letting it get shabby and finally selling it. The 2002 was truly a cool, European car, when in my opinion BMW’s were still cool. When I graduated, I “graduated” to a Nissan 300Z. For some reason, I was taken by this flashy, airhead, over the classy, intelligent 2002. The 300Z was the kind of car a middle aged man with a toupee would buy. Eventually, I upgraded to a much better version – the 300Z Twin Turbo. That was a great car and I loved it, but…

Then one day, sometime around 2000, I had an epiphany. Why was I putting money in the hands of petro dictators and malevolent, gigantic oil companies? What’s the point of a big, gas engine? So what if you have 300, 400, 500, or 1,000 horsepower? You still can’t go 200 mph on the highway and you’re not likely to drive to Indianapolis and pull onto the racetrack during the 500. It’s just about power projection, which is sad that so many of us choose wastefulness, just to satisfy our need to project power; myself included.

For about 10 years after my epiphany, I dreamt of a vehicle that was clean, fun, fast, efficient, pedal driven, weatherproof and safe. A vehicle that would use your own power input to make it crazy efficient. Then I actually had a literal dream of the Raht Racer one night. I began to write descriptions and look for someone to help me visualize it. Luckily I met another car guy, Lyon Smith, a great artist who drew dozens of sample sketches, (the first one at the top of this post – I told him I wanted something that looked like Darth Vader – isn’t it great?).

A few people in the electric car club I was a member in told me that a human/electric hybrid vehicle is irrational, impractical, dumb; human beings can only contribute a small fraction of the power necessary to make the vehicle operate (150-200Wh in a 13kWh system). To that critique I say, “so what?”  Like stated above, people satisfy their egos every day by buying sports cars capable of going 200 mph that will never go 200 mph and expensive SUV’s that are designed to go off the road that will never be taken off the road. Like those kinds of vehicles, the Raht Racer will appeal to people’s emotions and desire for power. Unlike those vehicles, the Raht will appeal to emotions about the environment and emphasize the power of the self. In our homes, we recycle a very small amount of material in the overall waste stream, but it adds up and it makes us feel better to do our part. Driving the Raht will also help us to feel we’re doing our part.

I’m still a car guy, just not a fossil fuel car guy.

So, What’s The Problem?

By | Food For Thought, Sustainability | No Comments

We’re making progress on clean energy, clean technology, sustainable energy and that’s great. Solar has grown leaps and bounds, more EV’s are on the road, battery technology is improving, people are more accepting of the fact that climate change is human caused, (anthropogenic). And yet, when one stops to consider the colossal, planetary response needed to truly cut all the heads off the global warming dragon, it comes up woefully short. Think about it this way; imagine the mobilization of all sides in World War 2.

Consider the millions of people engaged; billions/trillions of hours worked; new machinery designed and built (sometimes in a matter of weeks); ships built every few days; the soldiers mobilized, trained; the way whole populations worked for the war effort. It’s mind boggling when you consider the Second World War from the perspective of organization, management and cost. And the war effort was approached in multiple strategies; ground warfare, massive industrial output and the big idea, (Manhattan Project). Now take that image of all the effort put forth by all the countries fighting in WWII, multiply it by 100 and you begin to have an idea of what truly addressing climate change looks like. Our ground game is preservation of forests and a massive planting effort, industrial output is new, clean, sustainable energy systems and the big idea is some new way to scrub out billions of tons of CO2, a solar shield, or some other exotic, new tech.

Apparently world governments have not deemed climate change enough of an emergency to declare war and mobilize their populations and resources. Yes, many countries are talking steps, some big and bold, but nothing compared to an all-out war effort; which brings me to the title of this post – what’s the problem?

We stormed the beaches of Normandy, but for some reason we can’t tell GM to stop making internal combustion engines. We built the world’s most expansive and complex transportation system in history, but we can’t build a clean power grid. America essentially won the 20th Century, but we can’t even take the simplest, no brainer steps like phasing out dirty, wildly polluting 2 cycle engines. If the climate naysayer mentality had triumphed around 100+ years ago, we would never have electrified the cities, developed indoor plumbing, or developed food safety standards. “It’s too hard”, they would have said; “too expensive to insure that people don’t die of dysentery from eating their lunch.” Yes we saved the world from fascism, but these days we can’t save the world from our own mistakes.

The work that has been done thus far, though important is a drop in the bucket. Either the people of the world demand that their governments start seeing this on a war level scale, or at least as a Moon shot public project, or we will all lose.

