Electric Cars; The Answer or the Problem?

Electric Cars; the Answer or the Problem?

“The time is right for electric cars – in fact the time is critical” Ghosn, (2012). Most people in North America took this to be a fact. In a world where our environment is being decimated, can we afford to blindly believe what the media tells us? In essence, the electric car seems like a perfect, environmentally friendly idea. It doesn’t use gas, which according to the United States Environmental Agency (2005) accounts for 75% of air pollution. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. There are a variety of factors that determine the feasibility of electric cars and the benefit they can provide for us. Why not electric cars? If not electric cars, then what? We must figure out what the best alternative for our transportation is. We need to invest in an infrastructure that will help our environment, not hinder it. Change needs to be accepted by all people in order to move towards a green future of sustainability.

The main difference of petrol powered car (gas or diesel) and an electrically powered car is its source of power. The gas car uses an internal combustion engine while the electric car uses an electric motor. What is important about the differences are the contrasts of how it is made and what resources are needed to create it. An engine of a gas car is quite simple to make. A Citroen C1, an average European hatchback emits 6 tons of Carbon Monoxide into the environment upon completion of its manufacturing process. Carbon Monoxide, also known as CO2, is the main pollution that cars emit into the air. A similar size electric car would put 17 tons of CO2 into the air.(Berners-Lee & Clark, 2010) It would take roughly 100 000 KM of driving for an electric car to make up that gap and become more beneficial for the environment than a gas car (Wilson, 2014). Gas powered cars also cost significantly less to make because they lack the rare, expensive elements that are found in car batteries. A typical gas car could make it to 200 000km quite easily, while an electric vehicle isn’t popular over 100 000km, yet (O’Dell, 2012). According to Jim Motavi of Tesla Roadster, the charging capacity of the batteries are expected to tail off quite sharply after 100 000km, meaning replacement batteries for those who can afford it. The technology being produced is neither sustainable nor is it financially feasible for the general public. Change needs to make sense for all of us to be able to flourish. The electric cars battery limits the potential of the electric car.

We have yet to see the effect of many years of driving on the battery, because the technology is so new. What is known is that each battery is an extensive, carbon heavy process to create. With people needing to replace electric car batteries before a gas engine would need replacing, therefor it makes them much less efficient. Equally there are harmful effects of Lithium ion batteries:
“Researchers found that batteries using cathodes with nickel and cobalt and solvent-based electrode processing are the highest risks for negative health and environmental impacts. These impacts are a result of the production, processing and use of cobalt and nickel compounds. The environmental impacts include resource depletion, global warming, and ecological toxicity while the health impacts are poor respiratory, pulmonary and neurological effects.” (Kaiser. (2013) Lithium Ion Batteries Can Impact Health, Environment Negatively).
The cost to recycle batteries in most countries is more than the cost of mining batteries. Most batteries go without being recycled and end up sitting in a landfill, leaching toxic chemicals into the ground. We cannot afford to let those toxic heavy metals to be released into the environment where it can damage plant growth and accumulate in the food chain. Lithium/nickel mining is a cruel job that the government extorts its own people at gunpoint to carry out: “As you crawl through the tiny hole, using your arms and fingers to scratch, there’s not enough space to dig properly and you get badly grazed all over. And then, when you do finally come back out with the [lithium source], the soldiers are waiting to grab it at gunpoint. This means you have nothing to buy food with. So we’re always hungry.” (Cox, 2006. War, Murder, Rape…All for Your Cellphone) Muhunga Kawaya used these words to describe their job to a reporter. The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the leading exporters of required minerals for batteries. This demand for batteries has led to massively rising crime and violence in the DRC, One of the many negative effects caused by consumerism, not only for car batteries,, but for all electronics.

Although electricity can be a sustainable source of electricity, that isn’t always the case. The problem electricity is that there is a varying rate of how green each countries power is. In some places the source of energy can vary from town to town. Green electricity, also known as renewable electricity has to be sustainable and low carbon. Solar, Hydro and Geothermal are some of the greenest sources of electricity. In coal based countries like India, China and Australia, driving an electric car is worse than driving a petrol based car. In the picture below it shows the Electric car emissions in grams of Carbon Monoxide emitted per km:

