Stuck Fast In The Past – Stuck Up – Or Both?

Over the last few weeks, there have been several reported instances from all over the USA of a minority of pickup truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Supercharger stations (aka Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)/Electric Vehicle charging stations.  This relatively small number of incidents has generated much attention on various social media outlets and from EV owners groups/clubs and other automotive-focused news outlets and on YouTube.

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At first, I was hesitant to write anything about any of these instances because, in a way, writing about them is drawing attention to the small number of individuals who commit these crimes. However, I decided that – as a previous truck, 4WD, and current sport-utility vehicle and EV owner – it is my obligation to report on these thoughtless incidents and put these narrow-minded knuckle-dragging dunderheads in their places with the facts before they destroy the reputations of respectable pickup truck owners everywhere.

The Problem

For background I will share a few of these incidents below;

This is the first high profile incident that gathered nation-wide media attention – and from my home state no less.

This incident made it into a popular EV blog Electrek:
https://electrek.co/2018/12/24/tesla-supercharger-anti-tesla-pickup-truck-drivers/

Then this one…

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More non-random acts of stupidity.

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Really people?

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…even more madness…

Photo from Heniz Baumann of the Tesla Model 3 Owners Club on Facebook

…and this…

From the I’ve Been ICED twitter account.

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The revealing thing is that the entire parking lot was practically empty…

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It seems obvious to me this was an intentional act directed at Tesla and/or EV’s in general.  The other obvious thing is the driver of the truck either did not care or was possibly not aware they were openly advertising who they were with the conspicuous company magnetic sign on the truck door – what a great invitation by EV owners (and others) to report their team member’s thoughtless EV charger blocking action to the company…oh and what a great reason to NEVER use the services of that company in any way.  Good work Navarro & Wright, what a great way to make a name for yourself…

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In another thread on Twitter, Nascar driver and Tesla owner Leilani Munter garnered some notice when Elon Musk and many others spoke up about this issue;

@LeilaniMunter careful charging in Hickory. The ignorant people are aware of us https://t.co/pqgc3uLsLY— Mike Hoffman (@McHoffa) December 23, 2018

This is scary. I’ve been coal-rolled in my Tesla by several trucks in NC, the drivers were hostile. If you don’t know what it is google “Stephen Colbert Coal Rolling.” One day these conflicts will end very badly. @Tesla @hickorypd @StephenAtHome @cleanairNC @cleanenergyorg @CMPD https://t.co/Gd6S6SOhNB— Leilani Münter (@LeilaniMunter) December 23, 2018

Yet another good example of what not to do.

From this blogger’s point of view these actions do not appear to be accidents since the Tesla Supercharger stations are;

1 – Very visible being lit up with red lights on a white background.

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2 – Well marked as TESLA charging stations.

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3 – They are most often located in remote parts of the parking areas so as not to take up available parking spots for all other vehicles near the entrances of the nearby establishments where they are found.

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In other words – in order for you to block a Tesla Supercharger charging station with your vehicle you would need to either;

1. Drive a Tesla and know where the station is because you have been there before – or allow your Tesla’s navigation system to guide you to it for a charge.

or

2. You do not own a Tesla and have made a premeditated decision to locate the Supercharger station for the purpose of blocking it with your non-electric vehicle for whatever bizarre load of jollies that action would give you and/or your childish comrades.

or

3. You are a new Tesla owner/driver/borrower/renter who is unfamiliar with Tesla/EV charging etiquette and are unaware that after the car finishes charging you should kindly move it to a nearby standard parking space so the next person will have access to the charging infrastructure.

or

4. You are a Tesla owner on the lunatic fringe of Tesla/EV ownership. Perhaps you feel that – because you have the means to own a Tesla, that you are somehow above/better than everyone around and you now have the right to park your car in the charging space for as long as you like.  If this is your reasoning – then you, my friend, are an entitled little bully and are no better than those who block access with their garish toy trucks. In my experience this type of Tesla/EV owner is rare, yet I have heard reports that they do exist.

So, aside from the occasional parking accident by the un-observant or uneducated – there is no real reason and no real excuse for parking a non-Tesla vehicle in a Tesla charging station.

Misunderstandings Do Happen

As stated earlier, sometimes EV owners who are new to the world of EV’s and have not learned the appropriate EV charging etiquette might mistakenly leave their EV parked in an EV charging space for much longer than needed after the car’s charge is complete – I did this a few times early on and quickly learned my lesson.  Most of these infractions are innocent mistakes that can easily be remedied with gentle education of the new EV driver either with a few words or an informational card/flyer left for when the driver returns.

However, some entitled EV drivers seem to be treating EV spaces as a pass to free parking, not at all caring about the other EV drivers who need to stop and fill up their “electron tanks” so they can get on down the road. In the following photo, we see a Tesla parked and not charging in an EV only charging space – how rude.

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This is the same as filling up your gas tank, hanging up the nozzle, and walking off.

I have observed this practice on several occasions and when I do I always leave a nice note in the hopes of educating the parking perpetrator on the errors of their ways. In the above case, part of the error may be in the wording of the signage on the wall beyond the Tesla and it reads – “Electric Vehicle Parking Only.” This wordage may give some EV newbies the idea that they are able to park their EV here even when it is not charging. That is just not the case. and is bad planning on those who chose the signs for this site. Luckily, many charging stations now have signs that read “EV Parking only while charging.” Along with this fact many EVSE units will continue to charge you money if your car remains plugged in after the charging session has ended as an expensive reminder to be courteous and move your car so the next person will be able to charge.

Most EV’s and EVSE come standard with internet connectivity.  This allows them to be easily configured to send a text to your mobile device when your vehicle has finished charging, therefore, you have no excuse not to move your car thereby opening the space up for the next EV needing a charge.

Bad Parking Planning

On several occasions, I have encountered non-EV’s blocking charging stations – most frequently (in my experience) at this downtown EV charge point supplemented with solar power.

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While these non-EV vehicles are directly blocking one of the chargers, at least they are following the directions printed on the pavement that state “EV Only.” In reality, this type of EVSE blocking will not limit the ability to charge an EV since the power leads are long enough to reach an EV parked nearby.  However, the limiting factor here would be available parking.  There are three EV chargers and only two marked EV parking spaces so only 2 EV’s would be able to charge when ICE vehicles are parked in the non-EV marked parking spaces.  It seems that common sense would dictate that if you install an EVSE for EV’s, then the number of charge points and parking spaces should be equal.

How some Tesla owners may choose to handle EVSE blocking situations – but it is not at all recommended by this blogger…unless there is no other option I suppose.

Obviously, Teslas do have more than enough power and torque to handle any situation.


The Question

So, what do I, as a previous truck/SUV owner and current Electric Vehicle owner and driver of over 5 years, what do I think of this recent practice of some truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Superchargers with their pickup trucks?

Before I get into my answer I must first note that it is in my humble opinion, based on over 35 years of driving and over 50 years of life experience, that the perpetrators of these thoughtless acts are a very small percentage of overall truck owners.

So let’s call them the: lunatic fringe.

The vast majority of pickup truck owners I know and have met are good, respectable people that own and drive pickup trucks because they serve a utilitarian purpose in their lives – you know, hauling stuff, pulling stuff, doing work, and having fun outdoors.

These good, respectable truck owners would never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source and would never think to use their vehicle as a bullying tool/weapon in the attempt to make some sort of misguided personal, political, or anti-environment statement.  They just drive their trucks and use their trucks – and that’s it.

I say this because not only is it common sense and fully supported by evidence – but I also have a bit of experience in this area.  In my over 35 years of driving, I have owned, driven, and used the following vehicles:

My first truck – a 1978 Chevrolet C-10 step side.

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My first 4WD vehicle – a 1965 Land Rover Series 2a 88″ – before the restoration.

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After I personally restored it.

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On the trail with friends.

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It was a wonderful 4×4, and my favorite, that I drove daily and used for the purpose it was intended – an all-terrain, go anywhere utility vehicle – truly the world’s best 4x4xfar (that may change when  Bollinger Motors starts selling their game-changing B1 and B2 SUT’s to eagerly awaiting truck-o-philes everywhere 🙂

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I sold my first Land Rover as it was just too nice to drive on a daily basis and then purchased a very well used 1966 Land Rover Series 2a 109″ ExMoD Field Ambulance.  I modified this classic old aluminum workhorse into an overland camper and drove it for several years as my daily driver and on many on and off road-trip adventures, wildlife study and conservation expeditions. When gas prices started to climb I was forced to sell it to continue paying for my college education…

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…then came the 1987 Suzuki Samurai – a wonderful little 4×4 that took me into remote areas for my wildlife conservation work and more.

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It was a great little 4×4 that served me well for almost a decade.  It was my daily driver, my wildlife study and conservation vehicle, and my firewood acquisition vehicle making use of the custom winch and bumper to often pull trees weighing more than the vehicle out of the woods for later processing into firewood.

And it was fun, fuel efficient, and reliable off-road…but after over 250,000 miles it began to show serious signs of age so it found a new home and along came…

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…a 1999 Toyota 4Runner – a great 4×4 that served me well.

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And finally, my most recent 4WD is a 2013 Honda Pilot SUV (random internet photo) that we use for hauling the family around and hauling/pulling loads.

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As you can see I love the utility of trucks and 4WD vehicles and I would love to have another one day to make my life and my job easier and more productive.  As soon as the all-electric trucks, vans, and 4WD’s hit the market – I will be driving one daily as my company/commuting and utility/wildlife conservation outreach vehicle – and that day is approaching faster than you may think.

Back to the Question

With all that out of the way, let’s get back to the original question:

What do I, a seasoned truck/4×4 owner, driver and aficionado of many years AND an Electric Vehicle driver of over 5 years think of the recent practice of some pickup truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Supercharging stations?

Tesla’s at a Supercharger – photo credit Tesla.com

I offer my answer in the form of the following thought experiment:

What would YOU do, as a gas/diesel vehicle driver looking to fill up your vehicle’s fuel tank with refined hydrocarbons, if you arrived at your filling station of choice only to find an EV driver intentionally blocking your gas/diesel fuel pump with their electric vehicle?

Hopefully, you would think the same way I would: either they had made a mistake or…they may be potentially unstable and may even be dangerous – especially if they insulted and taunted you with vulgar language and gestures as some of the perpetrators are being reported to have done.

Why would you think these things?

The common sense answer:

The evidence is blocking the fuel pump.

Due to the obvious fact that the owner of the pump blocking vehicle is driving a vehicle that does not ever need access to the fuel source it is blocking, then evidence and common sense would dictate the following:

1: They may have blocked the pump accidentally.  After they have been respectfully informed of their error, they should not hesitate to move their vehicle to the correct nearby charging point.  However, being an EV driver I would highly doubt that this would be the usual scenario as EV drivers do not often make the mistake of blocking petroleum-based fuel pumps if the vehicle they are driving is theirs and if they are at all familiar with it.
(If you are driving a vehicle of any kind you had better take some time to read the instructions and become familiar with it – all the more so if it is a state of the art high-speed low drag Tesla aka: Intergalactic SpaceBoat of Light and Wonder  or any other EV.)

Similarly, the vast majority of respectable gas/diesel vehicle drivers would never think to intentionally park their vehicles in front of EVSE stations and/or intentionally vandalize EVSE units and/or intentionally taunt/insult drivers whose vehicles operate on fuels other than gas/diesel…until recently that is…

2: They may have committed this pump blocking act intentionally.  Furthermore, if they were taunting/insulting you or your vehicle/fuel of choice, it would be even more evidence that their actions were not accidental and they might not be entirely stable individuals – you know, those on the lunatic fringe.

How should you respond?

The safe approach would be to er on the side of caution and be very wary of their actions because no thinking, rational person with even a gram of common sense and decency would ever commit such a blatant act of intentional bullying unless they had an over-sized, unstable, reactionary chip on their shoulder and/or were intentionally looking for a confrontation.

Suggestion: before you take matters into your own hands in regards to option 2 you should be absolutely sure the situation was not an accident by a person unfamiliar with driving an electric vehicle – possibly something like in the video below where the driver may have  borrowed the car from a friend and/or the owner of the car was playing a joke on them.

Once you rule out an accidental parking maneuver, the next step would be to report the thoughtless, possibly intentional fuel pump blocking action to the nearest authorities, step back to a safe location, and wait for the police/tow truck to arrive to remove the disruptive perpetrator(s) – be they blocking a gas, diesel, or an electric fuel pump.

ICEing

Those of us that drive plug-in electric vehicles call the act of accidentally or intentionally blocking charging stations with Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicles – “ICEing” or being “ICEd.”   

For clarity: ICE = Internal Combustion Engine

Most of the time, when an ICE driver blocks an EV charging station it is an honest mistake made by someone either in a hurry or simply not being observant enough to see all the signs denoting the space as EV use only.

These innocent people should be excused from their mistake and politely educated either in person if possible, or if they are not available, with an informational flyer placed under the windshield wiper – many EV drivers carry these for events such as these.

This winter I encountered yet another form of ICEing…with real ice.

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The evidence at hand suggested that the snow removal crew responsible for scraping the snow/ice off the parking area chose to pile up the snow in both of the marked EV charging spaces.  This is as irresponsible as blocking the spaces with an ICE vehicle especially since there was ample space nearby on the grass surrounding the parking area to pile the snow where ALL drivers – no matter the fuel that powers their vehicles – would then have access to parking. Yes, it may have been an accident, but due to the perfect blocking of the only two EV charging spaces in the parking area – I cannot help but wonder if the individual(s) that did this, did it on purpose possibly as some sort of statement against EV’s, their charging infrastructure and/or the people that drive them.  Hmmm, I wonder if these snow pushers also block “handicap” spaces with huge piles of snow…

Accidental ICEing aside, the thoughtless act of intentionally blocking electric vehicle charging stations with ICE vehicles (or blocking gas pumps with EV’s for that matter) should never be excused and should always be reported to the authorities as soon as possible in the attempt to stop the madness before it gets out of hand.

Before reporting the perpetrators, it is probably a good idea to attempt to covertly get a photograph(s) of the perp’s vehicles/license plates and the perp’s themselves so you will have evidence to hand over to the authorities. In my opinion, it is not ever a good idea to confront these types of people as they are often aggressive and volatile and may even be intoxicated and/or have dangerous or deadly weapons in their vehicles or on their persons.

The best bet in these situations is to just step back to a safe place and watch the action happen when the police,  tow trucks, and news crews arrive.

EVSE Vandalism Issues 

EVSE blocking is not the only issue.  Most recently a Tesla Supercharger in Utah was vandalized when some lowlife intentionally tried to drill out the charge connector and cut the charging cable – WTF, really?  How would you like it if I intentionally tried to cut your gas/diesel hose or intentionally vandalized the fuel pump handle that you needed to fuel your vehicle? Grow up people!

Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-supercharger-attack-vandalism-drilled-charging-plugs-cut-cables/

I have encountered EVSE vandalism on a few occasions in my area.  This is one of the most recent – a quick charger’s screen was damaged by an unknown assailant.  The crack pattern of the glass suggests a blow from what may have been a hard object such as possibly a rock or hammer or maybe even a fist.  The height of the screen from the ground and distance from the parking space places the EVSE’s screen too far out of range for this to be an unfortunate parking accident.  This suggests to me that this may have been a deliberate act of vandalism.

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Help is on the horizon. Tesla vehicles now come equipped with “Sentry Mode*” that uses many of the vehicle’s external/internal cameras to record all goings on in the vicinity of the vehicle.  I am sure this feature will be very useful in capturing many perpetrators in action be they EVSE blocking lunatic fringe pickup truck drivers, would be thieves, or vandals with a misplaced score to settle with an inanimate object and the progress it represents.   *Read more about sentry mode:  https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/14/sentry-mode-keeps-watch-over-your-tesla-while-it-is-parked/?fbclid=IwAR2QlxVG6ggeQuqotvx88D-tHBwtSm1Mtjhx0kPkA3z3tnrDDvAQYdkhYEQ


The Law

It is unlawful to block an EVSE charging station in at least 8 States and many more cities/towns.  For the details visit: https://pluginsites.org/plug-in-vehicle-parking-legislation-reference/

In many of these places, those ICE drivers who block an EVSE will receive a hefty fine. Raleigh, NC is a great example where EVSE ICEr’s are fined $50 for blocking a charge point – thank you Raleigh!  In my opinion, this should be the rule everywhere and any fines collected could be used to improve roads and infrastructure for everyone no matter what they choose to drive.

Source:  https://insideevs.com/one-charging-spot-generated-27000-fines-ice-drivers/

And now, from one of my favorite YouTube personalities, Robert Llewellyn of Fully Charged Show , comes this great video illustrating that the phenomenon of ICEing EVSE stations is not just a quandary in the States…

Hmmmmm….all this EV charging station blocking makes me wonder if – way back in the early day s of the internal combustion engine – did some horse and wagon owners who felt threatened by the gas-powered future, seek out and block fuel pumps?

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horse and gas

I seriously doubt it.

A bit of a tangent for a bit of a comparison.

Blocking EV charging points is similar to the uncaring, malignant practice that some call “coal rolling.” This is a practice where some truck owners – a very small percentage overall and yet another lunatic fringe group – illegally modify their diesel pickup trucks to – on-demand – emit clouds of black diesel smoke through over-sized exhaust pipes.

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These “coal rollers” then often use their illegally modified vehicles to intentionally target pedestrians, police officers, bicyclists, runners, groups of people on the sidewalk, and people who drive hybrid and electric vehicles.  They intentionally align their often grossly over-sized exhaust orifice in the direction of their target and flip the switch vomiting copious amounts of dirty diesel smoke all over their innocent targets. If you are interested in seeing evidence of this stupidity – just input “coal rolling” or “rolling coal” into a YouTube/Google search and you will find the video evidence shared by the polluting perpetrators…and you will also find some great memes revealing just how ridiculous the act of coal rolling truly is, such as this one.

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For whatever bizarre reasons, this small number of fringe dwellers seem to be proud of their illegal atmospheric littering escapades and wish to share their madness with the world.

If a combination of common sense, the law, and natural selection have their way (and they will), then their actions suggest that it will not be long before these polluted perpetrators will be weeded out of the population and the bones of their illegally modified machines will soon be covered in rust fossilizing in the junkyard – or better yet, melted down and recycled into a Tesla, Bollinger, Atlis or any other EV, a bicycle, wind turbine, or solar array.

The act of intentionally modifying one’s vehicle with a driver operated “defeat device” thereby allowing it to bypass the factory emission controls for the purpose of emitting visible clouds of smoke, and then intentionally targeting people with that hazardous particulate-laden smoke (diesel exhaust is a documented carcinogen by the CDC, the  WHO, and the ACA*) is not only illegal in many areas but is an uncaring, thoughtless act of bullying that should not go unpunished. Recently, I was instructed by a State Patrol officer that targeting and “rolling coal” on a person(s) is considered a form of assault and should be reported to the authorities by calling 911 and reporting the incident making sure to get the make, model and, if possible, the license plate number, road name and direction of travel of the offending vehicle.

*Sources:
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nioshtic-2/20000266.html
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/cancer/npotocca.html
https://www.iarc.fr/media-centre-iarc-news-58/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5352477/
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diesel-exhaust-and-cancer.html

Read my earlier post about the time I was almost “coal rolled” in my Nissan Leaf EV.

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Possible Motives Behind The Madness

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Insecurity.

It is possible that these intentional charging station blockers (and “coal rollers”) may suffer from personal or peer group driven insecurities such as toxic masculinity and possibly even what some may call “short man syndrome” – or both.  They may be using their huge, overly modified, often garishly loud, black smoke vomiting toy trucks as an attempt to compensate for some emotional or even physical quality in which they perceive themselves to be lacking.

Machismo/hormones.

Another good possibility is that many of these pickup truck drivers are simply just children.  Children who have only recently felt the call of their surging primal hormones driving them to make a place for themselves within their world and to seek out a mate in the only way they know how.

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In their world, all the other young males (and some young females) in their tribal cliques drive large, noisy, dirty pickup trucks.  This being the only courting technique their childish minds can interpret must mean that it must be the preferred and accepted way to entice a mate into their arms.  In other words – driving a large, loud, jacked up, overly modified, polluting truck and insulting others with your venomous vitriol might just be the mating call of your sub-species.

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I speak from some short-lived experience in this area. When I was a teenager I briefly fell into a similar clique where I tried to fit in and impress by modifying my first truck with a roll bar, light bar, lift kit, loud stereo, and “glasspack.” Needless to say, it did not work for me – in any way. This was primarily because of my extreme nerdiness that was of such an outward and obvious magnitude that no amount of expensive modifications to my vehicle, myself, piles of money, or purchased trinkets would have ever made me “cool” and popular with the “in” crowd.  At the time I was just trying very hard to fit in – somewhere – anywhere – and I had fallen to peer pressure.  Lucky for me, after about 6 weeks my brain won the fight and I grew out of my fitting in phase.  The glasspack came off and the stock muffler went back on in favor of the stereo because enjoying my music was more important to me than the garishly flatulent exhaust noise.  I also removed the lift kit as it ruined the truck’s handling and fuel mileage and then later sold the roll bar since all it really did was take up space in the bed. Some people grow up, some never do.

Envy

It is also possible, although remote, that many of these folks are just envious and jealous of the awesome Tesla’s and other EV’s and they secretly want one really, really bad but they could never admit that fact to their fellow pickup truck driving tribe members. To do so would mean ridicule and possibly even exile from their tribe. So to save face they take out their misplaced frustrations in the only way they know how – they block Tesla charging stations and insult the very thing they are secretly in love with and pining away for. It is very much like the jealous little bully in the sandbox breaking the other children’s toys because they are not his.

Don’t be the bully.

Tribalism aka Us vs. Them

Another motive that may drive these individuals to act is simple tribalism. Related and intertwined with the previous motives, tribalism is like the proverbial tick – dug in deeply.  Like the tick, they may be so “dug in” to their tribe and their us vs. them outlook on life that nothing will ever be able to tear them out of their ancient tribal tendencies to do a thing.  All the others in their tribe are doing that thing so that obviously must mean that thing is the correct and acceptable thing to do – even if all the evidence is against it. You know the type: “My people have always done it this way and I do not believe all the evidence against it so I’m just going to do it anyway!”

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Fear of Change.

