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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

 

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

solarhydronukeNCSC

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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

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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!

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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!”

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

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

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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.

 

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!”

Blue water leaf is not affiliated or responsible for any ads that may appear below this line.

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Just the facts

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The author’s 2012 Nissan Leaf EV “plugged in” at a local solar farm.

In response to a recent, somewhat negatively pitched report by WLOS News 13 in Asheville, North Carolina (see the article here http://www.wlos.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/Electric-car-sales-don-t-hit-initial-goal-246626.shtml#.VofUP_krJhF  ) and the ensuing wave of negative public comments in regards to the technology…

I offer just the facts on EV’s from the point of view of an EV owner of 2.5 years.

FACT: In 2013 I purchased a one year old 2012 Nissan Leaf (100% electric car) with 1,200 miles on the odometer. I have now driven the Leaf over 33,000 gas free miles.  UPDATE as of 6/21/17: I have now driven the Leaf over 50,000 miles.

FACT: I drive it daily to work and back in all weather, on paved and gravel roads, and up and down the mountains we call home. I drive it an average of 40-45 miles/day and more on weekends. Due to the wonderful and growing EV charging network that continues to expand and open the roads to EV drivers – I can go almost anywhere in the WNC/Upstate SC/East Tennessee areas with no problems.

A GE charging station in Black Mountain, NC. 

MYTH: It is very expensive to charge an EV.

FACT: Just the opposite. It costs me an average of $.89/day – close to $7/week in electricity to drive the EV around 300 miles/week. When charging at community EV charging stations (level 2 and 3) I usually pay around $2 – $6 to fully charge my Leaf and many of these stations are in fact…free. Many of these stations are also solar powered so some of my electric fuel is solar generated and my EV is then solar driven and fully zero emission! Learn more at www.brightfieldts.com

FACT: Even when I account for the cost of electricity over the last 2.5 years – I have still saved close to $3000 that I would have spent on gas and oil had we continued to drive two gas powered cars.

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Charging the Leaf in downtown Salisbury, NC on a recent road trip.

MYTH: EV’s have very short range, will run out of “juice” and leave you stranded.

FACT: While the currently available EV’s do have limited ranges varying from around 70 to 300 miles on one charge – like most newer Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) powered vehicles they have alert systems to let you know when your fuel level is getting low. They also have sophisticated GPS connected navigation systems that allow you to plan your trip ahead of time taking into account stops at charging stations along the way.

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The Tesla Model S interior

While it is understandable that this lifestyle is not for everyone, advances are being made daily in the EV, battery, and charging infrastructure that, within a few years time, will put 200 to 300+ mile range capable EV’s on the roads from start-ups to most of the world’s major auto makers that are now revealing some incredible new transportation technologies to the world such as the Nissan IDS concept, Tesla Model X, Model 3, Model Y, Tesla Pickup and SemiChevrolet Bolt, Workhorse pickup, Via motors, and the incredible and out of this world Faraday Future and many others that will hopefully lead to who knows what kind of amazing EV’s, and maybe one day an Apple EV and even an Electric-Corvette!

No matter if you run out of a charge or if you run out of gas – it is your fault for not planning ahead as I found out recently in the blog post just before this one.

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A Tesla Model S charging.

MYTH: “Electric Vehicles are not zero emissions, they run on coal, and are dirtier and more polluting than internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles that run on gas/diesel fuel.”

Let’s break it down…get ready because this is detailed.

FACT: Battery Electric Vehicles BEV’s (the focus of this report) do not run on anything but electricity and are themselves – zero emission. That being said, depending on how that electricity is generated– the place it gets its electricity–could be “dirty” (coal) or “clean” (renewable energy) but in most places it is a combination of both so let’s dig deeper.

FACT: A small ICE car emits ~390 grams of Carbon Dioxide CO2/mile.

FACT: The average power consumed by a small EV is ~.25 KWh/mile.

FACT: ~907 grams of CO2/KWh is emitted from coal fired power plants in the dirtiest 100% coal-based electricity generation areas.

FACT: 907 (g) x .25 (KWh) = 226 grams/mile in dirtiest 100% coal-based electricity generation areas, which remains lower than the 390 grams from the small ICE car so in reality, even if your EV is charged in an area that gets all of its electricity from coal, EV’s are still cleaner than a comparable ICE powered vehicle.

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The amazing BMW i3 EV

MYTH: Building more EV’s will require us to build many more power plants to provide all the electricity to operate all of them.