We’ve Learned That Crises Response Matters

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Notice anything familiar about the pandemic and its effects on America? Warnings from scientists, those warnings ignored; selfishness that intensifies the problem; politicizing of the emergency; conspiracy theories spreading and a country not willing to face a crisis. Take a look at the economic toll, human toll, the overall chaos being generated and multiply that 100 times over. This is what awaits all of us, and/or our descendants from climate change.

Hopefully with a vaccine, or herd immunity, the COVID-19 pandemic will work its way through our world in the next year to 18 months. Disasters from climate change will last hundreds, if not thousands of human lifetimes. We have no idea how long it will take to correct climate change, if it’s even possible, how long it would take to get back to a safe CO2 level and what level CO2 will eventually reach.

We’re not talking about an economic disruption that will last a few years causing a recession, or depression; we’re talking permanent economic, societal collapse, or at the least drastic societal change. So, forget about a sustainable economy, society, country when massive droughts, fires and floods make food astronomically expensive, causing food shortages. If you think the George Floyd riots were bad, imagine a scenario where food is rationed, marshal law is declared to stop the violence that starvation will bring; especially in a country loaded up on guns.

Forget about imperfect, but peaceful coexistence between nations as their economies and societies crumble. Right at this moment, reliable sources of water are disappearing that sustain India, China and other countries around the world. What happens when those run out? Will there will be war? Will countries go to war over resources, possibly massive war, nuclear war? War is a predictable consequence when societies undergo colossal difficulties.

America needs to get it’s head out of the hole in the ground it dug for itself to face the COVID pandemic and so far, we’re not exactly pulling it off. The climate crisis is a far greater, longer lasting catastrophe and there needs to be a new, unified conviction to unify the country so we can face the threat and be successful. Maybe it’s the “Green New Deal”, I don’t know. It’s become such a political hot potato and maybe it doesn’t do everything we need anyway. Below are some steps I believe need to be taken to give us a chance of saving the future.

  1. Provide more help to inventors, entrepreneurs like me with clean tech business start ups. My company developed a new kind of electric vehicle. I got a grant from the state of Minnesota, which helped me immensely, but when I attempted going through the federal government granting process, (SBIR) it was too restrictive and did not help me, even though I have 2 patents on my technology and dozens of early customers. Several other countries help their green tech inventors more.
  2. Approach the climate crises like it’s a war. We have to have a ground strategy and a big idea strategy just like the US did in WWII. The ground game are things we can do now like planting billions of trees, converting to renewables, (solar, wind). The big idea is a Manhattan Project for scrubbing CO2 out of the atmosphere at a very high rate. A totally new kind of technology.
  3. Re-start the draft, using the young people as workers to do a lot of the labor. Soldiers in the climate crises war.
  4. How to pay for all of it:
    1. Seize the assets of the big oil companies and use the money to pay for a lot of this. Obviously, this will be an unpopular position, but this will happen anyway eventually when things get bad enough and the people are angry enough that the fossil fuel industry covered up the truth.
    2. Fully instate a carbon tax, carbon offsets program. Put a price on the waste that fossil fuel companies make, that being CO2. Begin a progressive fossil fuel tax that increases a bit each year.
  5. Set a date for complete phase-out of internal combustion engine cars. Several countries have already announced this.
  6. Finally – and this is most important – frame the whole thing like this: “America can do this. America can do anything when we set our minds to it. It HAS to be America to solve this because we are the best at this.”

Back In The Garage Again

By | Back in the Garage, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Recently, I reached out on Craigslist for some folks to give me help with a few projects on the Racer, (because why not, you’ll either find a great, smart hard working person, or a psychotic taxi driver). Luckily, I have found some great people from Craigslist, Lyon Smith who built the body and now Mark and Max who are helping with hardware and software engineering. In the next few weeks, I’ll post some pictures of what we’re doing. Mark and Max are great and I’m  lucky to be working with them.

We are working on several aspects of functionality of the car:

The pedal accelerator system – making a more robust, accurate pedal to throttle response.

The generator/pedal resistance system – improving functionality, adding terrain sensing and improving the exercise function GUI.

The brakes – tying all mechanical braking into one lever/actuator.

Replacing the handlebar steering with a D shaped racing wheel.

Outfit the whole vehicle with DOT compliant, motorcycle lighting.

No thanks, Mark

By | Food For Thought, KM POV | 2 Comments

My consultants, friends and other marketing experts tell me I HAVE to use Facebook. In this age of social marketing, social networking, that Facebook is mandatory, (as is Amazon). Thanks, but no thanks.