Also tied to the previously mentioned topics, the fear of change is very powerful and it keeps many from ever progressing.  Some of these individuals may do these things out of fear of inevitable change, fear that their comfort zone will be violated. Fear that the status quo will be disturbed. Fear they will lose their toy trucks, or maybe fear that “the government” will take them away and force them to drive electric cars. The fact is that no one, especially the government – is going to force anyone to drive an electric car – it is more the opposite. The way the system is currently set up favors and promotes the status quo. It promotes vehicles that run on fossil fuels even though all of the available evidence suggests the continued use of fossil fuels harms the very environment that we all rely on for our very survival – but that is another story for a different day.

Your Vehicle Is A Tool – Not A Weapon.

A rock, a stick, a knife, a gun, a snowball, a brick, a spoon, a ham bone, a sack of ‘taters, and yes, a car or pickup truck – are only as dangerous and/or potentially harmful as the person controlling them.

Hopefully, if that person has been lucky enough to receive the following;

  • good and positive moral training as a child from parents and mentors
  • respect and trust of their elders – but not blind trust or blind faith – those are dangerous
  • an unbiased and well-rounded education with a focus on critical thinking skills
  • quality time outdoors in nature learning how all things are connected and developing a respect for all living things and for the environment that gives us all life
  • an understanding of the scientific method and how to use it
  • a purposeful separation from lunatic fringe extremist hate, religious, and political groups and training in how to recognize them
  • training into how to use the internet appropriately in order to take advantage of the powerful research tool that it is, while intentionally avoiding the deep quagmire of dead-ends, lies, filth, misinformation, manufactured doubt and divisive hate that is also the internet.
  • the appropriate science-backed training in the appropriate use of their chosen tool(s)
  • the appropriate licenses and certifications to operate that tool or tools in accordance with the laws set by their state/national governments
  • a good dose of common sense

Then hopefully, that person, when they are released into the wild to wield any of the before mentioned tools – including pickup trucks – will use them wisely for the purpose intended and not ever as weapons of hate or malice to be directed at others – even if they do not agree with their driving, energy or life choices.

No matter the motive, the truth of the matter is this: electric trucks (and cars, sport utility vehicles, airplanes, helicopters, motorcycles, buses, boats, bicycles) are here and more are coming fast – and they will eventually replace the majority of fossil burners simply because they are better, faster, safer, stronger, more reliable, less expensive to fuel and maintain, and more convenient than the old smoke spewing, oil leaking, dinosaur juice burners of yesteryear. Yet, even with all those facts we still must deal with human nature, and brains that evolved during the stone age. With human nature and stone age brains, we are forced to contend with all of the above factors which work together to slow the forward march of progress…

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Luddites and complacency aside, nobody will ever take your beloved truck (or car) away from you (unless you intentionally break the law – then you deserve to have your vehicle impounded and license revoked). 

Your favorite old car and truck and all the previously produced petroleum burners will always be around (if you take care of them) and will always be available for you if you want them – just like horses, buggies, and wagons are still available – nobody took them away.  These beautiful, classic cars and trucks of yesteryear will always have a place in history and they should as they are a beautiful part of the complex story that brought all of us to this day in time.  They are a testament and a tribute to all the inventors, engineers, makers, scientists, doers and adventurers who had an idea for something better, worked hard to make it happen – and then changed the world.  Yes, their creations were based upon and relied upon the internal combustion engine and petroleum-based fuels – back then they were the only viable power-plant option. It is a fact that these fuels and these machines have allowed the human species to expand across the globe at an unbelievable pace, light our homes, farms and cities, grow more food to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population, develop better health care, science, and systems that allow us to live longer than ever before, explore the depths of the oceans, and the far reaches of outer space. In many unique ways, these creations and these ancient fossil-based fuels may be the very reason – or at least have played a key part – in the very existence of many of us alive today. We owe a great debt of thanks to fossil fuels and to the old vehicles of yesteryear.


However, as with all things, as with all seasons, change is the way of things. Now is the time for change, the time for growth, the time for progress – it is time to stop burning things for fuel. Like the horse and wagon before them, the majority of these beautiful, earlier modes of transportation worked well for a time, but eventually faded away because something better, faster, stronger, lower maintenance, less stinky and less visibly polluting, was invented – think how fast the Ford Model T displaced the horse – and the majority of the population quickly accepted the change and adopted it because it was the best option.

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Photo source: https://www.icis.com/asian-chemical-connections/2018/12/internal-combustion-engines-car-ownership-to-quickly-head-the-way-of-horses-and-carts/

The transition from internal combustion to electric transportation will be very similar.

More Ponderings

Another thing to ponder is this; how long before your gas/diesel burner (if you are still driving one by ~2025) becomes a wonderful weekend novelty like the horse and wagon/buggy/Ford Model T is today?

How long before it becomes a cherished piece in a museum collection…or a worthless rusting, forgotten hulk covered in weeds in your backyard?

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How long before you are treated the same way litterbugs (and smokers) are often treated today and you end up catching all sorts of flack from those around you every time you drive your old fossil burner because everyone around you is aware, accepts, and understands that toxic emissions from driving fossil fuel powered vehicles harm all life forms and nature – the very life support system that gives all of us life?

Before some of you start ranting in the comment section about how much pollution is emitted from building/charging/driving EV’s – watch the below video for the facts:

More sources: https://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-numbers-are-in-and-evs-are-cleaner-than-ever

and

https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/11/Cleaner-Cars-from-Cradle-to-Grave-full-report.pdf

How many years will it be before your insurance company starts raising their rates on older vehicles because those older vehicles lack any modern autonomous safety features – such as automatic emergency braking, back up cameras, “Autopilot” and “Sentry Mode” – features that make newer vehicles so much safer to drive for the driver and for everyone else on the roads – thereby making your old vehicle a dangerous liability to drive – for you and others – which therefore means it is now much more expensive to insure and to drive?

If you do not believe autonomous “autopilot” safety features will become popular on vehicles or if you do not trust them – think again and watch this amazing video of the evidence.

Video source: https://insideevs.com/video-tesla-stop-itself-avoid-horrific-crash/?fbclid=IwAR0wOlo6oIudLjlfdZCEoaI3KP0W0bQYWULDWuY3cPZg9-19ECRqO8p5Fbg

And yet another one…

Video source: https://electrek.co/2019/02/05/tesla-owner-autopilot-saves-life-swerving/

Insurance companies are starting to offer discounts for autonomous features on vehicles: https://futurism.com/insurance-companies-offering-discounts-tesla-drive-itself

A very smart and enlightening commentary from Answers with Joe on the automotive autonomy/EV revolution:

When will your ICE vehicle become a stranded asset you are unable to sell because nobody wants it anymore as its fuel source, maintenance, and insurance costs are so expensive?

When will your old gas burner be converted to electric drive and achieve a second life as an electrified classic…or…become as obsolete as the slide rule, the film camera, the 8 track, VHS, and cassette tapes, Blockbuster video, Kodak, phone booths, CRT computer monitors and console TV’s…in other words – when will it go the way of the dinosaurs that power it?

It will not be long dear reader, it will not be very long….

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…this is not a question of if, it is a question of when.

More evidence of the EV revolution that is upon us: https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/03/hints-of-ev-revolution-rising/?fbclid=IwAR2r9YZ7Mo9Yhh3RwoivSF1VzCE4x7EjCoMUlGw3_fXcANXoZNEYxRvSpiU 

…and even more evidence: https://www.npr.org/2019/02/16/694303169/as-more-electric-cars-arrive-whats-the-future-for-gas-powered-engines?fbclid=IwAR2V6ePb1qnq8a9VSuWwbLYqEUFfa3xWXkc3PpVEKBWAYA5Zu6crVxh0kdE

…and: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4225153-evs-oil-ice-impact-2023-beyond

A great example of the fast-growing trend in vehicle electrification is the simple fact that many young, forward-thinking companies (and even the legacy auto-makers) are working hard to bring more than capable fully electric and hybrid-electric cars and now trucks and 4×4’s to market including but not limited to…

Bollinger Motors

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Rivian

rivian-r1t-driving-forest.jpg

Atlis

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Tesla

Little is known about the upcoming Tesla Pickup…but they are working on something big….is this a teaser image of what it may be?

Photo credit: Mike Hoffman EV Network

…only time and Tesla and some interesting tweets from Elon may tell.

FORD

That’s right, Ford has confirmed that is will offer fully electric and hybrid versions of the F-150 for the 2020-21 model years. Below is a concept of what it may look like.

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Source: https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a25933730/ford-f-150-electric-pickup-truck-confirmed/

As I wrap up I discover that GM is considering electrifying its trucks as well…looks like the days of the dirty ICE powered pick-up trucks blocking charging stations may soon be a thing of the past.

GMC

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/23/pickups-ready-to-plug-in.html?fbclid=IwAR3SQgZvfFEeq4qNusj4oux17xysgg9SQQFNkWGUtM81FPxH2j8YmeNp3mE

and

Even more possibilities: https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/12/scoop-gm-working-on-electric-pickup-truck-with-tesla-powertrain/?fbclid=IwAR3WA20t4MHHcnZaII9kgVIESAco599xmqHNOUeuGYwsMDR29bJgAE52TiQ

Even More Ponderings

Erroneously enough, it seems that some of these EVSE blocking folk may be committing these acts as some form of misguided political statement. There is evidence suggesting some of these individuals may feel that owning Tesla and other electric vehicles are somehow anti-American. If this is true, then it is obvious – these people have not done the simple online research revealing Tesla as an American car company. Tesla’s vehicle and battery factories, parts suppliers, shops, and service facilities create a manufacturing, delivery, and customer care chain employing tens of thousands of hard-working Americans in hundreds of cities, towns, communities, and truckers on the roads (soon to be driving Tesla electric Semi trucks.)

You may also be surprised to learn that Tesla now rates as the

MOST AMERICAN car company.

Furthermore, all of Tesla’s cars (in this country) and all other EV’s in this country – run on American generated electricity produced on our soil by Americans operating American power generating facilities.

Many EV drivers, including this blogger, charge their EV’s at home/work with “home grown” renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar arrays thereby making them 100% energy secure and practically free to drive. Read my last post about how I power my EV with solar and came to the conclusion that my EV (an 2012 Nissan Leaf) costs me one cent/mile to power and drive!

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In other words – any electric vehicle used in this country – no matter it’s manufacturer – is charged by electricity produced from fuels primarily sourced within this country by hard working Americans. 

The same cannot be said of fossil fuel powered vehicles whose fuels of choice were – as of 2017 – around 19% sourced from foreign lands* at great cost to our country and our future. 

*Source: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=32&t=6

All that evidence suggests that driving a Tesla, or any EV  (factory, converted classic, or home built unit) powered by electrical energy sourced in the USA, would be a great act of patriotism that would only support the energy security/self-sufficiency goals of our country.  More on this here: https://cleantechnica.com/2017/05/31/national-security-bulldogs-electric-cars/

tesla-model-s-raffle

Meanwhile

The bullying bozos blatantly blocking Battery-Electric Vehicle charging stations and rolling coal on EV’s and innocent pedestrians with their garishly modified vehicular dinosaurs while attempting to make some sort of macho, tribal, hateful, nationalistic, political, and/or anti-environmental statement against “anti-American electric cars” – are powering their toy trucks on fuels that a percentage of has been procured in faraway lands with governments and policies often hostile toward our way of life.

crazyredneckinpickuptruck

Seems like someone did not do their research.

On top of all this madness – just keeping the fuel flowing into the tanks of their stinky little trucks (and all of our fossil fuel powered vehicles and systems for that matter) has required decades of war*. It has required the sacrifice and the deaths of tens of thousands of our brave and beloved children, brothers, fathers, mothers, and lovers who were often fighting to protect oil rights and resources to keep your (and my) fuel tanks topped off with petroleum-based fuels because, for the last 100 years there has been no other option – but that is about to change. 

*Sources: http://priceofoil.org/thepriceofoil/war-terror/ *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_war *https://energypost.eu/twenty-first-century-energy-wars-oil-gas-fuelling-global-conflicts/

While I will always 100% support our brave servicemen and women in the military, and all of my friends and family members who have honorably served – and some who have paid the ultimate price – I am not at all OK with, and will never support sacrificing my loved ones and friends just to protect the flow of oil so I can think I am free when in fact I, and all of us, remain addicted to the fossil fuel machine.

IMHO – to be truly free one must be as self-sufficient as possible. If we are relying on imported energy sources while sacrificing our loved ones to acquire and protect that energy – we are not self-sufficient and we will never be truly free.

To be self-sufficient and truly free, our country needs to work toward the ultimate goal of sourcing all of our energy needs from our home soil.

Being self-sufficient also means to respect and care for that which gives you life. To me, this means using energy resources that do little harm to the very environment that provides all of us with all of our survival needs. To me, this means we need to focus on developing the amazing untapped potential of ALL available renewable energy sources and keep fossil fuels as a strategic reserve and a backup power source for the lean times. If the USA continues burning through almost 20 million barrels of petroleum per day not only will we quickly exhaust these finite fossil fuels and be forced to scramble to get renewable energy sources online and operational while millions suffer, but we will also speed up the destruction of our health and shared environment with fossil fuel pollution speeding up planetary warming and weather weirding due to anthropogenic climate change.

Common sense and scientific evidence say now is the time to start making a system-wide switch to renewable energy sources.

Common sense and scientific evidence say now is the time to start making a system-wide switch to renewable energy sources.

We need to move toward 100% renewable energy now.

We know what we need to do.

We have the technology.

We have science on our side.

But do we have the personal and political will power to do it?

Which future will we choose?

Sadly, to keep the costs at the pumps down so the fossil fuel addiction can continue to flow to consumers unabated, and to keep EV and domestically produced renewable energy adoption low – the fossil fuel supported powers and bribed politicians in government keep funneling our hard earned money into supporting the fossil fuel producers and pushers with massive subsidies to the tune of $20 billion annually*! The massively powerful and insanely wealthy fossil fuel machine, working with uncaring, bribed politicians and policymakers on both sides of the political fence, are funneling loads of money into organizations that work to manufacture loads of FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – in the peer-reviewed scientific evidence presented to us by the vast majority of the planet’s climate and environmental scientists. Evidence that has collectively revealed that we humans are changing the climate, the natural processes, and the stability of our atmosphere – thereby bringing about anthropogenic climate change and the sixth mass extinction of life on planet earth – and we just let this happen. Why? What is wrong with us?

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*Source: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/10/6/16428458/us-energy-coal-oil-subsidies   and http://priceofoil.org/2017/10/03/dirty-energy-dominance-us-subsidies/

Furthermore, the acquisition, shipment, refining, distribution, and use of petroleum-based fuels has resulted in countless oil, gas, and fuel leaks, spills and other accidents that have created massive impacts to our shared environmental life support system, loss of human life and wildlife, loss of health and livelihoods for countless people and families, oh and those nagging and worsening air pollution and climate change issues…just to keep the oil and gas flowing to feed the status quo so the cash can continue to flow into the bank accounts of the filthy mega-rich oil barons and corrupt politicians who are working together to enrichen themselves while destroying our shared futures.

All this madness trickles down and the lunatic fringe – in petroleum production, government, and those in their charging station bocking little toy trucks – who remain free to target and assault those of us working to make good and lasting changes in the world by adopting and promoting the following;

  • promoting and using “homegrown” renewable energy
  • promoting domestic energy security through the adoption of renewable energy resources
  • teaching preparedness and self-reliance through the scientific method
  • accepting science supported evidence and expert guided change
  • driving a much more energy secure, less polluting, lower maintenance, cheaper to drive, electric vehicle built in the USA and powered by American electrons.

Conclusion

The problem with the small number of fringe-dwelling, macho-driven, small-minded individuals that choose to intentionally block and vandalize charging stations, insult EV drivers for childish thoughtless “reasons,” (and roll coal) is that they do not think – they just act on their primal, fear-driven, toxically tribal emotions without any actual evidence or reason to back up their childish actions.

I could go on but I believe you now know what I think about this issue.

In closing – I have offered examples and explained
ad nauseum the many reasons why the thoughtless practice of intentionally ICEing/blocking/vandalizing Tesla and other EV charging stations is ill-advised. However – while I may have explained it, I cannot understand it for you.  That challenge is up to you and I hope you have the intellect and the common sense to do so…and to never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source.

Knowledge is power.

Knowledge conquers fear.

Get some knowledge.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

GREEN LEAF!

One of my oldest childhood dreams is now a reality – and more!

That dream was to one day drive an electric vehicle that was charged with electricity provided by the sun.

solarcarhouse

After originally dreaming up the idea in Mr. Jackson’s 6th grade science class way back in 1980*, then pondering, dreaming, and researching the idea for many decades until recently, with the convergence of technologies over the last few years,  and by working with great friends, nonprofit supporters, patrons and my amazing students – I have finally made that boyhood dream come true for me and, most importantly, for my students – who are the next generation.  Our children are the generation that will benefit the most from these coming of age technologies – technologies that they will soon come to see as normal and as every day as we kids of the last generation viewed the internal combustion engine, land-line telephone, film camera, CD, and MTV.  *Read all about my 6th-grade epiphany in this blog post I penned on my nonprofit blog.

Now, over 35 years later, I am finally daily driving an electrically driven vehicle whose battery is charged with locally grown electricity from the sun – and a good chunk of water and wind produced renewably generated electricity!  I use this renewable energy fueled electric vehicle for commuting to and from work, as an outreach vehicle for my nonprofit environmental education organization – Earthshine Nature Programs – and as a teaching tool in my middle and high school science classes where I work to demonstrate working models of the “new normal” of these now off-the-shelf technologies to the young minds who will lead us forward into a clean, renewable energy powered, and electrically driven future!

How did all this happen?

It all started in the late summer of 2012 when my wife and I purchased a slightly used 2012 Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle (EV).  I wrote all about that misadventure in this previous blog post.

wejustboughtaleaf

We quickly came to dearly love the little electric car, and for the first 4 years of EV ownership, we charged the vehicle using the local grid provided energy mix.  In 2017 this all changed when my classroom’s new 4.8 kW photovoltaic solar array went online.

Now I charge my EV almost every day with sunlight!

The data I have outlined below reveal that 48% of the power I used to charge EV’s drive battery over the period of this study came directly from solar produced, renewably generated, clean electricity produced by the 4.8 kWh photovoltaic solar array at my classroom/office where I charge on weekdays.

Read more about the construction of our student-built solar array.

Due to the logistics of driving an early, short range, EV – the other 52% of the power needed to get me around during the time of this study came from the local power grid’s energy mix.

That energy mix is not perfect but it could be much worse.  As of only about a decade or so ago it was provided by electricity generated primarily by burning coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels.  As it stands today our local energy mix is a blend of coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, solar, nuclear, and wind (more or less in that order).

This 52% of my electric vehicle’s electron fuel originates from the local energy mix which I source from various 120 volt standard electrical outlets at my private residence and at the homes of friends, and the readily available Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)  – aka car chargers – network located all around my “home range.” (Home range = the area in which I spend the majority of my time.)

When on the road I always try my best to use EVSE that are in close association with, or not far from solar or other renewable energy power sources in the attempt to keep my car’s electric fuel as clean as possible.

But how does all this work you may ask?

First, let us look at the solar side of things.

It all starts with our nearest star – the sun.  Sunlight, which is made up of photons – that can take up to as long as one million years to be produced inside the sun – is produced by our nearest star then zip through space at the speed of light and around 8 minutes later strike my classroom’s photovoltaic solar array – that’s my classroom in the below photo taken by the ENP solar charged camera drone.

DCIM104GOPRO

The photons are then converted into direct current (DC) electricity by an almost magical process that takes place within in the blue semi-conducting solar cells contained within the 20 solar modules that currently* make up the array.  After the electricity is produced in the solar modules it travels (again at the speed of light) via wires to the SMA Sunny Boy inverter where it is modified from DC current into AC current and sent into the building’s power grid.  From the there it travels via more wiring to a Clipper Creek Level 2 EVSE.    *I say currently because we are now working on raising funds to complete Phase Two which will add 10 more solar modules to our classroom solar array powering the entire building and the EV with solar!  Learn more about how you can help us make this happen for our classroom and nonprofit on our Patreon page or on our GoFundMe page.

Read all about our very special EVSE – donated by Pine Shore Energy

From the EVSE the energy then travels along a cable into my 2012 Nissan Leaf and charges the car’s battery with clean, locally produced, renewable solar electricity.

ENPEVSE

No dirty, toxic, life-destroying fossil fuels needed for this configuration.

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Sunshine + Science + EV + Willpower + Determination + Generosity +Hard Work = a Solar Driven Electric Vehicle!

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Renewable energy + EV’s are the “new normal” and they offer all of us freedom from the subscription to dependency that is fossil fuels.

Although I have been daily charging my 2012 Nissan Leaf in this manner since mid-July 2017, this report will only cover a 4-month time-frame between August and November of 2017. At the end of 1 year, I will recalculate and we will take a look at the changes.

I only live about a dozen miles from my classroom/office and during the week I always charge my Leaf at work. After work and on weekends I often travel around the area for work and play so I must occasionally plug my Leaf into a standard power outlet on my carport at home or use the many conveniently located community Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) public charging stations* that are powered by other local energy sources – and some of these energy sources are not as clean as our favorite neighborhood star.  For these logistical reasons, my Leaf is not entirely powered by the sun – at least not yet. *see map below and visit Plugshare to learn where there are EVSE near you.

The local charging station network as of the writing of this post.  The blue dot is approximately (but nowhere near exactly for security reasons) where I live.

plugmap

So, how do I know my Leaf is 48% solar powered?

To answer to that question I took a deep look at my “Leaf Log” – a charging status and usage journal that I have been keeping of my daily charging/driving activities since day one of EV ownership.

I compared my Leaf Log with the daily power production logs from my classroom’s SMA Sunny Boy Inverter and cross-referenced those with the power usage records from Duke Energy – my grid power provider.

The Data.

Time period covered: August 01- November 30, 2017.

Total solar array production to November 30th: 1.36 MWh

Average monthly solar production over the time period: 280.45 kWh

Average daily solar production over the time period: 9.34 kWh

Total number of times the Leaf was fully charged* using solar produced electricity over the time period: 65

*I only recorded data for days where solar production equaled or was greater than the kWh needed to fully charge my Leaf EV.

