The following came in an email conversation in response to one of my Twitter comments. It’s from Ken Holowanky in Coquitlam who has been trying to promote the ideas for many years. Published here with permission:
Be very careful about touting the use of all electric vehicles. There is no free lunch.
A horsepower is a horsepower is a horsepower, no matter it comes from decayed dinosaurs and vegetation or draining alpine lakes for IPP hydro projects…. there is a cost.
If one wants to go to Point A from Point B faster, it takes more horsepower. If you want to carry more weight, it takes more horsepower. If you want to make the trip more times, it takes more horsepower.
The proliferation of plug-in stations breeds a mindset one is completely “green” if one drives an electric vehicle and they aren’t using “horsepower”. Though the overall impact of all electric vehicles is calculated to be less….it is only slightly less.
Rare earth minerals for batteries require mining in sensitive areas like the Serengeti Wilderness, oil products are still used for manufacture of all the plastics required, recycling of retired vehicles presents unique problems. If the electricity is hydroelectric, there are still significant effects on the environment, fish habitat, amount of available farmland…and our pocket books.
For several decades after initial flooding, large reservoirs produce a significant amount of GHG and have greatly increased levels of mercury. There is no free lunch and a GHG is a GHG.
The answer is to improve efficiency, not necessarily concentrate on fuel source. Go slower. Carry less weight. Go less often. New internal combustion engines are extremely efficient and clean burning, they are not the enemy they used to be.
Hybrid vehicles are a better choice than all electric, they allow internal combustion engines to work at their peak efficiency for a much longer part of the duty cycle. Batteries are charged by regenerative braking rather than solely “plugging in”. The range is greater so the need for brand new charging infrastructure (and all the copper needed for wire) is minimized.
If the provincial government was truly interested in reducing emissions and fuel consumption rather than paying out of province private corporations and hedge funds 3x the going rate for alpine lake draining IPP electricity (or building Site C in total secrecy), they would allow us to insure a small hybrid vehicles and motorcycles on the same policy as larger vehicles that we may need to use periodically.
My guess is an immediate 10% overall reduction in provincial vehicle emissions would result…. not to mention reduced fossil fuel (and electricity) consumption. Given the choice of jumping in a gas guzzler or a small, efficient car or motorcycle each morning, most would choose the latter if conditions permit and both were insured.
Pure electric vehicles are not a gift from the gods and they should not be a gift from the rest of us taxpayers by way of being the only vehicles eligible for tax and (hopefully eventually) toll concessions, particularly when used for private, not public, transportation. They just are not that great for year-round use here. Try turning on the defroster and see how your range is reduced. I submit they could still qualify to be insured under the same policy as another vehicle for those days, after all every little bit does help.
Mea culpa…. of the “go slower, carry less weight, go less often” mantra I have mastered only half of one. It truly will be a generational change of mindset that can only be reached with balanced policies that are not economically prohibitive and place a higher value on “turning off the lights when you leave the room”.
Reservoirs are a classic instance of how major human alterations to the Earth’s landscape can have unexpected effects. Flooding large areas of Earth can set off new chemical processes as tiny microorganisms break down organic matter in the water, sometimes doing so in the absence of oxygen — a process that leads to methane as a by-product. One reason this happens is that the flooded areas initially contain lots of organic life in the form of trees and grasses.