FACT: EV’s are charged from the same utility grid that your mobile devices use. Like your devices, EV’s come with their own charging cable that plugs into a standard electrical outlet found on the outside of your house. Like most of your mobile electronic devices they are usually charged at night, while you are sleeping, and when electricity generated from emissions free wind and hydro power is in low demand, lower in cost, and goes mostly unused – so there is ample supply to power your EV. For those opposed to plugging in (or the busy, lazy and/or forgetful types) now in development are inductive charging highway lanes that, when you need a charge, you will just simply drive in the lane and your car will charge while moving at speed! There are also currently available inductive charging pads  (just like you can buy for mobile devices) but made for select EV’s. This will eliminate the need to plug in your EV at home and possibly one day you will even be able to just park in an EV charging parking space and your car will automatically start charging as you walk away.

FACT: The US power grid is getting cleaner every day as more fossil fuel fired power plants are retired and more renewable energy power systems go online – so in these areas especially, EV’s are much cleaner.

FACT: Due to the fuel mix of the grid getting cleaner, EV’s get cleaner as they age. This is never a fact with ICE cars that constantly loose efficiency as they age due to wear and tear.
Learn more here:
www.greencarreports.com/news/1086927_coal-makes-electric-cars-bad-no-plug-ins-show-coal-as-worse

and from the Union of Concerned Scientists

www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf

The updated numbers as of May 2017 reveal that, as predicted, EV’s are getting cleaner in response to a greening power grid; http://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-numbers-are-in-and-evs-are-cleaner-than-ever

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Three Nissan Leafs, A Chevy Volt, and a Tesla Model S charging at the BrightfieldTS solar canopy charger in downtown Asheville, NC.

FACT: One parking space covered with a canopy of photovoltaic solar panels (2.5KW) in the southeast would produce around 3,292 KWh/year. This will operate an EV for around 13-16K miles of 100% emissions free driving on clean, sunshine generated electricity!

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The owner’s Leaf on the right and another local Leaf charging at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s solar powered EV charging station in Mills River, NC.

FACT: EV’s produce a portion of their own fuel via the process known as regenerative breaking – try to find an ICE powered vehicle that does that!

FACT: The average EV travels an average of 4 miles/Kilowatt hour (KWh) of electricity.

FACT: It takes 6 KWh of electricity to refine one gallon of gasoline (source US DOE).

FACT: The average EV can travel 24 miles on the power that it takes to refine just one gallon of gasoline!

FACT: It takes ~9 KWh of energy to extract and transport the crude oil that will be refined into that gasoline.

FACT: An EV could travel an additional 36 miles on this energy.

So, no new power plants are needed, especially if we do not produce the gallon of gas. So…get an EV, and drive 60 all-electric miles on the same amount of energy we are generating today to refine all that dirty gasoline…

And…

Save the 44 gallons of water that it takes to refine that one gallon of gasoline! It is a no-brainer.

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The extention cord is the new “jerrycan.”

While anyone with a purely electric vehicle will tell you that good trip planning is essential for anyone owning a fully electric vehicle,  you just never know what may happen out there on the road.  Back in the days before electric vehicles I would always carry a small plastic “jerrycan” just in case I ran out of gas.  Today,  I always carry a 100′ heavy duty extention cord in my EV for the very same purpose.  Good thing for those of us that drive 100% electric vehicles, there are thousands of dedicated charging stations in most cities across the USA and the world however, in between those EV chargers there are also millions of standard 110v electric outlets everywhere you will find people and their buildings.

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Charging at Earthshine Discovery Center in rather remote (for EV’s) Lake Toxaway, NC

These outlets and their electricity can be accessed in emergencies…with permission of course.  That said, I have only had to plug into a handfull of outlets due to a low battery charge since owning the Leaf–one of the first being on day one of Leaf ownership…I was such a greenhorn :-)…and most recently on a road trip I covered in this blog posting.

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Trickle charging at the SmokyQ BBQ in Marion, NC. 

When I have had to do so, most of the people that have granted me access to their outlets have been very friendly, very interested in EV technology, and have freely offered some of their electricity.  In return I have always left them a generous tip for the use of their electricity and their time.  In almost every instance the most valuable thing I have driven away with is not the electricity, but the friendly conversation with an individual I would have never met if not for my EV.  I offer the below recent video as an example.

In fact, many EV owners including myself, list their homes and businesses on Plugshare.com as residential EV charging locations.  They do this in support of other EV drivers that may be close to the end of their vehicle’s range and need a charge to get to the next high power charging station and they do this to be part of the rapidly growing community of like-minded, forward thinking EV owners who see a brighter, cleaner, fossil fuel free future on the horizon for us all.

MYTH: It is very expensive to power an EV.

FACT: The average cost of electricity in the US is 12 cents/kWh. Therefore the average person driving an average EV 15,000 miles per year will pay about $540.00 per year to charge it. Personally I spend less than $300/year on electricity to fuel my Leaf…how much did you pay for gasoline/diesel last year?
I bet it was much more than that.
Think about what could you have done with all that extra money you spent on gas and oil? Just think about it…or remain in denial of the facts. It is your choice.