EVemissions

In the red and some of the darker orange countries the amount of Co2e/km is more than a similar gas powered car would emit. In countries like Paraguay, Iceland and Brazil energy there is such low carbon that it makes it much more efficient in those countries to drive an EV compared to a petrol vehicle. On average, a petrol-based vehicle pollutes 132.2 gC02e/km. 132.2 grams of c02 puts electric cars in Finland equal with petrol (Wilson, 2014) Here in Canada we have extremely clean energy. Canadian energy in an electric car would pollute 115 grams, compared to 132 for petrol. In BC we are blessed with many resources such as rivers, where we generate 86% of our energy. This makes BC’s electricity extremely low carbon and contributes positively to our environment. (Whiticar, 2012) With Asia being the biggest market for electric cars, the problem isn’t going to be helped. China and India have some of the most coal-based energy out of all the countries, meaning it’s just as bad, if not worse than electric cars. With the demand for a clean source of transportation high, China and India need to invest in cleaner energy such as nuclear or hydro. Given Asia’s population, they cannot afford to make a switch to technology that isn’t any better for the environment when so many people would be investing in it (Johnston, 2015).

People have been trying to make positive changes to our transportation, although some people fight against environmental protection for personal wealth. From 1996 to 1999 General Motors produced an electric called the EV1. The EV1 was only on the road for 3 years until GM recalled them all. GM claims it’s because of the liability and maintenance of the car, but it is has been suspected that the oil companies threatened GM into taking the car off of the road. This way the oil companies could keep a stranglehold on our choice of transportation fuel. There are known to be lobbyists for big oil companies that can attempt to sway the government’s mind. (Hari, J. 2007)
In 2006, Volkswagen came out with XL1 diesel hybrid. What’s remarkable about the EV1 is that it has a completely overhauled drivetrain. It can get 300 mpg and according to John McIlroy of Auto Car it will emit only 24g CO2/km. Such a sophisticated drivetrain that would deliver such fuel efficiency would surely change the automotive industry. The reason it hasn’t is because once again, oil companies pressured the government into not granting it access into the US. They do this out of fear that it will make their technology and oil obsolete. Without the major car market of the US, Volkswagen doesn’t believe the car to be profitable so they won’t move to turn the plans into reality.
Electric cars may not always be the answer. They can be the answer in low carbon energy places such as Paraguay or Iceland. But when half of the world’s population is lives in high carbon energy producing countries, electric cars simply don’t help. So what can we do to reduce our carbon footprint throughout the world?
Stella is a solar powered car designed by a group of Dutch engineers. The remarkable thing about Stella is that it is a completely solar powered car, meaning you’d never have to plug it in. It can travel 500 miles on a single charge (O’Callaghan, 2014). What separates it from similar solar cars is that it can fit 5 people, making it practical as a family car.Hydrogen is another fuel for cars that is starting to be experimented with. It essentially replaces gas in a car that would look and perform the same as a regular car. Hydrogen is the most abundant element making it a viable option as fuel. Instead of polluting the earth with excess CO2 like gas cars do, it emits pure water, as it’s only tailpipe emission.What if we were all willing to sacrifice the convenience of personal transit for a better system of public transport? That’s what Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX is proposing. His idea is to build magnetic levitation trains that run underground to get from city to city and throughout town in an extremely quick, carbon neutral way. Magnetic levitation is a technology used in China and Japan on some of their trains capable of 500km/h. The difference is that this new system would be underground and through a virtual vacuum to make it frictionless, so there is no need for a source of emissions. Out of all these ideas, Stella is quickly gaining speed towards production. The thing is, different things work better for different people. Will we ever be able to unanimously decide to make a sacrifice for the long-term benefit of all of us?

Our environment is degrading at an astonishing rate. Our destructive ways that we justify for the ‘convenience’ cannot continue. It’s become clear that we need to change. Gas powered cars are the killer and electric cars are not the savior some may think them to be. We must reinvent the way we live our lives. The problem is that so many people feel that it’s a lost cause. It’s easy to see how people think the change that they make personally won’t make a big difference is on a world scale. We cannot afford to think that way. If we do nothing it will become too late for our environment to recover. Whether it is the Stella, the Hydrogen or the Maglev Train, we need to commit to making an eco friendly mode of transport that can sustain our burgeoning population. Personally, I want to spend my life exploring the picturesque forests and stunning landscapes that we are blessed with here in beautiful British Columbia. I’m ready to rally for change so that we can move to protect our earth, are you? Through a commonly invested goal we can become influential in a societal change that will shape our future. We can not allow our future generations to be burdened down by the nature of our carelessness.

