By on June 4, 2013

Rainy forest, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Day six brought a typical Northern California morning: it was 41 degrees, foggy and raining in my forest. But because I was driving an electric vehicle, a squirrel greeted me at the doorstep to thank me for saving his home and a group of hummingbirds dried my charging cable with their tiny wings so I wouldn’t electrocute myself as I unplugged. Then I woke up. But it was still 41. And foggy. And raining.

If you’re just checking in, catch up by going to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5 before coming back to the saga, I promise we’ll wait for you.

Because I got up on time and I didn’t drive the orange Fiat 500e (Zippy Zappy) much on Sunday, I was greeted by a full charge. Via the smartphone app I commanded cabin heat since I had become soft and given into the temptation that is a warm cabin earlier in the week. Doing causes the cabin heater to turn on at a low-level to heat the cabin. It puts out as much heat as a regular-old space heater: not much. Given enough time it will get the cabin to a normal temperature. If your battery is already fully charged, using this feature will preserve range because you won’t use battery power to bring the interior bits up to temperature. This is not only in the name of battery life, but efficiency as well. It is more efficient to suck off the 120V/240V charging teat than to charge the battery and discharge it. Everything about the modern crop of EVs is designed around efficiency, even the sporty Model S. Increase efficiency and you reduce emissions.

Say what? How can you reduce emissions on a “zero emissions” vehicle? You thought EV equals zero emissions? Au contraire! Where do you think the power comes from? We’re all adults. We know by now the ATM doesn’t “make” money, and what powers our appliances has to be made somewhere. If that somewhere is in the United States, then on average half of it (49.6%) comes from coal. Average is an important thing to keep in mind, power sources vary wildly from zip code to zip code. If you’re in New York, rejoice because you have the cleanest power in the country as long as you’re in the camp that thinks nuclear power is clean. While not quite as squeaky clean as NY, California, the “Pacific Northwest” and New England are the cleanest places to power up your ride. If you live in Colorado or one of the other square states, your EV is a novelty coal-powered car. (Some portions of Colorado are nearly 75% coal.) Brings a new meaning to “clean coal” doesn’t it? In those coal heavy states, depending on which study you believe, driving a Nissan Leaf (one of the most efficient EVs) will produce similar greenhouse gas emissions to a 30MPG car. Ouch. If you live in Denver and drive an EV, you are making the forest sprites weep. Indeed, even the ginormous Toyota Avalon Hybrid (below) is 20% cleaner than your electric anything in The Centennial State. (And cheaper as well.)

2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

 

What about the rest of us? Well, it is comforting to know that 32% of EVs are being sold in California with Florida at 6.6%, Washington 5.7%, Texas 4.3%, New York 3.5% (so much for those liberal Yankees being into left-wing propulsion and Texans loving oil.) Ohio, Illinois and North Caroline all come in at 3.1% with the other states trailing. That’s not surprising when you consider CA accounts for 11.1% of US car sales with others falling roughly in line: TX 9.6, FL 7.1, NY 5, IL 3.6. The stand out is the environmentally conscious Washington, third in EV sales but eighth in overall vehicle sales. If you want to check out where your power comes from, just click on over to the DOE’s nifty website. Or, for the reader’s digest MPG conversion, there is a very nifty map created by The Union of Concerned Scientists. The map below shows you the equivalent MPGs you would have to get in a gasoline car to be as clean as an EV that averages 0.34 kWh/mile. Zippy Zappy has been averaging only 0.25 kWh/mile, so adjust your figures accordingly. That model S? 0.38 kWh/mile.

Power MPG map, Picture Courtesy of www.ucsusa.org

The trouble with these numbers (aside from the fact that they are confusing) is: there is more going on than just greenhouse emissions. We have nitrous oxide (known as NOx because it refers to both NO and NO2) to think of. Upon closer inspection that seems to be a non issue because the average vehicle emits .001438 lbs of NOx per mile and a LEAF in Colorado (consuming 74% coal electricity, the worst in the USA) only puts out 0.0000096 lbs. Cross that one off your list. What about particulates? The claim is most forms of power generation produce less than the same energy in a gasoline vehicle. But what about the intangibles? How do you feel about hydro power and the effects on fish populations? Wind power and birds? Nuclear power and the insane people who think it’s going to make them grow 5 eyeballs? Think Solar power is your answer? If you charge at home off-peak (after 6pm for most of us) you’re in the dwindling return part of the day for solar in the summer, and in the dark in the winter. That means you may have put clean solar power into the grid, but at night you’re sucking down nuclear power and the other forms of generation that provide constant forms of output. (That’s as opposed to gas and others that can ramp up production quickly to meet spikes in demand.)

One must also consider the extraneous factors involved in the EV game. Recycling of the lithium-ion battery packs on the scale required is a current unknown. How about that EV charging station at home? How long will it last? How much of an environmental impact is buying an EV and not investing that money into home improvements to cut your utility expenses? How about buying local products and produce, etc.? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but I think they need to be resolved in my mind before I can say without a doubt that driving an EV is saving the planet.

2014 Fiat 500 Electric, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

But on the other hand, does saving the planet have to be your EV goal? Is driving an EV because it reduces certain expenses and is exciting  technology enough? How about if your employer subsidises your EV charging in an attempt to be green? (Plenty do.) How about that HOV lane access? How about those crazy-cheap lease deals? I’m seriously considering an EV as my family’s next car purchase, but it has more to do with the financial and “time away from home” incentives than purely altruistic environmental concerns. Looking at that map above, if you feel truly inspired to protect the environment, then some of you will have to skip the EV holy grail and drive a 50+ MPG Prius C. Slowly.

My time with Zippy Zappy is drawing to an end. Tomorrow she will go back from whence she came to be primped and charged for the next journalist. With one final drive ahead of me in the morning, I oscillated between driving ZZ like I stole her and like the future of every forest creature depended on my frugality. I suspect I’m not alone with my personal struggles on the EV front. On the one hand an EV is an enormous gadget, perhaps the ultimate gadget. On the other, EVs don’t make a sound financial argument in terms of “saving” anything. The steep purchase price washes out much of the supposed savings vs a Prius. Being no closer to a conclusion, I plugged ZZ in one last time and noted my state of charge was 33% with an estimated time of completion 16 hours hence.

 

Looking for the other installments? Here you go:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 7

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117 Comments on “Living With an EV for a Week – Day Six (Don’t honk at me, I’m saving the planet)...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    So cars with batteries are nothing mpore than political ploys or as the magician says, “the hand is quicker than the eye”?

    • 0 avatar
      Voltaggio

      Um, no. It means that if the power being used is generated with fossil fuels, the relative environmental impact of using an EV is increased. If the power is being generated by hydroelectric, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal, or some other clean technology, then the whole system is healthier.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Essentially, – by relying on a coal, natural gas or nuclear powered electrical grid to charge a battery – what an electric vehicle accomplishes is to reduce your use of refined petrol.

      If you want to be truly green, ride a bicycle.

      • 0 avatar
        Thinkin...

        Agreed. Although what people always miss is that consumers – especially people who buy EVs – are not subject to the fate of what their state’s electric generation happens to be based around. As far as I’m aware most, if not all, states allow consumers to choose their electric generation company independant of their electric supplier.

        So with ten minutes of research, and a few keystrokes, any EV-buyer can simply elect to purchase electricity from a sustainable source. In my area the cost for 100% wind power is actually less than for coal-fired electrons. Alas – the whole “extended tailpipe” argument goes out the window.

        But yes – bikes are better, healthier, and more fun.

  • avatar
    Voltaggio

    So how far did you drive to take the charge down to 33 percent? And did you drive quickly or slowly?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    If your goal was to prove how clean EV’s are, you missed the biggest problem against them.
    Original production of the Batteries.
    Both Nasa and movie makers have used the miles surrounding the rare mineral mines as testing/backdrops to a Mars like system. Nothing lives, that doesn’t even factor in all the shipping from country to country in the multiple processes needed, to finally arrive at its destination.