FACT: Believe it or not – five 100 watt light bulbs left on continuously for a year use nearly the same amount of energy as it takes to power an electric car 15,000 miles! Here’s how: Five 100 watt light bulbs use 500 watts. In 24 hours they use 12,000 watt-hours or 12kWh. In 365 days they use 4,380kWh. A typical EV that uses 30 kWh for every 100 miles will use 4,500 kWh to drive 15,000 miles! Simply by turning unnecessary lighting off at your home, you can drastically reduce or completely eliminate your annual transportation fuel cost. Try doing that with an ICE powered vehicle! (The cost of LED lighting products has dropped recently so we have replaced almost all of our light bulbs in our house with LED’s. This has not only saved us money but we have also totally offset the cost of driving our Leaf EV!)
Learn more here: www.pluginamerica.org/drivers-seat/how-much-does-it-cost-charge-electric-car

Cars are not the only way you can reduce emissions by switching to EV’s

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Coal Rolling” photo found online…cough, cough…

FACT: One piece of gas burning lawn equipment emits more hydrocarbon pollution into our shared atmosphere than a gasoline-guzzling crew-cab pickup truck! You would have to drive a 6.2L V8 truck almost 4000 miles to equal the emissions produced in 30 minuets of use by a gas powered 2-cycle engine such as a string trimmer (weed-eater). Why not use an all electric string trimmer or lawn mower—there are many available now and they all can even be fueled with renewable energy you can generate at home!

UPDATE 6/21/17: Since I wrote this article many companies have introduced all electric lawn equipment such as the Ego backpack leaf blower and the  Husqvarna Auto Mower and many others.  Electric vehicles are quickly and quietly taking over the world and that is a very good thing!

MYTH: EV’s, solar, wind, and other renewable power sources are not American because they do not create jobs or use the oil/gas that we fight deadly wars to acquire.

FACT: The Nissan Leaf EV is made in Smyrna Tennessee and provides over 300 American workers with excellent jobs. Tesla provides around 6000 Americans jobs now and will employ 12,000 after the Gigafactory goes online.  The number of employees working in the solar industry has more than doubled in five years and today there are now over 200,000 Americans working in solar.  Believe it or not, there are now more people working in solar than in gas and oil fields and that’s almost three times the size of the entire coal mining industry…the carbon bubble is bursting.  The wind energy industry provides great jobs to over 70,000 Americans and clean power to over 18 million homes. And that’s just for starters…companies like Solar City and Arcadia Power are changing the way we acquire our energy at home from renewable energy providers.

FACT: Sourcing our energy domestically (be it solar, wind, hydro, coal—whatever the source) provides many good jobs to Americans and is much more efficient and much safer than traveling thousands of miles, dealing with foreign governments that are often hostile and feed terrorism groups, extracting the crude oil, then finally bringing it back home to be refined and used…often at great cost and loss of life due to the wars that often must be fought to keep it flowing.

FACT: It is more American to be self sufficient and produce your own energy at home, than it is to rely an outside source to provide you with that energy.

FACT: You can power your home and your EV with off-the-shelf renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, etc ) that you produce at home…and even make a profit from the excess!

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A solar powered home in Asheville with a monthly power bill of less than $20!

MYTH: EV’s are expensive to work on.

FACT: While it is no secret that EV’s have many similar systems as ICE powered vehicles such as braking, steering, suspention, heating etc. However, EV’s rarely need major servicing on their drive systems due to the simple fact that they have far fewer moving parts in their power plant whereas the average ICE engine has thousands! Therefore, EV’s require far less maintenance to keep them “healthy” and are therefore much more economical to drive.

I have been driving my Leaf now for over 33k miles and the little EV has required no specialized routine maintenance by me other than the occasional washing and vacuuming, a set of new windshield wiper blades, adding a little air to the tires, and the occasional topping off of the washer fluid – you know, the things you would need to do to any type of vehicular construct no matter its fuel source.

Recently, I had to replace the cabin air filter. By replacing the filter myself I saved around $50 labor cost (as quoted by my local Nissan dealership)!

Costs: $35 for the filter and about an hour of my time. This is not that bad considering this is the first in-depth preventative maintenance (that was not covered in the warranty*) that I have completed on the car…in 33k miles! Had this been a gasoline/diesel powered vehicle I would have had to spend far more time and money over the same 30K mile time-frame. For example, to keep my 1999 Toyota 4Runner “Godzilla”, my only remaining ICE vehicle that I keep only for long range trips and hauling large loads, running in an efficient as possible manner (for a machine with so many miles – 200+k – and so many moving parts that can and will wear out due to constant use thereby lowering the fuel economy of the vehicle and lowering the amount of money in my bank account) I use G-Oil, a bio-based fully synthetic American made motor oil, and I change the oil filter when I change the oil. Just the oil/filter changes for my 1999 Toyota 4Runner have cost me $230** over the last 30k miles! Operational costs for user replaceable parts and non warranty covered parts for the Leaf during this same period of time = $55 (wiper blades and cabin air filter)!