Facebook is clearly subverting responsibility for profit. Facebook makes money off advertising, which is no big deal, every publication does it. However Facebook will take money from organizations that have nothing but malicious intent. You don’t see lots of ads for white supremacists in Better Homes & Gardens. But with the way Facebook and other social networking platforms work, all kinds of bad actors can place ads that target very specific kinds of people. And the old, venerable newspaper and magazine just can’t do that.

I can’t in good conscience pay a company that, in my opinion is helping people attack our way of life. It’s one thing to just be on Facebook, (I’m considering leaving all together) and spend any ad dollars, it’s another to be a Facebook customer.


By | KM POV | No Comments

As we gaze in horror yet again at what happens to black people in America, we ask ourselves; “How soon till this happens again? When will it finally stop? What can we do to stop it? How do we stop it?” The brilliant Steven Covey said that we may know that we have to do and what we have to do, but not how to do it. And that is the hardest part.

The American myth of “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps” is just that – a myth. I know from my own experience that it is extremely difficult to make significant progress in your career without any outsider help, connections, contacts. I was born white, middle class, Jewish, well educated and still I have had a difficult time finding investors for Kronfeld Motors. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it must be for low income African Americans to get into good schools, good jobs, good careers, or launching their own businesses. I can’t stand the phrase “It takes a village”, but it’s true.

Throughout my life I have seen friends succeed and become “made” men and women because of the good work they did and equally if not more importantly the associations that they had. Does anyone honestly believe George W. Bush became president because of how smart and gifted he was? Or Donald Trump? No, it was because of what they were born into. FDR and JFK for that matter, presidents we all can admire were born to wealth and privilege.

And it’s not just politics; Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos, who cheated investors out of $100’s of millions was born rich, white, pretty, well connected. There is simply no way she could have sold her “better than Star Trek technology”, (thanks Thunderfoot), idea if she were born middle class, poor, black, etc. It was because of her family’s connections to wealth and power. She went to Stanford, but she obviously was better suited for community college and it’s where she would have been if not for what she was born into. Not that there’s anything wrong with community college.

We see over and over again examples of incompetent people being awarded golden parachutes for terrible performance, (Target, Boeing). This blatant truth is part of the fuel for the riots and protests; it’s not just about George Floyd, or police brutality; it’s continued and increasing BS. The lie that so many of the people at the “top” are really that bright, gifted, smarter than me and you – no, they were just born very white and very rich and we all know it.

No, no one is an island. No one is 100% responsible for great successes and achievements. Sure there are those that start from nothing and rise to serious leadership roles, (this is what gets me about political conservatives that love the “pulled myself up by my own bootstraps” myth – the last several Republican presidents were born to great connections and privilege Bush, Trump; while the last several Democrats were not – Obama, Clinton – okay, okay – yes Reagan wasn’t either) but the vast majority of successful people had some kind of help.

So back to the “How”. How do we solve the problems of inequity when so much of it boils down to what you were born into and the connections you have? This has to be one of the most challenging human questions of all time. And we can’t just throw money at it. The only thing I can think of right now as I hurriedly write this is that we all have to do something in our own lives. Hire an African American, shop at a black owned store or service, volunteer at organizations that help minorities. Just do something positive without waiting for someone else, or the government to do it.

The Fossil Fuel Industry: Total Disaster As Business Model

By | KM POV, Uncategorized | One Comment

It’s estimated that deaths from car pollution exceed 33,000 per year, (Union of Concerned Scientists). Now that we have become more aware of deaths, damage to the economy and overall harm to our country due to viruses as well as other contagious diseases, it’s time to include the actual, real pain that fossil fuel inflicts. From supporting totalitarian, oppressive regimes in the Middle East, to causing asthma in your children from the school bus they ride on, there is nothing, nothing good that comes from fossil fuels.

Think about it; all along the fossil fuel process, damage is left in its wake. The extraction process physically harms the immediate environment whether it’s being drilled out, or worse; ever hear of “mountain top removal?” Whichever process is employed to get at the oil, the infrastructure needed at the site adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Once extracted, the crude product has to be transported by truck, train and ship to refineries, which adds yet more CO2 to the atmosphere. Then, the refined product has to again be transported by trucks to gas stations, adding even more CO2. Fossil fuel companies enjoy special treatment from the federal government; incentives, tax breaks, policy maneuvers protecting them from competition, insulating their profit and planet damaging business model. And like the days of denial by politicians and tobacco executives about the death caused by their products, currently politicians and oil executives are pushing the exact same lies about fossil fuels; “It’s not that bad and think about the jobs it creates.”