    But I digress, people are free to drive whatever they want, and as long and the driver enjoys what they have, then more power to them.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      You are thinking about nickel production, lithium production is not as bad for the environment. There is still of course an environmental impact in battery production, But the impact from lithium is much smaller than the nickel batteries that are used in the Prius

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Such is probably true, I researched several years back, I know it’s still done, but I don’t know about the different practies pertaining to other battery types.

        Either way mining for anything especially rare earth minerals will have environmental dangers.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          The nickel mines were a problem in Ontario in the late ’60′s, early ’70′s. That’s hardly down to EVs.

          I think – but am not sure – the lithium from Bolivia is simply sitting around in the salt flats, waiting to be scooped up. It’s doubtful that it has the impact of fracking or tar sands.

          Once harvested, the nickel and lithium and whatever else can by used and then recycled indefinitely. Using oil in an ICE is a one-time exercise.

          • 0 avatar
            Piston Slap Yo Mama

            “Using oil in an ICE is a one-time exercise” pretty firmly sums it up. Numb nut electric car haters bring up the rare earth metals every time when they argue against electric cars but handily skip over the part where those very same elements are reclaimed – forever.
            While it IS problematic that such a large % of our energy is coal, we have to start somewhere, and eventually as the infrastructure matures we’ll benefit from the years spent ramping up and streamlining the system. You can’t expect a moonshot on your first space mission.

          • 0 avatar
            cwerdna

            In re: to Piston Slap Yo Mama, yep.

            Those haters (usually hybrid haters) also will make a big deal out of nickel in NiMH batteries.

            The NiMH battery in a Prius weighs only ~100 lbs. Per http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200711/mrgreen_mailbag.asp, there are only 32 lbs of nickel in it and 80% of nickel is being reused anyway.

            A current gen Prius weighs 3042 lbs, which not high vs. other midsized cars (yes, Prius is classified as a midsized car per EPA). The non-hybrid Chevy Cruze is ~3100 lbs, for example.

            So, let’s assume a Prius gets 50 mpg combined and we compare w/a 33 mpg combined econobox (about the best any non-hybrid econobox gets on the EPA COMBINED score). Over the course of 150K miles, the 33 mpg would’ve consumed 1545 more gallons of gasoline, weighing 9736 pounds and having emitted an additional 30909 pounds of CO2.

            Those 9736 pounds of gasoline come from oil that must be explored for, drilled for, pumped, shipped (from all over the world), refined (requiring more energy input), shipped again, pumped several times (into truck, truck into station’s tank, tank into car) and then carried around as dead weight in a car.

            Change the vehicle to say a 5781 pound Ford Expedition 4×4 rated at 15 mpg combined and the 50 mpg combined 3042 pound Prius is awesome, in comparison. The Expedition would burn 7000 extra gallons, weighing 44100 pounds, and producing 140000 extra pounds of CO2.

        • 0 avatar
          cwerdna

          Sigh… posting debunked information re: nickel mining.

          See below:
          http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/article-417227/Toyota-factory.html
          http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200711/mrgreen_mailbag.asp

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALUjd6L0ieQ also shows NiMH battery recycling.

          I do not see lithium nor nickel listed as rare earth elements at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_earth_element.

        • 0 avatar
          rdwd

          New EVs like Tesla use brushless AC motors and have no rare earth in the motor or battery.

          Digging up oil to burn, day after day, year after year, is far harder on the environment than one time battery material digging and later recycling.

      • 0 avatar
        rdwd

        You are working with old data Alex.

        Coal dropped to 32% Nat average last year. It rounds out to 30% natural gas, 30% coal and 30% zero carbon energy (Solar, wind, hydro, nukes)

        http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=6990

  • avatar
    dcuccia

    Great set of posts, and lots of great insight into the pluses/minuses.

    Not sure if this was already mentioned, but one extra thing EVs do for us in the USA (besides the “green” or cost-saving arguments): they reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This, I’d say accounts for 90% of my spouse’s affinity for hybrids and EVs.

  • avatar
    fozone

    The economics really depend on the state you live in.

    Here in oregon, you can lease the fit for nothing down, $259 a month and collision paid for.

    I cannot think of a new gas car that would be cheaper to own and run over the 3 years.

    Even the gas version of the Chevy Spark would be more, all things considered…..

  • avatar

    Seeing this series I sadly realized that’s why we grow old and die. Though I fully understand and respect of some, or many, for this technology, it really doesn’t do much for me. Guess that in twenty years everybody will be driving these in the US. Maybe forty here.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yeah, this may be the wave of the future but it doesn’t do anything for me either. I just hope that for the duration of my lifetime, the normal ICE vehicles will still be widely available with gas-engines the bigger the better.

      I’m not against EVs or Hybrids, although I would never buy one for myself, and I do believe that anyone who wants to buy an EV pr Hybrid should be able to do so as long as it is not subsidized by the taxpayers.

      What no one here has brought up is just how annoying EVs and Hybrids are on the road. Getting stuck behind an EV or hybrid on a two-lane road is a real bitch.

      In fact, I recently saw a VW commercial that illustrated that fact and only underscored what others have also experienced.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        “What no one here has brought up is just how annoying EVs and Hybrids are on the road. Getting stuck behind an EV or hybrid on a two-lane road is a real bitch.”

        I’m not sure what you’re getting at, other than attempting to create yet another annoying-driver-stereotype. Out in my area (central Virginia, north-west of Richmond, US33 and US522 areas) I’ve found a lot more annoyance having to follow elderly drivers in F-150′s with “Farm Use Only” plates on them than anyone driving a hybrid. If anything, the local hybrid drivers are enjoying some of that magnificent MPG ratings by running a little faster than their pure gas compatriots.

        Grandpa in that 4×4 F-150 however has all day to get wherever he’s going, and he couldn’t care less about anybody else’s schedule. Which is why I love motorcycles.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “I’m not sure what you’re getting at, other than attempting to create yet another annoying-driver-stereotype.”

          No, that’s not it at all. I just got back from a trip to Colorado and EVs and Hybrids are huge in Colorado.

          Most of the roads I traveled on were two-lanes and as fate would have it a lot of folks driving their EVs and Hybrids chose to travel those same roads.

          I was hauling a 9X15 fully loaded trailer of construction gear behind my Tundra and got stuck behind those slowpokes. With a load like I was hauling it would have been unsafe to try and pass them.

          I wasn’t alone. There were plenty of 18-wheelers that also got stuck behind the slow moving EVs and Hybrids on the twisties.

          These weren’t old people driving the EVs and Hybrids. These were people in their thirties and forties I would say, once I got to pass them and look at them.

          The VW commercial I saw put that exact sentiment into a picture worth a thousand words.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    For Colorado, and other Coal heavy states, I would assume that as the coal plants are retired or more capacity comes online that it will be NG turbine generators. So if a bunch of EVs make the utilities add capacity faster, you will be pushing the utility more green.

    It’s kind of a reach, but in line with the logic of the piece

    • 0 avatar
      fozone

      The logic makes sense — assume a car last 10-15 years. Over the lifetime of an ICE car it is only likely to get dirtier (more emissions), or at least remain fixed. Whereas with an electric, one can assume that the grid is only going to get cleaner.

      Unless for some reason people start building new coal plants with abandon…

  • avatar
    jhefner

    I think Global Warming, Climate Change, whatever you want to call it is hogwash; just so everyone knows.

    But where pollution is a big problem is in our urban centers. And that is where EVs can help. Encouraging the use of them by giving them access to the HOV lanes makes sense; they emit even less emmissions then the carpooling drivers in IC cars and buses. Providing charging stations also make sense with the population density.

