Saturday, November 22, 2008

Electric Cars Do Not A Game-Changer Make

Wow. People still just don't get it.

Ok, I'll admit, I'm about to head back to the East Coast for the grand Thanksgiving get-together at my extended family's farm in New England. But I know that I need to reduce my carbon footprint and restrict my movement (I'm getting there: I live in San Francisco and call anything on the other side of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge "California" at best, and the equivalent of different universe at worst).

But here's a Reuters story quoting San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom about how he feels badly driving a hybrid. The point is, he wants to switch to an all-electric vehicle.

To me people switching from regular ICEs or hybrids to electric cars is like George W. Bush giving up golf during times of war.

Electric vehicles may be good as a transition to NO vehicles at all (or more realitistically FEWER vehicles). But how much coal would we need to extract from the planet, how many new nuclear plants would we need to commission (money-losing investments -- they would be public works projects at best), and how many LNG plants would we need to erect to transition from over 200 million vehicles in the United States alone now powered by gasoline to electric vehicles? And given the warnings about global climate change, how much time would we have to get there?

Here's a link to one of my favorite articles, one that I have posted in this blog before, The Road to Nowhere, about the fallacy of alternative-fuel vehicles (and electric vehicles ARE alternative-fuel vehicles, as long as the electricity plants are powered by anything other than petroleum).

Electric cars just do not a game-changer make. We need people to accept the reality that there are limitations to what they can have and where they can go. I know that's hard. It's hard for me, for goodness sake. But I know it.

What might be a real game-changer? Following the advice of expert planners who are telling us we need to create affordable -- and appealing -- housing where the jobs, parks, transit, schools, and retail already exist. And that ex-urban communities need to stop including wide streets and bountiful parking in their zoning regulations.

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