Direct planetary damage or “atmosphere as dumpster” as my friend and climate change hero Paul Douglas likes to say is just one hugely terrible part of fossil fuels “total disaster as business model”. The oil industry props up Middle Eastern autocrats, “petro-dictators” are able to rule absolutely mostly because of the unbelievable amount of wealth their kingdoms have amassed from oil. Additionally, in those countries that rely so heavily on one singular industry, (namely oil), creativity in other industries is stifled. The one “super industry” rules all else and smart, creative people organize around that one thing to the detriment of other business models, as well as artistic expression. Politics shift to accommodate the super industry; it gets all and whatever it wants, becoming so closely tied with business that democratic leadership of any kind is impossible. We’ve seen this here in the US, in cities that become super centers of one company, or one kind of company. Sure they provide jobs, but once that super company leaves, or goes out of business, the town is left hollowed out, destroyed. Vendors that rely too heavily on one, gigantic customer always put themselves at risk because once that sole customer finds a better deal, or goes out of business, the vendor is toast; happens all the time.

Of course we don’t have exact numbers on how many people have been killed by petro dictatorships and oil companies, but it is very safe to say that they have caused immeasurable pain, suffering and death; just like the tobacco companies did and still do.

Up until now, we have mainly focused on CO2 emissions from transportation, but there are other very big, very bad contributors: coal fired power plants. In my own focus on big oil, due to my work in transportation, I overlooked coal, maybe because power plants aren’t everywhere you look, like cars are. Power plants are there, we know they have smokestacks and pump out CO2, but the damage from transportation is much more evident; we sit in traffic jams where we can see thousands of smoking tailpipes. In reality, all those smoking tailpipes are power plants for the vehicles they reside in; every tailpipe a smokestack, millions upon millions.

Here’s a question so simple, it comes off like a dumb question you’re afraid to ask in algebra. Why does the world put up with it? Why do we let big oil off the hook over and over? Why do we let them sell their toxic products all over the world? Why does the world let big oil kill millions of people each year? Why don’t they have to pay a penalty, as most all other industries do for creating toxic waste? A study by researchers from Harvard University, the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester and University College London found that fossil fuel products kill 1 in 5 people globally each year. Even if 1 in 5 is too liberal of an estimate, 1 in 10 is still terrible. And to add insult to injury, we give them subsidies; we subsidize them for poisoning us and the planet. It’s as if there was one country that waged constant war on every other country and never suffered retaliation, consequences; allowed to march on, causing harm everywhere. The multiple crashes of Boeing 737 Max jets resulted in the grounding of every 737 Max, huge lawsuits and huge losses for the company. The 737 deaths are tragic, awful and represent about 600 people. Fossil fuels kill millions. And whenever someone has tried to hold them accountable for an oil spill, they drag the process out so long that the impacted never see any restitution – at least which matches the damage incurred.

There are people who would say; “We can’t tell businesses what to make, or what to do. It’s anti-capitalist, anti-democratic” Why not? This is exactly what the US did in WWII; the government told factories they had to make weapons, equipment, trucks, planes, ships for the war effort. Did America turn into a socialist-communist autocracy? No. Did it kill our economy? No. After the war, did the factories, workers sit, idle – not knowing what to do cause the war was over? No it was just the opposite. In fact gearing up for the war had an enormous positive impact on the US economy. America got real good at making stuff, developed new technologies and it set the stage for the American Century. It’s hard to estimate the positive economic impacts of what the US developed and built for the war effort, but whatever it would be, is mindbogglingly gargantuan.

Mobilizing American manufacturing and workers to transition to an all clean energy technology paradigm would have a similar effect. There are hints of this coming from China, the EU and the US, but what is necessary is an alliance, just like one that brings allies together in war.

Yes, there are CO2 emissions from lithium mining, from building electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines, but should these technologies be aborted because of it? To say that we should abandon the pursuit and implementation of clean technologies because the transition is in some way not “perfect”, is all or nothing thinking. Transitions take time. All or nothing thinking says “we have to have it all work 100% now, or it’s not worth it.” This is not the way the world works. The telephone was invented in 1860 and seven decades later, it was still not in every home.

And remember, ICE vehicles kill and poison not just with particulates in the air; gasoline exposure is carcinogenic and it’s not just gas. Multitudes of other fluids are necessary for ICE cars to function. These chemicals leak into the ground and exposure to them cannot be considered harmless.

The fossil fuel industry damages, poisons, enslaves and corrupts; it hurls its asteroid size destruction in all directions, into all aspects of human life, human society and the planet itself. The only way human civilization can move into a brighter future, or a future at all is to run away as fast as possible from fossil fuels.