    Like I mentioned before, most power plants, especiallly coal fired ones, are located in rural locations; so EVs in essance transfer the emissions away from urban areas. New Mexico and Colorado for the most part are urban; the massive Four Corners power plant provides much of their electricity. It’s biggest sin is fouling the air over the scenic Grand Canyon. The Powder River Basin is in the MROW power pool, so it is no surprise there are lots of coal fired units there. Texas has lignite fire plants, or so called “dirt burners”; lignite is a poor form of coal almost between coal and peat; so they emit more dust and other stuff than the cleaner coal from up north; so hence it’s rating.

    But, I do wonder about one thing. You often hear about “ozone alert” days, where the ozones levels become too high to be healthy. My recollection is that electric motors, at least the old sparky ones with bad brushes; emit ozone. So, will EVs like Zippy Zappy contribute to the ozone levels? I truly don’t know the answer.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      I stopped reading after the first sentence. But if it got worse after that, would someone give me a heads-up. I have a perverse sense of humor.

    • 0 avatar

      Jhefner is absolutely right.

      The only people you can convince being “green” actually makes sense to are part of the reason AMERICA IS 25TH IN THE WORLD IN SCIENCE.

      I agree we should keep our environment clean to improve quality of life, but guess what: CREATING NEW CARS AND USING PSYCHOLOGICAL OBSOLESCENCE TO FORCE PEOPLE TO SHOP MINDLESSLY ISN’T GREEN.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Detroit did that for years. Tail fins in style – tail fins out of style. Fender skirts in – fender skirts out. Turquoise in – turqoise out. This isn’t worse than that.

        And an EV is nothing but a technique for converting electricity into motion. Where you get the electricity is a different problem. Plenty of the old Rav4-EV owners installed solar panels to go with their car. The EV can run on sunshine or other non-polluting sources of energy. And building the EV itself has little impact that building any other vehicle would and – in spite of CNW’s bogus report to the contrary – a Hummer is not more green than a Prius or an EV.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          If you really want to get down to the nitty gritty, as far as production goes, AM General assembly lines are considered the “green”est in the world.

          Also your assuming that CO2 is a pollutant, which it is not.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Waingrow

        First sentence is not an argument nor proof of the Jhefner assertions. Second sentence is a non sequitur. We may be 25th in the world in a lot of things, but this kind of reasoning makes one pull one’s hair out. The third sentence is most sensible. People have been decrying planned obsolescence for decades, but saying this seems to contradict what you said at first. I suspect that perhaps you’re a bit conflicted on this subject, no?

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      All the scientists agree that the climate is changing… All of them. Record average ocean temperatures, record air temperatures and unprecedented extreme weather patterns around the world are kinda hard to miss, even for scientists.
      What’s under debate is the cause, who or what is to blame and the consequences.
      Keep this in mind unless you are one of those who think it’s a big conspiracy to [Insert rant here]…

      • 0 avatar

        Hey Beerboy12!

        Not all scientists think that. Not all geologists. There’s been more than one major scientist who has had much of his funding cut for raising doubts on the issue. I don’t thin there’s a conspiracy, but there does seem to be some collusion of not-so-innocent interests behind this.

        What I can surmise of it all is that we just don’t know. Pollution affects humans, specially water, soil and urban air pollution. Don’t know and I have the feeling it doesn’t really affect the planet much.

        • 0 avatar
          Vance Torino

          So, you believe that the Brazilian Rainforest is so big it can never be cut down, it goes on forever.
          Um, say what?

          • 0 avatar

            No, it can be cut down. The effect of it being cut down though is unknown, and I really suspect not much. Like others have said, it’s volcanos, the sun, and other things affect the planet more. Earthquakes. Those things tilt the earth and change its shape. Shorten the day, speed up or slow down the rotation. The rainforest? Not so much

        • 0 avatar

          Oh WE know. Sometime this summer, try riding a bicycle around your downtown on a hot, humid, sunny day. See ALL the A/C cranking, keeping those cars and buildings cool? That removed heat gets blown off those condensers, and that CrownVic you just passed is at least 140*…black cars even more. Not to mention the sun baking all the asphalt even hotter. Even after sunset, how long does all that take to cool? And thats just ONE anecdotal aspect of it.

        • 0 avatar
          Beerboy12

          The doubts are usually around the cause so, yes, all (OK… almost all) agree that there is changes in temperatures etc, they don’t agree on why. Some (not many) are saying it’s a natural warming cycle of the earth and others (the majority) are saying it’s more aggressive and suggesting human causes.
          The issues being raised are not small ones and are not being raised by fools so just because there are a few doubters does not mean it’s all bunk and that it does not need to be taken seriously.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            Beerboy12; thank you for your calm response. I will try to answer the same; unlike others.

            So we agree that it is impossible to determine if we are the cause. That is where my indignation rises up; let’s look into this some more before running around screaming that the sky is falling and making money off of all through carbon taxes and exchanges.

            Taking global temperature measurements from space and in remote locations does not even go back a century; it is half of that. So, is this a natural temperature variation, or is it rising out of control; fifty years does not tell us.

            Future temperature trends were forecasted in part by a computer model put forth by the Climate Research Unit (CRU) from the University of East Anglia; it was what the EU was using as their source.

            Someone got ahold of the code to that computer model, and found that they had buried an undocumented data array in the code itself. It was that data array, and not the temperature datasets they were using, that caused the famous hockey stick graph showing runaway temperatures.

            If you don’t believe me; the exact details are here:

            http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/12/revenge_of_the_computer_nerds_1.html

            I have worked with computer programming and datasets for twenty years now; this is akin to cheating, and would have gotten me fired if I had done it.

            The glacier melting data and other effects have also been reproved as well; I would list some links, but people would attack the source and not bother to read them (nevermind they are often pulling them off the AP Wier); so I won’t bother.

            It was when the CRU’s computer model, and some of the claimed effects (including melting icecaps) were debunked that they changed it from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”; few people believed we were warming the planet after that. The more rabib devotees here who use the number of sciencetist that supposively support them to support their claim are about two years behind.

            Anyway; I refuse to even list to them when the CRU’s model was shot down; it was acknowledged that the temperature data does not go far enough back nor is accurate enough to support their claims. Meanwhile, Al Gore set up a company to profit from carbon exchanges between corporations (along with being PAID to speak about Global Warming), and the EU raised a carbon tax. No comspiracy theories there, it is all in the public record.

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            Goody, now he has resorted to using the American “Thinker” wing-nut blogs as evidence. *Sigh*

            Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Making the claim that their is an international global conspiracy to use anthropogenic global warming as a means to bring about a new world order is so far out there that you might as well be claiming that aliens are warming the earth with a heat ray.

            Sorry to be rude about this, but you are insulting the very serious work of dedicated and highly ethical scientists and only propagating myths and half-truths that make it hard for them to continue their important work. Frankly, I usually find myopic conspiracy views like this not worth acknowledging. Not sure why I took the bait this time, oh well.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            Another issue in the ‘debate’ is effect. I don’t doubt that the climate is changing. I can accept that a significant portion of it is man-made. I have a problem, however, in the conclusion that changing climate will lead to global war, famine, pestilence, death, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            I knew you attack my source and not the facts; Wikipedia and the Seirra Club won’t cut it on a research paper, either. Even my son in High School knows that.

            Don’t you all remember the second Kyoto conference in Amsterdam a few years ago? That was when the CRU scandal broke, and the MSM finally started reporting stories that rebuked the supposived measurements and effects of global warming. The delegates also found themselves caught in one of coldest winters recorded in Europe, and left without an agreement (thank you Mother Nature.). That was when the true believers sulked back to the offices and caves, and came out talking about global climate change instead.

            Don’t you all remember? Or were you curled up in a ball in the corner of your caves will your eyes closed and fingers in your ears, hoping it would all blow away?

