We know pollutions from road vehicles is real and looking at the biggest air pollutants in 2020, not surprisingly transportation still comes out on top with emissions increasing each year. A couple months ago, my walk around parked cars on the streets should have been no more interesting than other times, but then I spotted the car — a parked car that was also charging itself. A new charging station for electric/hybrid vehicles was installed right on the edge of the sidewalk.
Electric/hybrid vehicles have been around for a few decades, but they have never stood a chance against cheaper gas cars. Even though the price of electric cars are still higher than regular gas cars, climate change, pollution and the cost of the gas are making people’s decisions easier whether to buy an electric car or the one with a gas tank. Yes, there are pros and cons like in everything else; when driving longer distances a need to recharge the battery can happen, and comparing it to the quicker speed of a refilling a tank is unquestionable. But if we think green, we can go green with a bit of patience and detailed plans. For every day short distance driving, electric vehicles are a no brainer. More gas cars equal more pollution, but it does not have to be like that, and it will not be if the right decisions by the government are made. When we look at the data from the EPA, we can see that more than three quarters of emissions in the transportation industry are emitted by trucks and cars. If the U.S. wants to be a leader in the green transportation industry and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it can be by speeding up investments in the green industry. But we know that scientists do not fill government pockets as other industries’ lobbyists.
We heard some news recently about OPEC and its members agreeing to limit the production of oil to keep or even raise prices of gas. The US government and the people of this country, which is not a part of OPEC, are of course angry and should do something about it. We could use this moment to show them a middle finger (or not) along with an announcement for the biggest investment in the green industry directly aimed at the oil production vs electric cars. Bigger climate legislation was recently signed into law that strongly advised other countries around the world to do the same. Our lives cannot be influenced by countries that are constantly breaking human rights’ laws (not all OPEC countries do that). Fighting emissions and pollution and climate change alone is not possible.
With something good always something bad comes too. Electric vehicles might first seem to be very green, and they are. But they are not very just green because their batteries are made from very rare earth metals and extracting them from earth is causing damage to the environment, and it is not only about the environment, but also about children working in unregulated mines (Democratic Republic of Congo), with raw materials and risking their health. International regulations and observations could help with the labor issue of working kids in those mines. Also, the environmental issues are much bigger and more complicated including where the waste materials from mining the raw materials should be deposited.
Limited amount of natural resources is not only restricted to oil, but the other earth’s materials, like cobalt and lithium, which are currently being used in those batteries. Very good news is that these batteries last longer than manufacturer’s expectations had been and even after the car is at the end of its life, the batteries can still work well. Manufacturers already have ideas to reuse or recycle the batteries. This very exciting news for the climate and for humanity. The longer something lasts, the better for the environment and for our pockets.
We are not far away from, but also not close enough to a full Green Industry yet, but with the right amount of proper decisions and laws we can get there in no time. It is about our decisions in what world we want to live in in the future, green and healthy, or smoggy and deadly.
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Sanger, D. E., Hubbard, B., (2022, October 5) OPEC Move Shows the Limits of Biden’s Fist-Bump Diplomacy With the Saudis. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/05/us/politics/opec-biden-saudi-arabia.html
Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (2022, August 5). EPA. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions
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Picture from https://nylcv.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/mobility-future-cities-electric-car-charging.png