Total number of times the Leaf was charged at home over the time period: 47

Total number of times the Leaf was charged with local energy mix* over the time period: 53  *Our local energy mix includes a mix of Coal, Natural gas, Hydroelectric, Solar, Nuclear, and wind more or less in that order.  From:   https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/#tabs_unit-1

energysourcesnew

Number of kWh from the cleanest solar produced electricity (my classroom solar array) over the time period: 535.19 kWh

Number of kWh from the local energy mix over the time period (home+other local EVSE): 687.3 kWh

Number of kWh sourced from Level 1 home charging: 357.3 kWh

Number of kWh from all other sources outside of solar/home: 330 kWh

Total kWh used by EV over time frame: 1222.49

Leafenergy17kWh

It is important to note that my home energy mix is supported by wind power carbon offsets through Arcadia Power.  This is significant because when I charge my Leaf at home, the energy used to charge its battery, while being physically generated by the local energy mix, has its carbon pollution offset by the construction and operation of wind farms which serve to lower my EV’s carbon footprint even more!

Number of kWh from wind energy offsets used to charge my Leaf at home over the time period = 357.3 kWh

Now let’s take a look at the local energy mix.

The total kWh sourced from the grid mix over the time period = 330 kWh.

Total kWh electricity sourced from EVSE in close proximity to renewably produced energy from home range grid mix over the time period = 97.3 kWh

Number of kWh from known renewable energy augmented EVSE stations*: 51.9 kWh * Solar BrightfieldTS EVSE at UNCA/Asheville Public Works BrightfieldTS solar EVSE/EarthFare BrightfieldTS EVSE/Sierra Nevada Brewery/WCU BrightfieldTS EVSE/Cherokee Welcome Center solar/wind EVSE

Total kWh used from charging the Leaf adjacent to the dirtiest EVSE* in our local energy grid over the time period = 27.2 kWh *Note: I refer to this as the dirtiest EVSE in the area as it is less than a mile from and within sight of the largest local fossil fuel-fired electricity power plant in the area – as you can see from this image.

 

energymixother17

FINAL ANALASYS 

Total energy used by EV over time period: 1,221.77 kWh 

1041.69 + 180.08 = 1221.77

Total kWh from known clean energy sources over the time period: 1,041.69 kWh 

535.19(classroom solar) + 51.9(RE EVSE) + 357.3(home wind offests) + 97.3 (near RE)  = 1041.69 kWh

Total kWh from fossil fuel generation sources:  180.8 kWh

153.6 + 27.2 (fossil fuels) = 180.8

 

leafenergypercents

CONCLUSIONS

My calculations suggest that, over the time period in question, the LEAF received 85.3% of its energy from renewable energy sources via either local sources or via carbon offsets.  The remaining 14.7% of its energy came from local fossil fuel-fired generation sources.

leaffinalenergy

So it seems that if my maths are correct (and please do correct me if you find an error) that my data and calculations suggest that during the time period in question my Leaf was 48% solar charged and 52% grid mix charged with 37.3% of that grid mix being sourced from renewable energy sources.

During the 48% of the time my Leaf was solar charging at my classroom – it was, in fact, receiving its electrons from the sun.

The other 52% of the time, while it is reasonable to deduce that my EV received 37.3% of its energy from renewable energy sources – it is more complicated to pinpoint the exact energy sources for my vehicles electron fuel.  This is due to the nature of nature, the nature of the electric grid, the loads on the grid at any given time, the nature of electrons, and my varied locations when charging.

Nonetheless, if the numbers and my calculations are accurate then it is reasonable to say that my little EV is truly a “green” Leaf and, for its specific situation and use – it is as clean as it can possibly be when compared to vehicles powered solely by internal combustion engines that receive all of their energy from carbon-based fossil fuel sources.  These results make me very happy by giving me the knowledge that I am doing as much as I am able to do to shrink my carbon footprint and I am working to share my findings with the next generation.

I am also fully and acutely aware that everything we do has an impact on our shared earth – from the manufacturing process of the vehicle, EVSE, solar array, and all the parts that tie it all together – these all have their own unique carbon footprints.  I am also fully aware that all grid-based energy supply networks – from the dirtiest coal or diesel-fired power plant to the cleanest hydro, wind or solar sourced renewable energy installation also have their own areas of inefficiency and loss that compounds to lower their carbon footprints – so no, there is no such thing as a 100% carbon-free human-made energy source and there will always be some losses in the manufacturing processes, in the power delivery along the way to you, and in the final use of that power by you, the user.  I am not here to debate those things nor am I hear to claim that I have all the answers.  What I am here to do is share with you the ways I have discovered that you can make use of to lower your personal carbon footprint by using renewable energy and electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf in your everyday lives.  Those other, larger issues – we common folk have little control over – but those issues will improve as our technology improves.  For those improvements to happen we need to vote strong scientific minds into offices of power and we need to vote with our money in support of renewable energy projects, electric vehicles and their support infrastructure, and better efficiency in our homes, schools and workplaces and maybe then, by working together, we can work to make our collective impacts on our fragile ecosystem as low as possible for the benefit of us all and for the benefit of everything moving forward.

MORE PONDERINGS

The 149.2 kWh of RE generated/augmented electricity sources used to charge my EV varied depending upon where I plugged into the grid, was it sunny, overcast, windy, what was the ambient temperature etc.  Although I am not 100% sure on any of the following I will take a stab at hazarding an educated guess.

Looking at the below map you will see two polygons.  These represent my daily home range and the electricity generation sources located therein.  I spend around 90% of my time within the area of the yellow polygon while the green polygon represents the extended home range that I visit around 10% of the time.  Note: the Duke Energy power plant located just north of center of my primary home range is listed on the map as a Natural Gas Power Plant – however, that listing is misleading as it is, in reality, a “Conventional Steam Coal; Natural Gas Fired Combustion Turbine with Net Summer Capacity by Energy Source: Coal = 378 MW, Natural Gas = 320 MW.” – so it is currently not as “clean” as it is reported.  The Oconee Nuclear power station, the closest one to my location, is just off the southern edge of the map to the left of Liberty, SC.

ncenergymap1

On the next map, we see all of the locations where I frequently charge my car and their locations in relation to the local power grid’s energy production sources.

homerangemap1

The L1 and L2 EVSE in the lower left of the yellow polygon are clustered around my home and office.  My home is located midway between the Duke energy coal/gas plant and a large clustering of hydroelectric power plants to the west.  At first glance it appears that around 50% of my home’s electricity may be provided from this renewably generated clean hydroelectricity – however, those hydroelectric generation stations are on a different circuit so I am therefore unable to take advantage of their much cleaner hydroelectricity.  Although my home circuit’s power grid is fed mostly by a mix of coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, and solar more or less in that order – however, when we take into account the renewable energy offsets I receive from Arcadia Power my home energy mix becomes MUCH cleaner!

When I am in the northern part of my most frequented home range I usually charge at solar assisted EVSE locations located in downtown Asheville at the BrightfieldTS solar assisted EVSE stations located on College St., on the campus of UNCA, at the Sierra Nevada Brewery, or at the Earthfare Grocery store in South Asheville.  These EVSE stations receive a large portion of their power from solar energy so, if an EV is charging during the day it is solar charged.  When an EV is not charging, these EVSE then feed clean solar produced electricity back into the power grid.  I can, therefore, hypothesize that when I charge at these locations (on sunny days) I am driving on sunshine and my car’s electron fuel is potentially as clean as when I solar charge at my classroom.

solarcharging714UNCA

Charging on sunshine on the campus of UNCA

When I drive out of my most frequented home range area and into my extended home range (the area within the green polygon) not only is the majority of the electricity in that area provided by clean hydroelectric generating stations, but on top of that,  whenever possible I charge at EVSE locations that are relatively close to hydroelectric, solar/wind* augmented generating stations.  It is interesting to note that the EVSE on the campus of  Western Carolina University is also fueled by a solar canopy as seen below.

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This EVSE is also very close to the nearby Electron Garden , a small campus solar farm seen in the following photo,  as well as being located “downstream” from several hydroelectric power generating facilities that produce close to 50 MW of clean hydro-generated electricity – so these facts suggest that this is indeed a very clean EVSE!22279717_10213086155961288_6919179988762042057_n-1.jpg

Another EVSE I use frequently is located at the Cherokee, NC welcome center in Cherokee, NC.  This EVSE is powered by a mix of hydroelectric, solar, and wind generated electricity.  The building (pictured below) is attached to a hydroelectrically energized power grid and it has two solar “trees” plus a small-scale wind turbine on site that generates even more clean energy from the sun and wind.

cherokee-visitor-s-center

This clean energy is then fed directly into the building’s grid and the three EVSE located in the parking area.  If an EV is charging then its batteries will be solar, wind, and water power charged.

EVsolarwind

My Leaf charging at the Cherokee Welcome Center.

On a few occasions, I am forced, due to my Leaf’s limited range, to charge at EVSE located very close to coal-fired generating facilities.  On these occasions, my car is fueled with clean electrons produced by dirty energy generation stations.  The good thing is that these occurrences are rare and totaled only 27.2 kWh of my total energy usage during the time period under study.

Follow Up

I have arrived at my conclusions based on data from my home range map, charging history data from the “Leaf Log,” and knowledge of the local electricity providers power generating facilities and their service areas.

Even with the gray areas in the numbers this 85.3% renewable energy provided fuel is far and above cleaner and more energy secure and has a significantly lower carbon footprint than anything out there on the roads that runs on any liquid petroleum fuel.

In fact, even if I did not have a solar generating station at my classroom/office, or use Arcadia Power for carbon offsets, or charge at renewable energy powered EVSE – my Leaf would still average around 73 mpg equivalent*.   This is due to our country’s grid mix continuing to get cleaner every day with the retirement of aging coal fired power plants and their replacement with cleaner natural gas and much cleaner renewable energy power stations! *From the Union of Concerned Scientists EV Emissions Calculator found here: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/ev-emissions-tool#z/28768/2012/Nissan/LEAF (24 kWh)

This data is based on the following chart of the US energy mix as of March 2017.

2014-map_blog_5.19-1024x749 Source: http://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-numbers-are-in-and-evs-are-cleaner-than-ever

North Carolina’s Energy Mix

Now let’s look take a deeper look at my local energy mix.  The energy mix is just that – a mix of different energy sources all working together to provide us with reliable power for our homes, businesses, schools, and for a growing number of us – our electric transportation choices.

Traditionally, North Carolina was powered mostly by mostly coal but over the last couple of decades, we have seen a slow but steady growth in renewable power –  especially since 2010.  Since then NC has gone from near the back of the parade to #2 in the country for installed solar power!  Solar now provides NC residents with ~3.57% of our energy mix coming from the sun as well as over 3000 MWh of installed capacity – enough to power over 341,000 homes – and on top of that solar provides over 7,100 North Carolinians with great jobs and in the process, our energy mix just keeps getting cleaner!

Evidence of this can be seen in the below map image of NC’s current solar  (hydroelectric and nuclear) situation! (Note: yellow stars=grid scale solar power generation facilities, Blue=hydroelectric, purple=nuclear.)

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This trend is happening all over the country as evidenced by this amazing graphic from this UCS article.

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As of May 2016, the USA had installed 1 million solar installations – including around 950,000 rooftop solar arrays! (Source: http://blog.ucsusa.org/mike-jacobs/one-million-solar-energy-systems-now-turned-on-in-us )

Many more solar and wind generating facilities are planned for the 2018 year as can be seen in the map below.

planned RE generating facilities 2018

It is wonderful to see the fall of dirty “King Coal” with no new coal-fired power stations going in and the rapid growth of renewable power generation nationwide.  What this means is cleaner air, cleaner water, and a cleaner future for all of us, for nature, for wildlife, for our children, and for the children of the future.

It also means that even when we charge our EV’s on only local grid power they will  ALWAYS be cleaner and have less of an impact on our environment than ANYTHING powered by petroleum products (source).  Furthermore, with more and more new grid scale and private renewable energy generation facilities going online, the grid just continues to get cleaner – so every time we charge our EV’s anywhere – the electrons fueling our vehicles also just continue to get cleaner.

This is a win-win situation for all of us…well, unless you are still driving around in an old fossil burner because, as we all know, their fuel source can never be made clean and on top of that as they age their efficiency drops as their multitudes of moving parts wear out with use only causing them to pollute more and more.

Below a wonderful sign of the times from the Sunday funny papers 🙂

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I almost forgot to mention that when I looked at how the numbers have changed when it comes to my fuel costs to push my Nissan Leaf EV down the road – the new solar array has lowered my costs by,  you guessed it, almost half of what I was paying in the past.  My previous costs of operation for my EV’s electric fuel were around $30/month and now, with my classroom solar array online and charging my car with sunshine, I can now drive my average 1200 miles/month for about $15 – that works out to a little more than 1 cent per mile to fuel my EV!!!

OUTRAGEOUS!!!

That my friends is the ultimate smackdown to petroleum-based fuels.

I could not be happier.

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!THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone who worked with me to make this dream a reality!

You are all HEROES!

 

 

 

 

 

NEW VIDEO LOG

Check out my latest extended length video log (is VLog still a thing?).

Ride along with me on drive through the Blue Ridge mountains of Western North Carolina in my 2012 Nissan Leaf SL. This is a re-visit of the first long range excursion undertaken in my Nissan Leaf almost 4 years prior.

In this video I investigate how the car has changed as it has aged and how the EV charging infrastructure along the route has changed as well. I also find “Turtle Mode.”

Watch part one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36BlE…

I do not work for Nissan, I just love my Leaf and want to educate others that are interested in EV ownership about life with a 100% electric vehicle.

A big SHOUT OUT and THANK YOU to all my supporters on PATREON! and GoFundMe!

Music by Narayanaya used with permission.

Ads that appear below this line are not promoted or endorsed by ENP.

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Nissan Leaf Three Year Report

We have been driving our 2012 Nissan Leaf for 3 and 1/2 years so it is time to report on this, our grand experiment, of owning and daily driving the planet’s first mass produced all electric vehicle – the Nissan Leaf.

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Charging up at a local BrightfieldTS  solar charging station.

Before we get into the report let’s look back over the last three years.

In my first report after purchasing the little blue electric car I outlined the adventure we experienced after purchasing the car and driving it across central and eastern Tennessee.  A couple of times during the entire ordeal I asked myself – was this a wise choice?  Was this a total mistake?  What have we done?!?! But after we made it home and I looked at how little it had cost us in electricity charges to cross Tennessee and how much I loved passing gas stations I realized that if we could adapt to the new vehicle it would save us thousands of dollars each year in fuel costs and that was just the cake – the very sweet free range organic icing was the list of environmental and health benefits offered to anyone who makes the switch to driving electric.

In my second report at three months and 6500 miles, we had settled into loving the little EV and had come to the realization that driving electric was truly a better way to drive.   As I reported at the end of the article;  “By buying the Leaf we have saved money (around $500), reduced our carbon footprint by eliminating almost 952.95* lbs of CO2 from being eliminated into the atmosphere, and gained a maintenance free car that is fun to drive and seems to be very well thought out and well constructed.” *To date we have saved almost 12,000 lbs of CO2 from being dumped into the atmosphere!

The third report came at 11 months and around 15,000 miles and I couldn’t wait till the end of one year to let the world know how much we love this car!! “Conclusions: even with the limited range and other little issues we still love our Nissan Leaf–it is a truly amazing car that has saved us thousands of dollars in fuel and repair costs and we do not regret our EV decision in any way. We are loving our pioneering decision and look forward to many years of EV adventure and savings!”

And now for the Three Year Leaf Report

It has been 3.5 years and 45,000 miles and overall we do still love the little electric car.  It is as fun to drive as it was on day one.  It continues to cost us very little money to own and power.  It continues to perform (in most respects) as it has for the last two years however, it has experienced a few issues and we have discovered a few quirks and limitations that must be reported.

Daily Driver. 

We continue to drive the car daily to and from work, to town, and to visit nearby cities and sometimes even journey out of state (but not that far out).  On average I drive the car around 1000 miles per month with an average electricity cost of around $30-40/month (or less).  As in the past I continue to drive the car on all types of roads and in almost all weather conditions from hot summer days to torrential rains and snow covered winter wonderlands and the little car continues to preform admirably.  The Leaf has become our car of choice for our longer local trips since it is almost free to fuel and drive.  Our other vehicle, a 2013 Honda Pilot, is driven much more rarely and most often only for the shorter trips and for hauling loads, pulling a trailer, and the very rare long distance trips over 100 miles.

20160121_095720 On the road to work in winter.

Carrying Capacity. As for the carrying capacity of the car it is perfect for us for daily commuting back and forth to work, trips to the store, movies, dinner out, visiting (local) family and friends, and wherever else we need to go.  However, for the purposes of my nonprofit organization it barely serves me simply due to the fact that I really need more carrying capacity – about three times the space in the Leaf would be perfect.  I suppose I am a bit of a special case since I am always toting boxes of things, tools, gear, animals, and such to and from work to home and to my wildlife and nature presentations and classes all over the region.  For the last three years, out of necessity, out of not wanting to drive a gas powered vehicle to my presentations, and by wanting to provide a living example to others that a life driving an EV can be done – for most of my trips I have almost always managed to shoehorn all that I need to into the LEAF although it has not always been easy or comfortable.

What I really need for the business is an all electric small van such as the Nissan eNV200 but sadly it is currently only available in Europe and Japan. Read my blog posting about this van and please comment if you could use one for your business and maybe together our voices might in some small way influence Nissan to bring this wonderful small van to the USA.

eNV200

Note: Recently I have been thinking about shipping one over the ocean or the possibility of converting a gas powered NV200 into an EV using the drive-train and battery(s) of a LEAF – I wonder if it could be done?  Anyone out there have any ideas?

Charging: Since we have owned the car we most often charge it with the Level 1 charging cord that comes standard with the car.  At the end of the day we park it on the car port or in the garage, plug it into the nearby 110 volt outlet, and let it trickle charge overnight and it is always ready to go in the morning.  It is just soooo much easier and soooo much cheaper than stopping at the gas station,  I just can not explain why so many people are so reluctant to do it and after a couple of recent less than safe and secure events I have witnessed at gas stations – read all about them in two of my recent blog postings here and here – I am even more happy to pass up the gas.

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On a few rare occasions I have returned home after midnight and plugged in the Leaf only to find it still charging in the morning.  This has never been much of an issue for me as my office is only 12 miles away and anywhere else I may travel there are many different charging options available if needed.

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If I have a distance to drive after work I will charge the car while at work via a second L1 charger that was given to me by EV club member, friend, and superhero for wildlife and nature conservation, solar power, and EV’s Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute

THANK YOU BOB!

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Charging while at work at possibly the planet’s only “Chicken Coop” Charging station that will soon be solar powered by my classroom’s solar array making the Leaf also solar powered and truly zero emission  🙂

My students and I, with the help of friends Jim Hardy and Bob Harris, completed phase one of the classroom solar array on January 20th, 2017.

Read more about it in this post on my nature blog .

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When the electrical wiring and battery storage is complete this solar array will produce 5.3 kW of solar power!  That is enough clean, renewable, site-produced electricity to power many of our classroom’s electric loads as well as the Nissan Leaf!  Below is a diagram of how it all will work.

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Read more about our classroom solar project and how you can support the final phase of its construction and/or our other nonprofit renewable energy, wildlife and nature conservation and education projects.

Charging on the road: When I am out and about in the community I most often make use of the local charging network that consists of over 100 charging stations spread out all over my region.  The growth of this network was slow at first but due to efforts of local EV and renewable energy owner/advocacy groups such as Black Bear Solar InstituteBrightfield Transportation Systems, Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Blue Ridge EV Club, and Charge Transylvania County and support from local businesses, educational institutions,  and forward thinking individuals – the network has seen rapid growth over the last two years.  Recently Earthfare and Brevard College added charging stations with many more on the way!

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Most recently Duke Energy announced plans to add over 200 L2 charging stations to the North Carolina Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) network!  This is a wonderful development and while it will expand our driving range it would be even better yet if Duke would install solar or wind energy systems alongside these charging stations to offset their use with renewable energy.  Maybe Brightfield Transportation Systems and FLS Energy will join forces with Duke Energy Renewables to make this happen!

Take a look at the current state of the WNC charging network on Plugshare.com!  Keep in mind that each location may contain from one to several individual charging units allowing for several vehicles to charge at a time.  While you are at it check out Plugshare.com for your city and see how many charging stations are near you!

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In March of 2015 I witnessed firsthand as the first DC Quick (DCQC) charger went online in Asheville, NC.   In the months following, several more DCQC units came online along with many more Level 2 units and finally the area’s first Tesla Supercharger was installed in December of 2015.  This expanding EVSE network has opened up the roads even more to those of us who drive electric and as far as my daily errands, business trips, and even a few longer range visits to see friends in neighboring communities, we can now use my EV to travel almost anywhere I once traveled with a gas vehicle.

Charging Timer: For the first two years of Leaf ownership I would most often set the Leaf’s charge timer to charge to 80% to increase battery life.  Over the last year however, due to the premature battery degradation issue I will go over in more detail later, I have been forced to charge to 100% more often.  I am not happy with this fact at all but the fact remains that if I need the extra range to take care of my errands after work or on weekends I will charge to 100% out of necessity. I have been able to work out a charging scheme that serves to give the battery more time to cool down and not charge to 100% as often.  How it works: upon my arrival at work at 9 AM I usually have about a 50-60% SOC.  I will then plug in and trickle charge to 100%  during the day.  The car will often stop charging around 2pm giving it around 3-4 hours of cool down time.  At the end of the day I will run my errands on the way home and as the terrain is almost all downhill I will not use as much power.  When I arrive back home I will often park the Leaf with a 75-80% SOC on the battery.  I then let the battery rest overnight without charging when ambient temperatures are cooler.

During the colder weeks of winter (these are getting few and farther between due to anthropogenic climate change aka global warming ) when the temperatures are below 40F, I will most often park the Leaf in my garage so the battery will not be subjected to the lower temperatures of winter.  This practice not only gives me a few more miles of range but the car is warmer when I get in so I only need to use the seat and steering wheel warmers on the drive to work.  I very seldom turn on the heater/defroster unless it is below freezing or the windows are fogging up.

While these techniques will hopefully slow the battery degradation somewhat, I do have to plan my charging sessions a few days in advance so I will be able to be sure I will have a full battery when I need it.

These adaptations are acceptable to me but I suppose I am a special case.  Many people would not like all the compromises I have made.  For many in our fast paced, instant gratification, jump in the car and go society, having to stop and think to plug in a car much less think about the car’s range, battery health, temperature, and other parameters would just not be acceptable – even though we are already accustomed to plugging our smartphones and other devices in at night – this would just be one more step that many are not willing to make.    This is yet more real world evidence  why a 200+ mile range EV is much more practical than one that will travel less than 100 miles. With a 200+ range EV almost none of this would even be an issue, anyone could travel anywhere they would normally travel AND now that the fast charging network is in place and growing nationwide we would be able to travel to all of the more distant destinations for which we are forced to use our only remaining gasoline powered vehicle.

