Aristillus

A large crater to dump my thoughts

It’s Electric

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Gasoline-based cars are bad – they produce green house gases, pollution, smog, noise and leave us with a dependency on foreign oil.

However, I get annoyed when I have to hear that electric cars are, contrary to traditional cars, the ultimate solution to all the car-related environmental problems. This rant is triggered by claims to that extend by some of the car makers on last weeks NPR Science Friday, but it seems to be a widely held public impression.

Just because a cars engine no longer emits waste does not mean it is neutral to the environment. Electricity (just like hydrogen) is just a means of transporting energy – the electricity itself still has to be generated somewhere, and chances are that is going to involve burning fossil fuels. Likewise, producing the parts of the car and its disposal also produces toxic waste.

Does that mean that driving a Prius is worse for the environment than driving a Hummer? No, not in the long term: a Prius is an investment in electric car technology; the next generation of electric cars and hybrids will be more efficient and environment friendlier. So will the generation after that.

So why are electric cars a good thing in the long run? Unlike oil, there are actually clean ways in which we can generate electricity – using water, solar, wind or nuclear power. Without investment in cleaner ways to generate electricity we’re just trading in oil for coal.

Cars that run on anything more durable than oil are a part of the solution to the energy problem, but there is no way that the next generation of electric cars is going to magically solve the pollution problem by itself. And there’s always going to be some pollution from producing car components.

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Written by aristillus

August 16, 2010 at 18:49

Posted in Uncategorized

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