FACT: The simple fact that EV’s do not have as many moving parts as petroleum powered vehicles makes them much more reliable and cost effective to operate than their fossil fuel powered counterparts. The do not have or need any of the parts that commonly wear out in gas/diesel vehicles such as: belts, chains, hoses, air/fuel filters, water pump, spark plugs, glow plugs, oil, filter, clutch, transmission, muffler, catalytic converter, exhaust pipe…they do not even have an engine.

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The Tesla Model S

MYTH: EV’s are new…scary…future technology and cannot be trusted.

FACT: Electric vehicles are anything but scary and nothing new. The electric motor that moves them has only a few long lived moving parts and is a proven technology that has been used to make our lives easier since the mid-late 19 century.
They pre-date ICE powered vehicles and were hitting the roads of the world in the late 1800’s – see the timeline here: www.energy.gov/articles/history-electric-car

FACT: New technologies often have bugs that need to be worked out and then an adoption period before becoming mainstream.  Examples: the light bulb, the toilet, the automobile, the air plane, the microwave, the personal computer, the cellular phone, the rocket ship…the electric car is no different and will see some setbacks but it is here to stay.

march

FACT: If your house or business is connected to the grid, and you or your company pays a power bill, then your, and most everyone’s houses/businesses are electric. Washer, dryer, refrigerator, freezer, stove and range, heating and cooling, lighting, entertainment systems, kitchen and many bathroom appliances, computers, mobile devices…electric…with many of these systems relying on electric motors and systems that quietly work in the background keeping our lives and the lives of our devices comfortable and functional.   Why is it then that we continue to use outdated, noisy, toxic, leaky, high maintenance, complicated, petroleum powered transportation systems to get around on earth, in the water, and in the sky?

Part of the answer to the above question may be fear of change driven by a inate and often handed down complacency that many feel when they get set in their ways and comfortably used to any form of technology they have grown up with.  To some, anything new, especially if it upsets the comfortable status quo, is seen as an invader that must be ignored and even stopped at all costs. I suppose not everyone can be an early adopter and game changer like Elon Musk. The final parts to the answer are the simply complicated politics and lots and lots of dirty money.  In this recent article by Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club president Rudy Beharrysingh he states: The political implications of oil and gas are huge. Currently, the U.S. imports about 9.5 million barrels per day of oil. About 30 percent of this is from OPEC, with half of this from the Persian Gulf. That’s about 1.4 million barrels per day coming from the Persian Gulf. At a cost of $35 per barrel that is $50 million per day that we (consumers) send to the Middle East (on the order of $20 billion per year). And, that’s low compared to what it used to be. Need I say more…?

An eye opening Nissan Leaf commercial  from a few years ago

The link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCs8B-TlylY

MYTH: “EV’s are slow like golf carts, dangerous, and I heard that they catch on fire and burn to the ground all the time.”

FACT: EV’s are anything but slow. The little Nissan Leaf EV will go 0-60 in around 10 seconds. The BMW i3 EV will do it in 7.2 and the Tesla Model S P85DL 100% electric car has the world record for the fastest accelerating production four-door car ever! It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in a brain melting 2.6 seconds! Dangerous, totally the opposite – the Tesla Model S was rated by the NHTSA as the safest car ever tested…in history! If you want to see a Tesla Model S EV go against a Holden supercar take a look here:

 Or if you would like to follow the link:  www.youtube.com/embed/6eGhjhx8O9M?rel=0

Fires.  According to the NFPA, cars catch fire on American highways once every two minutes. There were an average of 184,333 vehicle fires per year from 2008 to 2013.  (I went back only to 2008 since it was the first year a highway-capable all-electric vehicle in serial production was available in the United States.  That vehicle was the Tesla Roadster).  Out of those 184,333 fires, less than a dozen of involved electric vehicles…ALL of the others were liquid fuel powered vehicles.  There were an average of 1651 car fire injury and death victims every year from 2008-2013. In fact, due to fires involving liquid fueled vehicles 1765 people lost their lives during that timeframe.  “The risk of a car or vehicle fire is even greater than the risk of an apartment fire. More people die in vehicle fires than in apartment fires each year in the United States,” said AAA President Robert Darblenet.  

tesla-model-s-burns

Burning Tesla Model S from 

FACT: Electric vehicle fires are not a common occurence in any way yet news agencies just love to manufacture drama.  The fact that gas powered cars burn all the time is nothing new, it is not dramatic anymore…but let an EV catch fire (like one did recently in Norway – see: www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-s-burns-fire-supercharger-norway/ ) and it is all over the headlines because sensationalist drama centered around anything new and possibly politically controvercial feeds the weak minded. Note: I am not saying anyone reading this is weak minded because if you have read this far you obviously are interested in the facts and not the drama 🙂

More info on fires related to electric powered vehicles and other devices and systems can be found in this article and in this Wikipedia article. 

