“The planet’s on f****ing fire.”
This is hardly what I expected when my teen recently showed me a viral video of Bill Nye the Science Guy, whose ‘90s shows on DVD were a favorite part of her science curriculum as a tween.
Turns out the video of a now gray-haired and perhaps slightly crotchety Bill Nye was from a segment on the John Oliver show about climate change.
“By the end of this century, if temperatures keep rising, the average temperature on earth could go up another 4 to 8 degrees,” Nye says in the video, setting a globe ablaze with a blowtorch. “What I’m saying is, the planet’s on f****ing fire.” He goes on to point out that there are several options to address the problem — but none of them are free, and it’s time to realize that and “grow the f*** up.”
The need to address climate change is rapidly gaining urgency. Four separate analyses found that April 2019 was the second warmest April on record. Last month, the CEOs of 13 U.S. and global Fortune 500 companies or their subsidiaries — including two major oil companies — in collaboration with four environmental groups, issued a call for action on climate change, including carbon pricing.
Climate change is an important issue in trucking, as it’s rapidly changing the technology and the fueling and power options in the trucks we’re able to buy today and in the future. That’s being driven by a number of factors:
- U.S. federal greenhouse gas reduction rules.
- Global efforts to address climate change, which means global truck makers such as Daimler, Volvo, and Traton are developing technology to meet regulations in other countries that also is making its way to North America.
- State regulations and incentives such as California’s push for zero- and near-zero-emissions vehicles, especially at the ports.
- Companies that have made commitments to lower their overall carbon footprint.
But, as Oliver pointed out in his segment, there’s no one magic bullet to address climate change. It’s going to take a lot of different approaches. And the same is true in trucking.
We’ve seen lots of debate of late about the best path forward to zero emissions; you’ll see some of that coverage in the pages of this issue, and you can read a lot more online at Truckinginfo.com.
Nikola founder Trevor Milton says he’s developed a way to fuel long-haul Class 8 trucks using hydrogen fuel cells, and he plans to put up a network of fueling facilities powered by renewable energy. Anheuser-Busch has gone all-in on hydrogen, pre-ordering up to 800 of the Nikola trucks as part of a plan to convert its entire dedicated fleet to renewable power by 2025.
Daimler Trucks North American chief Roger Nielsen says the way forward is electric, describing hydrogen- and natural gas–powered trucks as a transitional technology along that path. In the near term, we’re going to see that technology used for medium-duty and short-distance applications such as drayage. A. Duie Pyle just took delivery of two Fuso battery-electric eCanters.
But don’t count natural gas out, say advocates, especially when using renewable natural gas, such as that created by using methane from landfills. UPS just agreed to buy 170 million gallon equivalents of renewable natural gas from Clean Energy through 2026.
Meanwhile, diesel trucks are cutting greenhouse gases by getting more and more fuel-efficient. As I’m writing this, HDT Equipment Editor Jim Park is wrapping up a 1,022-mile test drive of the Peterbilt 579 Epiq in UltraLoft configuration. The trip average for the second day, when they were out of the mountains was 10.2 mpg — and he had it up to 11.1 for several hours during the day.
Learn more in the June issue cover story, which explores how truck makers, fleets, and drivers are pushing to 10 mpg and beyond in Class 8 trucks — something that was practically unheard of a few years ago.