References:

Wilson, L. (2014, January) The ‘electric cars aren’t green’ myth debunked
. Retrieved from http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/electric-cars-green

Tanguay-Carel, M. (May 24, 2013) Our Energy Use in Numbers. Retrieved from http://theenergycollective.com/matstc/228791/our-energy-use-numbers

Lumberg, B. (2013, March 11) Green Cars Have a Dirty Little Secret. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324128504578346913994914472

Cox, S. (2006, September 13) War, Murder…All for your Cell Phone. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/story/41477/war,_murder,_rape…_all_for_your_cell_phone

Berners-Lee & Clark. (2012, September 23) Whats the Carbon Footpring of.. A New Car? Retrieved from:
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2010/sep/23/carbon-footprint-new-car

Kaiser, T (June 3, 2013) Study: Lithium-Ion Batteries Can Impact Environment, Health Negatively. Retrieved from http://www.dailytech.com/Study+LithiumIon+Batteries+Can+Impact+Environment+Health+Negatively/article31678.htm

Whiticar, MJ. (2012) Where Our Electricity Comes From. Retrieved from http://www.energybc.ca/map/bcenergymap.html

Johnston, G. (January 15, 2015) Elon Musk Says World Needs Electric Cars Now More Than Ever. Retrieved from: http://www.dpa-international.com/news/asia/news-featureelon-musk-says-world-needs-electric-cars-now-more-than-everby-gretel-johnston-dpa-a-43879930.html

Hari, J. (2007, April 7) Big Oil’s Vendetta Against the Electric Car. Retrieved from:
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2007/04/07/big-oils-vendetta-against-electric-car

Motavalli, J. (July 16, 2013) Tesla Roadster Battery Life Study: 85% Capacity after 100 000 Miles. Retrieved from http://www.plugincars.com/tesla-roadster-battery-life-study-85-percent-after-100000-miles-127733.html

O’Callaghan, J. (September 24, 2014) Meet Stella the car that drives 500 miles on a single charge. Retrieved from:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2767806/Meet-Stella-solar-powered-car-drives-500-miles-SINGLE-charge-warns-traffic-lights-change.html

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Lynn Henning

Lynn Henning never grew up knowing that one day she would fight to keep her homeland safe. At 42 years of age, that’s exactly what happened. Lynn grew up on a family farm in rural Michigan. Large farming and meat companies sought to take advantage of the land by setting up concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s). Originally content with the CAFO’s due to the increased wealth brought to the area, the damage they caused quickly became apparent to her. Up to ten thousand cows could be stuffed together into one CAFO which results in large amounts of manure. This Manure was drained with the pee and blood into open lakes to sit there and leech into the ground water. This can contaminate entire communities and leech a landscape of its nutrients.

Being a farmer most of her life, Lynn knew nothing of the violations the CAFO’s were breaking by they way the dispose of their waste. It wasn’t until her in laws were diagnosed with hydrogen sulfide poisoning that was directly attributed to the cow waste did she chose to battle for her beliefs. Lynn pursued state officials until they would run water quality tests. She became a Water Sentinal with the Sierra Club which meant she was responsible for monitoring water quality. Lynn gathered enough evidence to bring the issue into the mainstream media and forced pressure on the CAFO’s. The state then upgraded its water pollution techniques and levied hundreds of citations against the companies. Due to Lynn’s aggressive pursuit of closing the CAFO’s, the state started to deny permits for them for the first time ever. Any CAFO’s would have to be built somewhere else because of what she did.

Lynn is an inspiration to me because she single handedly managed to slow down the degradation of our fragile ecosystem. She works hard to stop the widespread damage that the concentrated cattle can cause. It makes me wonder how much change would be attainable if more people were determined like Lynn. She received many threats and total social exclusion from those in the town around her. Lynn stayed strong because she knew she was fighting the good fight. Even though Lynn had no prior knowledge about water pollution, she informed herself and was able to make a difference. This is something we can all learn from as we face potential environmental power struggles. We may not grow up knowing that we’ll fight for our homeland, but we all have the potential to do so within us.