Fact: electric vehicles present far less of a fire hazard than ICE powered vehicles.

Think of it like this: if everyone had been driving clean, fast, safe, low maintenance electric vehicles for the last century, and someone tried to get you to drive or even ride in a vehicle powered by an incredibly toxic, flammable, explosive, liquid fuel—what would you do? Personally, I would R.U.N.N.O.F.T!

Observation: Back before I drove an EV I was forced to periodically visit gas stations to fuel the subscription to dependency I had opted for when I purchased my gasoline powered vehicle.  While filling up I often encountered people fueling their vehicle with the engines running, or even more astonishing – smoking while pumping gas. On these occasions I wanted to sit the people down and calmly warn them of the errors of their ways. I wanted to describe in detail the science behind their potentially very hazardous actions and the three times that I have had close calls with gasoline fueled vehicle fires that I offer up to you below –

Situation #1. Year 1986.  My old Chevy truck would not start so I continued to give the engine more gas, the engine flooded, fuel leaked out of carbureator,  a spark from a cracked spark plug wire ignited the fuel leak sending flames up and out of the engine bay melting all the rubber and plastic items under the hood.  I put out the fire with a small fire extinguisher I kept under the seat and when it ran out I had to toss a jacket on the fire to finally put it out.  If not for my fast thinking the vehicle would have burned to the ground and this would have caused me great peril.

Situation #2. Year 1991. Although not a road vehicle incident, I believe under the circumstances it still applies. My old lawn tractor was running rough. I took off the air filter housing and adjusted the carbureator to richen the mixture and it started running better. I then failed to replace air filter assembly. A few moments later the engine backfired through the carbuerator sending a saber of flame straight up and into the old plastic fuel tank (that was soaked with fuel residue) which subsequently ignited into a ball of flame.  This melted the fuel tank causing raw gasoline to cascade down onto engine and tractor like a flaming waterfall of peril. The tractor quickly began to burn to the ground.  A passing off duty firetruck stopped to extinguish the tractor as it sat burning in middle of a field.

Situation #3.  Year 2000. While my driving 1966 Land Rover up a steep highway grade, the vehicle’s cab suddenly filled with thick, acrid, white smoke and at the same time I smelled an intense gasoline smell!! I quickly pulled the vehicle off the road and bailed out running about 100 feet away leaving the engine running and door open for fear of meeting my ultimate demise!  I watched from a distance as the smokle cleared from the cab of the still running vehicle and then a few seconds later the vehicle shut itself off as the fuel in the carbuerator ran out.  I did not want to get near it for fear of whatever caused the issue possibly igniting a gas vapor explosion, fuel fire, and loads of deadly peril.  After about 20 minutes of watching I decided that it was safe and carefully approached the vehicle.  I soon discovered that the issue had been caused by faulty wiring.  A wire had been routed around the fuel line and normal vehicle vibrations had caused the wire to abrade against the metal frame of vehicle creating an electrical short which burned all the insulation off of the wire causing the acrid smoke.  The exposed red hot wire then melted through the plastic fuel line cutting it totally in half. Gasoline then poured out of the fuel line and all over the top of the fuel tank – yet somehow, no ignition had occured.  Talk about the luck of the Irish–it was with me that day.  I would not be writing this if the gas fumes had ignited.  If that had happened, the cab would have become an instant inferno, and both fuel tanks, that were 1/2 full or less and located under the driver and passenger seats, would have possibly ignited killing me in a flaming fuel fire worthy of dramatic news worthy sensationalism.

So you might say I am somewhat qualified, or at least have some life experience in the area of what can happen when gasoline and an ignition source are brought together.  You could also say that I have the obligation to inform people of the error of their ways when I see them ignoring common sense and the warning labels posted all over the gasoline and diesel fueling station’s liquid fuel pumping machines.  However, I also know from past experience that when I try to help others by offering friendly advice on the subject, I have always been met by rude comments like “mind your own business”, “it’s a free country” or “#!@! off!!”…so, since these people apparently either are; totally ignorant and/or do not understand the science behind the reality of the situation, have a death wish, or just do not care at all about their own safety or the safety of the other human beings that may be nearby.  So, now whenever I encounter these situations I always report these individuals to the fueling station attendants and then I get away from the area as fast as possible because highly flammable liquid fuels + the increased potential for static/spark/flame induced fuel vapor ignition + careless, know-it-all or ignorant humans = loads of peril and Darwin awards just waiting to happen.

