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Naveen Albert

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Electric vehicles aren't the solution to climate change

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Global warming, or climate change as is the more "proper" term, is a serious conundrum. Everyone likes a cleaner planet, but few people are actually willing to adopt a lifestyle that is seriously environmentally friendly.

In the meantime, businesses everywhere have rushed in to take advantage of this sublime opportunity to make a buck. Perhaps no industry has done more to try to profit off of climate change as the automobile industry. Ironically, electric vehicles do little to combat climate change. Here's why.

Electric vehicles are thought of as being "green" and "efficient". What we must remember, however, is that electricity is no more a renewable resource in most places than oil. People who use electric vehicles are generally switching from oil power to coal power. Steam (coal-powered) locomotives aren't being made anymore, if that says anything.

Electric vehicles are, at present, not optimized for usage. Fuel for a gasoline-powered car be carried around in a backup can if needed, which can easily refuel a car in minutes. Electric vehicles take hours, rather than minutes, to charge, and you can't easily carry around backup fuel for your electric vehicle nowadays.

Electric vehicles have missed the ball completely. If we are to be "green" (and we should), we should focus our efforts on renewable electricity, not renewable fuel. There are two key fundamental points that make all the difference here.

First, it does not matter where electricity comes from. The same cannot be said of fuel. Gasoline is very different from diesel. Electricity, by its very nature, is the same thing, whether it came from coal, from natural gas, or from solar panels. (Technically, this is not 100% true, but for all practical purposes it is.) Renewable electricity generations has virtually no downsides, whereas there are significant barriers to "renewable" fuel.

In the time being, it doesn't matter how many electric cars there are. Until electricity generation shifts from nonrenewable to renewable sources, electric cars will be no more "green" than gasoline-powered cars.

This does not mean that transportation in the meantime cannot be green. Walking, biking, and public transportation can significantly reduce the need for automobiles. Families can and should cut down on their use of automobiles. One car is usually enough for many families — 2 at most. Unfortunately, many teenagers today are spoiled and also expect their own car. This is simply unsustainable.

Personally, I am more holistic about being environmentally friendly. It's not something I say, it's something I do. People like to believe they are being environmentally friendly when they use tablets instead of paper or when they use LED light-bulbs. That is simply not the case. Most of us fail to realize that humans are part of the environment too. We are animals, and we are just as much a part of the ecosystem as any other animal. LED and CFL light-bulbs, which are energy-efficient, are harmful to health. Wireless technology is not only harmful to humans, it is also harmful to bees, butterflies, trees, and anything with DNA (including us). While every technology has downsides, some do more than others. The truth about "smart" and "green" products is that whether or not they are energy-efficient, they are probably bad for the environment as a whole. Most people fail to consider the infrastructure requires for wireless technology to work, for instance. A corded landline operates on a copper local loop that is connected to main distributing frame at the central office. Add some telephone poles and conduit, and that's it. Cell phones require cell towers which are massive environmental pollutants and energy hogs. Tablets require Wi-Fi, which is also energy-intensive and polluting. Wireless technologies use between 25 to 30 times more power than wired technologies.

A holistic approach doesn't necessarily mean becoming a hippie, living off the grid, and living in a tiny home (though it can). The reality is that simpler, older technology is often better, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly. And in the automobile industry, electric cars have a long way to go if they are ever to usurp the venerable gasoline-powered car.

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