Today, in honor of Valentine's Day, we're going to talk about love. Specifically, how much some people love to hate on electric vehicles (EVs). Tristan Justice at The Federalist, for example, is so enamored of spreading anti-EV propaganda that he forgot he's supposed to be a journalist!
Instead, he just listed talking points in "5 Reasons Biden's Electric Vehicles Are A Boondoggle." A better headline could have been "3 Reasons Anti-EV Attacks Rely On Disinformation," though, because reasons 2 and 3 are both basically that EVs aren't cheap (which is also true of new gas cars) and that they're not reliable and are vulnerable to global supply chains (as are gas cars!)
The other reason? Supposedly, "EVs Are a Green Illusion" because manufacturing a battery creates more emissions than making a fossil fueled car. Okay, even if the figures cited were accurate, which is questionable, then what? What happens after a car is manufactured? Does driving an EV produce more or less fossil fuel pollution than fossil-fueled cars? Justice's rose-colored glasses for the object of his affections leads readers to believe that EVs are worse. But the RealClear "investigation" he links to cites research (that it then tries to undercut) which shows EV's "break even" in emissions compared to gas cars after just 13,500 to 20,600 miles, depending on the car and electricity source. So unless you're throwing out your car every time the "change oil" light comes on, it's probably safe to say that EVs are greener! (Plus, no "change oil" light!)
For a more commendable effort than the essay equivalent of a doodle of a gas station with hearts scribbled around it, we turn from Tristan's Federalist piece based on a RealClearInvestigations post, to a RealClearEnergy post by Jonathan Lesser. Keen minds might recall that Lesser prompted us to wonder in 2018 why we kept finding fossil fuel affiliations behind everyone writing disinformation-filled op-eds criticizing EVs. Well, he's back at it! Lesser says news that EVs could be hooked up to the grid to provide a little extra juice to keep the lights on during extreme events is "another green fantasy."
He claims that "the math doesn't add up," but then he does the math showing that on a hypothetical cold day in 2050, all of New York's then-3.5 million EVs, if fully charged, would be able to meet the state's electricity demand for 10-15 hours. While he paints that as a failure because a storm might last a week, it's actually pretty impressive that EV batteries could cover the state’s power demand for an entire workday as crews get everything back up and running! And it's even more impressive when you account for the fact that the more realistic scenario is that instead of needing to replace the entire grid's power supply, EVs could be used to make sure any unexpected demand can be met, offering a buffer for exceptionally hot or cold days when people have the heat or A/C maxed.
Lesser's too enraptured by his love for fossil fuels to realize he's showing how EVs can do something gas cars can't, but he's at least coherent about it.
The same cannot be said for CFACT's Duggan Flanakin's attack on EVs, also in RealClearEnergy, published the same day as Lesser's. Apparently trying to hop on the AI chatbot bandwagon, Flanakin's headline offers a taste of his punch-drunk-love-stricken rambling: "EVs Are Designed For ChatGPT - Not 'Carbon Units.'" Supposedly EVs are bad because when the robot revolution comes, they would be easy for AI to take over. Because… um… computers?
It's one of the most impressively bizarre pieces of writing we've seen, at least in a pseudo-professional outlet like this one, as opposed to the wild conspiracy theory platforms. We might suspect it was actually written by ChatGPT, as Flanakin certainly displays the pseudo-understanding of source content that you might otherwise only see from intelligence that is artificial. But his clumsy mash-up of Matrix quotes, James Cameron and Ray Kurzweil references, and (for no discernible reason) the hippie-era "Age of Aquarius" shows a creatively, distinctly human sort of unintelligence. It’s the kind only someone deeply in love (with fossil fuels) could create: an expression of obsessive devotion to something that can never love you back.
Flanakin's nightmare is that due to climate concerns, humanity is reduced to "Carbon Units," while AI chat bots, and their eventually sentient descendants, become known as "Chatters." Usually we try to summarize content so you don't have to read it, but this… this is something that really needs to be experienced, so here's an archived link. And here's a taste: "with all the compute power available today, [EVs] will be deciding where we can go. After all, they are just ChatGPT's mobile cousins. Or will be soon."
Only a human is creative enough to imagine chat bots taking over cars, though an AI might come close if you fed it Stephen King's cult 'cars-kill-humans' classic Maximum Overdrive, then prompted it to write a cheesy Sci-Fi story where robots use electric cars to take over humanity, in the style of an author who ate so much acid in the 70s that he's still tripping.
It’s easier, at least for now, to leave the EV disinfo to the professionals like Lesser, with his "green fantasy," Tristan Justice, with his puppy-eyed "green illusions," and Duggan Flanakin, who's so head over heels for fossil fuels that he's jealously dreamed up a scenario in which "Chatters" steal away his beloved gasoline-powered automobile.