I feel certain that soon, the day will come when our dreams of a 300 mile range EV van/utility vehicle will be realized.  On that day we will trade our fossil fired Honda and say goodbye to gas forever and then our family will be 100% free of the grip of big oil and on that day we will all grin that EV grin as we drive away passing gas into the sunset 😉

Driving Range.  Since purchasing the Leaf in the late summer of 2012 we have steadily lost driving range.  All vehicles, no matter the fuel used, loose driving range as they age – but in our case it is happening faster and this is not “normal.” In one of my first blog postings – the 2000 mile report – I noted that the car had an estimated driving range (from the GOM) of around 80 miles but its real world range was around 70. Today that range has been reduced to around 55-60 real world miles.  Even with this reduction in range I have almost no issues getting where I need to go.  According to my research this reduction in range is a bit more pronounced for our Leaf than the majority of 2012 Leaf owners have experienced.  This suggests that the traction battery in my Leaf may have been damaged before I took over ownership of the vehicle.  I have no proof of this, it is only speculation based on available facts.  Read more about this issue later in this report.

Long Range Trips. Now this is a different story.  I have taken several long range road trips that have really tested the capabilities of the little blue car. The most memorable being my first excursion over the mountains back in the days before we had the ever growing EVSE network that we have today.  With my Leaf being a 2012 model it came standard with a 24 kWh battery pack with an EPA estimated range of 84 miles.  This is a relatively small battery by today’s standards (think Tesla!) and over the first two years of driving the car it provided my vehicle with a real world driving range of around 70-80 miles. This driving range was great for daily commuting but for long range trips beyond 75 miles the old “range anxiety” monster began to creep into the picture.  Then last year I embarked on this mis-adventure that ended in the Leaf having to be towed (by a stinky diesel – yuk!) to a charging station due to an exhausted battery (it was all my fault)!

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Then there was my most recent close call in December of 2016 when I rolled onto the car-port with ZERO range remaining on the “guess-o-meter” and an 8% SOC as reported by LeafSpyPro- that was a close one!

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I was really pushing the edge of the envelope due to the battery degradation issues the car is now facing…read more about this later.

Outside of my recent range related experiences the future looks great for the Leaf and the other new long rage EV’s coming on the scene.  Many of the planet’s automotive companies are accelerating EV projects, research laboratories are ramping up battery chemistry research and development with some amazing results hitting the roads and the Tesla Gigafactory is now online and pumping out batteries  as you read these words.  The the 2016 Leaf has been out for over a year with a 107 mile driving range and in the next few months Nissan is rumored to be releasing the Leaf 2.0 with a possible driving range of over 200 miles – read more about it here and here and the test mule story here and here!

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Is the IDS concept the new Leaf?  Photo source. 

The upcoming new Leaf, the recent release of the 238 mile range Chevrolet Bolt, the Hyundai Ioniq with 124 mile range (soon to have 200 mile range), and the upcoming release of the new Volvo and Volkswagen EV’s and the much anticipated and highly reserved Tesla Model 3 with a stated driving range of 215 miles (but knowing Elon it will probably top 250 or have different battery options from 215 to maybe around 300…only time will tell) as well as the Nikola 1 and could this be a teaser of the Tesla Truck?   Then there is the recent news that SMART is ditching gas altogether and offering all their USA and Canadian vehicles in electric only!  Then there is the news that Volkswagen has committed to 30 all-electric vehicles by 2025 and that Volkswagen will be investing 2 billion dollars in new EVSE infrastructure in the USA- wow! And check out what Audi America President recently said!  All these are wonderful developments that will forever erase the fear many drivers have of “range anxiety” and I am very hopeful and excited to see what the future holds for the EV.

Maintenance.

Since owning the Leaf there has been very little maintenance to conduct on the vehicle. Outside of a couple of flat tires, a couple of worn suspension bushings (probably due to the gravel road I drive daily), a strut that sprung a premature leak and needed replacing, a new cabin filter (that I changed myself and blogged about), new wiper blades, and 2 sets of tires, so far the only big issue (outside of the battery capacity) was the replacement of the Braking Control Unit and master cylinder/booster assembly. If not for the warranty this would have been a very expensive repair!  The fact remains that none of these issues were related to the vehicle being an EV and all of these things would have happened to any vehicle no matter what fuel was pushing the vehicle down the road.

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Getting a new set of shoes – I use the Yokohama 580

To date the Leaf’s electric drive system has worked flawlessly and had no issues (despite the reduced range related to the battery degradation).

One odd issue we experienced was due to lack of vigilance of the operator.

During the spring of 2016, due to an emergency in the family, the car was parked for a few weeks with about a 80% battery charge.  During this time the LeafSpy Pro’s OBDII adapter remained plugged into the diagnostic port of the car.  The adapter was on and using a very small amount of power and the car was parked in a dark area where the rooftop solar panel could not get any solar exposure to power the OBDII adaptor and maintain the 12 volt battery.  These factors conspired to drain the car’s 12 volt battery. The flat battery caused the car’s computer to loose its settings which threw all manner of things out of whack resulting in a $300 out of warranty cost to identify the problem and then reprogram the system-what a bummer.

So, all in all, in 3.5 years/45k miles of ownership of this little blue EV we have had to spend less than $400 out of pocket on maintenance.  Granted this was because the vehicle was still under warranty and if I had to pay out of pocket for the brake system repairs it would have been over $2000 not counting labor!  But again, those repairs would have been similar for any newer car no matter what fuel it operated on so the EV nature of the vehicle was in no way at fault. Some may say that it would be more cost effective to just drive an older fossil burner to save money.  I beg to differ.  Considering that during the same time fame my 1999 Toyota 4Runner (a great vehicle for its time) cost us close to $3000 in repairs and $3000 in gasoline and oil so the Leaf was by far the more cost effective option – even with the monthly car payment.

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The old Toyota 4Runner- a great vehicle that ran on the wrong fuel.

That has all changed now that the 3 year 36k warranty has expired.  The great thing is that the power-train/EV systems are still covered by a 5 year 60,000 mile warranty and the traction battery has a 8 year 100,000 mile warranty so I am good for a few more years/miles on those key EV systems.  I suppose it is inevitable that a few years in the future, if/when I have any more issues with the little car, I will be doing my own repairs.  I have no problem with this because I am a tinkerer and I love to fix things.

Amenities (bells and whistles).

The stock Leaf is clean and refined enough for the everyday driver and is feature rich enough for the driver interested in keeping track of the car’s primary systems.  However, for the data and technology junkie like myself, I believe the features could be improved and refined to offer more EV systems and performance data for those drivers that want a wealth of information about their vehicle’s systems in situ and over time.  An improvement would be to include more information on the car’s systems such as a user selectable monitoring screen showing a graphic representation of the vehicle with all systems highlighted in a semi-transparent view.  Each system would be selectable by the driver either via a touch screen or a BMW i3/Nissan style joystick-like knob and/or a voice recognition interface to allow for less distractions while driving.  Once the driver selects a system a new window or info bubble would open showing details of the selected system for example; if the traction battery is selected the info window would display metrics such as SOC, GIDS, TEMP, Charge/Discharge/Regen rate/stats, hours in use, faults,alerts etc…  This system could be used by the driver to monitor all vehicle systems and in the event of a fault or failure a warning message would be prominently displayed on the main screen accompanied by an audio warning by the EV-SIMDAS.

Suggestion: EV Systems Information Monitoring and Driver Alert System (EV-SIMDAS).

This system would constantly monitor all systems of the vehicle alerting the driver through audio and visual warning alerts of the current issue.  This system would be user customizable with several choices of skins and fonts as well as various voices and languages for use with the SIMDAS and vehicle navigation system.  Users may also download unique customizable themes and packages of their own choosing or create their own and upload them into the system themselves.

Interior.

I like the design of the interior of the car.  It is of what I would call mid-range quality.  Although it has held up well to my daily use, I have also been very careful and tried not to damage or soil it.  My biggest issues with the interior are as follows;

  1. The annoying and possibly dangerous reflection in the windshield from the dashboard.  This happens on sunny days and is almost mirror-like in quality.  The remedy would be a dark colored, non reflective surface.
  2. Odd sounds from the glove box area and dash panel while driving over rough surfaces.  This is only audible when the music is off.  It is a tiny yet annoying repetitive “rattle” or “chatter” that only goes away once the road smooths out. The only way to stop it is to open the glove box.  It is not an item in the glove box so I believe it to be a loose fixing behind the dashboard.  This may only be an issue affecting those of us who drive their Leaf’s on rougher roads as I have yet to speak with anyone with a similar problem so it may only be my problem.
  3. The seat design.  I have never found it very comfortable and constantly find myself trying to adjust it for better comfort. The problems I have with it are that the lumbar support area is much too “sunken in” and the headrest is too far forward.  To remedy both of these issues I built up the lumbar region with a piece of 1.5″ foam placed under the seat cover and I reversed the headrest.  This helped my unique situation but as this is my preference, others may find it to be just fine.
  4. Navigation system.  The nav system needs to be more feature rich and user friendly.
  5. Audio.  This system has worked very well for me for the most part.
  6. Hands free Bluetooth audio/phone and voice recognition system.  The Nissan Info-tainment system allows my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone to connect flawlessly to the system allowing me to stream music and podcasts from my device. The hands-free phone system works very well allowing me to make and take calls while driving.  However, the voice recognition system (at least in my car) has some serious issues.  When I use the system to make calls while driving it frequently takes the system several tries before it recognizes my voice and takes the appropriate action.  I have had a Nissan technician look at the issue and they have found no problems with the hardware so I believe it is either  my voice (low chance of probability), a software issue (low chance of probability), or combination of environmental factors such as road/tire noise not present during testing that are conspiring to manifest the problem (high chance of probability).  I have tested the system while the car is stationary and, while the voice recognition system works a bit better that while driving, it continues to have issues with voice recognition.  I do not believe my regional accent is the problem because my 2013 Honda Pilot has a similar hands free phone system and it works flawlessly never misinterpreting my commands.  So there you have it Nissan – something else to work on for the upcoming new LEAF.

Exterior.

Since I first laid eyes on the Nissan Leaf I have loved its sleek, futuristic design.  From the swept back, aerodynamic look, to the unique headlight pods and the distinctive tall, narrow LED taillight assemblies – the design speaks of unique form following function creating a one of a kind beauty that is very fitting for the planet’s first mass produced all electric vehicle.

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My Leaf deep in the Pisgah National Forest

I only have one real issue with the exterior of the Leaf.

  1. The windshield wipers make a horrible chatter when the rain is light or misty.  I have tried “RainX” and other similar products without results.  I have replaced the blades – without results. I have taken the vehicle to the Nissan dealership on several occasions to have this looked at but they have found no issues and say all is working well.  If that is the case then why the chatter?

If anyone out there has any ideas on how to remedy this issue please do contact me.

Other suggestions for Nissan to consider.

  1. Remove the “mickey mouse ear” side view mirrors and replace them with HD cameras (similar to what Tesla and others are working on).  This would serve to make the Leaf safer by eliminating blind spots while driving and parking, it would reduce aerodynamic drag thereby increasing efficiency and driving range, and it would streamline the look of the vehicle making it even more distinctive.
  2. Offer a wide angle rear view mirror similar to the Chevrolet Bolt. (I know it is technically interior but it is used to view the exterior…)
  3. Offer an optional rooftop/hoodtop solar array consisting of lightweight high efficiency solar cells embedded in a hardened possibly glass matrix similar to what Tesla Energy is working on for homes. I wrote about this idea in the Three Month Leaf Report and even came up with this badly photo-shopped image…

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…but now I believe it could be incorporated into a roof/hood design that would be less visible yet produce many thousands of miles of added range per year and therefore even more in fuel savings for the owner, a further reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for the planet, thus a win-win for all considered…well except for the maybe the fossil fuel companies but hey, I can live with that 🙂  This concept is not just a geeky idea that fell out of my brain…others are working on it as well enter the Sion from Sono Motors a crowdfunded solar powered EV!

Battery Issues. 

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Our Leaf is a 2012.  It was built in Japan in 2011 before Nissan started making the Leaf and its battery pack at it’s Smyrna Tennessee manufacturing facility. Therefore, its battery is a first generation unit that is more susceptible to high temperature related degradation. This was an unfortunate problem discovered by several early Leaf owners in areas with hot climates which resulted in a lawsuit directed at Nissan.  This lawsuit spurred the implementation of the generation 2 “Lizard” battery that drives all Nissan Leaf and eNV200 vehicles to this day.

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When we purchased our Leaf it only had 1200 miles on the odometer.  We were told by the dealership that it had been a one owner car and that owner had worked for Nissan and driven the vehicle to promotional events.  After a few months the Nissan rep then turned in the vehicle to be put up for sale where it then spent several more months sitting on a Nissan car lot until we purchased it.  During its several months of down time it sat on the hot parking lot in central Tennessee baking in the summer sun.  Was the battery fully charged during this time?  Was the car used/test drove much at all? Due to the low mileage I doubt it.

My hypothesis is that due to the vehicle’s low usage, time spent in summer high temperatures, and possibility of sitting in that heat in a fully charged state – that all these factors may have caused the car’s traction battery to suffer premature damage resulting in the reduced range issues I am seeing today.

Since day one I have kept detailed records of the car’s driving data.  For the first two years I used the mycarma myEV vehicle data logger and associated app.  It worked pretty well for awhile but started having connectivity issues a little over a year ago so I switched to the much more stable and data rich Leaf Spy Pro unit.

On June 8th 2015, when the car had 25,527 miles on the odometer, I noticed that the first battery capacity bar was missing.  The myEV device was reporting that the battery health was at 89% and the guess-o-meter estimated that I had 74 miles of range in drive.  The first capacity bar returned and dropped away repeatedly for the next several months but did not remain absent until almost 5 months and almost 5000 miles later at the end of October 2015 when it returned one last time and then was forever extinguished with around 30k miles on the odometer.  When this happened I noted that the vehicle was continuing to estimate my driving range at 74 miles in drive and 80 in ECO. This capacity loss hardly affected my travels in any way.

On 12/11/15 I started using Leaf Spy and discovered that when charged to 100% my battery stats were as follows;

SOC: 90.5%

GID’s: 219

kWh: 17

On 7/15/16, with the odometer reading 38,400 miles, I turned on the car only to find that in less than 8 months the second capacity bar was missing :-/

Leaf Spy reported the following stats when charged to 100%

SOC: 91.4

GID’s: 208

kWh: 16.1

I promptly took the car to Nissan for a check up and they said all looked normal and the battery checked out OK with a five star rating (whatever that means -meh).  The Nissan representative did state that my car has the 100k mile extended warranty on the battery and that it would be repaired or replaced if the battery capacity drops below 9 bars.

Since that time I have seen a steady decrease in the range I can drive my Leaf. In fact the numbers below from Leaf Spy Pro indicate the ongoing degradation of the battery.

Average statistics of the car’s battery as reported when in a fully charged state by Leaf Spy Pro for the month of December 2016.

SOC: 91.82

GID’s: 205

kW: 15.9

From these numbers I believe I can predict that I may loose the third capacity bar when Leaf Spy reports the following;

GIDS: 197

kW: 15.1

If the car’s mileage is a factor in when capacity bars drop then it seems that, for my driving conditions, around 8k miles has elapsed between the loss of the first and second capacity bars (as measured after the first bar dropped away entirely.)  These data suggest that I could look for the third capacity bar to drop at around 46,400 miles and since my car now has over 45k miles on its odometer it may not be very long before I loose the third capacity bar.

So to recap it looks like if the battery keeps degrading at the same rate as it has for the last 1.5 years then the car may loose it’s third capacity bar at GID’s 197/kWh 15.1 and fourth capacity bar at GID’s 186/kWh 14.3 and if mileage is a factor then the car could loose its fourth capacity bar by around 54,400 miles!  If this is the case then that number is well below the 8 year 100k mile battery warranty provided by Nissan (as noted in the 2012 warranty booklet provided by Nissan).

Only time will tell and whatever it reveals I will be sure to report on within the pages of this blog.

The Renewable Connection.  The purchase of the Leaf was a great inspiration for the classroom solar energy project that my students and I are currently constructing to power most of our classroom’s electric power loads and the Leaf!  The ability to produce your own power for your classroom/office/home AND fuel for your vehicle cannot be understated. In fact, I have built an entire core class around the concept of producing your own renewable energy to power your lives and your vehicle(s).  Within the next few weeks my students and I will complete our classroom solar array and soon will be producing site generated clean electricity and the Leaf will then be charged by the sun!  This practical application of renewable energy coupled with electric vehicles can be implemented by anyone, anywhere and together we can work together to end our dirty, destructive addiction to fossil fuels.

 

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My LEAF at a local solar farm that provides clean energy for over 400 homes!

LEAF LOVE

I have written many posts about all the reasons why I love my Leaf and most of them center around not using toxic, life and ecosystem killing petrochemicals to move me from place to place, not fueling climate change, and how much money I have saved by owning this little EV.  Some of my favorite stories are listed below –

Yet another reason to love my EV

The cost of driving an electric vehicle

Now I know why Max was mad 

EV Ownership cultural ups and downs

There are many cultural hurdles to be experienced when one drives an EV.  These are undoubtedly different depending on what parts of the country/world in which you live.  In my corner of the world I encounter the best and the worst of both worlds for example.

In November of 2014 I experienced firsthand the destructive and disturbing cultural phenomenon known as “Coal Rolling” …well, sort of 🙂

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A “coal roller” intentionally shortening his life. Photo from the internet. 

Since then I have had a few instances where “doubters” “nay-sayers” “luddites” and even a few truly good people who just do not have all the facts and/or are resistant to change have attempted to make their position known with several different tactics (that all stem from lack of knowledge) with some of these encounters actually ending with the instigators learning something, walking away with a more open mind, and possibly even driving away in an EV!

1-Read more about the coal rolling” incident.  In this incident I wrote at length about, it seemed blatantly premeditated but totally backfired on the perpetrator.

2-Road rage/highway bullying.  This has happened on countless occasions where I am driving along minding my own business only to look in my rear view mirror and find a large pick-up truck (often with a confederate flag, don’t tread on me, or other intolerant, fringe-focused, close minded front license plate reflected in my rear view mirror) riding three feet off my bumper often with the headlights, “fog” lights, LED light bars on high beam.

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Photo from the internet

It is not that I drive slow, I try to abide by the law and routinely drive no more than 5mph over the speed limit – road and environmental conditions depending.  Furthermore, we EV drivers know that our cars are much faster than ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) powered vehicles and if I wanted to do so I could simply press the accelerator to the floor and silently disappear into the distance before the perpetrator knew what had happened. But no, I do not let the small-minded knuckle-dragging bullies driving the ancient vehicles of yesteryear intimidate me so I maintain my speed,  I stay calm, focused, and watch as a very predictable series of events almost always unfolds (just like with the childish, posturing schoolyard bullies I dealt with as a youngster); the perpetrator rides my bumper long enough to read the badges on the car that say “Zero emission” and “100% electric” and then may take note of the decals that read “No Tailpipe” and “Proven by Science” and “Question Fossil Fuels – Go Green” at which point (if they are able to read) they may realize that the vehicle is electric and (as in my experience) many of the stereotypical big truck driving rebel flag waving, prominently displayed gun rack sporting types often seem to see progressive things, like this little electric car, as a threat to their freedoms and all that they stand for and of everything they do not understand or are unwilling to even try to understand.  This erroneously ignorant outlook then often labels the car and its driver a threat to the toxic lifestyle that they have been taught to propagate, perpetuate, cherish, and for some even worship.  These “lunatic fringe” types appear to loathe and fear anything they do not understand when accepting that “different” thing would open up so many unique possibilities for growth and possibly wealth – yet they choose to wallow in their own ignorance and aggressively tailgate the little EV – so very sad.

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Art from the internet.

Soon they realize that their pushy bumper riding tactics are not working so they ride right up on my bumper, often weaving back and forth with impatience, until they find a place to pass (even if it is not a marked passing zone), drop their gas guzzling, heavily modified, old fossil burner into a lower gear, and speed by as loud and as garishly as possible cutting it as close as possible to my car as they whip back into the right lane only to linger a moment before speeding off down the road breaking the speed limit as they leave a toxic cloud of exhaust smoke (almost always diesel) in their infantile, ignorance, testosterone filled (they are almost always male), and possibly alcohol fueled wake.*  Sadly, some bullies never grow up so there may be no hope for these types but then again…see #3.

*I am fully aware that this description seems very stereotypical yet in my experience it is accurate and I am not exaggerating.  I welcome any input/comments from other EV drivers out there who have experienced similar events.

3-Road Respect. I have had a few productive discussions with some individuals who profess to drive big, loud garish 4×4 type vehicles because they need them for their jobs.  These hard working folks are not as resistant to change as the arrogant road warrior types described in the previous paragraph.  These individuals often initiate the conversation with questions like “Is that one of those electric cars?” or “I heard they are slow like golf carts?” or “Does it really run only on batteries?” or “How much does it cost to charge it?”  When I fill them in on the fact that it is fully electric, quite fast, and only costs me an average of $7 to drive around 200 miles they are genuinely interested and often floored that the operational costs are so minuscule when compared to their big trucks.  They often retort by saying things like “That is incredible!!” and “My truck costs me several hundred a month to fuel!”  and “I think I need to take one of those for a test drive.” or “This would be a great vehicle for my wife and kids!”  So I look at it like this – while these folks do drive big gas guzzling trucks they are closet geeks at heart.  Many of them seem to be open minded enough to start thinking about the possibility of owning an EV – if only to save loads of money.  So hopefully, the more I share my story the more the world will change especially once automakers start making electric 4×4 trucks 🙂

4-Road Ignorance. I have had many individuals come out and say things like “You know that thing burns coal?” or “EV’s are dirtier than ‘normal’ cars.” and “Electric vehicles are slow – like golf carts.” and “I would never buy a car that only goes 70 miles before needing to be charged!” or “That thing is un-American! It does not support the oil we work so hard to defend – I would NEVER drive and EV! and so many more negative comments.   We all know that many of these comments stem from total ignorance of the facts (doubters) and often a wanton distrust of anything new (luddites).   So frustrating are these encounters that I have even gone as far as putting together several blog postings herehere and here outlining the facts in the attempt to spread some truth to the masses.  I suppose I am preaching to the choir in most cases and the people that really need to read these words may never read them…but we can only hope they do because if we do not try to change the system then the system will never change.

