(Not That Other "Modest Proposal...")
Thoughts about identity for ZFF targets because it's time for a MASSIVE public re-education campaign.
(ZFF - Zero Fossil Fuel, an acronym that I'm going to lay claim to.)
A few days ago I had a thought. Some sweet-looking vehicle turned in front of my ToyoTank and I realised I hadn't heard any other engine sounds over my own TT's engine noise. I strained to see if it had an exhaust (usually a bit of a giveaway with ZFF vehicles) but it was gone in a burst of very un-fossil-fuel-engined silent acceleration. Frustrated, I thought to myself "why the hell aren't EVs easier to identify? Argh!"
And right along with that came this idea.
I D E N T I T Y .
Lots of people want to become eco-virtuous. ("eco-virtuous" Heyyyy! A second term coined! I. Am. On. A. Roll!) And some of us have become relatively good at identifying EVs, while the rest of us don't see how many there actually are in the traffic hidden among the other identical-looking vehicles.
And even those who, like myself, have become somewhat good at spotting an e-vZFFBEV (okay okay - I'll back off on the acronyms now) are still missing many of them on our travels because while car manufacturers are brilliant at styling/branding fossil fuel vehicles, are missing a lot of design know-how as to how to subtly but unmistakeably brand a ZFF vehicle. It's no longer a case of conveying how all that raw untamed power of exploding fossil fuels has become YOUR servant and genie and magic assistant.
Most people want a fuss-free vehicle that gets from A to B without huge fuss, fanfare, and fumes, and car manufacturers haven't gotten the memo yet. And also, they for the life of them can't get over their mutual distrust and fear of one another.
A tribute to the major industrial-strength BS propaganda which the Car Cartel have been spouting for a century is that most Youtube car channels I've watched are still rating cars on their "looks" and "heritage" and "performance" when it's quite obvious that the consumer wants a car that gets them from place to place economically and with enough performance to fit into the streams of traffic and be trouble-free and economical.
"Streams of traffic?" Look - I came from a fairly remote part of Australia (the Pilbara region) to a fairly lovely city (Perth) in the late 1980s and the increase in traffic volumes wasn't really as terrible as all that. Granted, it was tens of thousands of times - literally - more than traffic on inland Pilbara roads, but it was manageable.
Cue 2011 and I dropped from that into driving a delivery style van around Melbourne. . . Most of the day, traffic was pretty manageable, but peak traffic was something else. I remember driving down a long hill into a valley and looking down and up at three or four lanes of traffic, all chokka-blok full of cars, and I turned to my pre-wife and said something along the lines of "fark, we're not gonna make it as a species are we?"
THAT is the kinds of streams of traffic I'm talking about. The commuters trapped in that hell don't give a flying jump at the moon for a race-tuned high-performance motor they're idling along at an average speed of 15kph while stifling in the heat and fumes from a couple of hundred more around them. But if that car was quiet and cool and not chewing through petrol while crawling along, and none of the other cars around them was generating heat and stink too, that'd be great, thanks. As a bonus, if it could tow the boat to the ramp and back on the weekend that wouldn't hurt its chances of getting bought by that person stuck in the commute congestion.
We're so thoroughly WHIPPED by the Car Cartel that we think everyone NEEDS to own a car, to have a place to park it at their home and at their workplace, that our city urban and suburban planners have made those spaces into CAR spaces not PEOPLE spaces.
There used to be corner shops on every second or third corner, you could walk to them to buy groceries and everyday necessities of life, but because of cars they are now replaced with shopping malls in between a couple of suburbs, and so we got stuck with monopolistic giants like certain supermarket, clothing, and hardware chains. (Which started life as efforts to consolidate particular market segments in order to achieve economies of scale but which wasted no time exploiting their monopolies once they realised they were now the only game in town with no more competition from smaller stores on corners...)
Because no-one realised the sheer damage that a population consisting of 1 (or sometimes 2) car households would create (or perhaps that was ignored at the time because it was "a problem for future us"...) urban design began to be centred around cars, life began to be centred around cars, our very social worth was centred around cars. All because the Car Cartel recognised the value of propaganda (advertising) and used it to the hilt.
In a way you can say that the CC also caused the pandemic because it turns out that airborne viruses love big shopping malls where they can spread like wildfire among crowds of people.
All because they built brands and propaganda. Their cars no longer have to be the best for us, for our environment, our way of life. Because that propaganda has permeated society and created a way of life that works in favour of car manufacturers. Face it - there aren't many more improvements that can be made to ICEVs - engines have peaked at levels car manufacturers are comfortably achieving, interiors range from utility to luxury levels, exterior designs have gone the gamut of shapes, and we took very little part in shaping those, the CC achieved that with their subtle cues in advertising and branding.
Now most of them are uncomfortable because electric and hydrogen power open up a whole new design can of worms. Their best bet is in retaining the tried and tested ICEV designs, because that way their investment in ICEV technology won't stick out like a sore thumb amidst an increasingly - ZFF, electric, BETTER - vehicles. So a Hyundai EV tends to look exactly like a Hyundai ICEV. That wastes many advantages that an EV can provide - further forward seating position, larger interior dimensions for a given wheelbase, better load space, better visibility - in favour of looking just like any other car.