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            No, what I remember is basically a non-story being latched onto by right-wing conspirators and blown out of proportion. You have confirmed that my memory was correct. The whole CRU “conspiracy” was debunked years ago.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_email_controversy

            Yeah, it is Wikipedia. I use it because it is a convenience and you are free to look up the footnotes to confirm the information.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            NOW who is talking conspiracys? This is my last response to your rantings; good day sir.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        About that temperature data — the amount of complete, reasonably accurate data we have to work with is less than a century old. Inferring temperature data from things like tree rings is not accurate. What’s more, urban sprawl has grown around many of our weather stations; raising the average temperature they record. That is a local, not a global, effect.

        Looking at the weather we are having and blaming it on humans is a stretch not worth debating. SUVs were not around to raise the temperatures when the dinosaurs were around; nor during the ice age and little ice age of the early 1880s. The fact of the matter is that natural forces like volcanos have a far greater effect than we possibly could.

        And finally, the earth never was and never will be a steady-state system; which what most global climate change arguements assume. (Any recent deviations in temperature or weather MUST be man-made because it shouldn’t change.) We now know Mars was once a much wetter planet than it is now; but there are no humans with their gas-guzzling SUVs there to change the climate.

        And finally, it was proven that the computer models that feed their temperature forecast model contained made-up data; pure and simple. Many of the measures being taken to so-call save the planet are costing consumers billions; while the governments harness the penality taxes as a revenue stream and Al Gore and others make money on the carbon exchanges.

        • 0 avatar
          Beerboy12

          Many weather stations are in remote places (mountain tops, islands etc), some countries are using satellites (in space!).
          SUV’s not being around at the time of the Dinosaurs is just one of the clues that it might just be humans after all!
          No one, not even scientists, say the Earth is a steady-state system, heard of the ice ages?
          Finally you can’t have two finally’s, especially one that turns into a troll like political rant…

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            What you’ve written makes less than no sense. Climate change wiped out the dinosaurs. They had no SUVs, no factories, no power plants, no campus radicals to generate theories about how the best hunters were ruining the planet for the weak and stupid. How does that point to humans having a role in climate change? It does the opposite, if you use logic rather than whatever you’re substituting for reason. Sorry for the lack of exclamation points.

        • 0 avatar
          Manic

          There has been an unexplained “standstill” in the heating of the Earth’s atmosphere, 15 years of non-change for temperature even if the chinese have opened coal power station per week and CO2 levels are much higher now.
          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22567023

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Yeah, global warming is hogwash- which explains the melting of the glaciers- oh, and evolution is fake- and the world is flat- and we never landed on the moon- meanwhile, back at Fox News…

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Climate change is real. I’ve been to the desert, seen the scars left by glacier activity. I doubt the dinosaurs brought it about via industrialization though. Just look at the emissions from volcanic activity compared to those from economic activity. Anthropomorphic global warming is an ant corn-holing an elephant and yelling, “take it all b***h!”

        • 0 avatar
          Ubermensch

          “Just look at the emissions from volcanic activity compared to those from economic activity.”

          Logical fallacy. There can be more than one cause of global climate change. Geologic activity is just one of many that includes human activity.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Keep in mind as well that hydrocarbon-fueled and nuclear plants deplete massive amounts of fresh water for steam generation. Something that LFTR does not.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      The temperatures of every planet in the solar system are going up (you can check this), but somehow we blame Republicans and SUVs on Earth’s rise.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Nice attempt at a straw man. How can we verify that the temperature is rising on all planets when we haven’t even been able to observe a full solar orbit of some of them? Neptune’s orbital period is about 165 years. We only discovered it in 1846 and were really only able to observe it’s surface temperature in 1989 with Voyager 2. Hardly enough time to know what effect Neptune’s orbit has on surface temperature let alone set a baseline for comparison.

        Not sure who “we” is referring to but scientists blame climate change on greenhouse gases that come from all industrial sources, not just the hot air from right-wing plutocrats.

        • 0 avatar
          gslippy

          NASA says so, using reliable remote sensing capabilities. You know, the same people who employed James Hansen, who now wants to sue his former employer (the government) for not doing enough about climate change. Talk about Chicken Little.

          Thermally, the only thing the planets have in common is the sun.

          The one refrain the Global Warming crowd always sings is more regulation, taxation, and control, as long as it doesn’t affect the elite among them.

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            More straw men.

            Funny how you will accept the science from NASA that shows the planets warming but deny the other science from NASA that shows that earth is warming because of humans.

            “The one refrain the Global Warming crowd always sings is more regulation, taxation, and control, as long as it doesn’t affect the elite among them.”

            The only refrain you will hear from me is that I don’t accept claims without evidence. The anti-warming crowd has yet to provide much if anything to counter to the mountains of evidence to the contrary. All you have shown with this sentence is that you have shown your hand and really have nothing of substance to offer other than political screeds.

  • avatar

    NOTHING and I do mean NOTHING humans do “saves the planet”. Even Recycling requires more POLLUTION than simply dumping in a landfill.

    Don’t worry however, eventually humanity will be ERASED by geologic activity and every single thing including all these horrible hybrids will be MELTED IN LAVA.

  • avatar
    ant

    “That means you may have put clean solar power into the grid, but at night you’re sucking down nuclear power and the other forms of generation that provide constant forms of output.”

    I’m sure that the grid operators that are seeing increases in wind turbines spinning electricity into their networks will be happy to sell you power at night.

    Another factor not mentioned is that electricity is produced on American land, not imported from the middle east.

    I have really enjoyed these posts on zip zappy.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      That happy land where you live, where wind turbines apparently are cost effective, yea that place, don’t let me bother you from it but…

      Coal and Natural gas are directly American resources, and petroleum could easily join them in large amounts given legislative freedom.
      Oh, also, they’re cost effective.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Once you built the turbines themselves, and the transmission lines to reach them; whether or not wind turbines are cost effective is strickly a matter of how long they hold up. If they stay together long enough to generate electricity equal to their up-front capital cost plus interest; then yes, they are cost effective; anything above that is nearly total profit.

        The problem with the early utility sized wind turbines (>= 1 MW) is that they did not hold together long enough to reach that break even point; they usually suffered blade root failures. Looking at the turbines making their way north and west to the Texas Panhandle; the blade roots look like they are substantial enough to stay together (they are also often upstream blades, which require active weathervaning but avoid the downstream turbulance behind the mast and the thumping noice and fatigue it creates); only time will tell.

        The kind of weather we have been having here has made the news; but an informaal survey of the smaller turbines we have around here is that they all survived. That’s good news (Not like the one the utility I worked for had on the Gulf Coast that caused problems with it’s remote transmission line before a hurricane took it out; and it was sold for scrap.)

        And unlike solar power; they generate day and night. The winds here pick up when it is hottest and the A/C load is highest, so they really do make sense; if they hold together.

      • 0 avatar
        SherbornSean

        Actually, Hummer, coal is not cost effective. Fracking and other advances have made natrual gas and oil far more cost effective in the past few years.

        American or not, coal is losing share quickly, and we can all breathe easier as a result.

        Get it? breathe easier? because coal is so dirty? It’s a pun.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    If mankind’s technology could alter the climate, I guaran-damn-tee you there’d be a multitrillion-dollar weather-modification industry in place to rake in the cash ensuring it never topped 90 on the equator or dipped below freezing anywhere else.

    But there isn’t one, because man CANNOT change the climate, for good or bad, no matter how much we would try or want to. The atmosphere is simply too large, vibrant and powerful a system for man to affect.

    Worrying about hurting the poor, defenseless world with cars and air conditioning and powerplants is contaminated modernist thinking stemming from the fact that we in the West don’t have any real problems to occupy our minds.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Asserting things is not an argument. Care to provide any evidence?

