1967 Time Magazine article on smog, the need to phase gasoline-powered vehicles, emergence of electric vehicles and the serious but avoidable threat of climate change

Jan. 27, 1967 Time Magazine article on smog, the need to phase gasoline-powered vehicles, emergence of electric vehicles and the serious but avoidable threat of climate change

Excerpt from pp. 51-52

To solve the dilemma, LA County Air Pollution Control Officer Louis Fuller. legal limitations may have to be placed on the movement of autos into heavily contaminated urban areas.  Frank Stead, a top official in the state’s public health department, has a more drastic solution.  “It is clearly evident,” he says, “that between now and 1980 the gasoline-powered engine must be phased out and replaced with an electric power package.”  The only realistic way of bringing about such a change, Stead feels, is to “serve legal notice that after 1980 no gasoline-powered motor vehicles will be permitted to operate in California.

Californians have not overstated the auto-pollution case.  In a speech that had ominous implications for Detroit’s automakers, HEW Sec. John Gardner suggested that “we need to look into the electric car, the turbine car, and any other means of propulsion that is pollution-free.  Perhaps we also need to find other ways of moving people around.  None of us would wish to sacrifice the convenience of private passenger automobiles, but the day may come when we may have to trade convenience for survival.”

Detroit has responded by talking up its electric-car research, demonstrating new batteries and fuel cells, and driving newsmen around in battery-powered compact cars.  And Ford President Arjay Miller insists that a crash program is on to build an electric car.  But most auto officials believe that between five and ten years will pass before moderately priced electric cars can be produced in volume.  In Washington last week, to emphasize the need for electric cars, New York Democratic Representative Richard Ottinger drove an electric Dauphine, powered by silver-zinc batteries (developed by NY’s Yardney Electric Corp) about 70 miles on trips around the city.

…Other scientists are concerned about the tremendous quantities of carbon dioxide released into the air by the burning of “fossil fuels” like coal and oil.  Because it is being produced faster than it can be absorbed by the ocean or converted back into carbon and oxygen by plants, some scientists think that the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by about 10% since the turn of the century.  The gas produces a “greenhouse” effect in the atmosphere; it allows sunlight to penetrate it, but effectively blocks the heat generated on earth by the sun’s rays from escaping back into space.

There has already been a noticeable effect on earth—a gradual warming trend.  As the carbon dioxide buildup continues and even accelerates, scientists fear that average temperatures may, in the course of decades, rise enough to melt the polar ice caps.  Since this would raise ocean levels more than 100 feet, it would effectively drown the smog problems of the world’s coastal cities.

The waters, however, need never rise.  Within his grasp, man has the means to prevent any such apocalyptic end.  Over the short run, fuels can be used that produce far less pollutant as they burn….What is needed is recognition of the danger by the individual citizen and his government, the establishment of sound standards, and the drafting of impartial rules to govern the producers of pollution.  Over the long run, the development of such relatively nonpolluting power sources as nuclear energy and electric fuel cells can help guarantee mankind the right to breathe.

Time Magazine, Jan 27, 1967