So much for zero-emission cars (for now, anyway). Unfortunately, Scientific American is running an article in its July issue exposing the myth behind electric cars. Basically, the electricity you are plugging your car into comes from sources that are still pretty dirty (think: coal). The dirtiness of your car's footprint depends upon where you plug in and what the sources of electrical generation are used in that region. On balance, the article concludes that driving a plug-in electric car (such as Nissan's soon-to-be released Leaf) will be more carbon-costly than driving a hybrid electric vehicle (and yes, that hybrid part includes some gasoline). So it looks like the next big step should not be for everyone to start driving electric cars and hope this will slow global warming. Instead, we must focus on getting some massive clean energy sources online to power the grid into which those cars are plugged. That includes solar, wind, wave, and (like it or not) probably nuclear. Plus we'll need a great deal more conservation and improved efficiency, both of which will cut down on the need for so much dirty power. So wherever you live, push your power company and whatever government regulator/entity grants its authority (state, county, city, etc.) to move toward more clean energy sources. And even during this difficult economic time, we all need to be ready to pay a little more for electricity and use a less, because those are the only ways this transition toward more sustainable energy use has any chance of occurring.
R.J. Ruppenthal @ ChelseaGreen
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Posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2010 at 7:43 pm by R.J. Ruppenthal