By: Spencer Smith
Travel is a sustainability topic frequently discussed. Throughout not just the U.S. but also the world, transportation is a large producer of Carbon Emissions. Cars designed to cut carbon emissions are nothing new. Toyota has had hybrids on the markets for over a decade, and BMW has been working with Hydrogen Fuel Cell cars for years. In this article, I’d like to put those other ventures aside in favor of discussing Electric Vehicles more in-depth. Electric Vehicles have become the new car fad. Companies like Tesla are making huge strides in mass adoption of passenger cars, and Ford is introducing one of the first All-Electric trucks with the F-150 Lightning. So, now that electric vehicles are more accessible to the average consumer, will they truly benefit the environment? This post will examine emissions and end-of-life issues, leaving performance to the car aficionados.
The best place to start would be the creation of the two cars. While an electric car weighs much less (which would make them more efficient) and use fewer materials than a traditional gas car, the creation of Lithium Batteries comes with a large carbon cost. The Swedish Environmental Institute found that production of a smaller battery (30 kWh) released 1-5 tonnes of and a larger battery (100 kWh) released 6-17.5 tonnes of . For reference, most cars produce 10 tonnes of to make the other components of the vehicle. This may seem high, especially when compared to Lead-Acid Batteries. For a traditional Lead Acid battery, the EPA estimates that up to 80% of the battery can be recycled. We will discuss the important issue of battery recycling in a future blog post. But the battery is only half of the story with a vehicle.
The largest benefit of an electric car is the fact that the car itself produces no emissions, as it runs off a battery. This is where an Electric Vehicle becomes more sustainable, as long as the creation of that electricity doesn’t create more carbon emissions than burning gasoline. Every year our electric grid improves. According to UCSUSA “sustained lower natural gas prices have led to a declining share of coal-fired power and a rising share of electricity generated from natural gas,” (UCSUSA 9). This means that even though most electric cars are charged via the grid, they still produce much less than traditional gas vehicles. This varies based on the state you reside in. If you want to see the viability of an electric vehicle in your state, use the US Department of Energy’s Car Emission tracker. The link to this website is linked in the footer of this post. And, if the cars are recharged from solar power on the owners’ houses, the situation improves even further.
So, what is the conclusion? Although it may be dissatisfying, our best solution out of the climate crisis is moderation. There is simply no way we can consume our way out of the climate crisis, rather we must focus on reducing our usage. If you do decide to purchase an electric vehicle, make sure to buy a car based on your needs. Most drivers have short commutes and could live with a smaller battery in their car. This would make your car even greener. If you do have a gas car, take shorter trips, or plan out your routes to travel a shorter distance. A great way to find out more about your current car is by reading its Moroni sticker.
By reading this post you are helping yourself be more informed, keep it up! There is much more to the conversation of electric vehicles, and I would encourage you to continue learning. Everyone can help the planet, Sustainability is Universal!
Department of Energy Link: Alternative Fuels Data Center: Emissions from Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles (energy.gov)
I found it interesting that electric cars are not an end-all-be-all solution to carbon emissions. I feel like nowadays all I hear about is how electric cars are the future and that they are going to cut back all carbon emissions. However, this post claims they are simply a step in the right direction to lowering carbon in the atmosphere. Moderation is a new word I have heard used to describe the climate crisis and potential solutions. Everyone talks about eliminating certain aspects of your life to save the Earth. But, in reality, it is almost impossible to be completely plastic, gas, and pesticide free. Instead, moderation should be the new goal of people's household output. Limiting your car drives, reusing plastic components, and experimenting with all-natural pesticides are all good ways to practice moderation.
14/11/2022 07:09:33 pm
I think it is very important that you recognized that even with electric cars, fossil fuels or some sort of natural gases are being burned, which in turn creates some kind of emissions. It is true that we need to maintain moderation, because we have a long way to go if everybody is to own an electric vehicle. I think it is safe to say that coal is one of our main sources of energy, and if we 1. stopped burning coal 2. relied on electricity, everything will begin to shut down. If everybody owned an electric vehicle right now, nobody would have power in their homes because we still have to find the capabilities to power all of these things, and the most effective way to do so, for us, and for the environment.
15/11/2022 03:51:22 pm
It is very interesting to me that electric cars aren't actually the best thing for Earth. I feel like we are all told that electric cars will "help save the Earth". I like how you use the word "moderation". In the real world it would be nearly impossible to completely cut out carbon. Instead we can use a moderation of it which would be better for Earth. The most important thing each person can do is limit the driving. Like you said, take the shortest route if possible or car pool with others. This is a great option that would cut back on carbon or/and the battery use of cars.
15/11/2022 04:14:12 pm
I like how the flaws of EVs are still pointed out, but the idea itself is still shown in a optimistic way. I also find the section about others way to lower emissions if you do own a gas car, especially since electric cars are not very accessible yet. This article will help me keep in mind when I choose to go the long way, or am just going on a drive, I am hurting the environment in the process.
16/11/2022 11:28:07 pm
I find it interesting how the flaws in electric vehicles and the emissions they give off are still pointed out. They talk about how electric vehicles would not be the overall best solution to end carbon emissions in the air. This is very eye opening because we are constantly told how electric cars will be the best thing for earth and how everyone should move to an electric car. However, that is not necessarily the case. They might not be the best solution and we should do more research about them.
18/11/2022 06:19:53 am
I found this article both interesting and helpful. I have always been interested in electric vehicles and how they make our world greener, but this post helped a lot with that. I think it is very important to know that by buying an electric car, one not only becomes more eco-friendly but is simultaneously still producing some emissions (from the battery made). Nonetheless, I think it will be interesting to see in the future how electric cars can be made even greener and if they will be encouraged more.
25/11/2022 03:09:15 pm
This topic is interesting since many people tend to think that electric cars will be the main fighting key to stopping emissions. This isn't necessarily the case due to the manufacturing process of the batteries in the cars that come with a large carbon cost. I agree that a better solution would be moderation. Doing things like commuting to places when possible and cutting down on certain things will help reduce carbon.
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