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        That’s a two-way street, Ubermensch. That we caused then fixed the ozone hole and global warming (opps, I slipped up, global climate change) are also assertions; and all of the so-called evidence is indirect; with no direct cause being proved. Once again, don’t mistake local events like the hotter air in cities with global events; I can assure you that it is also hot over the desert; but it is 1-2 degrees cooler where I live than it is in the nearby metroplex.

        • 0 avatar
          Ubermensch

          I have scientists on my side, over 97% of them support anthropogenic climate change. As for your claim about humans not causing ozone depletion:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone_depletion

          “Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other halogenated ozone depleting substances (ODS) are mainly responsible for man-made chemical ozone depletion. The total amount of effective halogens (chlorine and bromine) in the stratosphere can be calculated and are known as the equivalent effective stratospheric chlorine (EESC).[13]

          CFCs were invented by Thomas Midgley, Jr. in the 1920s. They were used in air conditioning and cooling units, as aerosol spray propellants prior to the 1970s, and in the cleaning processes of delicate electronic equipment. They also occur as by-products of some chemical processes. No significant natural sources have ever been identified for these compounds—their presence in the atmosphere is due almost entirely to human manufacture. As mentioned above, when such ozone-depleting chemicals reach the stratosphere, they are dissociated by ultraviolet light to release chlorine atoms. The chlorine atoms act as a catalyst, and each can break down tens of thousands of ozone molecules before being removed from the stratosphere. Given the longevity of CFC molecules, recovery times are measured in decades. It is calculated that a CFC molecule takes an average of about five to seven years to go from the ground level up to the upper atmosphere, and it can stay there for about a century, destroying up to one hundred thousand ozone molecules during that time.”

          And please stop patronizing us with explanations of the difference between weather and climate. I happen to know the difference.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Remember the CFC / hole in the Ozone layer issue from a couple of decades ago that has largely been resolved due to massive legislative and global effort to reduce CFC use as a refrigerant.
      Unless that was also just a conspiracy to [insert rant] that is a clear example of how man can affect the environment on a global level.
      Lake Erie (too big to pollute) was also considered “dead” at some point and now has recovered due to environmental action. BTW that’s not a conspiracy.
      Don’t underestimate mans ability.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        How can anyone prove the ozone hole (over the South Pole, of all places) was caused by CFCs and was not a cyclical event that would have closed up on it’s own? You can’t; it is impossible to link the two events together. Let’s un-ban CFCs, and see if it reappears….

        I’ll see your Lake Erie and raise you the urban waterways and skies above most of our big cities; the Detriot River was polluted enough to set on fire. I do believe in being environmentally responsible; and was the first to point out that EVs could help the air quality in urban areas. But it is a leap to go from local man-made activities to global activity; one large or several small volcanos or forest fires will affect our environment more than we ever could; the Little Ice Age of the early 1800s that also caused the Irish Potatoe famine was caused by a massive volcano exploding in the South Pacific.

        The biggest driver of our weather we have no control over, nor do we fully understand; and that is the Sun.

        • 0 avatar
          Ubermensch

          Once again, more assertions and logical fallacies without any evidence. I would suggest you take this “argument” elsewhere where it can be properly eviscerated by actual scientists.

        • 0 avatar
          Beerboy12

          Two things. Please ask a chemical scientist to explain what CFC’s do to O3 (Ozone)… Perhaps that will clear things up for you because CFC don’t occur in nature and CFC’s reaction with Ozone is undisputed.
          I agree with you on pollution. My point is that the climate and the environment go hand in hand and that if humans can cause that much pollution to say, Lake Erie, then they can, given time and effort do that to the whole world.

    • 0 avatar
      Vance Torino

      Wow.
      That is epically uninformed.

      Unless you care to disbelieve Atomic Theory and the genetic coding of DNA,
      Science seems to have a pretty good record when it comes to Facts,
      Mr. Flat Earth.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Uninformed? Let me put it this way:

        I do believe in climate change. It’s a natural, cyclical process that’s been in action since the Earth first acquired an atmosphere. Sometimes it gets hot, sometimes it gets cold, but it does so continuously. It’s almost certainly caused by Milankovitch cycles and solar energy output fluctuations.

        As for ANTHROPOGENIC climate change, that’s a steaming load, based on faulty assumptions, incomplete data, questionable conclusions and political and social radicalism.

        The promotion of Anthropogenic Climate Change is driven by a sociopolitical agenda that wants a powerful central government running every aspect of society, to the detriment of personal liberty and private property rights.

        There’s a reason we call environmentalists “watermelons” – because they’re green on the outside and red on the inside.

        Environmentalism is nothing more than Marxism in a green wrapper.
        They found that threatening people with a bloody revolution at the hands of the disenfranchised proletariat wasn’t working, so they switched to claiming the planet was going to be killed by pollution if society didn’t hand power over to them.

        So my questioning the veracity of outrageous environmentalist claims is not based on the anti-intellectualism you accuse me of, but rather distrust of people known to distort, bend and outright conceal the truth when it suits their agenda. And I include the “climate scientists” in that bunch as well.

        And as for yourself, you’ve not rationally explained why you think my ideas are in error, but instead resorted to name-calling.

        Well played. You care to revise your statement?

        • 0 avatar
          Beerboy12

          AH! the troll shows itself. It’s all a conspiracy to [inert rant]

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            Exactly. When the denier can’t find evidence, it then becomes a worldwide red conspiracy involving the thousands of scientists and governments worldwide. Since I can’t back my claim, a massive conspiracy must most likely explain it.

            When one side fails to engage on a rational level it all becomes a pointless exercise.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    The makeup of generation can change due to load patterns throughout the day. In the heat of the summer on work days, all spare (and poor quality) generation is used just to run the additional air conditioners and businesses. In this case, the better parts of that map would like look worse. Fortunately, if people charge at home during the night, that will be from low-load clean generation. Unfortunately, many companies here in the Bay Area install free chargers at work that are used almost exclusively during the day and only during work days–exactly when load is already highest and the worst generation is brought on-line.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Just on the electricity required to refine a gallon of gas I can drive a car like Zippy Zappy almost 30 miles. But yet I’m to believe that in MN, which as 2 nuclear power plants, an ICE car averaging 40 MPG is just as clean. If you believe that I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. Wonder how many power plants in this country are needed just to supply the electricity needed to power our refineries on a daily basis. Remember your ICE car is also coal powered.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      “Wonder how many power plants in this country are needed just to supply the electricity needed to power our refineries on a daily basis.”

      None, they all have their own cogen units that supply process steam as well as electricity. I used to work with the cogen plant that supplies steam and electricity to the huge Exxon refinery in Baton Rouge, LA.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        So what powers those cogen units? Magic?

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          If they are combined cycle units, which most of them are; then natural gas; clean burning enough to be used by most buses and urban delivery vehicles.

          The cogen plant I visited dated back to the 1930s; and the older, long shut down portion of the plant had brass lined tanks, piping and valves from when they tried to burn waste acid sludge.

          And yes, steam electric plants, both nuclear and fossil, use water. But, it is in a closed cycle; unless it is being sent across the fence in a cogen process, though even then, most of it comes back. Boiler and reactor water is not plain tap water; it is extremely pure and chemically treated to reduce oxidation and deposits; they really don’t like to throw it away because makeup water is not cheap. The “steam” you see rising from cooling towers is merely water vapor from the atmosphere.

          And thanks for mentioning the LFTR process; never heard of it before. It will be interesting to see if it becomes commerically viable.

          • 0 avatar

            Just as a small point while it’s true that the boiler and reactor water is “closed loop” depending on the design of the plant cooling water may be pumped in to heat exchangers to cool systems down. Millstone and the old Ct yankee plant both used local water (CT river and LI sound) to cool the heat exchangers. In fact Millstone had to shut down one unit last summer due to high intake water temps (seawater temp)

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            That is correct, mopar4wd; but that cooling water is not consumed, polluted, or evaporated; it is returned back to the body from whence it came just a lot hotter than when it entered. That is with units that use lakes and rivers for condensing the steam back to water instead of a cooling tower.