Chevy-Bolt-2015-Orange-889x592

New kid on the block – the Chevrolet Bolt 200 mile range EV

MYTH: Electric vehicles are expensive.

FACT: While it is true that a new Tesla Model S P85D will set you back over 100K, you can get into a new EV such as the Nissan Leaf and soon to be avaliable Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 for less than $35k. You must also remember to factor in that you will NEVER pay for gas/diesel and oil again and that in itself adds up to thousands of dollars/year…even when you account for the cost of the electricity used to fuel your EV! Then, when then you factor in all the money spent on tune-ups and engine/transmission/exhaust system repairs for most ICE powered vehicles – all the savings add up to reveal that most EV’s are much more economical to own and drive than your average ICE powered vehicle.

MYTH: When the battery wears out a new battery will cost more than the car is worth.

nissan leaf battery

Nissan Leaf battery photo from InsideEV’s

FACT: When an EV’s battery degrades to the point where it is no longer able to store enough energy to propel you in your daily commute, the battery can be easily replaced with a new one-it is as plug and play as the battery in your mobile device or cordless tool…only larger. Currently the cost for the Nissan Leaf battery is around $5500 so it is about the same as having a new engine and transmission replaced in a standard ICE vehicle. After the battery is replaced you essentially have a new car. I admit that price is a bit high (especially if you are a do-it-yourself mechanic) but when Tesla’s Gigafactory (goes online in a few years they will start turning out lithium ion battery packs that will drastically lower the costs of EV batteries across the board. ( Learn more here www.teslamotors.com/gigafactory )

giga

The Tesla Gigafactory: Source Tesla

Note: all EV manufactures have excellent battery warranties/leasing options that serve to help new EV drivers “ease into” a better way to drive and are great incentives for adopting a this technology. Nissan for example, offers a battery warranty of 8 years/100,000 miles against defects and 5 years/60,000 miles against capacity loss – whichever comes first.

MYTH: A used EV battery cannot be used for anything and is toxic waste.

FACT: Used EV batteries can be recycled just like any battery but before that time comes they can be used in stationary power storage facilities, as back up generators when connected to the energy grid, homes, and businesses, and off-grid power stations especially when connected to renewable energy power systems. Nissan has recently partnered with Green Charge to repurpose Nissan Leaf batteries for stationary energy storage Learn more here:

And more here:

www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/business/gm-and-nissan-reusing-old-electric-car-batteries.html?_r=0
and here
www.greencarreports.com/news/1093810_electric-car-batteries-what-happens-to-them-after-coming-out-of-the-car

MYTH: There is nowhere to charge an EV?

FACT: Most EV drivers charge their cars at home overnight with the dealer supplied standard equipment charging cord that allows the car to be plugged into any 110v outlet.  Many drivers have faster Level 2 charging units installed in their homes so they can charge up even faster.

earthshinebarncharging

Plugged in and charging at a friend’s barn.

When out on the road there are over 25 thousand EV charging stations in the USA alone and the number is growing every day. To find out how many are near you just take a look at www.plugshare.com.

plugshare

A screen capture of the close to 100 public charging stations in the WNC area from www.Plugshare.com

MYTH: Charging an EV is SLOW!

FACT: While not as fast as filling up the fuel tank EV charging is getting faster every day. Currently there are three levels of charging for most EV’s.

Level 1. AKA Trickle Charge.  This is the method of charging that most EV owners use to fuel their vehicles while they sleep.  The car comes with a charging cable with J1772 SAE plug that will fill the battery at the rate of 5-7 miles of range added per hour.

Level 2.  This method of charging, that also uses the J1772 SAE plug, can be found at most of the publicly avaliable charging stations in cities and towns.  These units are often found near shopping centers, movie theatres, resturants and downtown areas and will fill up an EV in 1-4 hours depending on how low the vehicle’s battery was upon plugging in.  These units can be installed in your garage at home and there are some portable models as well.

Level 3. The fastest method of charging a fast charge capable EV.  Using dedicated fast charging equipment and CHAdeMO or CCS equipped EV can be charged to 80% capacity in as little as 20 minutes!

DCQCPlugged into a fast charger

FACT: Most EV owners love their cars so much that they have become “crusaders” of the technology and promote them every chance they get because they know from experience that that they are a much better way to drive.

