A cyberattack on a shared data network forced four of the natural-gas pipeline operators to temporarily shut down computer communications with their customers over the last week. I know this is not a cheery thought to start the weekend but, unfortunately, it is a reality of how vulnerable we have become in our interconnected world.
The motivation for such an effort appeared to be the increase in exports of liquified natural gas from the United States, a challenge to Russian dominance in European markets. The Department of Homeland Security was investigating the attack, and no suspect has been publicly identified . But the attack came shortly after the Department and the F.B.I. issued a report alleging that Russia was taking aim at the U.S. electric grid and other critical infrastructure with cyber probes.
And I thought that Putin and Trump were the best of friends?
We once owned a yellow Volvo station wagon, 245 series to be exact. It was a 1977 model and we even personalized the license plate to read “ITZ A 77.” We were very proud of our first automobile purchase as a married couple and it also became the first car our daughter drove when she was in high school. It was a very vintage model by then and barely survived until her graduation in 2000. Let’s just say we like to get our money’s worth and our daughter was just too embarrassed to drive our new 1998 VW Cabrio – too flashy?
But now technology is changing the automotive world. Volvo seems to be taking the lead. They have sounded the death knell of the internal combustion engine, saying that all the models it will introduce starring in 2019 will be either hybrid or powered solely by batteries. The decision is the boldest commitment by any major car company to technologies that represent a small share of the total vehicle market but are increasingly viewed as essential to combating climate change and urban pollution. Unfortunately, U.S. automakers have continued to churn out S.U.V.s and pickup trucks, whose sales have surged because of relatively low fuel prices.
Maybe so-called President Trump can do something about all this? But I forgot: he doesn’t believe that climate change is really happening at all. He is also too busy looking for international enemies wherever they may be?
There are a lot of things Americans can do to improve the earth’s climate. I know that former Vice President Al Gore is a champion in this effort to reduce global green house gas emissions, but the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is obviously not. Advances in increasing fuel-economy standards for all vehicles is made possible by improved automotive technologies. A car that gets better gas mileage cuts greenhouse gas emissions. This is not an “inconvenient truth.” It is a matter of preserving the planet, and improving the lives of those who live here.
“If every American household drove a vehicle getting 56 miles per gallon, it would reduce U.S. emissions by 10 percent. The American new-vehicle fleet now averages less than half that. It is expected to average 36 m.p.g. in 2025 if Obama administration standards remain in place, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.” As you may already know, “so-called” President Trump is proposing to abandon these goals in the name of helping the American automobile imdustry build bigger gas-guzzlers that his constituency loves to drive. And he also wants to improve their health care plans so that no matter how unhealthy the environment becomes, they will have health coverage that is “bigger and better” than Obamacare. Fortunately, Obamacare is still here, and I only hope that Trump will not succeed in decreasing the fuell economy standards set by his predecessor.
But I guess that when your hero is Vladimir Putin, you begin to think that you can be just like him. Oh, they also have lots of gas in Russia, and I am sure we can have as much as we want if we ever run low.