130 years later we still worship it.


San Marino

We visited San Marino, Italy a beautiful, medieval city atop a mountain.(San Marino is actually a very small country within Italy). The evening was warm as the setting sun cast a fading, yellowish hue across the old stone walls and buildings. People were leisurely strolling along the main street and square enjoying the serenity and ambiance when a loud throaty roar could be heard coming up from the street below.  Appearing from around the bend on the steep hill was a bright red sports car coming our way. The sound however was too loud for just one car.  Coming up the narrow winding street, a parade of several Farraris appeared  proudly revving their engines with staccato screeches of tires on the cobblestones.

It was interesting to watch as people quickly turned and came to the street corner to witness this spectacle of a modern status symbol. A small crowd formed on the corner where I happened to be standing, mostly men taking photos of the cars as they passed, the drivers sporting that smug “look at me” smirk. Rather than watching the cars, I was more interested in the changing light and the hues that now lit the old stones on the garden wall behind me so I turned and took a couple of shots.

A man about my age standing next to me commented, “Wow, that was fantastic! But I think you missed it”.

“No, I saw them”, I replied, “but they don’t interest me”.

“What?”, he said incredulously. “Those were Ferraris!” he exclaimed in a tone that implied we were fortunate to have witnessed such a rare sighting.

Now engaged in this conversation, I had to explain.ferrari

“Here is the starting point.” I said turning to face him. “If it has an internal combustion engine, it is a piece of shit. So the bigger the engine the bigger the piece of shit”.

He looked at me dumbfounded at first, gave it some thought and then said, “I see your point”.

We chatted for awhile about cars, pollution, climate change and our addiction to fossil fuels and he ended by stating, “But you must admit they are great car”.

“Yes the engineering is amazing”, I agreed, “but the engine is…”

san marino

Rose Garden, San Marino

“…a piece of shit”, he said before I could finish.

We exchange some pleasantries and parted ways; he with his Ferrari shots and me with my pictures of the gardens and the sunset.

Despite the engineering marvels that have turned the car into be a masterpiece of ingenuity, the internal combustion engine is still the integral component of this machine. It has not changed since it was designed to burn gasoline and placed in the first car 130 years ago ( Karl Benz,1886) . The internal combustion engine may be more efficient than it was even 20 years ago but it is still very inefficient at converting energy despite the improvements. The operation is the same as it was when it was invented: the chamber fills with gasoline vapours and air, the piston compresses it and the mixture is burnt (explodes), the piston plunges down and returns to exhaust the gasses out into our atmosphere. This has not changed since the first spark plug fired 130 years ago.


On July 3, 1886, mechanical engineer Karl Benz drove the first automobile in Mannheim, Germany, reaching a top speed of 16 km/h (10 mph).

Yet, we accept this archaic machine without question. In fact we have been brainwashed into mindless acceptance.

Here are a few ridiculous quotes from a recent advertisement for a new sports car that illustrates this mindset;

“..undeniably the most gorgeous car…”  (it’s just a machine)

“…the spiritual successor to the glorious…” (spiritual?)

“…so much imagination it ought to have its own house of worship”. (really?)

“…like a loved one who bottles feelings…” ( what the heck does that mean?)

“…the 4.0 liter V8 forces air into the specially coated cylinders…” (1800s technology – see above).

“…bellowing exhaust echoes off the concrete…” ( no thought to the poisons and noise)

Who writes this crap?!

Now, imagine if the car industry had put as much effort in exploring and inventing new power sources for vehicles as they did in making the cars look nice and brainwashing us for over 100 years.  The innovations and inventions would have produced a very different engine than what we have today. Our current research and development for alternatives is in its infancy. This should have started 70 years ago. Instead the industry has brainwashed us into obedience and acceptance of these archaic engines year after year. A pig with lipstick. Inside this amazing look-good machine is a filthy, engine from an 1800s technology that spews its poisonous exhaust and CO2 into the air we breathe, and somehow this is OK and we marvel at it.

The chemical reactions of combustion are the same now as they were over a century ago and the pollution has been accumulating ever since. Here is a fact: 2.4 Kg of CO2 is released for every liter of gasoline burned. So do the arithmetic on your car next time you fill-up and calculate how much CO2 you will emit each time; and then imagine this happening hundreds of millions of times every day as there are now over 1 billion vehicles across the planet. Here is another way to look at your fuel gauge as a reminder of your own pollution contribution:

fuel guage

We need transport and some type of car will likely stay with us but I ask, why do we still use the internal combustion engine? If we insist on clogging our streets with cars lets not choke our selves to death and ruin the atmosphere doing it.

I hope to live to see the day when the internal combustion engine is in a museum to stay.


One thought on “130 years later we still worship it.

  1. Pingback: Hypocrite | oldman blogger

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