            The condensed steam inside the condensor is at near vaccuum pressure; so if there is a leak in the condensor tubes; it sucks cooling water in; instead of releasing boiler water out. But when that happens, you want to plug those leaking tubes as soon as possible and later replace them; muddy river water is not good for your plant equipment.

            And yes, if the body of water gets too low; you have to shut the unit down.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        OK. Wonder how many EVs those power plants could charge on a daily basis if they weren’t burning all those fossil fuels to refine oil.

        How much pollution is put into our environment every day just refining the motor oil to do oil changes on ICE vehicles. How many millions of quarts of oil, or is it billions, are consumed everyday to keep those ICE engines running.But sure an EV is only marginally cleaner than an ICE car.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          If there were no refineries; then yes, there would be no co-gen plants; though that does NOT mean we would have more power plants to generate electricity for EVs.

          The plant I am referencing had as it’s main purpose generating process steam for the refinery next door. Modern generating units develop steam at 1000 PSI or greater; but refineries use process steam at about 200 PSI.

          So what we did was pass that high pressure steam through non-condensing steam turbines. The turbines exhausted steam at the needed 200 PSI steam pressure, they then drove generators that generated power we put out on the grid. So, in that very narrow example; we generated MORE electricity from the process of creating steam for the refinery next door; to them, the electricity was almost a waste product of the process; and they either had their own generators, or bought power off of our grid like everyone else.

          The actual situation would vary from one site to the other. We had a plant in Lake Charles, LA that had a steam line going to the local petrochemical plants; they also bought a WWII era plant from us after the war to use as a co-gen plant. Recently, they built several combined-cycle units for themselves; but once again, if they did not have refineries and chemical plants to service, they never would have been built.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Interesting that the Union of Concerned Scientists have put out that map of relative mpge.

    Apparently, they don’t regard electrical utility interconnection as a fait accompli. It’s a fascinating subject in its scope and the constant wheeler dealering that goes on as each utility buys and sells from generators of all types to minimize cost is amazing. The upshot really is that the power you utilize at any given instant could come from anywhere on the entire interconnection.

    So to infer that by living next to a hydro dam power plant you are using only power generated next door is only a comfort of the brain that doesn’t grasp the details. Which is why there should really only be a national policy and one definition of mpge. Even more complicated, Canada is interconnected with the US.

  • avatar
    fabriced28

    Interesting post. Just as a reminder, a low consumption of 0.25 kWh/mile yields higher MPGe, so the adjustment of the figure is not a straightforward task. This car is one third better than the Model S, which is quite logical.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    Alex wrote on Day 1: “When the review of the spunky little orange Fiat 500e I’ve decided to name “Zippy Zappy” hits in a few weeks it will be 100% about the car and 0% about EV trials and tribulations.”

    So, I have to ask, did this series of articles (which I enjoyed reading, Global Climate Change debate comments excepted) achieve Alex’s goal?

    I’m not so sure, and I think it’s because the two cannot be separated easily. An EV is a remarkable piece of technology with a chronic limitation of operating environment. But the very first automobiles were miserable machines and it took a century of development to get them to the point of amazing reliability, range, comfort, and safety. I have no doubt that EVs a century from now will offer similar attributes and no one will give them a second glance. But early adopters are going to have to endure a lot of inconvenience for the sake of technological innovation and evolution down the road, so to speak.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Didn’t realize we still had this many flat earthers around. But don’t let science and facts slow you down, I enjoy watching tools cry about man made climate change.

  • avatar
    Highway27

    I think one of the future-looking aspects to EV’s is that they are source agnostic. As was said upthread: The best any ICE car is going to do as far as emissions is when it’s brand new. But with EV’s, it doesn’t matter to the car where the electrical generation is. So sources and generation can be replaced upstream with cleaner methods with no effect on the vehicles. If solar panels became more efficient, people could install distributed solar. I saw a “Popular Science” level article recently about blimp-mounted wind turbines, designed to operate at altitudes much higher than mast mounted turbines, where winds are faster and more reliable.

    The storage of electricity is also pretty source independent. With more research, perhaps we get those graphene supercapacitors or something else that is similarly less destructive. Or instead of batteries, we have a method of making and recharging fuel cells that gets easier and cleaner.

    Taking a snapshot now and making an evaluation is good for *now*, but to me, the future path for Electric motive power is a lot more full of possibilities for technological advancement and cleaner technologies.

  • avatar
    redav

    “on average half of [US electric power] (49.6%) comes from coal”

    I checked on that number, and it appears to be from 2005.

    For 2012, coal accounted for 37% of electric generation
    http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3

    So far in 2013 (Jan – Mar), coal accounts for 40%
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=us%20monthly%20net%20power%20generation&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDMQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eia.gov%2Felectricity%2Fmonthly%2Fpdf%2Fepm.pdf&ei=rzivUerrD4-84AOLioDoDg&usg=AFQjCNEm-m1SwFtytLXVrrM-9×9-I-ST0Q&bvm=bv.47380653,d.dmg

    We all saw the news last year of natural gas passing coal for the first time
    http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=6990&src=email

    Forty percent is still a large fraction, but the pdf report shows a declining trend for the percentage of electric production from coal from 2003-2012 (average decrease is nearly 1.3 percentage points per year). It really dropped off after 2008, and certainly the economy & politics are big reasons, but I honestly don’t see the trend reversing.

    The issue is similar to calculating break-even points for various fuels. When comparing gas to diesel, or gas to electricity, most people use today’s fuel prices, but actual costs are the integrated prices over the life of the vehicle. (When I bought my DD back in 2001, the national average gas price was around $1.50; now it is over $3.50, a ~7.7% ave yearly increase, so using 2001 prices in my forcasts would have been poor.) If total emissions factor into your car buying decisions, then like future fuel prices, you should consider these trends.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “One must also consider the extraneous factors involved in the EV game. … I think they need to be resolved in my mind before I can say without a doubt that driving an EV is saving the planet.”

      Another factor Alex doesn’t mention, but IMO is at least as important: vehicle longevity / maintenance costs. Everyone talks about batteries dying, but what about the rest of the car? I’m eagerly awaiting an in-depth study on how much EVs actually cost to maintain compared to their ICE siblings.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    how about an attempt at an all inclusive chart? ev, hybrid, gas and diesel? pick 4 common cars that all get decent mileage and have at it. rank them on mileage, nox, sox, particulates, cost of ownership, cost of maintenance, etc. i really liked the comparison in this article about mileage and values, would like to see a comparison of mileage and emissions for different car classes in teh above categories.

    my suggestions:
    ev = leaf,
    hybrid = prius, fusion
    gas = mazda3 skyactive, mazda6 sa
    diesel = jetta, passat

  • avatar
    Toshi

    Good set of articles, Alex.

    One addition I’d make, regarding the Washingtonians and their avidity for LEAFs: Seattle City Light has a $12/mo Green Up program whereby participants get enough wind energy RETs to offset 100% of their electricity usage. (RETs are utility level tax credits for renewable energy that they trade with one another, as I understand it.)

    I’d wager this setup is the cheapest near-zero carbon power option nationwide, as the base rate is less than 5 cents/kWh, rising to under 10 cents/kWh with more daily usage, such as from EV charging.

  • avatar
    Voltaggio

    Two comments:

    - Anyone complaining about government-sponsored EV incentives (tax credits, etc.) should look into all the subsidies our tax dollars provide for the fossil fuel companies. Sustainable energy stacks up quite well against fossil fuels when those are added to the ledger.

    - 97% of climate scientists agree that global climate change is being caused by our actions. That’s a staggering number. Look at it this way — say you go to the doctor for a checkup, she runs some tests, and she tells you you have cancer. You say, “no way, I want a second opinion” — and the second doctor tells you the same thing. Still unsatisfied, you go to a total of 100 doctors and only three of them tell you the test results are inconclusive. Do you pursue treatment or do you say, “I think those three guys are right,” and go about your way, business as usual?

