The Motor Car and Oil Conservation

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Sir,

The debate on the morality of the motor car in an apparently energy diminishing world is one which gets more attention daily. Now, while many of us would accept, myself included, that in none of our daily activities should we waste oil and also that, in some circumstances, there is a strong case for at least restricting the use of the private car, particularly in cities where public transport could, if given the chance, convey people more efficiently, one should however consider use how much of our primary fuel goes into transport.

For example figures for fuel usage for 1977 look something like this: of all the fuel used 27% went into generating electricity, 16% was used in transport and 57% went to industry, commerce and home use. Of this 57%, it is probably true to say that half went into space heating. Now one does not have to be a mathematical genius to see that even halving the amount used in transport would only lead to an 8% saving in the total fuel used.

I personally believe that the greatest saving in oil would come from firstly a cutback in the many totally unnecessary plastic goods we now use, but more importantly from a reduction in all forms of space heating both in the home and in industry and which can be, to a large extent, compensated for by wearing a pullover!

Finally, I believe that we should remind ourselves that it is in the area of transport — principally air and surface — where the internal combustion engine, be it reciprocating or turbine, wins over most other forms of motive power due to its superior power to weight ratio.

Thank you for an excellent and critical magazine.

Clondalkin – Co. Dublin, Christopher Hone – M. Inst. P.