Most of you reading this are already inclined toward green-type technology, whether that’s clean power generation, electric transportation, or more efficient ways to do things. Today, I’m going to give you one more reason to stop supporting – or at least vocally dislike – big gas and big oil.
Yes, We’ve All Heard About This
There are a number of people who will happily speak at length about dependence on foreign oil and how it leads to American troops being sent over to oil-rich hotspots to make sure we can still get affordable gas at the pump. There was a pun a while back about how Operation: Iraqi Freedom should have been called Operation: Iraqi Liberation (or O.I.L.), for example. I’m not really one of those people, but I listen when they talk.
Oil is not cheap; from the cost of importing oil to the cost of filling up your car, and everything in between, that’s been covered in depth. How do we reduce that cost? Not using oil would be one way, I would think.
Of Course I Will Now Bring Up the Electric Car
If you’ve read my pieces here or on Gas2, you know that I’m a big fan of the electric car. (If you haven’t, well, I like electric vehicles.) Whatever their limitations in range or top speed, or the inconvenience of having to wait several hours to recharge the batteries, the massive advantage of an electric vehicle is that it does not use oil.
However, we’re hearing a lot about how the Chevy Volt caught fire three weeks after crash tests (note how many times a year gasoline-powered cars catch fired — in next section). There’s been a massive amount of media attention given to this. Please remember, the media is not impartial, okay, the big news networks are not impartial, everything is bought and paid for; and while this also means that you should take what I’m telling you with a grain of salt, please keep in mind, also, that I’m not being paid by an industry that’s sending our citizens to fight and die for cheap gasoline. But I’m talking about the negative attention given to the Volt and the Leaf here, and how that influences your perception.
What, Exactly, Defines Failure?
Both USA Today and Yahoo! Finance have been calling the Volt and the Leaf flops and failures, although they’ve been selling fairly well. This seems to be something of a self-fulfilling prophecy — the more we hear about how the Volt and the Leaf are doing poorly, the less we want to buy one, and the fewer end up on the road. Only 17,000 of both vehicles combined were sold, said USA Today.
But let me tell you something else – how often do you see a Prius rolling down the street? I see two or three parked near where I live all the time. They seem to be pretty successful. But they sold less than 6,000 their first year. According to the numbers quoted above, that would have been indicative of market failure.
That’s not even the most frustrating part of the whole mess. Gasoline-powered cars catch fire nearly 200,000 times a year! Two. Hundred. Thousand. We’re not talking about crash tests. We’re not talking about in a laboratory, under safe and controlled conditions. This is on the road, in your neighborhood or somewhere very like it. Gasoline is flammable. It catches fire. A car running on a flammable substance may catch fire in a crash. This is not new, this is not news, this is accepted as a fact of life.
So why is it suddenly terrifying and horrible that an EV battery might potentially burst into flames under conditions of massive stress? (And it wasn’t even during the crash itself; it was afterwards.) I’ll tell you why – because the mass media is telling you that it’s horrifying, and the mass media is funded by big oil.
Electric Cars Aren’t Perfect Yet, Either
I’m not saying that EVs are perfect, or that they’re a super easy solution. They’re expensive. They take time to charge. They’ve got limited range. But they allow for far less dependence on foreign products (particularly considering how recycling technology to reclaim rare earth metals is improving), and they’re better for public health and the environment. Even without the foreign policy issues, EVs have the potential to be really clean transportation.
It’s not just a matter of not spewing out carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, fine dirty particles that damage the cardiovascular system, although that’s the first and most obvious way that EVs are clean. It’s also not production or recycling, because, to be honest, EVs aren’t significantly cleaner to produce or recycle than traditional cars (batteries, in particular, are kind of hard to dispose of). But the energy that powers an EV has the potential to be green, too – you don’t have to charge your EV with electricity from coal or a nuclear power plant; you can run it with energy from a wind turbine, a solar power generator, or geothermal energy. The EV doesn’t care. It just needs electricity, and that can be cleanly generated.
Any questions, comments, opinions? Let us know in the comments, below.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Charis Michelsen spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissin, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.