However, there have been a many times where I have calmly struck up a conversation with uninformed or ill-informed individuals, offered up a few facts about the vehicle and the technology, given a tour, even given a ride, and in a few cases even let them drive the little EV and in a few instances totally change their views and/or either plant a seed of thought in their opening minds and, as in a few cases, the experience has even sold them on the EV way if life and before I know it they are driving the roads in their own EV!  Sadly for some people however there is no amount of reason and/or facts that will ever change their minds.  I feel sorry for these people for they are only hurting themselves and making it harder for the rest of us to progress.

Positive EV Encounters

While the negative encounters will happen they do seem to be getting to be fewer and farther between. More often the people I have encountered are genuinely interested in my EV and what it is like to own and drive an all electric car.

For example –

When I first purchased the Leaf I soon showed it to my friend “Jack”.  He was in the market for a car and was looking at a Toyota hybrid but after he took my Leaf for a drive he decided to buy one and soon drove off the lot with a new 2015 model!  He has since become a great advocate for the technology, attends EV events whenever possible and works hard to promote EV’s, renewable energy, and nature conservation in the community.  THANK YOU JACK you are a true HERO and great inspiration to me!!

Early in my EV ownership adventure when my Leaf was one of the only ones in town, I was pulled over by not one but two State Troopers in separate vehicles with blue lights flashing.  They walked around it as if looking for infractions, then they asked for my license and registration and as they looked up my records they asked me about the car.  It turned out that my tag was out of date and the troopers gave me a warning ticket and drove on.  I believe the real reason for the show of force from the force was more interest driven and they just wanted to look at this new type of vehicle they were going to be encountering on the roads they patrol.

I showed my Leaf to my doctor and a few weeks later he was driving a BMW i3.

One day I was driving along in my Leaf and received a phone call (piped via Bluetooth through the Leaf’s hands free phone system) and heard a woman’s voice.  She and I spoke for a bit about EV’s, I told her the story of the adventures and challenges of owning an all electric vehicle, and before long she was driving the roads in a brand new Tesla Model S!

In another instance another local man, let’s call him “Squirrel”  read this blog and soon was driving around in his own white Leaf.  He later sold the Leaf and now “Squirrel” happily drives a shiny white Tesla Model S.

In yet another local instance a man, let’s call him “Tad,” was inspired by his conversations with my friend “Jack” so he went out and bought a Tesla Model S! So one could say that if “Jack” had not been inspired by driving my Leaf to buy his own Leaf then the probability is very low that “Tad” would be driving around his very own shiny electric “Intergalactic SpaceBoat of Light and Wonder.”

With all the Leaf owners transitioning from Leaf’s to Teslas, Could it be that the Nissan Leaf is the “gateway drug” into the Tesla Model S?

In one amazing instance I presented an educational nature and wildlife conservation program at a local school.  As with all of my wildlife/nature programs I offer up to the participants that one of the ways they can help wildlife and nature is by driving electric vehicles powered by renewable energy sources.  On this instance I introduced the student body to my little EV.  One of the students was so inspired by the car and my story that he petitioned the school’s directors to replace the campus vehicles with EV’s and to install a solar array at the school to power the car(s) and the classroom buildings!  I have yet to hear back on if the school will be making these improvements but even if they do not take that leap, that one student is thinking in the right direction and that makes me very happy. Another amazing part of this story is that the inspired student who petitioned the school to go EV and renewable had, before my presentation, been totally focused on high speed gasoline powered vehicles.  Amazingly, after my introduction to EV’s and renewable energy, this student had a great epiphany and totally dropped petroleum as a fuel of choice and became an ardent supporter of EV’s and renewable energy!  That is just more proof of the power of a good education and why we all need to work to support these technologies in our daily lives.

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Sharing EV knowledge and love with the next generation 🙂  

Most recently I coached two separate friends on purchasing EV and a few days later they were both driving around in shiny new 2016 Leafs 🙂

One of the things I am most proud of is the creation of a local Electric Vehicle club. A few months after I started driving electric I noticed that there was not a page on Facebook where people could meet to discuss all things EV – so I created one.  It is called the Blue Ridge EV Club and it now has over 160 members from all around the world,  all walks of life who drive all types of EV’s and now it has a dedicated website!  The club works hard to promote driving electric, living more responsibly, and using renewable energy to power our cars, homes and our lives.  Check out the club’s website and Facebook page and feel free to join us and together we can make a difference.

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Members of the Blue Ridge EV Club at a local solar EV charging station. 

Conclusions 

Outside of the limited range, premature battery degradation issues, and other little irritating minutia, we truly love our Nissan Leaf.  It is a very well designed electric vehicle that gets us around our community with unique style and very low operational costs while working to lower our impact on the environment.  It has connected us with a like-minded group of EV owners who have made our lives richer and open to the future of clean transportation and renewable energy.  It has presented me with the opportunity to educate the public and my students on the benefits of driving electric vehicles and renewable energy through my nonprofit wildlife, nature and renewable energy education organization –

Earthshine Nature Programs.

So now I ask you.

Are you tired of paying the big oil barons your hard earned money for their toxic and life-destroying product?

Are you tired of the repair bills on your antiquated fossil burner?

Are you are tired of the noise, smell and leaks?

Are you tired of stopping at gas stations?

Are you tired of supporting terrorism through your purchasing of petroleum products?

Are you tired of contributing to the alteration of our climate via the exhaust gasses emitted by your old fossil burner which directly contribute to anthropogenic climate change?

Are you ready to save money?

Are you ready to make a good and positive, forward-thinking change?

Are you interested in helping people, nature and wildlife?

Are you interested in the possibility of making your own clean fuel?

Are you interested in a fun, quiet, ride to work?

Are you interested in being part of a rapidly growing community of like-minded people working to make positive change?

Are you interested in making a difference and in working to make a better future for us all?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then please consider test driving and possibly purchasing or leasing a Nissan Leaf or other EV and better yet going solar and powering your EV on clean, renewable energy generated at home.

You will be glad you did.

sunleaf

Driving Electric + Renewable Energy = FREEDOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Truth is Out There

Yes, when it comes to the internet the truth is out there, somewhere…but to uncover it you often find yourself digging through stacks and heaps of total lies, outright fabrications and willful small-minded ignorance.

And now for a lesson in the realities of the internet.

Recently a friend of mine found a meme* online that disturbed her, knowing that I had some experience in the matter she asked me if the meme was accurate.  As I was already familiar with the meme I responded that it was a pure fabrication trumped up by an organization with an agenda and something to loose.

I could have left it at that but no, I cannot.  I must dig deeper, citing the sources and the science behind the matter in order to reveal and support the truth and lay the lies it to rest for anyone that may read these words. Sadly, in this day and time of crooks, villains, charlatans, snake oil salesmen and outright lairs, I and others like me must stay vigilant and work to expose the real truths behind this terribly inaccurate meme and other lies that the “merchants of doubt” spin on an almost daily basis. (The term Merchants of doubt is from the book and must see documentary by the same name – Merchants of Doubt.)

In the world of the internet and TV, and to some extent the movies, there are many people today who sadly believe what they see without doing any further research at all.  This trend is dangerous and as the great Carl Sagan once said;

The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counter-intuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.

And as Mr. Spock once said: “Humans are illogical beings, they believe what they want to even when they know it to not be true.”

To find the truth we cannot stop there because in the world of scientifically accurate journalism (which we desperately need more of) we need to dig much deeper in order to find the concrete truth and cite the sources as we go…so let’s do this thing.

PLEASE NOTE: It is most important to not just view and accept the following photograph at face value because it is horribly inaccurate and an outright lie.  Therefore, the author of this blog (and others) are exposing the below meme as 100% erroneous, unsupported, and fabricated, illogical nonsense and supporting this exposure with scientifically supported resources to validate it.

The meme in question is below.

lithium_tar_sands_meme

This meme was obviously designed to;

1. Attack people and organizations who either drive and/or support Electric Vehicles (EV’s) and/or renewable energy and attempt to tarnish the science and fast growing good reputations behind these transportation and energy sources with a poorly researched graphic.

2. Spread manufactured outright lies and disinformation propaganda designed by individuals and/or organizations with ties to the fossil fuel industry, in the attempt to spread doubt with the goal of negatively and falsely influencing uneducated or uninformed people into continuing to support fossil fuel companies by driving petroleum powered vehicles, using electricity produced from coal and other fossil fuel sources, and voting for candidates that support these outdated, dirty, polluting, finite, technologies.

3. Or all of the above.

As you will see by my research in the following paragraphs, images and videos, this meme is 100% inaccurate and garishly untruthful and while I have done the research, anyone reading this, with a half a neuron’s worth of research ability, is capable of finding the same information that I found online by initiating a simple Google search.

My revealing findings and facts of oil sands and/or lithium mining can be found in the following photographs from various sources and the associated links to detailed information on the subject matter.

To begin with the images below show the realities of tar sands mining.

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Alberta Oil Sands mining from Mining.com

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Canada’s Mordor.  From Hubpages.com

And a few from this Greenpeace article

alberta oil sands greenpeace

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Alex McLean Oilsands 9 Checkerboard clearing of the overburden for seismic testing, Syncrude Aurora North Mine Site, Alberta, CA Blocks140406-0193

To get at the oil sands the mining company must first remove the “overburden.”  This “overburden” as they call it was once a thriving boreal forest ecosystem.  Please tell me how that is a good thing in any way.

So what are oil sands?  Here is a good overview of the Oil sands from Wikipedia

Another one from Scientific Amerian

And this one also from Scientific American.

I believe the photographs and articles effectively show that Alberta oil sands extraction is one of the most environmentally destructive and toxic mining operations on earth.

The erroneous meme in question seems to have originated from a Facebook group called Saskatchewan Proud (SP).  From what I can deduce after visiting the SP Facebook page they seem to be an organization that is against anything related to renewable energy. They seem to be working to sow doubt, disinformation, and falsehoods in the feeble attempt to protect their poisonous and destructive way of life.  I also believe they are fearful of the growing support and adoption of electric vehicles (EV’s) and renewable energy sources by individuals, businesses, municipalities, and governments all around the world and they see these trends as a threat to their toxic and destructive livelihood.  They are right in that the growing renewable energy sector will end our dependence on fossil fuels but I fail to see how that is a bad thing that requires the creation of lies and propaganda. If they know what is good for them (and from the visible evidence on their Facebook page it appears that they do not or that they are living is denial or both) they would leave the fossil fuels in the ground and embrace the renewable energy resources found all around them in the beautiful land called Saskatchewan.

.

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If they are not careful they will one day find themselves fat, rich, and sick living in their own self-created version of hell on earth.

mordor

But you still may ask “Where does Lithium come from?”

I have dug up the truth.

Yes, Lithium must be mined from the earth just like any other natural resource however, it has a much lower environmental impact than almost any other type of mining.

Below are a few very good short videos on the subject of Lithium mining and its use.

 

When Lithium is applied and used in batteries for computers, phones, tablets, cameras, and other mobile devices, and electric vehicles – it does not give off any toxic pollution, in other words it’s end use is 100% emissions free.  That fact can never be applied to fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel fuels in any way.

Nissan produced a great video a few years ago eluding to this fact.

Also, once a lithium battery reaches the end of its usable life,  it’s components and chemicals can then be recycled into another battery or application–try that with fossil fuels, it is just not possible–the end results of burning fossil fuels is only a ride down the road, trail, rail, waterway or airway in return for the undeniable toxic and deadly byproducts listed below –

  1. Wars and lives lost in the dirty deals and twisted politics relating to the expensive acquisition of the raw materials (oil and coal).  If you need an example think Gulf War.

2. Environmental degradation, destruction, human suffering, and death (think  Exxon              Deepwater Horizon) from the mining and extraction.

3. Expensive and dangerous shipping and transportation by ship, pipeline, train and/or            truck with the inevitable life killing oil and fuel spills that happen regularly and                      without fail (Think Exxon Valdez).

4. The billions of BTU’s of waste heat from the inefficient combustion of fossil fuels.

5.  The atmospheric poisoning and warming, and the resulting anthropogenic climate                change from the billions of tons of CO2 and other toxic gasses released by the end                  use burning of fossil fuels.

6. Let us not forget the health and the future of our children and grandchildren and                     beyond who will be forced to live in the world we have created, and polluted for                       them.

Using fossil fuels is like using tobacco – it is a very bad experiment.

We should be very ashamed of ourselves for continuing this very bad experiment to the detriment of the prosperity of future generations.

Let’s get back to the lithium.

Mining lithium takes place in environments that are mostly uninhabitable by man or wildlife such as  the Atacama Desert in South America.

mina-de-sal-en-uyuni_1

The fact remains that while lithium extraction and processing does have an environmental impact (as does almost everything we do), that impact takes place in some of the most physically and biologically remote places on earth.  When compared to fossil fuel extraction, the processing and end use lithium requires very little energy to extract and process it into a usable final product.  Therefore, lithium extraction is far less damaging to the environment than fossil fuel extraction ever has been or ever will be.  Furthermore, the end use of lithium based products are clean and zero emission – try to say that about any fossil fuels, it is impossible.  However, lithium battery reclamation and recycling programs – which currently are few and far between – do in fact need to be strengthened in order to make sure spent lithium batteries (and batteries from all sources) are properly recycled instead of being tossed into the garbage only to end up in landfills.

Here are a few more links to other good lithium mining resources.

http://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/10/the-lithium-mine-fields-of-atacama.html

http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2013/04/05/the-lithium-triangle/

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2051639-follow-the-lithium-dreams-expedition-to-chile-and-bolivia/

I believe we have sufficiently busted the myth that lithium mining is worse that tar sands extraction and have therefore destroyed the meme in question.

But that is not all we must address from the ignorant meme generators at Saskatchewan Proud. They have also created two other anti-renewable energy propaganda memes designed to spread lies and sow doubt in the truth of clean, renewable energy technologies.

Some of their other irrational, poorly researched and poorly worded memes follow.

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Really?  Are they really that ignorant?

To begin with – steel and iron are not mined.  Iron ore is mined and then refined into iron and steel.  (See this link for the facts) Secondly, while wind turbine support structures, generators and other support structures do contain structural steel they also contain  aluminum, copper and other metals most of which is first mined from the earth in a manner similar to iron ore.  Yes, these mining operations do have impact as does everything we do however, the meme in question is simply an unwarranted and poorly researched over-dramatization of the fear that the people behind SP have toward renewable energy.

Much of the metals that are used in modern wind turbine manufacturing can also be sourced from recycled sources.  The blades of modern turbines are not even made from steel or iron, instead they are “Made from composite materials these blades are usually made of a polyester resin, a vinyl resin, and epoxy thermosetting matrix resin and E-glass fibers, S- glass fibers and carbon fiber reinforced materials.” Source: Wikipedia.

SP also tried to take another stab at a the growing wind energy…and they failed miserably.

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(I do not see any dead birds in the lower photo…do you?)

The truth is that your pet housecat, cellular telephone towers that let your mobile device make calls, connect to the internet and text your friends and check your Facebook, your own house’s glass windows reflecting the forest and sky outside,  and the toxic emissions/spills/mishaps directly or indirectly related to the entire fossil fuel industry – kill many millions upon millions more birds and bats annually than wind turbines have ever done and ever will do.

If you do not believe me then please, take a look at my sources following this paragraph…or just do your own research.  My sources come from the mainstream media, independent science organizations and the wind energy sector and they all agree that yes, wind turbines do kill some animals – but far less than the dramatized numbers purported by Saskatchewan Proud and other supporters of the fossil fuel industry. If SP really wants to attack the industry responsible for killing the most animals then maybe they should attack themselves and the other fossil fuel companies that are quickly destroying our shared planet in the name of massive profit. I am sure that is what this pelican would like to do.

pelican

Photo Source – and a very good read:   http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/20/opinion/brazile-earth-day-bp/ 

Treehugger: http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/north-america-wind-turbines-kill-around-300000-birds-annually-house-cats-around-3000000000.html

USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/09/15/wind-turbines-kill-fewer-birds-than-cell-towers-cats/15683843/

Science News: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/windows-may-kill-988-million-birds-year-united-states

Science News: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cats-kill-more-one-billion-birds-each-year

Think Progress: https://thinkprogress.org/chart-how-many-birds-are-killed-by-wind-solar-oil-and-coal-230d2a939bbb#.fx2aooqfm

ABC Birds: https://abcbirds.org/program/wind-energy/

Smithsonian Magazine: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/scientists-save-bats-and-birds-from-wind-turbine-slaughter-130262849/

The Environmental Defence Fund: https://www.edf.org/ecosystems/six-years-later-whats-ahead-gulf?utm_source=ggad&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=gr-BPOil&gclid=CJSfutD0zc4CFcwlgQodKpQFBw

The fact is that the oil spill resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident killed or injured an estimated 82,000 birds alone (far more than the purported few dozen as described by SP in the previous meme).  Recent estimates indicate that over 1 million birds and over 1,400 dolphins have died as a result of the disaster.  The deaths of wildlife and the resulting environmental damage and economic damage to the livelihoods of so many fishermen and tourism providers along the gulf coast is in the billions of dollars.  The damage to the ecosystem of the gulf is so great that scientists have yet to fully estimate the true damage and cost of what was the USA’s greatest environmental disaster.

Obviously, the individuals behind Saskatchewan Proud have knowingly and purposefully created this erroneous and totally false propaganda in the attempt to somehow build support for their fossil fuel supporting organization.  They have succeeded greatly, not in propping up their destructive, toxic, earth and life killing industry, but in showing their infantile ignorance, denial of the truth, and complete willful disregard for the future of their own beautiful country and its people.

Good job SP you must be really proud.

I could outline in even more exhaustive detail how blatantly ignorant their memes are but I really do not believe I need to go into such detail when their ignorance in the matter is so unbelievably obvious and when the editor of Cleantechnica has also written an article debunking this very same meme.  To that end I have included many good references from many different sources and studies (see below) that I have found online that will sufficiently and accurately debunk and disprove all of SP’s ignorant postings.  It is obvious to me that Saskatchewan Proud did not do any research at all on any of their memes before they posted them.  It looks like they whipped together their propaganda on Photoshop and dropped them online in the hopes that someone out there would believe their inane childish ignorant drool as fact and then share and spout their nonsense far and wide in the hopes of bolstering their position.

The truly sad thing is that there will be good people out there that will believe them because they are either inexperienced at research or sadly just willingly gullible and will believe many things they find online without question or without doing any further research on their own to confirm or deny their questions.

To further debunk and bust these mythical memes I offer these sources:

SNOPES: http://www.snopes.com/lithium-mine-oil-sands/

Cleantechnica: http://cleantechnica.com/2016/05/12/lithium-mining-vs-oil-sands-meme-thorough-response/

Yet another way many people come to misunderstand and misinterpret the truth of renewable energy and science in general is the use of satire, like seen in the following meme.  It was designed to parody the typically outrageous followers of lunatic fringe right-wing ideologies yet their posts are sometimes mistaken as genuine by those who do not investigate the source, fail to read all the way to the end of the article, do not read the credits, or just look at the pictures and fail to read the text associated with the article at all.

The meme below was developed by a popular satire site known as Christians for Michelle Bachmann  aka C4MB.  When C4MB posted it on their Facebook page many uneducated or uninformed people took it at face value, believed it, and shared it all over the internet.

solar-meme

Photo source C4MB

C4MB created the meme in response to the lunacy that ensued when the people of the small town of Woodland, NC decided to stop the construction of a solar farm in part due to their own ignorance.  After the town decided not to install the solar farm many “news” outlets generated over dramatized stories around the situation.  A good one can be found here: http://reverbpress.com/discovery/science/solar-energy-farm-rejected-nc/

The truth of the matter in Woodland is more complex as this article shows very well: http://www.treehugger.com/solar-technology/did-woodland-north-carolina-really-ban-solar-farms-because-they-suck-sun.html

…and furthermore this article outlines how many big fossil fuel corporations are working to slow the growth of solar energy in North Carolina and all over the country.

It is sad that the renewable energy sector has so many opponents – like SP and others listed here and many more.  From the big fossil fuel corporations and their think tanks spinning out all kinds of disinformation, to the spoon-fed politicians on both sides with oil, coal, and blood soaked money in their bank accounts propping up the fossil fuel industry and getting wealthy in the process, to the common citizen that may not have all the facts about all the amazing renewable energy options and incentives offered to help us make the switch to renewable energy.

The great thing is that although there are many naysayers and deniers out there working hard in the attempt to keep renewable energy from becoming “a thing” the reality is – it is already a thing, it is a really big thing and a really good thing.  The renewable energy industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade and now it is building an unstoppable momentum that will allow it to one day completely burst the fossil fuel fired and funded carbon bubble and quickly replace toxic and life killing fossil fuels with clean, sustainable, renewable energy.

So let us all work together and do this thing!

 

funny-science-news-experiments-memes-totally-turbine

 To recap: yes, mining lithium does have an environmental impact as does almost everything we do on a daily basis.  However, that impact is so much smaller than the impact of all aspects of the fossil fuel culture.   The oppression, dirty deals, wars fought and fabricated to access, protect, and transport carbon based resources, the mining of these resources, and the resulting toxic environmental damage and human cultural  damage.  The toxic emissions and byproducts released into the environment (land, waters, and atmosphere) during extraction, transportation, refinement, shipping and transportation.  Then finally, the end use of the product with all of its toxic byproducts that all cause environmental destruction, degradation and alteration, pain, sickness and death.

Some of these I have included below.

Major oil spills: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_spill

Great article on oil and war: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/08/oil-fuels-war-terrorists-isis-climate-movement-peace-cop-21

Recently a gas pipeline ruptured in Alabama, USA spilling over a quarter of a million gallons of gasoline into the environment and raising gas prices across the south and causing a state of emergency for the economy and more importantly, for the environment.  Read more about this event in my previous blog posting:”Now I Know why Max was Mad.

And even more recently a Sunoco pipeline in Pennsylvania ruptured dumping around 55,000 gallons of oil and gasoline into the Susquehanna river!

The time for change has never been more clear.

Many people feel the same way and are fighting back to stop the continued extraction and use of fossil fuels including:

Go Fossil Free

Break Free

Morgan Freeman’s vision of the future must become a reality.