Because that way, they can retain their BRAND. This construct "The Brand" is a powerful thing. Every leader develops a Brand. "Honest Abe Lincoln" and "Umguk, Mighty And Fearless Guardian Of The Village" are branding. Everyone brands themselves. I'm "The Grumpy Old Guy Geek That Messes With 3d Printing And Cnc And Using Technology To Improve Things For The Better" as much as I can manage to.
As you can see, brands tend to get weaker when you try and make them cover too many bases. Strong brands tend to have more focus. "Our Cars Are Exactly Right For You" is strong, "Our Cars, Made As Cheaply As Possible By Us To Provide Us A Huge Profit, Are Exactly Right For You Because We're Re-Educating You To Think So Too" - maybe not so much.
ZFF - Make It A Strong Brand.
We've just had COP27, and as usual when all was said and done, way more got said than will get done. It sucks that the "powers that be" aren't realising that the real "power that is," is the human population and NOT the Almighty Corporate Hegemony. Corporations are teh suck, they are killing the planet to support another construct that world leaders seem in thrall to, Capitalism And The "Economy".
Almost all of those constructs - made by people when you bring it down to the bare metal - are just that, constructs. We construct those to achieve a goal, in this case, the goal was to get the planet to a point where it could support the population and allow us to develop technology to take away the hard slog of finding and digging up / killing / preparing food and making our caves weatherproof. We're waaayyy past the point of waterproof caves, and now the real problem is that edifice we constructed.
Sorry for that sidetrack. So all the world leaders went to COP27, nodded and all agreed that it's a terrible thing, and went home again. FFS. Chances missed, targets missed, if all those "leaders" went they wouldn't be missed. But for the moment, let's assume that some of them were still relevant and prepared to do some things. What they could achieve could be legendary for al the right reasons and not for the reasons COPs have so far been legendary for.
So what does that have to do with identity?
Well, as I said, car manufacturers have all been pretty good at branding their almost identical boxes-on-wheels offerings as uniquely theirs. This car, OUR car, it has "V-tabuliser Technology[tm:Cars Inc]" and "S-Stable[tm:othercars]" and "stabilisers" on all the inevitable other imitators that all came up with the idea of shock absorbers - or stole it from one another.
So the buyer is left wondering if the same "Shockroe Shock Absorbers" are somehow better if they're called "V-tabuliser Tech" or "S-Stable". (That all came from the Shockroe Shock Absorber factory if we're being honest, and are identical.) Then they buy the car that makes them feel best about themselves...
It's clear that we can't leave it up to the car manufacturers to come up with a standard identifying feature that will label a car as ZFF. (In fact, just to preclude them from randomly stealing the acronym I'm going to declare that I copyright this acronym right here and right now.)
|This is an example of "branding." Every Aussie will get this,|
using the band from a jar of Vegemite as a bangle. Instantly,
the thought "a Vegemite kid" will come to mind. Just from
that yellow bit of plastic that we all recognise...
Copyright Notice:The acronym ZFF standing for Zero Fossil Fuel may not be used by any person, corporation, body corporate, or other identity or organisation without the express permission of the copyright holder R. O. Russ from this day November 12th 2022AD.)
Now car manufacturers already routinely differentiate their cars (but not too much, mind) with Z-TEC and VTEC and DOHC and other badges, so ZFF is a badge that can be used to stop them hiding their EVs behind a bushel as it were. Initially there'll be resistance but if it's made into a requirement for EVs and H2Vs to show a compliance badge then ZFF would be the one to get because it'll be strong.
And the brand for ZFF will be strong because it has just one focus: Zero Fossil Fuel. It's easy to understand, easy to apply, easy to make memorable. And we need such a strong clear simple message.
WHY Though? Why?
If I can see that a vehicle is a ZFF vehicle, if I can see them proliferating on the streets and unbadged cars disappearing, it is more moving than an impassioned speech from my local politician. I can see the ZFF vehicle movement gaining strength, public exposure is publicity is propaganda is education is creating awareness. I can spot an EV because I'm interested to see their market penetration and uptake.
I'm a wannabe eco-virtuist, I really want to ditch the ToyoTank for some form of ZFF vehicle. I don't have kids but I understand that my nephews and nieces do, and those kids deserve a sane healthy world. My neighbour still thinks (and I wish I was kidding when I say this, really I do) that the extension cords will get tangled at the first roundabout. He owns two ICEVs, one for himself and one for his wife. Neither are particularly good so they pollute.
His grown son often shows up in an ancient bushbasher 4WD and a cloud of diesel smoke and noise. They don't think an EV or any form of ZFF vehicle will ever get them to work every day, or to the best fishing spots, and the (grand)kids? Not a single f... - not a single thought - given, apparently.
And yes, this is in 2022. Yes, we can thank our past Prime Moro... - Prime Minister - for spreading thick bullshit about how an EV "won't tow your boat or caravan" and is going to "steal the good ole Aussie wekend" away from us.
