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Electric Vehicle and the Environment Research Paper

Pages:6 (1711 words)

Sources:5

Subject:Technology

Topic:Electric Vehicle

Document Type:Research Paper

Document:#43474175


The Issue of the EV: Is it Really Green and Good?

Do Teslas Make the World a Better Place

Introduction

The electric vehicle (EV) has arrived and the 21st century is poised to be the century of the EV. However, there is still a great deal of controversy and confusion about what EVs actually do for the environment and if they are really as “green” as they are purported to be. Chad Berndt, a writer for Teslarati (a pro-Tesla site), boasts that Teslas are the greatest thing for the world since sliced bread in his article “A Tesla is Greener Than You Think and Getting Greener.” However, James Ellsmoor, writing for Forbes, begs to differ and argues in his article “Are Electric Vehicles Really Better For The Environment?” that all the strip mining for rare earth materials and petroleum that goes into producing the plastics and parts for Teslas outweighs the “green” effect of a carbon-free emissions output. In other words, whether Teslas and EVs are good for the environment depends upon whether one is looking at the end product or the processes required to get to the end product. The EV may be green on the outside—but underneath there is a great deal of environmentally questionable (at best) and damaging (at worst) practices that go into bringing the EV to market. Is the EV really the green tech solution that some make it out to be? Or is it just the next automotive fad in a long line of automotive fads destined to burn out in the end? This paper will show that the EV has a great deal of potential in theory, but the requirements to bring it to life are still just as damaging on the environment as producing and using internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.

What Goes into the EV

What goes into the EV is actually a lot of work that produces a lot of pollution. Ellsmoor states that “Chinese EV battery manufacturers produce up to 60% more CO2 during fabrication than ICEV engine production.” This is a point that a lot of EV enthusiasts do not take into consideration—what goes into producing the EV, i.e., the manufacturing side of things. They look at the final product and see a vehicle that does not consume oil or gas but that runs on electricity. Yet even the electricity used to charge the battery of the EV is mainly produced by fossil fuels. The US federal government has its own US Energy Information Administration, which published an article entitled “Electricity Explained.” In that article, the US Energy Information Administration stated that natural gas accounts for 38% of all electricity production in the US, and coal is used to produce another 23% of electricity in the US; nuclear energy using steam turbines produces another 20% of electricity generation, while renewable energy sources only provided 17% of electricity generation in the US in 2019—which is less than one-fifth of the whole. Thus, the next time someone stops to recharge his Tesla, he should consider that less than a fifth of that electricity going into his battery was actually produced via green energy tech. The rest came…

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…at the moment. Those who make these claims are projecting years into the future and communicating a vision that may or may not come true. It is wishful thinking, to say the least—but not necessarily wrong thinking. Can the EV at some point become better for the environment when all the steps and parts are added up and compared to the steps that go into ICE production? It is possible—but at that point it may be that people are losing the plot: the difference in output in terms of pollution from start to finish is not going to be as significant as people like Elon Musk and Greta Thunberg make it seem. There are much worse sources of pollution in the world than the ICE car. At the end of the day, the EV may be considered just a marketing ploy that businesses are using because in the world of business one has to differentiate or die; or, it can be considered a step in the right direction on a road that is many many miles long and the destination ultimately unseen and unknowable.

Conclusion

Is the EV as green and good for the environment as its proponents make it out to be? From start to finish, EV production relies on petroleum and fossil fuels the same as ICE cars do—for parts, production and fuel consumption. However, the EV also represents a growing consciousness among consumers and politicians who want to lead the change for a better future. Can they make a difference down the road? Clean energy has its own set of challenges and…


Sample Source(s) Used

Works Cited

Ellsmoor, James. “Are Electric Vehicles Really Better For The Environment? Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 21 May 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesellsmoor/2019/05/20/are-electric-vehicles-really-better-for-the-environment/#11eb349076d2

Lemonick, Sam. “Scientists Underestimated How Bad Cow Farts Are.” Forbes, 29 September 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/samlemonick/2017/09/29/scientists-underestimated-how-bad-cow-farts-are/#6c0aca2178a9

Loss, Scott R., Tom Will, and Peter P. Marra. "Estimates of bird collision mortality at wind facilities in the contiguous United States." Biological Conservation 168 (2013): 201-209.

Natter, Ari. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal Could Cost $93 Trillion, Group Says.” Bloomberg, 25 February 2019. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-25/group-sees-ocasio-cortez-s-green-new-deal-costing-93-trillion

Schirber, Michael. “Chemistry of Cars.” LiveScience, 6 May 2009, https://www.livescience.com/5449-chemistry-life-plastic-cars.html

Shellenberger, Michael. “New Michael Moore-Backed Documentary On YouTube Reveals Massive Ecological Impacts Of Renewables.” Forbes, 21 April 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2020/04/21/new-michael-moore-backed-documentary-on-youtube-reveals-massive-ecological-impacts-of-renewables/#2636e066c964

US Energy Information Administration. “Electricity Explained,” EIA, 2020. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/electricity/electricity-in-the-us.php

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