The Rocking Horse Winner Character Analysis

The mother in “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is an example of the financial elitist mentality that can plague households. In a society where people’s success in life is judged by the opulence of their homes, rather than the happiness, one can easily become caught up with trying to live beyond their means. Coming from a well off family, she has constantly been exposed to a grandiose lifestyle where money rules. It was once she married and left the comforts of her parents lifestyle that she realized how she wouldn’t be able to keep up the same life. “I used to think i was [lucky], before i married. Now i think i am very unlucky indeed” (p.222). She see’s her husband and her kids as the reason that her luck has run out, causing her children to discern that their mother doesn’t love them due to her lust for money. Although people seemed to think she was a loving mother, it was a different picture on the inside. “Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so.” (p.220) This lack of love was a detriment to the children, resulting in Paul’s death. The Mother was extremely selfish and materialistic to allow herself to be so taken in by something as trivial as social status. Paul was then forced to act on his own to attempt to provide for his family, so that his mother could focus on the children and not the burden of not having enough money. When Paul secretly gifts his mother money, she keeps it concealed to everyone. Her greed consumed her to the point where she couldn’t even let her family know about the money so that she could keep it for herself, and not share it with her children. As Paul’s health deteriorates, she begins to realize how much more important her family is than the perception of class. “And then, because of a strange anxiety at her heart, she stole upstairs to her son’s room.” (p.233) She feels anxious as if through a bond between her and her son, she can sense that something isn’t as it should be with him. She finally realizes her bond with her children and pays them the attention that they have been due. She becomes aware that the routine of over extending themselves financially to maintain the perception of class was masking what was really important in her life, her children.

What’s Stopping Me From Reaching My Potential?

What is my potential? It seems a simple question, yet one that perplexes me to no end. When i think about growing up, i think about going to University and then getting a solid job that nets me a decent income. There has to be something more for me to be a part of. I struggle to find what my potential in this world while i’m stuck in a restrictive system that treats me as one hundreds. I know i am a unique individual, as we all are. We are all destined for different things, different potentials to reach. How are we expected to know our potential when we are educated and taught to live the same lives? The school system is what oppresses our potential and prevents us from unleashing ourselves as individuals. I’ve always thought about how i will progress and life and what sort of life i want to lead. The problem is that i always view it as such a distant thing, thinking that i can put work into it down the line and become something i want to be at a better, more convenient time. I’m starting to realize that even though i’m in a rigid system, i need to start taking the steps to become an individual where i can achieve my potential, rather than just be another faceless individual. Too many times we pass up opportunities that would help enlighten us to what our potential. Risk taking is something i have often been hesitant to do in my life. I now find myself not completely knowing who i am or what i want for myself in the future. Hopefully i can begin to change what i do with my life so i can figure out my potential.

Personality/Learning Type Reflection

Through taking the 3 personality/learning style tests I have learned new aspects about myself that I wasn’t aware of before. I learned that I am a Multimodal learner, Abstract Sequential and an ISTJ (Introvert, sensing, thinking, judging).

Before taking these tests, I had never really identified with a style of receiving information that seemed better than the other ways. So in that aspect, I’m not surprised that I was labeled at a multimodal learner. The highest category I scored in was aural, with a 7. I’m not surprised I got the highest mark in aural because I always found things to be more interesting when someone of experience was explaining them to me. Although it would have been interesting to have one style of learning which works way better than the others, I’m happy to multimodal. I believe being multimodal is an asset to help my learning.

After receiving a result of Abstract Sequential, I couldn’t help but to think that I’m more of a Concrete Sequential. I have always felt that I’ve looked at things straightforward and not thought too much more about them, or that there may be a different side to them. According to Gregorc, those are concrete traits. So I do disagree with what I got, but not completely. I think I have seen a lot of my traits come out at work, as it brought out a lot of things I never had really seen in myself before. Things that I noticed at work was how it was really hard for me to work in an unorganized environment, not having enough time to do a job properly and continually doing the same task.

I have mixed feelings about getting ISTJ for personality type. I can agree with being an Introvert, as after being around people for a while it feels good to be alone to relax and recharge. I was given sensing over intuition, which I can agree with. I agree because I tend to just think about what is concrete, what is actually happening. I seldom try and read between the lines and infer more. For thinking vs feeling, I got thinking and I can definitely agree with that. I think that part of me sometimes come across when I’m completely realistic, which can be often. When I read that I got judging instead of perceiving, I originally viewed it as negative. After looking up the definition, I can definitely agree that it is right. I do like for decisions to be made, to know what’s going on and to have structure. Overall, I can certainly agree that the ISTJ type is fairly accurate.

I was impressed how well the tests worked, and intrigued by what they had to say about me.