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The Bluewater Leaf in the Blue Ridge Mountains of WNC far from any charging outlet

CONCLUSION

OPINION supported by SCIENCE, RESEARCH, and EXPERIENCE: All of these reasons and more are why EV’s are superior to everything else on the road and one day in the near future gas/diesel will go the way of the old fossils that power them. (this is not only my honest opinion proven by science, research and experience but it is also been documented by the owners of EV’s everywhere in articles like these and more:

www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/tesla-model-s-p85d-earns-top-road-test-score

www.news.discovery.com/autos/fuel-and-alternative-fuel-technologies/electric-car-drivers-say-theyll-never-go-back-150811.htm

www.ibtimes.co.uk/most-british-teenagers-expect-their-first-car-be-electric-1524811

FACT: Quoted from this Clean Technica article writen by Mike Barnard.”A tipping point has been reached in the last two years for electric cars. Almost half of all fully or partially electric vehicles sold in the past decade were sold in 2014. In addition to the standard-bearing Tesla, every car manufacturer in the world has fully or partially electric cars in their lineups. The most exciting cars in the world are now electric.”

FACT supported OPINION: Driving ICE powered vehicles is like purchasing a subscription to dependency on a highly toxic, highly addictive drug that shortens your life while constantly draining your bank account and damaging everything it comes in contact with.

Be the change you wish to see in the world and the world will change….or do nothing and nothing will ever change…it is your choice.
————————————————————

Special Thanks to Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute for compiling many of the facts in this document! Learn more at: blackbearsolarinstitute.org

Special Thanks to the members of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club for supporting the future of transportation and renewable energy technologies.

* Parts replaced under warranty included one shock absorber, 1 strut, grease for the power window actuators, and two suspension bushings – all of these things are not EV specific and are commonly replaced/repaired items on all road vehicles. Non-warranty covered and non-user replaceable parts that needed replacement due to age/wear = Tires and brake fluid. Total cost = $610.
** Oil change only parts I have purchased for the 4Runner over the last 30k miles – several gallons of GOil and several Oil Filters = $230. Had I included all of the other parts I have replaced myself on the 4Runner over the same time-frame – the costs would have been well over $800! (If I had included the non-user replaceable parts and labor I have given to Larry at the auto repair shop then add another $1200!!!)
Total parts cost to operate Nissan Leaf for $30k miles = $665
Total parts cost to operate 4Runner for 30K miles = $2000
While I am aware that the 4Runner has over 6 times the mileage as the Leaf, the point remains that I have spent over 3X as much money on just parts to keep it on the road during the same period of time so…
After “Godzilla” the 4Runner dies, I will never go back to gas.

sunleaf

Plug into the future!

The Wonders of Regeneration

SNB

It is a known fact among EV owners that their cars use regenerative breaking systems to help charge the car’s battery and extend its range.  Regenerative breaking is defined as:

“In a battery-powered electric vehicle, regenerative braking (also called regen) is the conversion of the vehicle’s kinetic energy into chemical energy stored in the battery, where it can be used later to drive the vehicle. It is braking because it also serves to slow the vehicle. It is regenerative because the energy is recaptured in the battery where it can be used again.” Source Firmware Engineer Tesla Motors.  Read more of Greg’s great article on regen here.

“Vehicles driven by electric motors use the motor as a generator when using regenerative braking: it is operated as a generator during braking and its output is supplied to an electrical load; the transfer of energy to the load provides the braking effect. Regenerative braking is used on hybrid gas/electric automobiles to recoup some of the energy lost during stopping. This energy is saved in a storage battery and used later to power the motor whenever the car is in electric mode.” Source Wikipedia

Regenerative Breaking mechanisms have been used for over a century, have a very fascinating history, have many very interesting applications including early experimentation with the Amitron and Voltswagon concept cars by AMC.  Regenerative systems developed by are now used on the worlds best selling electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf and all other EV’s and hybrids on the roads today.

An interesting video on how the Nissan Leaf’s power/regen system works:

I have owned my 2012 Nissan Leaf now for 13 months and have been keeping detailed daily notes on SOC, distance driven, temperature and other data points of interest. Recently I started taking notes on the regeneration that my car produces during my daily commute. Specifically a the 3.4 mile section of my commute that is almost all downhill (see a graphic representation of the route below).

regenroute1

 

Map from www.mapmyride.com

The question

Recently I began to wonder just how far per day this 3.4 mile descent with 845 feet of elevation loss would take me on braking and gravity produced free fuel.  In the hopes of answering that question with some degree of accuracy I developed an experiment with the procedure listed below.

Every day I used in the experiment I drove as I do on a normal day; in ECO mode and with all possible environmental variables such as road conditions, traffic conditions, different routes*, elevation loss or gain, temperature, humidity, wind resistance, tire resistance, speed, accessories used, and others variables in order to keep it as real world as possible.  *I do not drive the same route every day due to errands I often to run after work.

UPDATE 1/25/15; Speaking of environmental variables effecting regeneration, on one recent occasion I had to drive the 3.4 miles section of route immediately after a motor-grader had scraped the road.  The road surface was the consistency of something like thick beach sand mixed with damp oatmeal.  The car bogged down a bit but powered through it but the regenerative breaking system was practically useless since I had to keep gently accelerating in order to keep moving forward.  At the bottom of the 3.4 mile route I had regenerated only 1 mile of range.  I am sure this will lower my overall average just a bit once I recalculate the numbers at some point this spring but science can be a harsh mistress.

