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January 14, 2009


"So I ask, what good are electric cars if they rely on the juice supplied by the dirtiest, and most toxic, of fossil fuels?"

No doubt that coal is nasty stuff. On the other hand, some localities use hardly any coal at all for their electricity. To answer your question, I think electric cars are no good in North Dakota. They are great in places that use almost no coal. So when you ask "How are we going to power electric cars?", I think it's important to remember that "coal" isn't always how "we" are going to provide that energy.

Looking forward, I believe that humanity will either make coal much cleaner OR shift away from it. When that happens, electric cars will be better than fossil fuel suckers. Today, I must agree with you that there are many places where electric cars are worse for us than conventional cars. In the interim, though, there are places that electric cars make sense, and I think we should root for electric cars to become attractive options in those locations rather than dismiss electric cars altogether.

Personally? I am more against the various flavors of Hydrogen-powered options. Whereas cars get more distance per unit energy with electric power than they do with gasoline power (all other factors being equal), Hydrogen options can't yet boast of that.

Well, I hope you're right, William.

The problem is that the only two sources of truly clean energy --solar and wind-- are still a long way off. Hydro-electric power is considered clean by some, but the damming of rivers has severe detrimental impacts on vital ecosystems.

Even in Oregon, with its abundant hydro-electricity, coal is used by both PGE and Pacific Power to generate a substantial share of electrical output.

For the time being, it's important that governments do all they can to encourage conservation. To quibble about our reliance on "foreign oil" is simply beside the point in the global warming debate.

Amen to conservation! I don't think coal will ever be clean from a CO2 perspective. Sequestration seems like a bit of a fairy tale.

Geothermal, wave, solar, wind... please mark me firmly in the camp of those who think that, if we as a people really put our backs into it, that these aren't that far off. And why not dream big and hope for clean nuclear, too? :)

Supposedly the French have found a way to recycle depleted uranium from their nuclear plants, but I remain a nuclear skeptic.

I will add wave and geothermal power to the list, however.

How about clean oil?

It appears to me that, given the scientific evidence that we already have, added to the application of the Precautionary Principle, we have no time to research energy "solutions" that might work sometime.

This seems like the real political divide: those who believe we have time to fuck around, and those who believe that we are on the verge of multiple cataclysmic events if we don't act immediately. Economically, ecologically, and militarily, we need to approach these things as we would a truly imminent military attack.

Massive conservation, conversion of open lots, lawns, and cemented-over ares to farm land, replenishing of depleted soil, repudiation of both corporatist parties and all that they stand for. Otherwise, we might as well party until the rapture.

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