The Guradian’s Keep it in the ground

Greenpeace’s Keep it in the Ground

350.org’s Keep it in the Ground

Center for Biological Diversity’s Keep it in the Ground

The Sierra Club’s Keep it in the Ground

 

People are protesting and petitioning the White House and demanding that President Obama end our dangerous addition to fossil fuels.

 

While President Obama acknowledges the realities of anthropogenic climate change…will he be able to do anything about it? He must, we must or we will all suffer.

As I write this thousands of Native Americans, their supporters, friends and ranchers are massing in the American west in opposition to yet another pipeline that is designed to carry dangerous and dirty fracked oil to access points for the big oil companies with deep pockets and not a care in the world for the rights of indigenous peoples, landowners and the very environment that supports them.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Rezpect Our Water has been peacefully working to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from destroying their land, waters and atmosphere and recently, actress and environmentalist Shailene Woodley, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, and Deia Schlosberg were arrested for peacefully trespassing, supporting, and documenting activities in DAPL pipeline construction zones.  The truth of the matter is that they were arrested because they were documenting the truth of the situation and the pipeline organization and their supporters felt threatened by their actions that reveal the truth.  In Woodley’s case she was broadcasting live to over 40,000 viewers on Facebook and was arrested by militarized police toting assault weapons and wearing body armor.  Obviously, their serious overkill of dress and arms was an attempt to intimidate and exert power and instill fear in the protesters in the hopes they would leave the scene.  The real reason they arrested these well known activists and journalists was to silence them from speaking out and showing the truth of the situation.  See the below TYT video for an overview of Shailene’s story and arrest as she filmed it.

Shailene was arrested, strip searched and eventually released and later had this to say about her ordeal.

The always eloquent and thought provoking  PrinceEa (Richard Williams) has some great and powerful words to say about our relationship with our home planet.

The Earth Guardians is a growing movement of passionate young people who care about their future and are working in so many ways to protect it from the toxic damage of the past.  Watch this compilation of their passionate and powerful youth director Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez in his quest to raise support for change from world leaders and people of all ages from all walks of life.

Leo has become a great spokesman for the Earth.  We must all be concerned citizens and work together to solve the crisis that is before us.  Most recently DiCaprio produced and stared in the groundbreaking documentary Before the Flood that is a must see for all humans on Planet Earth.

The Pope recently issued his encyclical in support of nature.

pope

Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls for the end of the fossil fuel era.

The Dalai Lama said – “This is not a question of one nation or two nations. This is a question of humanity affecting the whole world,” the Dalai Lama said in a statement, adding that people are responsible for global warming. “We have to take serious concern about the protection of the environment.”

dl

Even some of our most famous Hollywood and other stars and personalities are speaking out against our destruction of the environment.

PrinceEa with more to say

 

350.org fought the phase 4 of the Keystone Pipeline  and together with millions of other supporters, including the author of this blog, the KxL Pipeline was shut down.

The Break Free movement

 

In Germany and all over the world people are standing up and taking action against fossil fuels and the pollution, pain and suffering their use brings upon us all.

 

In 2014 over 400,000 gathered to peacefully march through the streets in NYC to let world leaders know they want change that works toward the reduction of anthropogenic climate change.

NASCAR driver Lelani Munter is working to change the nature of auto racing via her activism and role in the recent must see documentary Racing Extinction.

Bill Nye the Science Guy is always speaking out against climate change denial and backing up all his claims with science!

 

Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s explanation of Climate Change is spot on.

 

And those are just a few of the organizations, famous people, and countless everyday citizens standing up for the future by working to keep fossil fuels deep in the ground  where they belong and make the switch to 100% renewable energy.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.

DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.

FIND YOUR OWN ANSWERS.

BE THE CHANGE.

JOIN THE MOVEMENT.

GO GREEN.

*Definition of meme:

MEME

  • : an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from one person to another in a culture

  • : an amusing or interesting picture, video, etc., that is spread widely through the Internet

NOTE: In his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, British scientist Richard Dawkins defended his newly coined word meme, which he defined as “a unit of cultural transmission.” Having first considered, then rejected, “mimeme,” he wrote: “‘Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like ‘gene.’ I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate ‘mimeme’ to ‘meme.’” (The suitable Greek root was mim-, meaning “mime” or “mimic.” The English suffix -eme indicates a distinctive unit of language structure, as in “grapheme,” “lexeme,” and “phoneme.”) “Meme” itself, like any good meme, caught on fairly quickly, spreading from person to person as it established itself in the language.  Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meme

NOTE: I am not perfect.  If you find an error in my content, spelling, or grammar please do let me know and I will correct it.  This way we can work together to help each other discover the truth and answer their questions with accurate data.

Now I know why Max was mad.

Just before the start of this year’s international celebration of electric vehicles known as National Drive Electric Week a  leak was discovered in a major gasoline pipeline in Alabama.  This pipeline, that supplies gasoline to millions of people along the east coast of the USA, leaked over 330,000 gallons of gasoline into the environment.  This is an aerial view of the lake in Alabama that was contaminated by the fuel spill.

spill

Photo source

This unfortunate and ironically timed disaster is yet another oily thorn in the side of the petroleum industry and it comes amid the recent and past news of multiple oil/gas pipeline leaks, explosionsoil train disasters and other mishaps all over the world,  and let us not forget the oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and all the petroleum related cover ups and lies by the likes ExxonMobil and Volkswagen.  It is as if nature/God/the universe or whatever deity you pray to (or not) is telling all of us – “look you naked little thinking pink apes, you need to end all this madness and leave the fossil fuels in the ground where I put them in the first place! They are highly toxic and dangerous to all life forms – that is why I buried them safely underground and I expected you to leave them there!  I gave you unlimited clean energy literally all around you – the winds, the sun, the waves – and what do you do!?!  You, dig up the toxic waste of the past and burn it anyway ignoring the bountiful clean energy sources literally flowing, bowing, and shining all around you!  Angry, yes – I am well and truly angry at you and the costs are going to be very high.  But there is still time.  You have one last chance to clean up your careless ways.  But if you ignore the punches I have been throwing you in the form of my super storms, floods, fires, if you ignore my warnings and continue with business as usual there will be hell to pay and you just may join the dinosaurs.”

pipelineleak

After the leak was discovered repair crews from the pipeline owner Colonial Pipeline began work on cleaning up the spill and repairing the leak in the pipe as seen in the above photo from this source. Notice how close to a body of water the pipeline is at this point.  The gasoline leaked into this nearby pond and trace amounts have been found an a nearby pond as well.  Luckily however, due to the location and timing of the leak it seems that a major environmental catastrophe was avoided – at least for now.  We were very lucky this time but reality shows that it is only a matter of time before another pipeline breaks and causes irreparable harm to the environment and the creatures that call it home–including us.  This spill could just as easily have been another Mayflower/Pegasus pipeline spill or much worse.

pegasusoilspillsbetweenhouses

Unfortunately for everyone in my area, the media grabbed the story and reported on it in the way they do so well…resulting in fears of an empty tank causing long lines at the gasoline stations where people wait for access to the pumps to squeeze out every last drop of the precious, toxic, and highly addictive elixir that gives them mobility and the illusion of freedom.  

Throw in a natural disaster and it gets even more interesting…  

Hurricane Katrina…remember the mess that caused?

katrina-08-28-2005

Photo source MIT

Then more recently Hurricane Sandy.

sandy-1

Above photo from Universe Today

njgasline

Above image from this 2012 article after Hurricane Sandy hit the northeastern US causing gas shortages and similar stress that we are facing in the southeast today.

Inevitably the gas station owners were forced to raise their prices to pay for the increased emergency shipping to get fuel to the out of gas communities in a timely manner.  Many companies then took advantage of the situation and price gouging ran rampant with prices being reported as high as $5 per gallon in some areas forcing the Governors of several states to freeze gas prices until things get back to “normal.”     

Below are a few links to the media explosion resulting from this fuel leak

From my local news networks

http://wlos.com/news/local/breaking-state-of-emergency-in-nc-over-gas-shortage

http://wlos.com/news/local/several-stations-in-asheville-area-out-of-gas

http://wlos.com/news/local/2016-gas-shortage-what-are-you-seeing

http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2016/09/19/asheville-gas-shortage-leads-panic-people-freaking-out/90688134/

From the other sources

http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/09/alabama_pipeline_leak_georgia.html

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/09/how_alabama_pipeline_leak_led.html

http://abcnews.go.com/US/states-facing-gas-shortages-colonial-pipeline-spill/story?id=42153670

http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/16/investing/gasoline-prices-shortage-pipeline-leak/

On Saturday, 9/17/16 I witnessed the fossil fired madness first hand as I drove my Nissan Leaf EV from Brevard to Hendersonville.

12:15pm The first station I passed had long lines stretching out into the road.  Unfortunately I was unable to get a photograph.

12:25pm. The second station I passed is pictured below.  Cars were pouring in as I snapped the photo!

14316877_10209486930302896_7404093024444668250_n

12:40pm. I passed another station and witnessed more insanely long lines.  At this one I overheard a woman yelling like a child to another driver “That’s my spot, I was here first!”

14370106_10209486929822884_6476251346125700708_n

I then saw this madness at an Ingles station in north Hendersonville.

14333105_10209486928422849_1759068625606856937_n

1:30pm. By far the most disturbing scene was at this Ingles in Flat Rock.

14355802_10209486925822784_9150302063851643028_n

I had to pull over at a safe distance and take some more photos of the media driven panic buying insanity.

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There was a fuel truck on site attempting to keep up with the demand…

14354967_10209486926942812_6924383585517853792_n

Like a person hooked on a prescription drug these people were desperate and will do almost anything for a fix of the deadly juice that powers their lives.

Oil Addict

Image source – the internet.

Do we really want to pass this toxic addiction on to our innocent children?

At one point scenes from Mad Max The Road Warrior started flashing through my head…

941426-mad-max-490x332

…but could that really happen?  This guy may have part of the answer…

While many believe and trust the mass media reports that a pipeline did leak causing a measurable fuel shortage, there are others that believe this is simply a manufactured demand issue designed to drive up prices and oil company profits across the board.

It is the authors opinion that it may be a mix of both and wherever the truth lies the cold hard fact that remains is that people who choose to drive vehicles powered only by gasoline are terrified that their lives and business will be disrupted by this reduction in the flow of fuel.  The other cold hard fact is that this incident has revealed is that our addiction to petroleum products is dangerous and very precariously balanced on a very thin razors edge.  The uninterrupted flow of gasoline and oil is all dependent on a very complex, decades old in some areas, infrastructure supported by a complex international petroleum supply chain overseen and controlled by out of date warmongering old fossil fuel pushers and their very well compensated puppets in national, state and local governments that are all hell bent on filling up their bank accounts with our hard earned money at any cost.  AddictedUncleSam

It is time we accept the cold hard fact that our nation is locked in a manufactured addiction to the dangerous, toxic drug that we call petroleum and all of its byproducts.

Yet, there exists another way to get around, a better way to get around.

The electric vehicle.

pisgahleaf

Sadly, many individuals and special interest groups refuse to accept it, many even deny its validity at every turn.  A minority of severely addicted close minded petroleum pushers and users even call this not so new idea “un-American.” Some even go as far as mocking it by modifying their petroleum burning diesel-dino-juice guzzlers to illegally to emit clouds of noxious black smoke that they call “rolling coal” in the feeble attempt to make some sort of sad, anti-environmental statement in support of their addiction…

DARWINLAUGHSATYOU

…it is as if they are proud of themselves and their ability to harm themselves, the people around them, and the planet that supports their very lives just to satisfy some childish belief that may or may not be based in one or all of the following observations personally made by the author of this article;

1. “This is a free country so I can do whatever the **** I want to and you can’t stop me.”

2. Everybody else is doing it and it is somehow accepted and “cool” among their circle of misguided friends.

3. I’m “sticking it to the greenies” and to “the man.” The “greenies” being anyone concerned for the future, the environment, social justice, and their children and children’s children,  and “the man” being the US government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and any other governing agencies and NGO’s that work to protect us from ourselves.

4. “The “greenies” are wrong about everything.  There is no problem with the atmosphere or with pollution or overpopulation etc…and in fact “climate change is a hoax invented by  the Chinese.”  (Yes, even though this statement is garishly incorrect on so many levels, there are many people that actually believe the nonsense spouted by Donald J. Trump.)

5. “I can do it because my beliefs say I can.”

First off – it is the authors opinion that people are free to believe whatever they choose to believe unless that belief system in some way harms or oppresses other people, animals or the environment.  Please, always remember this – just because you believe a thing does not make it true unless it is supported by measurable, observable, testable empirical evidence to prove that belief is the case with factual certainty.

Secondly – it is the authors opinion that many of these ancient beliefs are simply metaphors – some based on actual happenings, others simply myths and legends of ancient “superheroes” created by their authors and undertaking their heroes journeys  and presented to the reader as a way to help them make sense of life, the universe, and everything.  Sadly, the meaning of these centuries old lessons are often totally missed by the reader who often take them literally, out of context, out of time, and then severely misinterpret them and attempt to apply them to the situations of their modern lives that could not have even been imagined in the simple agrarian world that existed when the words were first written down. These ancient, metaphorical guidelines for life are often so distorted and misconstrued by their transcribers and followers into the erroneous understanding that they are somehow superior and separate from nature – that they have dominion over the earth and all of its inhabitants and resources and therefore they can do whatever they wish to with it.  Sadly, some of those on the lunatic fringe of these belief systems are even more disturbing when they announce that they believe that the world will be ending soon and therefore nature and their daily choices and actions do not matter at all because it will all soon be destroyed by a vengeful omnipotent deity and then, as they often say – “you will all be sorry you did not bow down and pay homage to (insert deity here).”

That kind of apathetic attitude is so scary and so unbelievably selfish.

(Note: I have personally heard all of the above statements from real people, good people, even family members and people I deeply care about, and I am just so saddened and appalled that there are people who still think and believe these things.  I am so embarrassed and saddened at the actions of my own countrymen and fellow Human beings when they say and act like they do not care about anything but themselves.  Where and when did we gone wrong…?)

UPDATE 9/02/17: Hurricane Harvey hit Texas a few days ago and the resulting rains flooded many of the gasoline refineries and chemical plants that our nation’s fossil fuel infrastructure is reliant upon. Fuel prices have been shooting up in many areas and panic buying has been reported as well and in the attempts to avoid what happened almost a year ago North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issues a state of emergency in order to help keep gasoline flowing into the state and the US government released 4.5 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. The damage from the storm has forced offline around 22 percent of U.S. refining capacity and 13 percent of Gulf of Mexico oil output.

Hurricane Harvey Makes Landfall On Middle Texas Coast   Hurricane Harvey impacting the Texas coast.  Image source.

As I write this some of the remnants of now tropical storm Harvey passes over my area leaving behind some soft rains showers and I am inspired to share some facts.

Knowing what the scientifically documented, testable, and undeniable facts show –

  1. Warmer air holds more moisture.
  2. Warmer water feeds more powerful storms.
  3. Prior to hurricane Harvey gulf coast water temps were 85 degrees – 5 degrees above average.
  4. Sea levels have risen by around 6″ on the Texas coast in the last few decades.
  5. For several decades humans have been ignoring the warnings of scientists, naturalists, and common sense and have been draining, filling, paving the water/rain absorbing wetlands/grasslands in Texas/Florida (and other) low-lying coastal regions in favor of building up suburbia which have created a recipe for disastrous flooding.
  6. The Human species’ addiction to burning fossil fuels for energy/transportation and everything else have led to measurable atmospheric carbon dioxide levels higher than they have been in 800,000 years.
  7. This increased CO2 acts like an insulating blanket over the earth trapping heat leading to the greenhouse effect/global warming and the associated increased surface and ocean temperatures, melting of the earth’s ice caps/glaciers, sea level rise, and consequently – stronger, wetter, more destructive storms such as Harvey, Sandy and Katrina.

In other words – our unscientifically supported, largely unregulated actions have had catastrophic consequences.  We humans are the root cause of anthropogenic climate change and we humans have created the perfect conditions for yet another superstorm situation for the USA with the resulting consequences – the breakdown of our fossil fuel supply systems, the loss of property, life and livelihood for our people.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal torrential monsoons and the resulting flooding and landslides have claimed the lives of over 1200 people and flooded a vast portion of India’s financial capital Mumbai leaving millions homeless and countless schools damaged leaving 1.8 million children out of school.

These facts speak for themselves and cry out loudly – if we puny humans do not stop ignoring the warnings of climate (and other) scientists and stop burning things for energy thereby releasing atmosphere altering greenhouse gasses into the environment faster than the earth can balance things out, then the consequences are dire – nature will wipe us out of existence. It is that simple. Nature does not care about us so we must care for ourselves and that begins with caring for nature above all else because nature is from where all life originates and is supported*.

It seems rather interesting and ironic to me that these great climate change fueled mega-storms have repeatedly smashed into areas that are:

  1. Highly populated centers of commerce, trade, inspiration, forward thinking progress and science, with people from all walks of life, all nationalities, all ethnicites, all religions, all sexual/gender orientations and…
  2. Many are also areas known for oil and gas production/distribution.

Fascinating.

A climate scientist or observant naturalist would say that all indications, predictions, experiments, theories – in other words all the peer reviewed science suggest that these great storms may be a product of anthropogenic climate change.

On the other hand a climate change/science doubter might say they were either –

  1. Random chance and that these things just happen.
  2. All the science is not “in” yet.
  3. A product of an angry (insert omnipotent vengeful deity here**) who is upset with the way people are living in the areas hit by these massive storms.

Really?

  1. Yes, things do happen.  All the time.  But to use that excuse as a way to avoid the facts is just ignorant and cowardly.
  2. Yes, all the science is “in” and it has been for decades. Visit the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for all the details.
  3. I offer this bit of long winded observation and insight into that third bit of “reasoning.”  What is the omnipotent deity angry about? Is it angry that all the millions, no wait – billions of little people doing what little people do on a daily basis? Is it angry at individual little humans and their bathroom choices, their food/drink/clothing/housing/body modification/decoration choices, their petty little squabbles over who owns what piece of land, is it mad because he said she said whatever stupid comment on Twitter or Facebook, or she said a cuss word, is it angry over the chosen sexual/gender orientation of a portion of the area’s population or that of a random 16 year old kid in a random town in whoknowswhereville, is it angry because you told a white lie, is it angry because you smoked a plant deemed off limits by society, is it angry because you drank a beer, is it angry because you had a sexy thought, is it angry because you have dark skin, is it angry because you are fat or thin, is it angry because you (insert whatever reason here), is it so angry, upset, hateful, and so vengeful at your little so called “evil” infraction that it will toss all reason, common sense and human decency aside to punish you and only you by sending a monster storm your way thereby condemning the thousands or even millions of innocent people that live near you to hardship, pain, loss, and possibly even death because you and a few individuals near you chose to be human and do things we humans do? Are you being punished because you chose to love a member of the same sex or to worship nature, trees, money, sex, drugs and rock n roll instead of one of the thousands of different gods that are worshiped on planet earth today.   No.  These actions do not sound like the actions of a loving, caring, supportive deity.  Whatever all-powerful god or gods may exist there is no evidence to suggest that it would be a hateful, spiteful being.  Why would a creator being expend so much energy creating such a complex and wonderful living system that is you and then harm his/her/it’s cherished experiment?  These are not the actions of a loving parent/creator.  If they are then whatever god-being is doing the punishing does not deserve to be worshiped.  Parents love their children unconditionally and I would hope an all powerful creator being would have an even greater capacity to do the same.   So no.  The creator, if it does in fact exist somewhere in the universe, does not care at all about all those petty little “infractions.” All of the minuscule minutia created by the Human condition, while obviously very important to the user, none of it will matter in 100 years nor will it matter in the grand scheme of geologic or better yet cosmic time. Should such an all-powerful cosmos designing, creating, and manipulating being exist somewhere in the cosmos, it has greater things to worry about such as keeping space-time intact, how to keep the suns burning (remember, there are literally trillions of suns out there in the cosmos), what to do about black holes, dark energy, plate tectonics, evolution, the rains out in Africa, Romulans, 42, how to keep the Daleks, asteroids and comets away from earth and so on.  In other words, the super being has much more to worry about than your, or any of our lives and this is why it (if it exists) gave us the ability to reason and think for ourselves which is something that is severely lacking today.  It seems that many splinter groups, factions on the lunatic fringe, and even many in the mainstream would rather hold onto destructive, divisive, intolorent, warmongering ways rather than accept the findings of science.  Instead of accepting science as a way to understand nature and use that knowledge to better their lives, many misguided followers will instead pray to their deity when bad things happen and that is all well and good.  Prayer is very useful in many ways for our emotional health and well-being and praying to a deity may help you bond with entire groups of like minded people.  Prayer may help you feel and work better together and yes, it may have a very powerful placebo effect for the users – but it does not get things done on the ground, in the mud, on the street.  The only way we can really make a concrete and lasting difference in the outcome of our lives or the future of our shared earth is with direct action through the methods and tools of science and by working together as a team.  So yes, please pray all you like and pray hard but praying alone did not rescue the flooded out people of Houston, the Florida Keys, NOLA, – good and helpful people of all ethnicities and all backgrounds coming together using the methods, products, and tools of science and technology did.

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However, when the tiny, pink naked apes we call humans start messing with the balance of nature – that my friend just might be the ultimate sin of all sins. Maybe, just maybe, all these recent massive and powerful storms are the omnipotent one’s way of punching the puny humans right in the face, right in the areas where we are processing the very fuel that is driving the engines of climate change.  How ironic that the creator deity(s) seems to be giving us repeated series of massive black eyes for the horribly irresponsible way we have treated this (it’s) grand experiment we call life the universe and everything.

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Maybe it is time we all stopped fighting over whether or not climate change is real and accept the fact that it is and that we are seeing the natural consequences of our mistreatment and mismanagement of our shared home planet,  Now is the time we need to start listening to the signs, signals, and punches being thrown at us before it is too late and the experiment is deemed a failure and is ended by nature (aka the master scientist in charge) and it goes back to the drawing board and starts over like any good scientist*** would do.

It is also very interesting to note that while everyone trusted and believed the climate scientists who predicted that Harvey, Sandy and Katrina (and now as I write this superstorm Hurricane Irma just destroyed Florida) would hit the areas they did bringing the rains, winds, flooding, disruption, and catastrophic damage they brought with them but bizarrely, many of those same people do not trust or believe those very same climate scientists when they say we humans are causing climate change by our continued addiction to and burning of fossil fuels.

Wake up and grow up people. Climate scientists are here to help us save us from ourselves.