    What really amazes me is that there’s really no downside to growing sustainable energy sources, unless you’re the owner or investor in a fossil fuel enterprise. If we were generating 50% of our energy from solar power, we could take a bunch of coal-burning power plants offline. We all get cleaner air as a result, and sunlight is the most sustainable resource we have. Unfortunately, the people who make money off fossil fuels have taken a page out of the old tobacco company playbook and have used propaganda to convince people that scientists haven’t reached a consensus. There is no controversy — it’s here, it’s real, and we as a species made it happen.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      But haven’t you heard Voltaggio? Itz a conspirassy!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Two responses:
      Regarding subsidies, it’s not an either or propostion between EVs and fossil fuel companies. Involuntarily subsidizing anything that one may never use or would otherwise choose not to invest in is wrong.

      That being said, my understanding of the subsidies provided for EVs and to oil companies aren’t exactly the same. The subsidies on EVs directly incentivise the purchase of those vehicles by individuals, while the the subsidies given to oil companies amount to tax credits for themselves. What many proponents seem to define them as: “A fossil fuel subsidy is any government action that lowers the cost of fossil fuel energy production”. One might theorize that even if the Government got out of the oil industry completely and prices fell, THAT would be a considered a subsidy by anti-oil activists.

      “What really amazes me is that there’s really no downside to growing sustainable energy sources, unless you’re the owner or investor in a fossil fuel enterprise”.

      First, there’s the cost. Solar panels and wind generation are infinitely more expensive for mass power generation than other legacy sources. Especially in tough economic times, the average family does not want a higher power bill.

      Second, reliability. Those sources will never be as reliable as legacy sources and cannot effectively be throttled to meet demands. For example, solar power can only generate power on demand during daylight hours, and wind power on windy days. If power is needed on a cloudy, windless day, you better get on your generator bike and start peddling, Ed Begley Jr.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The subsidy for buying an EV is a $7500 tax credit.

        I don’t see the distinction you’re arguing for.

        In other words, why do you think a one time tax credit for an individual is unfair, while a tax break for business is fair?

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Oh great, several posts claiming we wear the tinfoil hats, and here comes the good ole “Big Oil” conspiracy theory. Let me get my popcorn….

      I don’t have a big problem with substidies; they basically handicap the free market system. If people still don’t want EVs, they don’t have to buy them. If you disapprove of a subsidy, write your representative. If you don’t like the response, work to throw them out. Our system at work.

      Two hundred years ago, 100 out of 100 doctors would have recommended applying leeches for certain ailments. They certainly weren’t right; but it was all they knew. So are we with the climate today.

      And don’t you guys realize that crude oil is used to make lots of other things? Make gasoline go away, and they will adjust the refining process to produce something else.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        “Oh great, several posts claiming we wear the tinfoil hats”

        If the hat fits.

        “Two hundred years ago, 100 out of 100 doctors would have recommended applying leeches for certain ailments.”

        Logical fallacy – false equivalency. Those doctors were not acting on science, it was quackery and folklore that drove those decisions. There was no peer review or falsification required.

        One wonders if you feel the same way about the science of genetics, gravity, atomic theory, etc… which are all, in relation to civilization as a whole, in their infancy. Or is it just the science that disagrees with your specific political bent?

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      Two comments back at you:

      1) Over time almost 100% of scientific theories are proven wrong.

      2) The correct scientific theory is not proven by a vote; it only takes one person to be right.

      Ok, a third:

      3) No downside to sustainable energy sources other than cost and reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        1) Not really true. Science doesn’t throw the baby out with the bath water and most theories are not “proven wrong.” Theories can be incomplete or revised as more data is presented but it is not that common for scientific theories to be proven wrong.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Since this is an article about whether EV buyers are trying to save the planet, and I’m an EV buyer, I’ll respond.

    1. I vote “R” most of the time, but not all.
    2. I am a proud member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, but I detest Fox News, don’t watch it, and it doesn’t even appear on my channel selections. I prefer CNN, HGTV, or TruTV.
    3. Belief in manmade global warming requires some faith despite the evidence which favors it. There is a mountain of evidence for Christianity, too, but most people reject it anyway. Religion is tricky business.
    4. I traded a perfectly good 30 mpg xB1 for my Leaf. It is saving me $100/month in gas vs that car. Accounting for my trade, rebates, fuel savings, and insurance reduction, I will break even over the course of my lease.
    5. I don’t support government subsidies, but if the money is on the table, I’ll take it. Thank you, and I’m sorry.
    6. I really like the lower maintenance required of an EV. I haven’t even had to add air to the nitrogen-filled tires.
    7. I’m not a tree-hugger. The other day I committed three envirocrimes that I won’t even mention here (although interestingly, they all involved my ICE cars). I love a classic V8, smooth V6, or high-winding 4 cylinder. On the other hand, I like a cleaner environment, without the smell of ICE exhaust every time I pull into the garage.
    8. Over the course of 45 years, we’ve (US) reduced automotive pollutants by something like 99%. Further regulation to improve this will only make vehicles’ emission controls exponentially more expensive. Frankly, I’m not convinced there even is an auto pollution problem any more.
    9. As an engineer, I find the EV design interesting, novel, and effective. Therefore my car has a ‘cool factor’, and so does a Veyron. I like them both.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      “3. Belief in manmade global warming requires some faith despite the evidence which favors it. There is a mountain of evidence for Christianity, too, but most people reject it anyway. Religion is tricky business.”

      Ummm, no.

      Faith is not required when one is presented with sufficient evidence. There is sufficient evidence that has convinced 97% of scientists that anthropogenic global warming is true.

      There is NO evidence for Christianity or any religion for that matter. Why do you think it takes faith to believe in that nonsense? If there was evidence it wouldn’t require faith.

      • 0 avatar
        Rick T.

        I’m sure you believe that the theory of evolution explains how and why turtles have shells and birds have feathers. You believe this despite any lack of real evidence that evolution has never really been observed and the sparse physical evidence. So you pretty much believe it on faith. Much of what passes for evolutionary theory sounds more like Kipling’s Just So stories to me. (I’m not religious so don’t come back to me calling me a religious nutbag.)

        • 0 avatar
          Ubermensch

          Yikes. Epically uniformed doesn’t even begin to explain what your opinion is.

          “Sparse phycical evidence” LOL, wow! Have you even even picked up a Biology textbook or visited a natural history museum?

          You can start here:
          http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

          That so people think the way you do in this country makes me sad and explains why much of the rest of the world is leaving us in the dust.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Ubermensch, it appears you do not understand the actual definition of “faith” and the necessary (!) role it plays in science.

        Faith is a confidence, not merely an unsubstantiated belief. We never would have built the Large Hadron Collider if we did not first believe (i.e., have confidence or faith) that it would produce the desired results despite the fact that we had not yet witnessed (i.e., had proof of) those results. Faith is what leads people to test hypotheses. Faith is a cause of action, not a justification of a conclusion. It is the starting point, not the finish line–even in religion (!). Indeed, faith is not the opposite of proof–rather, it is the opposite of doubt.

        • 0 avatar
          Ubermensch

          I understand faith as the word is defined:

          http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/faith

          a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
          b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
          2
          a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
          b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
          3
          : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs

          The word simply is not used in the world of science except possibly as a clunky substitute for belief, hope, or trust.

          Testing a hypotheses does not require faith, it requires a desire to discover the truth whatever that may be. Faith has nothing to do with it.

          I never said that faith is the opposite of proof, I said that it is what is required to believe something if there is a lack of evidence. When there is sufficient evidence faith is not required. The word really has no meaning in the world of science because science is completely dependent on evidence.

