TROUBLE CITY

Mental Masturbation: Environmentally Unfriendly

BlogsDavid WagnerComment

Think trading in your car for an electric, hybrid or fuel cell is going to make the world a better place? If so, think again. Since gas prices have hit record highs this year everyone is making a big deal about "going green." Going green with the available solutions is not exactly "going green." Electric cars and hybrid cars both use huge batteries which will need to be recycled at the end of their life dealing with volatile chemicals which go where? God forbid these electrical vehicles get in and accident and leak on the streets, or catch on fire. EMT's are going to need Hazardous Materials suits and in addition to that firemen are going to have to start using dry chemical fire suppressants in order to avoid electrocuting themselves and the driver and/or passengers in the car. I wonder where the lead-acid in the batteries or lithium polymer is going to go when the batteries rupture. We'll not even discuss the cost of these vehicles versus conventionl gas engine cars.

How about the Fuel Cell? Well, so far there isn't one available. Well, I'll be fair, there is one. Honda introduced a limited availability FCX Clarity. The Clarity will be available in, of all places, Southern Califronia for the bargain basement price of $600 per month for 3 years. Woo-Hoo! Before you rush out and get on the waiting list read this exerpt from the honda website:

Hydrogen Safety
Sensors are located throughout the vehicle to provide a warning in the unlikely event of a hydrogen leak. Should such a leak occur, the ventilation system is activated and an automatic system closes the main cut-off valves on the hydrogen tank or supply lines as necessary. The high-voltage lines are electrically isolated. Sensors provide a warning in case of grounding. In the event of a collision, high-voltage contactors shut down the source power line. Repeated flood and fire testing have confirmed a very high level of safety and reliability.

I don't know about you but this doesn't inspire a feeling of confidence should I get hit by a Cadillac Escalade driving home from work. In addition to the safety concerns, I have yet to hear about what the impact of having several million of these new vehicles emitting "only water vapor into the air we breathe." How much water vapor per vehicle per hour are we talking about? For some reason I see a Blade Runner-esque future where it rains perpetually and you never see the sun.

Ethanol from corn must be the answer then, right? Wrong. I'll cite a USA Today article which can be found by going here.
"Compared with gasoline, it produces 12% less "greenhouse" gasses linked to global warming, according to the study. But the researchers also said it has environmental drawbacks, including "markedly greater" releases of nitrogen, phosphorous and pesticides into waterways as runoff from corn fields. Ethanol, especially at higher concentrations in gasoline, also produce more smog-causing pollutants than gasoline per unit of energy burned, the researchers said." Ethanol is also far more corrosive than gasoline and requires different storage tanks than gasoline. If you add to that the fact that we can't produce enough ethanol to supply our needs anyway then what's the point of pursuing ethanol?

This is par for the "going green" course though. Have you changed all of your conventional light bulbs to compact flourescent? Have you had a need to throw one away yet? Did you take it to the appropriate recycling facility? Did you know that you needed to? They contain mercury. Go to this link to learn more about how and where to dispose of them before throwing them in the garbage.

I'm all for coming up with more efficient means of transportation and power, but lets make sure that we aren't trading one set of problems for another before we embrace any solution. Or is this really about how much it costs to tank up your car? If so then get your congressman to vote to open up our Anwar and other protected areas to oil drilling now.