Oops! Your Electric Car is Not Better for the Environment

It’s probably the case that you are not helping the environment with your 100% electric car. That’s because, even though you aren’t using pollution-emitting fuels inside your engine, you are using them to make your electricity. That is, unless something drastically changes to produce a cleaner electricity grid for the US.

So, oddly enough, a fuel-efficient internal combustion engine might actually be better for the environment than your electric car. Weird:

“Unfortunately, when a wire is connected to an electric vehicle at one end and a coal-fired power plant at the other end, the environmental consequences are worse than driving a normal gasoline-powered car,” said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science . . .

I guess anyone should have expected that. I actually wrote about this very idea a year or so back. Hybrids are still (apparently) better for the environment than comparable internal combustion engine vehicles, but even that is questionable. Because electric batteries are not exactly made of butterflies, rainbows, and warm hugs. They are quite toxic chemically speaking, and creating them and disposing of them is an environmentally hazardous exercise.

So what is the solution? Hydrogen maybe. Or just allow cars to become more efficient? Or you could do better research for solar and wind energy and make better batteries? Who knows.

In these cases, it is really difficult to know who to trust. The electric car is in some ways still a really exciting idea, even if it is “worse” for the environment. And what if these studies are being funded by the inertiatic Big Auto or Big Oil? I know they have had some hand in the suppression of new technologies. But just how shady those dealings have been, and just how promising the suppressed technology may have been—no one knows.

But, long story short, you no longer have to feel bad about your carbon footprint when the dude with the upturned nose zooms by your civic in a Nissan Leaf (which is hideously ugly by the way).