Carbonhagen. That’s the best description of the location and nature of the international climate change summit currently taking place overseas in Denmark, where the “something is rotten” includes but is certainly not limited to the overt hypocrisy of those involved, as well as an underlying motivation behind environmental policy arising from anything but concern for the environment.
It’s been a great few weeks for people like myself who have been shouting to the rooftops in an attempt to shed light on the fraud which is the global warming movement. Following the exposure of hacked e-mails from East Anglia CRU showing that scientists actively engaged in data suppression and outright fraud, comments from Climatology’s high priests have smacked of desperation. Watching them squirm has been satisfying, to say the least.
Lost in a lot of the hubbub, however, is the reality that it is indeed in the best interests of us all to be responsible stewards of our planet and make best use of our resources, not for concern that the seas will catastrophically rise or that the thriving polar bear population will drown, but because true energy independence is in our national interests, and because–like Boy Scouts striking camp and leaving a campsite–we have an overall responsibility to leave this place cleaner for the next generation than it was for us.
Technological advances made every day are allowing us to do just that while simultaneously growing our economy and facilitating ingenuity, rather than slowing our economy and stifling imagination, as the global warming alarmists would have us do. Considering that, it is my pleasure to present a guest commentary on electric vehicles as an essential component of our future by Brad Fregger, a writer, professor and publisher with a Master’s Degree in Futuristics. I’ve also asked him a few questions (which, honestly, could have been a whole lot better on my part) about his assertions as well, and those appear afterward. I hope you enjoy his piece as much as I did.
The Promise of the Electric Vehicle
By Brad Fregger
The ultimate promise of the electric vehicle (EV) is lost on many of us who have a conservative viewpoint. For example, here’s Rush Limbaugh with quotes from Adam Victor of the New York Post:
If a few thousand well-meaning dupes plug a few thousand new Chevy Volts into electrical outlets, … you could actually add millions of pounds of dangerous, dirty, unregulated pollution and carbon into the air,” … Okay, we got an electric car. “Yeah, no gasoline! No petroleum! Less pollution! Plug it in.” What powers the plug? What powers the socket? “Dupes” is the right word.
And that ends the discussion. If we support the promise of the EV, we’re “dupes.” In some ways it’s similar to trying to discuss the global warming fraud with liberals. Their minds are made up. In addition, just as many of us have questioned where Al Gore obtained his information regarding the purported dangers of global warming, the same could be asked with regards to: “a few thousand new Chevy Volts … add millions of pounds of dirty, unregulated pollution.”
An intensive search of the Internet doesn’t uncover anything to support that statement. It has been suggested that the savings will not be as great as intended. But even here, there is no consideration for improvement in pollution control for power plants, when in reality the technological improvements to date have been spectacular. Also, most EVs–the Volt included–will be charged at night when the demand for electricity is at its lowest.
Sure, we’ll be having an increase in electrical usage, but the amount of pollution caused by that increase will be significantly less than would have been produced by gasoline-powered vehicles. This will be even more evident as new technologies gain further use. And, let’s not forget, when electricity is being produced by non-polluting sources (nuclear and hydro-electric for example), the EV really is zero-emission. While California is not a perfect example, it is worth mentioning that only 18 percent of their power comes from coal; the rest comes from either natural gas (45 percent) or other sources that are completely emission free.
There is little doubt that the EV can make a significant difference regarding two of our most compelling issues: First, our dependence on foreign oil, and second, the pollution that is a byproduct of gasoline-powered vehicles. These problems, like most problems, can be solved in the marketplace if the government will just leave the capitalistic system alone and let the innovative minds that drive new developments free to do what they do best; give us new and better products. In other words, don’t save the dinosaurs.
The EV is the answer for both the short and long term. Other alternatives just don’t match up.
Natural Gas: Building the infrastructure to service the nation’s automobiles with natural gas would be a major undertaking taking years and billions of dollars..
Ethanol and other biofuels: The problems here are well known. That we continue to support this solution is laughable; with only Congress not in on the joke.
Biodiesel: Almost as bad an idea as Ethanol — that we could, collect, create, and then distribute enough biodiesel to run a significant percentage vehicles on the nation’s highways is ridiculous.
Hydrogen: It might be decades before hydrogen is ready to replace gasoline as a vehicular fuel; and, again we have the infrastructure issue.
Yes, EVs are way ahead of the competition, and they are the only potentially zero-emission alternative available. A close analysis shows that there are really very few negatives.
The major problem with EVs has been range — the distances that they can travel before needing a charge. Technologies continue to improve, however, with Tesla all-electric cars getting up to 300 miles on a single charge. With regard to performance issues and concerns, the Tesla Roadster accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than four seconds and has a top speed of 125 miles per hour.
How about the infrastructure issue? Well, there are well over 300 million refueling stations already in existence. This includes, of course, every home and business in the United States. Furthermore, adding more “service stations” at every parking garage, motel, office, etc. will be a very simple process. For long trips, there could very well be battery stations where drivers can switch out a spent battery pack for a fresh one.
Ultimately, we will have to build additional electric-generating power plants. Again, regardless of whether or not the EV becomes the ultimate personal vehicle, we will still need additional power plants. Sustained growth is critical to the socio-economic health of our society and energy is critical to sustained growth. And, controlling emissions from a relatively small number of power plants is much easier than doing it for 300 million plus vehicles.
With the focus on and support of EV technology, we can be on the road to energy independence while dramatically reducing vehicle-caused pollution in a very short time, effectively eliminating it altogether in the long run.
