Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Electric Car

An electric Smart ED.Image via WikipediaI tend to be a big picture kind of guy. My thought processes often involve "if-then" scenarios. I like to think through the possible results or reactions to decisions or events. On performance reviews I have been told that I think in systemic terms.

Let's take for example the electric car. Proponents of the electric car tout it as a zero carbon dioxide emissions vehicle that will lessen our reliance on oil. That much is true, but I like to think of the whole and not the part.

The current President is a big advocate of electric cars.  He frequently espouses the potential benefits of the electric car, especially when he talks about the price of gasoline.  However, this is the same person who famously stated that under his plan electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket.  How would you like to recharge everyday under that scenario?

The other thing that I like to think about is concept of unintended consequences.  The idea behind the electric car is that they have zero emissions for carbon dioxide. The thing about electric cars is that you have to recharge them regularly.  The majority of electricity in this country still comes from coal, and the Department of Energy expects that it will for the foreseeable future.  So, while driving an electric car would reduce CO2 emissions while driving, there would be an increase from increased use of electricity.

I am currently reading a book by Larry Bell called the Climate of Corruption that takes a look at the politics of climate change.  One of the things that he addresses in the book is the actual potential of some of the potential "renewable" energy sources out there.  Most hold precious little potential for being able to provide us with the majority of our electrical needs.  Bell makes the case for increased use of nuclear power for electricity.

I am not averse to the idea of an electric car.  I believe that eventually the technology of electric cars will get to the point where you will be able to travel as far on a single charge as on a tank of gas.  It just strikes me as ironic that the very benefit of the reduced emissions of the electric car are countered by the increased emissions of the electric power plant.
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  1. Well, one of the projected solutions to cutting our dependence on foreign oil and helping improve the environment at the same time that really gets my blood a-boilin' is ethanol that is made from corn. Now, I can't remember just exactly what the numbers are, but I do recall that it takes almost as much energy to produce ethanol from corn as is gained. So, where is the big benefit to that--especially when it would cause the price of corn to skyrocket if the practice became mainstream, which would cause food prices to increase dramatically?

  2. Dickster-

    I guess you could drive your electric car, to the gas station to fill a 2gal jug, to take to your kid who is out of gas on the roadway.

    While in route your elect car runs out of charge, and now your both stuck.

    Drill Here-Drill Now!

    I heard somewhere yesterday that Best Buy the electronics giant is looking into retailing electric cars...

  3. Fish, you are correct on ethanol. For every barrel produced, a barrel of crude is used in production and transportation of it because it has to be trucked. It can not go through pipelines. We are already seeing the effects at the grocery store.

    Thanks, Don, I can always count on your unique perspective on things.



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