To do this we must end our dangerous and destructive addiction to fossil fuels before we are unable to recover from the disasters nature will continue to keep throwing at us.

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Sadly it often takes a punch or three in the face to make us change and like the true American heroes in the below rescue video from hurricane Harvey – we need to coexist and work together if we want to save ourselves.

After watching brave Americans of all persuasions, ethnicities, economic backgrounds, and religions come together to help each other out after Harvey left Texas under trillions of gallons of water, and after working with the brilliant youth of today, I believe that the age of the science deniers, haters, doubters, and sadly misdirected individuals are a dying breed and that a new wave of reason is sweeping the globe.

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Sunrise over Earth, artwork.

Due to the connectivity and great resource of knowledge provided by the internet, coupled with the findings of science, better education opportunities, the many whistle-blowers exposing the truths that uncaring corporations such as Big TobaccoExxonMobil and Volkswagen have hidden from us for so long…there is great reason to have hope. There is hope from the passionate educators and scientists teaching the scientific truth to their classes in all grade levels.  There are the bold producers, stars, and authors of must watch/much read independent documentaries and literature shining a bright light on these most important subjects such as these I highly recommend; Who Killed the Electric Car, Revenge of the Electric CarThe Cove, Sharkwater, Blackfish, Gasland, Gasland 2,  The 11th Hour, An Inconvenient TruthRacing Extinction, Before the Flood, Chasing Ice, Oil + Water, Oil and WaterFood Inc.Merchants of Doubt, Unstoppable,  The Road Not Taken, The War on Science, The Madhouse Effect Censoring Science,   , An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Time to Choose, and many more. There is even more hope coming from the majority of US Christians and high profile religious leaders and individuals such as the Dalai Lama,  and many other religious leaders, including Muslim leaders, climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe with her sound promotion of climate science and action and her Global Weirding Youtube Series and Pope Francis, through his recent Encyclical, Summit on Climate Change and other works in support of sustainability, coexistence and peace.  There are forward thinking faith based groups such as Interfaith Power and Light, the Good Steward Campaign, that are urging people of all faiths to denounce the ancient and problematic biblical (King James and others) interpretation of dominion that the Christian God gave humanity the right to do whatever it wants to with and to the environment. Luckily today, these enlightened individuals and groups believe that (insert your deity here) calls on all people to be good stewards and protectors of the earth, not the careless greedy dictators that we have been for so long.

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 Earthrise 2015 source NASA

 Yet even greater hope comes from the many churches, monasteries, and convents are installing and blessing solar arrays.  Scout groupsschools and universities are  divesting from all fossil fuel investments and going renewable in order to be better stewards of this earth and to educate the children on a better way to use our natural resources. Now is the time we all must wake up and listen to the science and accept the fact that science and religion can work together in protection and stewardship of our shared earth, its natural resources and all its creatures.

Indigenous peoples such as the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes are speaking out and protesting  against the injustices being heaped upon their peoples and cultures by the actions of the past and sadly, the actions of today.  Personally, I fully support the Sioux and other indigenous tribes and their supporters that are fighting fossil fuel projects all over the world in order to protect their lands, waters and future generations from harm due to our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels.

As I write this thousands of people from all walks of life, members of other tribes, and even President Obama have assisted the Sioux in their fight against the pipeline they call the Black Snake but at the time of this writing the future of the pipeline and the Sioux is uncertain.  The overwhelming sentiment among indigenous people everywhere, with many even signing treaties among themselves against oil  and even meeting with the United Nations, is to stop the bulldozers and the pipelines and keep fossil fuels in the ground where they belong!

standing-rock-confrontationPhoto source and another good read on the Standing Rock Dakota Access situation.

Yet even more hope comes from youth from all over the planet.  The younger generation is waking up to the truth that has been hidden from us all for so long.  They are working to raise awareness of the environmental and human problems our addiction to fossil fuels are causing.  Youth groups all around the planet and other youth led organizations such as the Earth Guardians and Our Children’s Trust are working hard and even bringing lawsuits against governments to create positive change working toward a  clean, renewable powered future for us all.

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The students and children shall lead the clean energy revolution.

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I took the above photo recently after presenting a wildlife education show to a local school.  After my presentation I introduced the students to my car.  After I explained to them how it works, how much money I save, and how by driving electric you can help preserve nature, wildlife and our future environment, they were unanimously in favor of going EV.  Yes, after meeting wonderful young adults such as these I have great hope for the future and I have no doubt that we will be able to end our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels.  But it will take hard work and dedication from all of us to break the bonds of this addiction and to make it happen for us all, for the earth and for the future.

The power of the younger generation to insight change is supported by celebrities such as Lelani MunterBill Nye the Science Guy,  Leonardo DiCaprioMorgan Freeman, Harrison Ford, Matt Damon,  James Cameron, Julia Roberts, Joan ChenLiam Neeson and Robert Redford to name a few.

Musicians are making a difference as well with artists such as Xavier Rudd, Nahko and Medicine for the People, The Earth Guardians and many more speaking out in their songs in the fight to end our reliance on the toxic grip that fossil fuels and certain big corporations have on us all.

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Photo credit Jambase

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Photo credit Nahko and Medicine for the People

You can be part of the clean energy revolution!

You can end, or at least lower, your reliance on fossil fuels.

 You do not have to be wealthy or a celebrity to truly make a difference and lower your carbon footprint.

You too can drive electric.

As an example let’s take the case of my Nissan Leaf.

This is what I found this morning when I walked out of my door about to make the 13 mile journey to work.

20160918_075557  My little 2012 Nissan Leaf EV was fully charged and ready to roll.

I unplugged the charger, got inside, turned the car on to find…

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A wonderful 82 miles of all electric range!   I pulled out of the driveway and headed through the unusually sparse traffic for 8:30 am.  As I made my way to work I noticed a local gas station that was empty…quite a change from a few days before…so I pulled in to investigate. This is what I found.

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I was so happy to have my little EV at that moment!   Even with it’s limited range I can always fill it up with electrons anywhere there is an electrical outlet.

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As I prepared to pull out of the station I suddenly became aware of three gas powered vehicles quickly converging on my location!  I quickly realized that they must have seen my car in front of the pumps and assumed the station had product so they all dove in hoping to get some gas.  I quickly and silently eased out of the station, between the converging cars, and on down the road.  I had a small bit of anxiety at the thought of what some folks would do if they ran out of gas and could not do the things they need and want to do…and saw my EV silently driving down the road…now I know at least one of the reasons Max was mad.

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Those few of us early adopters who made the switch to electric vehicles over the last few years look on as we pass by the conflagrations with amazement, wonder, and a bit of fear and much more than range anxiety…and then we pull up to our EV fueling stations with little to no competition…and grin that EV grin 🙂

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We then calmly (and often freely or for a nominal fee) plug in and let the electrons flow into our sweet, silent, futuristic electric vehicles and we can’t help but grin that EV grin…again…because we know that driving electric is just a better way to drive.

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We all know that longer range EV’s are coming very soon including the Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3, 2018 Nissan Leaf, Nissan eNV200 and more…here’s a great test of a Bolt from a few days ago!

I am fully aware that fueling these all electric vehicles requires some fossil fuels such as coal but with gas out of the picture we are on our way to a much cleaner, safer, healthier, quieter society. I believe Arnold Schwarzenegger said it well here  when he came up with an excellent reason why we need to all go green.

There are two doors. Behind Door Number One is a completely sealed room, with a regular, gasoline-fueled car. Behind Door Number Two is an identical, completely sealed room, with an electric car. Both engines are running full blast.

I want you to pick a door to open, and enter the room and shut the door behind you. You have to stay in the room you choose for one hour. You cannot turn off the engine. You do not get a gas mask.

I’m guessing you chose the Door Number Two, with the electric car, right? Door number one is a fatal choice — who would ever want to breathe those fumes?

Clean, reliable, solar, wind and EV technologies are available NOW off the shelf and off the lot. In fact, you can now even find a good used EV for the same price as a good used gas guzzler in fact, many collage students are snatching up used Leafs as their daily drivers because they just make so much sense.  Check out Carvana.com for some really great deals on used Leafs!

On top of that the cost of solar has dropped exponentially in the last few years. Just stop and think for a moment…is your roof soaked in sunshine all or most of the day? Why not cover it in solar panels and put it to work for you?

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Photo credit A.J. Rowell

Just think about it. If you had an electric vehicle right now how happy would you be that you did not have to go to the gas station? Maybe you could be like this guy who swapped his dirty, toxic VW “clean” diesel for an EV.  Just stop and think for a moment how nice it would feel to be able to be truly free from the subscription to dependency and resulting high costs (to your bank account and the environment) and headaches of paying for gas and electricity. Imagine if your electric bill was only a few dollars a month? Most of us who are able to read these words honestly have no real excuse to not make the switch to cleaner technologies. If these options sound good to you, if they sound possible, then make it a goal to at least do some more research into the topic. Imagine.

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Photo credit A.J. Rowell

This gasoline madness is just that, madness.

Six years ago my wife and I started making the switch from gas to electric with the purchase of a rechargeable string trimmer (weed eater). Then in 2013 we ditched our ageing Honda CRV for our 2012 Nissan Leaf 100% electric vehicle. Since then we have fallen in love with both of them because they save us loads of money, they are quiet and fun to use/drive and they are so much better for the earth and for our health. While they still require some fossil fuels to charge (until we can one day go solar), the gas and oil have been taken out of the equation and that is a huge thing in so many ways.

A few days ago the little string trimmer finally died so I replaced it with an upgraded 80 volt heavy duty model and an electric leaf blower (they have interchangeable batteries)! Now we are even closer to one day becoming an all electric family and kissing gas goodbye forever!

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Going electric is not only for the well to do, I should know because I am anything but rich. Anyone can go electric and end your addiction to dirty, polluting, harmful, dangerous and outdated fossil fuels. All it takes is a little research, a test drive, a small amount of adaptation and compromise and soon, like me, you can be passing gas every day and loving every minute of it 🙂

On September 20 the gasoline tanker trucks started arriving in my area and select stations were able to dispense their product to the public.

On September 21st, as I again traveled that familiar road to work, I stopped at the local gasoline filling station…to squeegee my windshield 🙂 

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And I noticed that the pumps were all still out of service…all except for diesel.

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On September 22nd drivers of gas powered vehicles breathed a sigh of relief when the pipeline began operations again after a bypass was put in place around the damaged pipe. Hopefully soon the fuel supply will be back to some form of “normal” and those that drive only gas powered vehicles**** will be able to get around as in the past.  I only hope that this little incident has left many of them questioning fossil fuels and thinking seriously about making the switch to EV’s.

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How long will it be until the next pipeline ruptures?  Will it be in your neighborhood? Only time will tell.

UPDATE: November 01, 2016 – the very same Colonial Pipeline that caused this fuel shortage just over a month ago exploded yesterday killing one person and severely burning several more.  

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It seems that we did not have to wait very long for the next major pipeline incident.  More on this development to follow. Now do you now see why it is of utmost importance that we break our dangerous addiction to almighty oil and focus on renewable energy!  

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If the actions of the gasoline addicted public are any indications, I now know that one of the reasons Max was mad was because he was addicted to gasoline.

We have choices. Be the change.

* I am sure I will get some flak for this statement from folks who believe nature was put here for us to use up, dominate, consume, and destroy, in whatever manner we may dream up and that belief is total bull crap.  But, whatever. Say what you will – I have stopped feeding the trolls. Feeding trolls only makes them stronger so do not expect a reply unless you put down your emotional ammunition and be reasonable.

**I did not name a specific deity/religion out of respect for the over 4000 religions on planet Earth.  To say that one religion is the one true way to salvation/enlightenment/ultimate knowledge/nirvana/valhalla/heaven/Sto-vo-kor /the afterlife/ whatever…is unbelievably selfish and unsupportive of the billions of fellow human beings with which we share our planet.

***It is my opinion that if there is an all powerful supreme omnipotent consciousnesses in charge of the universe, there is no evidence to suggest that it is a grumpy, vengeful, bearded old white human man on a golden throne.  I refuse to accept that out of date old racist and sexist image. Whatever it is or whatever it is not, if it exists it must above all else be a great scientist with a flair for the arts.  Only a truly great scientist could design and implement the amazing and complex interconnected self balancing and self governing system that is the cosmos and only an artist could make it so beautiful.  Or it is a dog because dog spelled backwards is god 😉

****Yes, I do have another vehicle and sadly is is powered by nasty gasoline.  I only use it for hauling, towing a trailer, occasional long distance excursions, and drive it very sparingly.  During this gas outage I left it parked and was so very glad I had an EV.  One day soon, when a car company produces an EV truck, I will rid myself of the old dinosaur and go 100% EV – maybe it will be a Bollinger B1!

 

 

 

Tesla Road Trip

Guest post by Bill Wilkens

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I took a Tesla Model S 90D road trip to New Jersey recently from North Carolina. As you can probably tell, I enjoy talking about it. I used Autopilot about 90% of the time. It worked well on Interstate, but can’t be trusted in construction zones, on secondary roads or anywhere there are not clearly visible lane markings on both sides of the road. Just like traditional cruise control, there is a time and place to use it — or not.

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Charging was not an issue. I just stopped at the Tesla Superchargers that were indicated by the on-board computer (two stops/day, four stops for the entire 750 mile trip to NJ). There were more superchargers along the way than needed so I even passed up a few. The biggest change was to my stomach. After a free breakfast one morning at my hotel, the car needed a 40 minute charge about an hour later. So I had another light breakfast while waiting. Next trip I can eliminate double eating by staying at a hotel with a “destination charger” so the car starts the day with a full charge or at a hotel that doesn’t offer free breakfast!

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While at my son’s home, we converted an unused 30A/240V dryer outlet to the outlet used by Tesla (identical to outlets installed for electric ranges). I used it to charge the Model S as a test even though there is a supercharger only 10 miles away. I set the Tesla to charge at 24 amps which is 80% of the 30 amp breaker on the circuit as recommended by the National Electrical Code.

The car is fun to drive. I gave my daughter-in-law, Sibel, and grand daughter, Isobel, their first ride in an electric car. When I “stepped on it”, Sibel let out a short scream and 5-year old Isobel said “do it again, grandpa!”

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The only strange car behavior was that the computer locked up once while driving. The car continued to drive normally, but I was without navigation and radio for a couple of minutes so I could have missed a turn if there had been one. The computer automatically rebooted itself and returned to normal. I plan to ask Tesla about that. Perhaps car computers need rebooting occasionally just like desktops. I also thought the A/C was a little weak compared to my old Acura, but that might just be a learning curve on the way I use the controls. Outside temperature was 90+ most of the time I was driving.

All in all, I really enjoy the car. The more I learn to use the features, the more I like it. I haven’t yet dared try Autopark and Summon. I don’t want to ding up the car prematurely!

Editor: When Bill finally gets around to testing out Autopark and Summon I hope he decides to write about it and post it here :-

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The biggest adjustment for me has been the the feel of the regenerative braking and the accelerator pedal. It feels a little like driving a golf cart. When you let up on the pedal, the car starts braking immediately, so you only have to use the brake to fully stop the car after it has already slowed to a crawl. After 3000 miles, it is finally beginning to feel “normal”. I suspect next time I rent a gas car, that car will feel strange.

The below photo of my Model S was taken at an SAE J1772 charger normally used by Leafs and Volts but which can also be used to charge a Tesla with a supplied adapter. It charges more slowly than a supercharger, but is a good backup if I ever need it. I was trying it out to make sure I knew how to use it.

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Editor: Just last night I had the privilege to meet with Bill and several other members of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club at a planning meeting for the upcoming National Drive Electric Week EV car show we will be hosting in Asheville, NC. (Read more about it and sign up here).  At this meeting we all parked our EV’s around the recently installed BrightfieldTS solar EV charging station at Earthfare in south Asheville for some truly electrifying photos – take a look at this one with Bill’s Tesla front and center below!

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Thank you Bill for your exciting story of Tesla ownership!  I hope to join you one day with a Model 3 🙂

 

Ads that fall below this line are not supported or endorsed by Bluewater Leaf or the owner of this blog.

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The cost of driving an Electric Vehicle

Many critics of electric vehicles will tell you that owning an Electric Vehicle (EV) is very expensive.

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The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV w/200+ mile driving range.

The way I see the relationship of debt to owning a car – petroleum or electric powered – is, simply put:

Either one is a subscription to dependency

No matter the car, just the act of buying the thing means you will have to pay weekly, monthly and yearly “subscriptions” for the fuel, repairs, tax, insurance etc…just for the privilege of owning and driving the thing.

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To me the logical choice is to buy the one that fits your needs and is more, well…logical.

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When buying a vehicle I take a scientific approach and try to leave emotion out of the decision so as not to be swayed by peer pressure (from friends, coworkers and the myriad of flashy automotive ads that saturate the mass media) or manufactured conformity (buy this car to be cool, look good, or “fit in” to some imaginary status caste) or manufactured demand (you need this-you need that–because without it you will be nothing so buy,buy,buy!).

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Nor do I listen to annoying, obnoxious, car salespersons like this guy.  I listen more to owners who post their stories and experiences on automotive blogs such as this one 🙂 and then I do all of my own extensive research and crunch my own numbers before making a final decision based on my findings.

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So, in my rationale I could either;

Buy a gas powered car and pay the (higher) subscription fee for the gas, oil and tune-ups and resulting environmental damage cost caused by the cradle to grave environmental and human cost of the mining, shipment, refining, and distribution of those petroleum products that the vehicle requires to operate.

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A blast from the past a 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser 

Also, when I drive a petroleum powered vehicle I am willingly but not happily forced to accept the sad but true fact that the actual end use of all petroleum based fuels requires much less time to actually burn the fuel to propel the vehicle down the road from point A to point B…than the entire complicated and precarious supply chain that has been constructed to bring that fuel to my car’s fuel tank.

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Source

In other words depending on the country of origin of the crude oil it can take weeks to months to explore, deal, mine, protect, trade, ship, refine, store, and transport the fuel to the station where I finally pump it into my tank and then burn it up in only a few days or even a few hours.  Then there is the sad facts that it takes 44 gallons of water and around 15 kilowatts of energy to mine, ship and refine just one gallon of gasoline–ONE GALLON!  That is about half of the amount of water I use in a day and that 15kw of electricity would push my Nissan Leaf EV about 50 miles down the road!  Now if you really want a shocker multiply the above numbers times how many gallons of gas your car holds and if that does not make you furious with the oil companies I do not know what will?  I did the math for my 1999 Toyota 4Runner and the results are shocking: the amount of water required to produce just one tank of gas is: 814 gallons!!!  The electricity needed: 277.5 kW!!!  WOW!  By my calculations that amount of water and electricity would supply my wife and I, our house and EV for over 2 weeks (with my car going an average of 200 miles/week)!! Now, figure that for a month…a year…or a decade…of petroleum powered vehicle ownership…it just makes me want to cry.

bpdeepwater The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon incident 

My rather long-winded but valid point here is that the amount of energy and waste required just to get us down the road in gasoline powered vehicles is just incredible!

There is also the huge cost in human damage, suffering, pain and death caused by the fact that the acquisition of a portion of those petroleum products come from powers and factions that may support terrorism with some of that money.  These powers and factions often become involved in wars that drag us into the melee because we are addicted to their product for which many of us cannot live without due to our societal dictated and manufactured purchasing choices so we are forced to fight in their wars in order to keep the oil flowing to feed our sickening dependency.

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We are shamefully and totally hooked on oil.

Last but not least there is the environmental damage and degradation caused by the mining, shipping, refining and burning of petroleum (and all) fossil fuels.  We have been burning petroleum as our primary liquid fuel and coal as our primary solid fuel for a little over a century and in that very short time we have polluted our planet’s oh so very fragile atmosphere, oceans and wildlife with toxic compounds from oil spills and copious amounts of carbon dioxide–a naturally occurring and harmless gas when in “normal levels” but when in excessive levels it becomes a potent “greenhouse gas” with disastrous effects on life on earth.   It is true that CO2 has positive properties when in “normal levels.”   If you think back you learned of this in your high school biology class.  You will remember that it’s positive properties are;   1. It allows plants to grow and via photosynthesis create oxygen as a byproduct so animals like puppies and kittens, bunnies and whales, and you and me get to live.     2. Another one of its positive properties is that when it is in the form of atmospheric CO2 it traps heat like a blanket on a bed.  This heat trapping ability allows the atmosphere of the earth to stay warm enough for life to exist and that my dear reader is a good thing in every way.

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Source NASA

However, due to the continued and rapid burning of fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, and natural gas) what we are doing to the planet is so far above anything that could be ever considered “normal levels” that the planet’s ecosystems are unable to cope with the influx of high levels of carbon pollution and in turn it the climate has begun to heat up.  It is as if we are adding more blankets to our bed without thinking about how hot it is going to get and how hard it will be to remove the blankets.  This process has often been called “global warming” but a more accurate term that better describes the problem would be anthropogenic climate change.  This is climate change caused by things we humans do to the planet such as burning fossil fuels.  If you would like a good visual of how this works consider the following video by one of my heroes – Bill Nye “The Science Guy.”

It is time for a big change. 

Enter the Electric Vehicle

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A Tesla Model S

Or, on the other hand I could drive an EV and pay the much lower cost for the electricity subscription, support the hard working Americans that build the cars (in the case of Nissan, Chevy, Ford, Tesla, Apple, Faraday Future and more) mine the coal, install and maintain the solar arrays, wind turbines, hydro-electric and nuclear power plants that provide my car with power to move down the road. The simple fact is that the electricity supply chain is much shorter and more efficient than the petroleum supply chain. In the area where I live, the mountains of western North Carolina, the power used to fuel an EV (and a house) is produced locally by a combination of coal, gas, solar, wind and hydro power plants so is therefore MUCH cleaner than any petroleum product will ever be.  (Read the true facts about EV’s here: https://bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/just-the-facts/ )

KUWAIT. US soldiers and helicopters in front of burning oil fields. 1991.

KUWAIT. US soldiers and helicopters in front of burning oil fields. 1991.

The human cost of driving EV is also MUCH more positive in that foreign wars do not need to be fought over their fuel source–electricity–since it is produced domestically, locally and in some cases on your own property!  If you have the means to install solar panels or some other form of renewable energy on your property you could easily power your home and EV(s) with clean, unlimited, renewable energy for free (after the cost of the system).

That my friend is brilliant!

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Charging up my Leaf at a local solar-electric EV charging station on the campus of UNCA in Asheville, NC. 