And, believe it or not, there are other significant benefits to supporting this technology. First, even the potential of an EV-based society will force the price of oil down almost immediately as speculators lose confidence in the future demand for oil. Second, the global warming fanatics will lose a major piece of their argument as soon as it is shown that this one societal change, a change driven by the market, will do more than our government could ever do with new laws and excessive taxation.
How will the market cause this change? Stop and think about it for a second. What if you were made aware of a vehicle that looked sharp, performed well, was extremely reliable, needed very little maintenance, cost two cents per mile to run, and you never had to go to a gas station again. Would that interest you? Many of us would be extremely interested; the only thing that might hold us back would be the price. Computers were expensive a few years ago and now … well … you get the drift.
While it would be better for the government to stay out of the way completely, there is one thing government could do, and that’s providing facilitative financial support for research needed to provide for a much better electric storage capability. A “Manhattan Project” to help solve this would probably be a good idea and has been mentioned by others:
You can find folks across the political spectrum—Obama, Hillary Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Thomas Friedman, Sam Brownback —who seem to think a multibillion-dollar, government-led research and regulatory effort is just what is needed right now to develop clean energy sources in America.
They talk about better coal technology, developing biofuels (Obama especially, showcasing one more example of his ignorance), and Hydrogen fuel cells. But not once did they mention the need for better battery technology. The real clean energy sources–wind, solar, and tidal–all need better storage technology in order to be viable. Not to mention how better battery technology would solidify the EV as the only viable choice. This is where we need a new Manhattan Project.
The negatives of the EV are essentially economic, and therefore are a major problem for big business, local and state governments which depend on gasoline taxes, as well as the environmental lobbies. It is interesting that these groups, which have no great love for each other, form such a strong alliance against those of us making the right decisions for energy independence, our socio-economic health, and the future of our country; not to mention an end to vehicular pollution.
JEFF SCHREIBER: Between coal, natural gas, offshore oil and oil shale, we have hundreds of years of storable energy. Surely, you’re not suggesting a myopic focus on electric vehicles at the expense of mining, drilling, exploration and extraction?
BRAD FREGGER: Of course not. Energy is the engine that drives modern society. Without it, we will fail and suffer more than most can imagine. Presently we need all of the sources of energy available. To limit our alternatives is to risk our future and the risk is an ignorant one. To make clean energy possible, we need a technological breakthrough in storage capability, and one never knows when a technology breakthrough will happen — next year, or fifty years from now … or even more.
JS: I’m a big fan of an all-of-the-above approach to achieving true, real energy independence. Part of that includes things like wind, solar and tidal power, sources which are less feasible due to storage problems. Do you think that a new Manhattan Project, as you put it, working toward more efficient battery power for electric vehicles could also lead to technological breakthroughs in energy storage applicable to those other sources?
BF: I thought that was clear in my article, in fact, I was trying to state that the Manhattan Project needed to focus on your issue, with the EV getting some added benefit. Obviously, I didn’t make that clear. [He did; I was just being obtuse. -- Jeff]
JS: Even if the vehicles are plugged in at night, during off-peak hours, they’re still drawing power when charged, power which currently–due to nuclear-phobic bureaucrats–is produced in ways which, in turn, produce pollution. Are folks like Rush Limbaugh and even myself so wrong in saying that, as things stand right now, electric vehicles are by no means zero-emissions?
BF: Again, I thought I was clear that research has shown that, at the very least, there has been a slight improvement. Perhaps not much right now, especially in areas where they are using mostly coal to produce the electricity. However, in California for example, where there has been a movement toward clean energy, there would be dramatic decrease in pollutants where they have very clean energy, using only 18% coal, and this includes the electricity they import. Also, the coal problem has essentially been solved, and there’s just the cost of converting the plants — a move which will take place at sometime in the future.
JS: Isn’t Al Gore an investor in Tesla? Who else has a financial stake in the mainstreaming of electric vehicles?
BF: I wouldn’t be surprised — the crook has his fingers everyplace he thinks there’s a chance to make a lot of money off of global warming. However, if the people wise up and we get rid of Cap and Trade and any carbon taxes, much of his investments will disappear. And I will be one to celebrate that.
JS: If we’re focusing on more efficient battery technology, wouldn’t the natural progression of things produce super-efficient gas-electric hybrids first? And with our vast stores of oil and natural gas ready to be tapped, what’s so wrong with a more efficient hybrid that charges with inertia versus one that plugs in and draws power from polluting plants?
BF: What — you want to use polluting cars instead of “polluting” plants? Sorry, doesn’t make sense to me. Remember, the hybrids have to gain some inertia before they can use it to charge the batteries. Also, I’ve always thought it was a bit dumb to put two engines into a vehicle, as all associated costs just go up.
JS: A math question: How many electric vehicles would it take to match the harmful emissions spewed from Al Gore’s various orifices in a given month? (Show your work.)
BF: I’d have to know how many times he lets loose each day. Presently, I’m not privy to that information. And my last math class was in high school; that’s why I failed P-Chem and missed my Chem major.
JS: Finally, how long until ownership of electric vehicles is feasible for struggling middle class American families like mine?
BF: The Tesla Sedan is down to about $50,000 and that’s only the second version of an acceptable EV vehicle. I’d bet, with an honest focus on this technology, it would happen very quickly much like the price of computers has come down. And it will happen long before we see a viable Hydrogen or Natural Gas vehicle; Hydrogen still needs a technology breakthrough and they both have major infrastructure issues. However, in the meantime, I do think that T. Boone Pickens’ idea of using Natural Gas for long-haul trucks traveling our interstate highways is a very good idea. Adding that infrastructure should be relatively easy to accomplish and could make a significant difference in truck pollution almost immediately.