An ode to internal combustion and the truth about automobile carbon footprints

By James Edward Sved on February 20, 2014

LOS ANGELES (Herald de Paris) — ¬†I won’t lie, I love cars. ¬†Real cars. ¬†Forget hybrid vehicles and whining SVT transmissions, forget flappy paddle gear shifters, and by all means, forget all electric automobiles. ¬†My preference is for a good old fashioned internal combustion engine, a manual gearbox in my hand, and a gas tank I don’t fill with an extension cord. ¬†Let me tell you why.

2005_chrysler_crossfire-pic-3656535515053479328-1024x768Listen up all you Prius drivers, Tesla coveters, and battery heads, there’s something that Akido Toyoda, Elon Musk, and Ed Begley, Jr. aren’t telling you. ¬†A study published on the Green Car Congress website reports that green car production actually has a higher carbon footprint than conventional car production. ¬†That means that in order for you to drive that car that can only go 300 miles (if that) at 65 miles per hour before recharging, the car manufacturers are actually having a worse impact on the environment than if you bought a gas sipping micro-car, a Mercedes, or a Corvette.

Over the lifetime of an internal combustion vehicle, a conventional car creates, on average, 24 tonnes of carbon dioxide. ¬†Meanwhile, when the manufacturing carbon emissions are factored in, an average EV, hybrid, or all-battery-powered car only saves 6 tonnes of CO2 over its entire life cycle, coming in at 18 tonnes of CO2. ¬†That’s not enough CO2-savings to really feel as good about as the electric car manufacturers would have you believe, and it gets worse. ¬†The average battery takes centuries to decompose, and some battery components never degrade. ¬†Decomposing battery acids can leech into soils, water supplies, and cause widespread damage to the environment, making bigger and more batteries to power vehicles ¬†an overall more dangerous prospect to the environment than continuing with the conventional V-6, for example, until something truly revolutionary can be invented.

And where are electric cars getting their energy from, anyway? ¬†Well, from burning coal and smashing atoms, mostly. ¬†To meet the needs of all this rechargeable battery usage, we are actually burning more coal than ever, and coal burning may well be the most caustic contributor to industrial CO2 emissions. ¬†How many more Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents do we need before we temper our construction of nuclear facilities? ¬†These are the “solutions” to cleaning up the environment that Musk, Toyoda, et. al. are selling you. ¬†Doesn’t seem so green anymore, does it? ¬†Begley? ¬†Bueller? ¬†Anyone?

You see, you can burn fossil fuels to fill your conventional gas tank, or you can burn fossil fuels to make the energy to power your electric car.  Is there really an appreciably significant difference?  True, an electric car might burn slightly less fossil fuels in its operation, but that electric car polluted the environment more to manufacture.  Perhaps, then, it is more environmentally beneficial for car owners to purchase internal combustion automobiles that get vastly improved MPG and appreciably reduced emissions.

So why are most automobile manufacturers making hybrid and electric cars?  Because environmental awareness is a hot topic and gullible people will put themselves on waiting lists to buy them in an effort to think they are being environmentally aware.  The wool has been pulled over your eyes for the sake of car sales, and worse, potentially at the further expense of the environment these car buyers think they are saving.

There is hope, however.  Researchers are working on clean hydrogen-based engines, and one university team in China is experimenting with a vehicle that actually runs on CO2, and outputs O2, making their vehicle as environmentally friendly as a leafy tree.

THAT would be progress. ¬†Until then, I’ll continue to fill up with unleaded – and check the oil, please.

richard February 20, 2014

Great Op Ed JE Sved.

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