But this is the propaganda put up by the fossil fuel industry and the car cartel, spouted by one of their most devoted butt-kissing evangelists. The idea that plastics can't be recycled efficiently and perfectly is more BS propaganda they promote, and they underfund and overwork any such recycling efforts to make them look weak and to expensive because the real profits are in plastics now, and will become more so as the use of fossil fuels declines.
i.e. Because they make zero profit from plastic that isn't virgin, nor from a car that runs on electricity or hydrogen and uses mostly recycled plastic. Let that Musk i... - Let that sink in. Not a single damn given about our health, our kids' health, the planet's health. Just the profits.
Having some kind of counter-propaganda is important right now. Our lives may depend on it, our childrens' lives will definitely depend on it. And I'm writing this from the perspective of an Old Guy with one foot in the grave, but I'd like to arrive there unboiled and well oxygenated thank you - and right now that's looking increasingly more unlikely.
So a - very visible - very well-advertised - very well branded - certification would do more to raise public awareness and action than any amount of soapboxing one could do.
Those world leaders at COP27, they need to keep communicating about these things continuously, from now until they DO SOMETHING CONCRETE or the next COP27 comes along. We mustn't let them file this under "forget this as soon as COP27's out of the news and worry about it after COP28." We need to be the force that drives them to keep the lines open and ideas flowing.
And one of those ideas should be to pay the salaries of between 10 to 100 people from each of the countries present at COP27 to form a working body to get ZFF or something very like it up and running ASAP. They need to give those people wide-ranging powers and protection from the fossil fuel cartels, and carte blanche to DO SOMETHING CONCRETE.
(Okay, so there IS a proposal in this, just not Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal...") although hmmm...
That some worldwide certification and checkmark authority is to be established. For each of the governments attending COP27 to pay the salaries of between 10 to 100 people from each of the countries to form a working body to lay down the regulations and requirements for attaining ZFF certification and designing the markings, manufacturing them, and managing the distribution thereof. A certification and mark which certifies that a particular vehicle or other product, device, or item requiring or generating energy uses zero (or less than 5%) fossil fuel to produce and power it.
This checkmark is to be made available only on application to this SINGLE worldwide certifying body which will first establish that the product it is to be applied to absolutely conforms to ZFF certification requirements.
One should note, some alternative fuels are generated from other organic resources, such as ethanol or methane or hydrogen, and such fuels will also be able to be labelled ZFF - if they are generated without the use of any fossil fuels. ZFF fuels do not count towards the 5% limit for other ZFF certified products, i.e. a car that runs entirely on ZFF ethanol or hydrogen can still be ZFF certified - as long as it will absolutely not be able to be fuelled by non-ZFF fuels.
A nuclear-powered car can attain a ZFF certification - as indeed can a nuclear reactor, but a nuclear reactor splitting hydrogen from fossil hydrocarbons can't claim that the hydrogen fuel it creates is ZFF.
An energy supplier can achieve a ZFF certification if their average energy output over a year is provided by no more than 5% fossil (non ZFF - important!) fuels.
A vehicle using plastics may or may not gain a ZFF certification - if more than 5% of the plastics used are virgin plastic then it can't use a ZFF certification. This'll also lead to recycled plastics (sorted into extremely specific buckets) gaining in value and therefore, more high-tech recycling facilities being established to take advantage of the increased value of recycled plastics.
The last thing to note is that such a small taskforce (given the number of government bodies already funded in repcisely such a manner to achieve other less important goals) is relatively easy on the budget and will achieve much good for the world, and establish these countries as being at the forefront of a drastic change for the better. This is in itself a good Brand to hold.
Sub-Targets To Meet
Target 1: Worldwide Authority
So first of all, the above. It has to be one worldwide, independent organisation that it is agreed all member countries will take the advice of. We should create such a body specifically for the purpose of certifying ZFF vehicles and appliances and devices.
Target 2: Worldwide recognition
The next thing that ZFF should achieve is to be recognised worldwide. A simple logo that's easy to recognise and quite unique would be nice.
|I'm sure someone can come up with a|
better logo than this, I suck at graphics
I am not a graphic artist. The above is a placeholder, and it's gross in any case.
And a single mission should be etablished: Zero Fossil Fuel accreditation.
Target 3: Horizontalisation
Applications in things other than just vehicles. As mentioned above, if you want to make a ZFF-certified device designed to run on electricity, make it with less than 5% of the plastic being virgin plastic.
Target 4: Differentiation
The logo should do more than just BE a logo. I'm all for the actual badges affixed to devices to have a BLE and NFC beacon, and maybe even an EL glow and ambient power harvesting. The certification should be a fairly difficult one to copy, just to not have some other body print forgeries of it. And most of all it has to stand out and become iconic.
So What Now?
Well, I'm hoping some reader knows a way to get this ball rolling. I'm willing to help as much as I can but the best way to kill off a project is to make it mine and give me a deadline. I suggest that everyone that reads this article contacts at least one local and one federal government official and make them aware of the need to have this group working in weeks rather than months, that way we might get some action in months.
And share this article with everyone and get them to promise to also take action. I normally ask people at this point to check my new stand and newsletter or even donate but this is way more urgent. Please do share and act.