The sad fact is that now, in many states such as Florida and in my home state of North Carolina, our state government is hell bent on destroying renewable energy development despite the fact that NC is near the top in the nation for new solar installations which, if allowed to continue to grow, our energy grid would continue to get cleaner with each renewable energy installation and in turn the carbon footprint of our homes and our EV’s would just get smaller.  There is absolutely no logical reason this kind of backward action should ever be allowed to happen yet our lawmakers and politicians seem to be simply backward thinking Luddites who fear anything new and fear positive change especially when it means good paying jobs, a cleaner environment, and equal rights for all people.  If we ever want to progress and if we ever want to break our addiction to fossil fuels we MUST get the fossil fuel fired old fossils out of office and replace them with science minded, educated, caring people who think toward the future and want to make good and lasting change happen for everyone.  That change will only happen if we do our research,  speak out, vote, and get active.

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The BMW i3 EV

Either way and whatever car I choose to drive I will always have to pay the subscription to dependency to drive and power the thing…however, I choose the EV because it has a much lower subscription cost* and a much smaller environmental, human and future impact cost and that is as important to me as is the money. *I drive an average of 200 miles/week and my Nissan Leaf EV costs me only about $7-10/week in electricity!!

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However, something else to consider is that the EV may initially cost a bit more than the gas car so therefore I may need to finance the EV and go into debt. Yuck…yet another subscription to dependency. However, by buying the EV I would, from day one, have more money in my pocket since I have no gas, oil or maintenance costs typically associated with gas powered vehicles (especially used cars) so…all that money that I would have pumped into the gas tank and crankcase and then burned up and spewed into our shared atmosphere (to the determent of my loved ones, wildlife, the earth and future generations) can now be used to pay off the car loan 🙂

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In conclusion; my sleuthing, science and number crunching all allow me to come to the conclusion that I would rather pay for the financing on the EV than drive a lower initial cost yet high operational, high environmental cost, petroleum powered car…but that is my logic, and everyone’s logic is colored and molded by their knowledge, research and experiences so you can take it with a grain of salt if you wish.

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The Nissan eNV200 100% electric small van.

The Roadblocks

Do not believe the fossil fuel fed naysayers who have spent millions on manufactured lies, false advertising through mainstream media outlets and propaganda campaigns (online and on TV) that try to say electric vehicles are dirtier to operate than their petroleum powered counterparts–none of these stories are true.

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The oil soaked Koch brothers are some of the worst EV bashers who are spending millions in the attempt to make EV’s and renewable energy look bad.  We must do all in our power to end their assault of outright lies against science.  

Even in the dirtiest states with the blackest, coal fired grids, an EV powered by 100% coal produced electricity (which is rare now with all the new wind and solar farms going online all the time) is still much cleaner than any gasoline powered vehicle ever will be (especially Volkswagen’s “clean diesels” or any diesel for that matter) and, because the electricity it uses to push it down the road is generated domestically by Americans – it supports American jobs and does not support foreign wars and terrorism…and that is a really good thing.  Furthermore, there are those who will say “what happens to the battery when it reaches the end of its life? It must be toxic waste and more dangerous than the emissions generated over the life of a gas powered car?!?!  Answer,  this is simply more lies and fabrications designed by those who want to keep you addicted to petroleum fuels.  The truth is that the lithium-ion batteries that drive an EV are 100% recyclable.  Before they are recycled they are often used as back up power supplies for computer data centers and soon even houses just like a back up generator.   (Learn more true facts about EV’s here: https://bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/just-the-facts/ )

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The 215 mile range Tesla Model 3 will be hitting the roads very soon!

The future

With Chevrolet and Tesla soon to be releasing new EV’s with a 200+ mile driving range, and Nissan releasing their plans to release a redesigned Leaf with 200+ mile range but they have not revealed the release date, (and hopefully they will also release a 200 mile range small van that would be a game-changer!  Check out the story I wrote about it here on this blog: https://bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/the-env200-nissan-electric-van-where-and-when-is-it-for-the-usa-market/ ) all with prices in the $30-35k range (before the $7500 government tax incentive) Soon, the issue of “range anxiety” is going to be a thing of the past and we will all have no logical excuse to keep driving our dirty old gas guzzlers.  16volt

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt

I truly believe the day is coming very soon when kids will look to their parents and say “Mom, dad – why are you driving that dirty old gas guzzler when you could save so much money, have a great car, and protect my health and future by driving an EV?”  and ” I want my first car to be all electric!” ( I already hear that from students in my middle and high school science classes all the time 🙂  Then there’s this very encouraging article from England:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/most-british-teenagers-expect-their-first-car-be-electric-1524811

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The Nissan IDS concept…is this the new Leaf or something more!?

Soon, I believe within 3-5 years, the choice will be ours to go electric and support a clean, healthy war-free future for us all or…digress and remain in the past while denying the science and refusing to accept the inevitable truth that driving EV is just a better and more economical way to drive for everyone, for the planet and for the future.

What path will you choose?

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

 

Yet another reason to LOVE my EV

A few weeks ago I was forced to regress and drive a gasoline powered vehicle on a long journey.  For the most part the journey went well until…I had to stop at one of those archaic “filling stations” to pump dino-juice into the holding tank of the vehicle.

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I pulled up to the station and prepared to fuel up my ageing gas powered vehicle.  As I touched the fuel nozzle I grimaced as I thought of the highly toxic and flammable  chemical concoction I was about to pump into the vehicle’s tank and all the nasty, infectious, human germs crawling all over the handle left by who knows who and their drooling, snotty nasal excretion drenched hands…I then thought of how easy it is to fuel my Leaf at home without all the chemicals and germs…pure and simple bliss when compared to this. (*Sources: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2012/06/12/10-worst-germ-hot-spots/#2cf4f9d578ce  and http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-health-filth-idUSTRE79O0G820111025  and  http://www.naturalnews.com/034046_gas_pump_bacteria.html  and  http://cleantechnica.com/2015/06/01/are-gas-pumps-the-dirtiest-thing-that-you-touch/   and   http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1098445_a-gas-pump-is-the-germiest-thing-you-touch-did-you-know )

As I inserted the nozzle into the car’s fuel receptacle I held my breath to avoid inhaling the noxious gasoline fumes then, once the fuel was flowing, I walked to the other side of the vehicle while the tank filled so I could breathe somewhat freely again.

I know to some of you this may seem like overkill but to me it is just common sense and science that has been proven by countless scientists, doctors and Darwin Awardees such as this guy and these idiots  and the several times I have witnessed people smoking while fueling their vehicles, filling up with the engine running and fuel spills at fuel stations.  Everything about gasoline is toxic and dangerous and proof of this scientific fact is written on the gas pump just like it is written on a pack of cigarettes or bottle of booze.

(Sources: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002806.htm and http://www.healthline.com/health/gasoline#Long-TermImplications5 )

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In fact, North Vancouver, Canada has mandated the use of the below warnings reminding the user of the larger dangers of our addiction to fossil fuels.

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(Source: http://ecowatch.com/2015/11/20/climate-change-label-gas-pumps/ )

Environmental groups in California are working to get the warnings implemented as well and I firmly support placing these labels on fuel pumps everywhere.

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(Source: http://grist.org/news/berkeley-could-mandate-climate-warnings-on-gas-pumps/ and  http://www.dailycal.org/2014/06/16/new-proposal-require-climate-change-warning-labels-city-gas-stations/ )

In order to protect my health from these dangerous substances I always take the necessary precautions to avoid them whenever possible and this was one of those times….but this time it became even more bizarre.

As stood waiting for the tank to fill I observed as a rather beat up older model Toyota sedan rolled to a stop at the pump behind the one I was using. From inside the car came deep, thumping sonic vibrations of what I can only refer to as “gangsta rap.” It could be heard everywhere by everyone in possibly a 1000 foot radius of the epicenter at my location…I could even feel the noise deep inside the very bones of my body.  (I wonder what this kind of sonic disruption does to the USGS seismographs in the vicinity?)   Looking at the car and hearing the garishly loud yet incredibly high quality music (stereophonic reproduction not lyrics) that was emanating from the interior of the craft, it was painfully obvious to me that the vehicle’s owner had spent all of his hard-earned money on the stereo system and not any at all on the vehicle. I failed to see how the vehicle was even considered street legal. Subsequently, a young human male of European descent (not that it matters at all but I know someone out there will ask) exited the car. As he opened the door clouds of what appeared to be bluish-white smoke (or vapor) rolled out of the door and into our shared atmosphere. The young human male proceeded to hurriedly fulfill his addiction to fossil fuel and pump gas into his vehicle’s tank. I noticed another person in the passenger seat…from the observable physical features and clothing it seemed to be a young human female – not that that mattered but it was my observation. The individual was reclined all the way back as far her seat would go and she stared blankly at me and I at her…but only for a moment for fear of her or her male partner getting the wrong idea and therefore one or both of them initiating some form of primitive hormone driven posturing and dominance ritual targeted at me. I’m all about some self protection so I averted my eyes from the bizarre scene and walked to the other side of my vehicle pretending to check the air in my tires but in reality I was escaping the bone shattering sound waves and unbelievably insulting and rude lyrics pumping into our shared space from the decrepit vehicle. As I listened I heard prejudice filled insults to at least three different races, horrible insults to women, and a dangerous fascination with colorful metaphors, controlled substances, prescription drugs, alcohol, sex, guns, crime, hate, money and material things. The “song” was truly hideous in every way save for the concert-like sound quality. I briefly thought about asking the youngster to please turn down his music but decided against it based on the song’s lyrics and sadly, based on my observations of the appearance of the vehicle and it’s occupants. I know this all sounds superficial but in reality it is simply science. My observations of the study subjects suggested to me that any action on my part would most likely have an undesirable and opposite reaction initiated by the subject(s) that could be detrimental to my continued health and well being. Therefore I chose to hold my tongue.
In a few moments the youth returned to his vehicle and they sped away in a cloud of toxic smoke, noise, and apparent hostility toward well, everything.

My tank soon filled with the dirty, dangerous dino-juice and I returned to my vehicle and quickly got out of town.

Findings – By driving an EV for almost all of my routine driving needs (approximately 800-1000k/month) I avoid having to stop at gas stations and can easily avoid these undesirable and unsafe situations. How you may ask?

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Simple, I most frequently fuel (charge) my EV at the comfort, freedom, and safely of my own home so I very seldom find myself at fueling stations used by the general public. Every evening when I return home after work I plug my Leaf it into the existing 110v wall outlet on my porch and by morning the vehicle is fully charged and ready to go for another day.  Average fuel cost per day/ ~.90 cents!!

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When on the road away from home in nearby towns and cities I sometimes do need to use public EV charging stations and outlets.  When this occurs I obviously do run the risk of encountering other people’s nasty music, uncomfortable situations and of course virulent germs.  The risk however is currently almost non-existent and nowhere near the risk found at gasoline fueling stations.   In fact, the times I have encountered other EV drivers at charging stations they have always been friendly, quiet, and willing to share their story and love of driving electric and never their toxic music and germs.  Speaking of germs, of course there are obviously germs on EV chargers and I would hazard a guess (since I have not done an experiment yet to prove it) that the concentrations of pathogens found at gasoline fueling stations would far outnumber those found at EV charging stations.  I base this hypothesis on the fact that the numbers of EV’s and their charging infrastructure are currently less than 1% of the new car market with only around 450,000 plug-in electric vehicles on the roads in the USA and over 32,900 EV charging stations supporting them (not counting private charging stations located at the owner’s homes.)

Source: http://www.pluginamerica.org/ and  http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_locations.html

When it comes to the other side of the coin there are over 260 million petroleum powered vehicles registered on the roads in the USA and over 168,000 stations to fuel them them.

(Source: http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_11.htmland (source: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/quizzes/answerQuiz16.shtml)  

Therefore my research suggests that :

A. Individuals that drive gasoline and diesel powered vehicles are much more likely to become infected with and vector their resident communicable diseases to others due to contact with the fuel delivery apparatus found at “filling” stations. My research and available data suggests that this is due to the larger number of gasoline powered vehicles and their associated fueling stations creating the perfect breeding ground for dangerous pathogens to be transferred from person to person via contact with the fuel delivery device (nozzle).

B. Individuals that drive gasoline/diesel powered vehicles are more likely to find themselves in a potentially distasteful, unsafe and often even life-threatening situation while visiting public use petroleum powered vehicles fueling stations.

C. Individuals that drive electric vehicles and most often charge them at home or use the limited number of public charging infrastructure have a much more limited chance of coming in contact with infectious diseases vectored to them by the fuel delivery apparatus and inherent dangers posed by contact with “shady characters” that are often encountered at “filling stations.”

D. What will the future hold?   With the introduction of the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3, new Nissan Leaf, and eNV200 small van (hopefully) and many more, we will most certainly see many, many more EV’s hitting the roads in the next few years.  This will undoubtedly mean many more EV’s on the roads and many more EV charging stations and eventually –similar germ loads as found on fuel pumps at gas stations.  But thankfully much of that can be avoided by charging at home whenever possible.  

E. Hopefully, the toxic music and shady characters will also fade into the past along with their old fossil powered cars, toxic fuel and emissions…we can only hope.

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Thank you Nissan for the amazing Nissan Leaf. Not only does it give me the ability to avoid unpleasant encounters at the gas pump but better yet it allows me to drive free from the grip of petroleum for the vast majority of my trips. To date I have owned the little EV for almost 3 years, driven over 37,000 gas free miles, passed gas stations thousands of times, and saved thousands of dollars in what I would I would have spent on toxic, life, health, environment and happiness harming gasoline.

One day everyone will be able to break their dangerous addiction to fossil fuels and experience the true freedom of driving electric leading all of us into a fossil fuel free future.

Go EV for true freedom.

Just the Brakes

 

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In the fall of 2015 I noticed the Leaf’s brakes acting unusual at low speeds.  As I was slowing down at speeds below 30 mph the brakes would grab and slow the car in an inconsistent manner.  It was as if there was a sticky substance on the brake rotors causing them to grab intermittently and very briefly, slowing the rotation of the brake rotors making for an uncomfortable ride.  This problem came and went at random- the only factors that were consistent were;

it always happened at speeds below 30 mph

it was more frequent in cold or wet weather

it was always random

When the issue first started I promptly called Jennifer in the service department of Anderson Nissan in Asheville, NC where I regularly have my car serviced, to get the issue investigated…unfortunately, she informed me that the service department was closed for a day or so while they were having their floors resurfaced so my only option was to take the Leaf to the Hunter Nissan service department in nearby Hendersonville, NC for the check up.  Upon arrival at Hunter I dropped my Leaf off in the service department and browsed the lot while I waited for a report.

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My Leaf at Hunter waiting to be checked out…it is very dirty due to the constant rains associated with the powerful 2015-16 ElNino

Soon, I found myself checking out the details of an NV200 small cargo van and shortly thereafter a wonderful sales associate ( I wish I could remember his name) introduced himself and we were off taking a test drive in the NV200.

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The test drive and conversation with the salesman was wonderful but obviously I had no intention on buying an NV200 because it is powered by the wrong fuel for my needs…gasoline.

12190057_10207024051892475_5148828535035350589_n The reason I test drove it was to try to get an idea what the electric version of this small van might be like to drive.   Th electric version is the eNV200 and it is powered by the very same battery-electric drive-train found in the Leaf.  My test drive was wonderful, with the NV200 driving surprisingly well for a small van…it really felt like I was driving a car.  However, I do not believe it is a good comparison with the eNV200 because truthfully, from my point of view as an EV owner – it was noisy, vibrated, and smelled a bit odd.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking down the NV200 at all, it is a very capable vehicle and all those things I mentioned are status quo for gas powered vehicles.  In my defense I suppose I am a bit more sensitive to these things because I have been driving electric almost every day now for 2.5 years so I guess you could say I’m a bit biased since my conversion to the wonderful all electric Nissan Leaf.  In fact, thanks to Nissan who is leading the way in the world of electric vehicles, I’m a total convert to driving electric.  So much so in fact that I will eventually divest from gasoline totally and the path to make that happen for me is the eNV200.  If Nissan ever decides to bring it to the USA I will be the first to own one and will use it as the company vehicle in my nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation and conservation and renewable energy education organization Earthshine Nature Programs.  I’m sure the eNV200 is an even capable vehicle than the NV200 due to its lower center of gravity, higher low end torque, virtually silent drive-train, and much lower operating costs.

eNV200

Sadly however, the game changing all electric version of this wonderful small van is currently only available in Europe and Japan and there is no word from Nissan when or if they have plans to bring it to the USA.

I feel so passionate about this vehicle becoming a reality in the USA that I recently authored a blog post on this amazing van and how I believe Nissan should get to work on bringing it to the USA as soon as possible.  In my opinion, if they do not, they are missing out on a really great opportunity found in the thousands of large and small business owners, Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers that would jump at the chance to lower their overhead, make a difference, and drive clean, green, EV vans on their daily routes in cities, towns, and in the countryside of the USA.

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Maybe one day soon, Nissan will decide to bring the eNV200 to the USA and offer it for sale alongside the best selling EV on the planet –

the 100% electric, zero emission Nissan Leaf.

Until that time I will continue to drive my Leaf and love every gas free mile.

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Charging up at a BrightfieldTS solar charging station in Asheville, NC. 

After the test drive I had a nice chat with some of the Nissan employees about the eNV200, Leaf, IDS concept and the future of EV’s in general.

Then I received the message that my car was ready and I was told that they could not duplicate the problem…interesting?

I knew the problem was there because I had experienced it but Nissan’s own service technicians could not find any issues…and apparently their diagnostics did not reveal any issues either…reminds me of when you finally get in to see the doctor…and the symptoms are gone.  Murphy’s law.

I drove off the lot a bit frustrated with the situation but since there was nothing I could do about it I went on with my day.

A few weeks later I found myself in Asheville, NC pulling up to a CHAdeMO DCQC to grab a charge when out of the blue the car exhibited the odd braking symptoms again!  This time I was ready for it and had installed a LeafSpy Pro app on my smartphone coupled with a Konnwei KW902 OBDII Bluetooth adapter (read more about it on the Electric Vehicle Wiki.) This device allows me to monitor the Leaf’s systems at a glance and, at the push of a button, scan all of the car’s systems for error codes (see below photo for an example of how LeafSpy Pro reads Diagnostic Trouble Codes. Note, these codes are not from my car, I found this photo on the LeafSpyPro app page in the Google Play Store.)

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As soon as the Leaf’s brakes started acting up I rolled to a stop and hit the Leaf Spy only to discover all systems were green and operating perfectly – save for the BCM that was throwing out an error code.  I promptly called Anderson Nissan and informed Jennifer of the issue.  She said that I should get the Leaf to her ASAP.  I agreed with her because as I see it – if there is a both a physically detectable and technologically documented problem in the braking system of you car, putting things off is never a safe option.

I was only about 5 miles from Anderson Nissan so off I went and soon I was rolling through the big bay doors and onto the beautiful, newly finished service room floor.  Jennifer was there to greet me and after she gathered the required information she informed me that the 3 year/36k mile basic warranty on the car had expired within the last few days and that the braking system was no longer covered by the warranty…bummer.

She said however that since I had documented the problem almost two months before and had been a loyal customer of the Anderson Nissan Service Department since I had purchased the Leaf, that she would contact corporate and see about getting the part covered in “good faith” but the only catch was that it may take several days to get an answer from Nissan HQ.  I had no issues with waiting because Jennifer and team quickly had me a loaner car – the pretty, new Nissan Altima in the photo below.

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I drove off leaving the Leaf behind thinking I would see it again in a few days…but that was not the case because Mr. Murphy is always ready and waiting to pull out his law and make life a bit more complicated for us all.

A few days later I spoke with Jennifer and learned that Nissan had agreed to cover the cost of the brake master cylinder and booster assembly as well as the Intelligent Brake Control Module (IBCM) under a good faith agreement.  The only cost to me was going to be for the use of the loaner car that had now become a rental.  This was great news to me especially when I found out the cost of the OEM components would have been $2000!!  Ouch!!

THANK YOU NISSAN and THANK YOU JENNIFER!!  

Later, I did some quick research online and found a used OEM unit for $265 which I would have opted for had Nissan not been able to cover the parts under warranty.  I’m a teacher and do it yourself mechanic and would find covering a $2000 repair bill out of the question unless there was absolutely no other way.  Luckily, that was not needed as Nissan agreed to cover the parts…whew!  I am very glad I did not need to install used parts in my Leaf just yet because the car is still covered under its 5yr/60k mile power-train and 96 month/100k mile drive battery warranty so during that time I do not want to use anything but new OEM parts if possible for fear of voiding any part of the warranty.  I may be overly cautious with this but I feel it is better to err on the side of caution in these matters.

Jennifer then said that the parts needed to fix Elektra were not going to be in for several more days. I was fine with this as I had the now rental car but the issue was that I needed to go out of town on important family business and had no other option but drive the Altima.  She said I could take the rental car out of town so on the road I went…WOW!  Nissan and Jennifer are even more AWESOME!!

A week later I returned from my out of town trip, borrowed a car and, and returned the Altima – which by the way gets amazing fuel economy – it averaged around 40 mpg for the entire time I had it!  When I dropped off the Altima I learned from Jennifer that the parts were in transit and should be installed by the end of the week.  At the same time I snapped this pic of Elektra looking lonely in a parking lot full of gas powered cars.

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A few days later I spoke with Jennifer again and she said the parts were going to be installed on Saturday!  Woo Hoo!! Below is a pictorial timeline of the removal of Elektra’s faulty braking system components and the installation of the new parts.

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In the middle of surgery to remove the defective parts

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The defective parts removed. Note the hole in the top center looking into the cabin of the car.  This is where the brake master cylinder/booster assembly bolts to the bulkhead. 

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The defective components 

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The shiny new components

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The surgery is complete!

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On the road again! (Yes, the little Nissan Leaf is surprisingly agile in the snow!)  

A huge thank you NissanHQ, Anderson Nissan, Jennifer, Marlon, the Leaf technician that performed the “surgery,” and the other players behind the scenes that all worked together to get my Leaf back on the road as painlessly and as fast as possible and for helping me make this blog posting happen for all those out there that are interested in learning about driving the all electric Nissan Leaf (and hopefully one day soon, the eNV200 van!)

20160118_175001   Awesome, friendly, service from Jennifer, Marlon and crew!

Very well done!

(…they even washed it and fully charged it!!!)

Until next time…

“Plug into the future!”

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