Questioning Electric Cars

Thanks for printing Phil Barnhart’s exuberant viewpoint, “Clean Fun with an Electric Car” (Eugene Weekly, 12/5). Indeed, it must be fun zipping around town in a high-tech, seemingly zero-carbon vehicle.

I applaud Barnhart’s intentions. We’ll undoubtedly build solar panels, wind turbines and electric
cars, but let’s do so within the context of honestly understanding the environmental costs of such things and
their limitations where saving the planet is concerned.

Just the battery pack alone from one Tesla car results in 250 tons of mining waste from producing the lithium. All that mining and extraction is done with diesel fuel. Probably the majority of the intensely thermal industrial manufacturing process is powered by coal and natural gas.

Shipping of raw materials to the factory is done using diesel. Distributing the finished product is done using
diesel. While the PNW does have an electric grid that is heavy in hydro power, many EVs around the country will be inevitably be charged using coal and natural gas generated electricity.

When someone says they have the renewable energy solution to our problems, I’m all ears. But it’s not intellectually honest to pluck one shiny end product out of a long story of pollution and fossil fuel use and claim to have an answer.

Regretfully, given where we’re at, meaningfully addressing climate change will have to focus more on dramatically downsizing our lifestyles with a stiff tax on fossil fuels than on expecting things to remain the same except with Teslas instead of Fords.

Robert Bolman


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