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View Diary: Burning oil rig sinks in the Gulf of Mexico, 11 still missing [updated] (145 comments)

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  •  Electric cars don't run on pixie dust... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, enhydra lutris, Sunspots

    that the majority of US electric power comes from coal - you know that stuff that comes from mines that do nasty things like collapse and kill miners. As recently as what, last week...???

    And dump toxic stuff into rivers, and doesn't burn cleanly, etc...

    So in addition to that 25k car you need 25k in solar panels if you want clean hands.

    I hope that everyone is reading this gets a bike, walks, takes public transportation, and drives your car, gas powered or electric, only when you really need to.

    •  Bike, Walk & BART/Muni - you got it. (0+ / 0-)

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

      by enhydra lutris on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 02:15:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wrong (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brillo, JanL

      According to virtually every study conducted on the subject, EVs are cleaner than gasoline cars even on our current grid.  For a vehicle in the same class, running on electricity, on our current grid, emits about 30% less CO2, more particulate matter, the same SOx, less NOx, and nearly eliminates VOCs and CO.  Furthermore, of the pollutants that are emitted, they're emitted at altitude in less population dense areas instead of ground level in population dense areas, dramatically reducing their impact.

      Coal only makes up half of our grid.  Oil makes up the overwhelming portion of what fuels your car.  And the competing liquid fuels aren't much better; most ethanol comes from corn, which is really awful.

      Each year, coal makes up less of our grid on average.  In 2008, for example, 42% of our new capacity added to the grid was wind.  Most of the rest was natural gas.  New coal plants are being canceled left and right.

      As for "biking and walking"?  What do you think powers you?  Humans are extremely inefficient converters of sunlight to kinetic energy with the intermediary steps of plants and animals.  The net conversion efficiency is in the sub-1% range.  And this ignores the water and environmental damage done in the process.  By all means, exercise as much as you need to to stay healthy, but don't convince yourself you're saving the world in the process.  Now, biking is more efficient than walking, and because of your extremely low cross section and your low speeds, you have an advantage there.  But an e-bike is even better.

      •  Oh, and I forgot to mention: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        brillo, JanL

        While every year the grid gets cleaner, oil gets dirtier.  Oil keeps shifting more and more to syncrude (shale, tar sands, ultra-heavy, etc) and deepwater.

      •  walking vs car (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MD patriot

        "And this ignores the water and environmental damage done in the process"

        This very post is discussing an oil rig burning in the ocean.

        It doesn't matter how inefficiently I am converting sunlight to kinetic energy, I am converting SUNLIGHT to kinetic energy, not coal or oil. We can get into endless levels of debate about the amount of fossil fuels input into those calories, if I am fueling myself with Bluefin tuna from the Mediterranean, then the oil cost of fueling me is higher than if I pull a pear off the tree in my yard. That's why we should just slap a carbon tax onto those inputs to all those food sources can be properly priced. Then we'll really know.

        But if I drive a car (with a limited lifespan and all sorts of toxic crap in it) made in Japan, run from electricity from coal mined in West Virginia, am I really saving the planet? Remember your EV has to be produced and the oil fueled car has to be scrapped in order to gain your benefits.

        You'll never convince me that there is a net gain from driving 4 blocks to the store vs walking 4 blocks to the store. The net cost of walking is probably lower than opening the garage door.

        And lest you forget, another point in this post was that 11 people are missing in the gulf, far more died in West Virginia last week.

        •  Ah, but that's not true. (0+ / 0-)

          Where do you think the fertilizer for those farms come from?  Where do you think the energy to transport goods to and from the farms is?  How do you think the plants that make the fuel are powered?  How do you think the irrigation (if present) is powered?  You absolutely are using fossil energy to make those biofuels, on top of the abysmally low solar conversion efficiency.  In most cases (especially if you eat meat) more than you'd use just by using the electricity directly and taking advantage of your ~80% wall-to-wheels EV efficiency.

          And this is just a discussion of energy.  Never mind the twin disasters of what our massive scale of agriculture and livestock raising has done to habitat and water.  The Colorado River now scarcely even reaches the ocean, thanks almost entirely due to agriculture.  There are massive dead zones the world over, almost entirely due to agriculture.  We've dedicated 3/4ths of the planet's non-ice-covered landmass into raising crops and livestock.  It's of appalling scale.  Consuming more calories is not pro-environment.

          As for energy to produce a vehicle: the amount of energy consumed by any vehicle dwarfs the energy investment used to produce it, and most of modern vehicles are recycled.  And the most "toxic" thing in a typical car is the lead-acid battery, and modern EVs don't use lead-acid; they use nontoxic variants of li-ion (manganates and phosphates).

          You'll never convince me

          Good to see that you're so open-minded.

          that there is a net gain from driving 4 blocks to the store vs walking 4 blocks to the store. The net cost of walking is probably lower than opening the garage door.

          Really?  So increasing your share of the world's hundreds of thousands of dead zones is irrelevant to you?   Or your share of the tens of millions of square miles of land dedicated to agriculture and livestock?  And the corresponding share of the oceans being harvested beyond the breaking point?  And your share of rivers that no longer reach the sea and have suffered biodiversity crashes as a consequence?

          Your body converts ingested glucose to work with an efficiency of about 20%.  Biking makes use of work at a nearly 100% ratio; walking at a much lower ratio.  Anything other than glucose ingested takes energy, sometimes significant, to break down; some vegetables take nearly as much energy or more to digest as you get out of them.  20 minutes of cooking uses about half a kilowatt hour, enough to take an EV like the Leaf two miles.  Depending on the food, the energy involved in processing and packaging ranges from ~10% of the energy of the food to several times the energy of the food.  Transport and energy consumed at the farm, same numbers, once again.  Food waste, both at home, in the store, at the plants, and in the fields, accounts for more (including spoilage).  Meat takes many times as many calories in as come out (for beef, for example, it's about 8:1), so multiply all of your external energy inputs accordingly.  

          Using calories for motion is NOT an environmentally responsible thing.  It is good for your health, absolutely, but not for the environment.

          •  So what you are saying... (0+ / 0-)

            Is that to save the planet, the residents of my densely populated neighborhood should all start driving to the Whole Foods from the 2-10 blocks away they currently live from the store.

            What is the efficiency of a car that cannot move because the streets are gridlocked?

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