          I think you are confusing the idiomatic use of the word ‘faith’ instead of the actual meaning.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            No, you can read (and copy-paste), but you do not comprehend. You do not look at the breadth of definitions available (M-W is only one source) nor do you interpret the meaning of the quoted definition. Go to onelook.com for additional insight.

            For example, from American Heritage: “Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing” Note that here evidence (as well as God/religion) is irrelevant. You can have all the proof you want, and still have faith. That is a point you failed to grasp–evidence increases faith, not replaces it.

            Whether you believe the word is used “in the world of science” does not change whether the concept the word describes actually exists there.

            You suggest that scientists are merely curious and are thus apathetic/disinterested in the outcome. If you actually understood the “world of science,” you would know that is not the case. The reality is that science is not casual tinkering around in a garage. Finding something truly new requires doing what has not been done (and thus not seen) before. It also typically requires extensive work, effort, cost, and trial & error (and failure). Indeed, stick-to-itiveness is a nearly-universal characteristic of any scientist worthy of note. And what do you think that stick-to-itiveness requires? It takes confidence (i.e., trust) that their theory will work, commitment (i.e., loyalty) to the work, and certainly a firm belief that their theory is true/valuable. Confidence, commitment, belief–would you agree that “faith” is a good term to summarize that?

            Einstein spent half his life working on a grand unified theory but never saw any fruits (proof) of that effort. Why would he do that? Edison is said to have tried a thousand different configurations for a light bulb before gaining evidence that it would work. The Large Hadron Collider cost around $4 billion, yet there was no proof that it would deliver any different results than other colliders, yet it was approved & built. Would you say these men believed in something despite there being a lack of evidence? Do you suggest that this type of work is not science?

            However, the most interesting thing in your response might just be this: your dogmatic adherence to a rigid, preconceived notion that faith does not exist in science, regardless of what the evidence supports. However, if a curious & fact-driven scientist would embrace the truth regardless of the outcome, then there would be no reason for him to resist the notion that science requires confidence, trust, and commitment to concepts, ideas, & theories before proof is found. The logical conclusion is that you do not represent the code you suggest of a scientist, and thus you are not qualified to speak for them.

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            redav,
            You are trying to redefine terms to suit a particular usage of that word. The religious connotation of the meaning of the word faith and your clunky usage of it as a substitute for hope, perseverance, belief, etc… is not even remotely the same.

            Rick T. was trying to equivocate religious faith to belief in scientific methods that are based on facts, data, reproducible results, etc… as a kind of ‘faith’. The two are very different as the former doesn’t require any evidence whatsoever.

            You can disagree with the accepted definition all you want but it doesn’t change the meaning of the word.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          Redav, Ubermensch reminds me of a new religious convert who is zealous about their newly found faith, but knows little about it’s doctrine. They first refer you to the elders in the church (“I would suggest you take this “argument” elsewhere where it can be properly eviscerated by actual scientists”). When that falls, they answer all reasonable arguments with a single verse of doctrine they know; to the point where they sound like the robot in Lost in Space (Logical fallacy! Logical fallacy! Logical fallacy!). When that fails, but still not fully understanding their beliefs, they refer you to a secondary source like Wikipedia instead of the holy texts. Finally, they try to shut down the argument (the definition of the word faith.)

          Of course it takes an element of faith to move forward in science and technology. It takes zero faith to believe in the laws of nature (like the laws of gravity, motion, and thermodynamics) because they are observable and repeatable. I have never seen anything float away into space that was not be acted upon by an opposite force to gravity; and I never expect to. That makes it a law, and requires no faith at all to understand nor believe it.

          To put forth a theory or hypothesis does require an element of faith. I would never put forth a theory that man can fly to the moon merely by flapping his arms because I have no faith that it is true (there’s a common non-religious usage of the word).

          But evolution and global climate change are both theories, and not laws. I have no problem at all with anyone putting them out there; though I choose to believe neither; even if 99.99999% of the world’s population believed it. Once again, I have a problem with government and individuals making millions on a theory through taxes, onerous laws, and mechanisms like carbon credits.

          Evolution cannot be proved, and neither can global climate change. Take that ozone hole. We observed an ozone hole, we believed the ozone hole was caused by CFCs, we banned CFCs, the hole went away. Case closed.

          But the problem is, the ozone hole phenomena is not repeatable, nor was direct cause proven. The Earth’s ozone layer was not know about, nor observed, until recently. There may have been lots of ozone holes in the past that we never knew of. We could at least meet the repeatable bar by allowing CFCs, seeing if the ozone hole appears again, ban CFCs again, and see if it goes away. We still have not proved causation, but we at least have repeatability.

          Global climate change will likewise never be treated as a law because it cannot be observed, tested, and repeated. We can take temperature measurements, we can postulate that they are rising, we can put forth a theory that it is caused by man’s actions; but we cannot prove it.

          We cannot accurately measure, much less control other factors affecting the earth’s climate such as the sun, oceans and seas, plants and animals, and volcanoes. We cannot hold all those things still, and simply adjust man’s inputs to see how it effects the earth’s climate. People have built elaborate computer models that try to model all these systems; but their completeness and accuracy can be and are questioned; and that, like the fossil record, is still just secondary evidence. It cannot be tested and proven in the real world.

          Scientists can and do make mistakes, and has he said, theories and technology evolve as they learn. He can label early doctors “quackery and folklore”; but it was the best they had with the knowledge of the day. My dad had ulcer surgery in the 1960s; they cut him open like a baked potato. Nowadays, ulcers can be treated without surgery; but that did not make the doctors that operated on my dad quacks; it was the best they could do with the knowledge they had. Very learned scientists in their day carefully argued that the sun revolved around earth, man cannot fly, and yes, that the earth is flat. Dinosaurs are cold blooded, slow moving creatures; now they are warm blooded and have feathers. How old mankind is depends on the latest fossil find.

          And part of what undid the global warming movement and the United Nation’s climate-study scientists was that much of what they published was NOT subjected to peer review. A group of 40 auditors — including scientists and public policy experts from across the globe — released a report card on the U.N.’s climate-change research report. Thousands of sources cited by the report had been nowhere near a scientific journal. Based on the grading system used in American schools, 21 chapters in the IPCC report received an F for citing peer-reviewed sources less than 60 percent of the time. Four chapters received a D, and six received a C.

          Ubermensch is an atheist and a secular humanist. He looks down with disdain on those who profess a faith in a superior being, and believe in some form of religion. But his belief system only elevates himself to a god, and science to a religion, both infallible and above all arguments. In all my years of living for God, I have first hand observed way more documented miracles than he will ever first hand observe anthropogenic climate change. He has his faith, and I have mine.

          In the end, he said it best: When one side fails to engage on a rational level it all becomes a pointless exercise. Now, let’s let our resident god give his infallible response.

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            “NOW who is talking conspiracys? This is my last response to your rantings; good day sir.”

            LOL, that didn’t last long.

            Please don’t compare me to your God. Unlike them, I actually exist and have morals.

            But PLEASE do tell me about these documented miracles! *gets popcorn*

    • 0 avatar
      Highway27

      My opinion as a potential Leaf buyer about saving the world is “It would be nice if it happened, but it’s really not going to.” I haven’t seen anything approaching a suggestion for dealing with airborne concentration of CO2 that has any chance of being effective. There are barely even any ideas about reducing the *increase*.

      I would buy a Leaf or other EV because it suits my lifestyle, because it has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions, and because it’s overall a cool vehicle. I actually am kind of a tree hugger (even if my job is to design roads), but that mostly manifests in trying to reduce use of things. I don’t think of it as some crusade. I think of it as a neat car that would suit me and probably be a bit economical.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Compared to the US, China produces twice as much CO2 per capita for every dollar of output, and its population is 5x the US. So all the hooting about the Bad US is lost on me, and I don’t even consider CO2 to be a pollutant.


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