The data (so far)

Regenerated potential range at the end of the route for seven days during November 2014

16.0, 14.0, 11.0,13.0, 7.0,14.0,15.0

= 90/7 = 12.85 average miles of potential range regenerated per day.

However, as we EV drivers know, this potential driving range is not an accurate representation of real world driving range due to the variables mentioned previously. In the attempt to deduce just how far in reality the car would go on the regenerated power from the 3.4 mile daily descent, I needed to calculate the distance the car would travel before reaching the pre-route SOC on the GOM (my Leaf is a 2012 so it does not show battery state of charge as a percent–it is a calculated guess by the on-board computer of mileage remaining based on vehicle system health, environmental conditions and driving style.)

The procedure

I first recorded the SOC from the GOM at the top of the route, drove the 3.4 mile route, stopped at the bottom and recorded the number of regenerated miles, reset the trip odometer to 0 and drove until I had reached the first recorded SOC from the top of the route.

The results

The resulting number is the real world miles driven on Leaf regenerated free fuel.  The 7 day adjusted test results are listed below:

16.5, 9.0, 13.1, 7.5, 8.0, 8.7, 9.3

= 72.1/7 = 10.3* average miles of potential range regenerated per day!

*I continue to keep a daily record of regeneration on this route, so this number will change as I average in those numbers.  In the spring of 2015, I will post an update to this story with the updated findings.

Based on the data for the short time period in question, the results seem to indicate that during this 3.4 mile descent my car generates an average of 10.5 miles of potential real world range per work day when driving this route. This data also suggests that the Leaf often powers itself home for free since the route is only 9.3 miles in length from the bottom of the descent to my home.  I have documented this fact many times when upon reaching home the SOC is at or above the starting SOC when I left work.

This ads up to a substantial amount of Leaf produced free fuel, but how much in a year is possible?

10.3 miles per day!

10.3 x 5=51.5 miles per week.

51.5 x 4 = 206 miles per month.

206 x 12 = 2472 miles of Leaf generated free electric fuel per year.

If these numbers are accurate, then my car, simply by rolling downhill on the same 3.4 mile route described above, for 5 days each week, regenerates enough power in a year to power itself for the equivalent of two months worth of driving*, all freely powered by the Nissan Leaf!  *I drive an average of 300 miles per week (300 x 8 = 2400)

killawatt

I use a Kill A Watt meter to keep track of my Leaf’s power consumption.

How much has this potentially saved me in power costs for the Leaf?

Driving my leaf costs an average of .03 per mile so .03 x 2472 = 74.16

$74.16 potentially saved each year just driving home from work every day!

And this is only for this one route.  I drive several other routes where I pull a good amount of regeneration from long descents so I wonder how much am I saving in power costs from those routes?

zerogas

In a rough comparison, if I had to drive my 1999 Toyota 4Runner the same distance that my Leaf has driven on freely produced regenerative power, it would have taken me around 8 tanks of gas and cost me around $360.00 in gas at current fuel prices of $2.84/gal!  (2472 miles at 2.84 (per gallon) x 16 gallons = $45.44 x 8 (tanks) = $363.52)

WOW!

Let’s just think about this fact – is there a consumer available, stock built, gasoline or diesel powered vehicle anywhere that will produce it’s own fuel. No. The facts are in: petroleum powered vehicles only take hard earned money from the owner, give nothing back but a ride, require lots of expensive fuel and maintenance, are often noisy, contribute to a polluted environment, enable the continued destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems through oil drilling/strip mining and pipeline construction in fragile environments, are not energy secure, and even fund terrorism.  EV’s give so much back, have very low maintenance costs, are quiet and fun to drive, can be fueled on domestically generated energy and renewable energy generated at home or work and are therefore energy secure, do not fund terrorism, and produce a portion of their own fuel…for free!  It is no wonder that some automakers, fossil fuel corporations and their supporters, and certain oil soaked politicians, are afraid of EV’s and will stop at nothing to ruin their image with negative ad campaigns and tactics.

NDEW9

The simple reality is this; while the currently available electric vehicles do have some range limitations, they are far better in so many ways than petroleum powered vehicles.  Given time, advancements in battery technology, expanded charging infrastructure, and the support from the people and our purchasing power, the EV will one day dominate the roads. Once a person drives an EV and experiences the joy of driving electric, freedom from the gas pump and from years of costly maintenance, more money in their pocket, the resulting cleaner air and environment that comes from driving EV, and with the ever growing option of powering their EV from home generated renewable energy such as solar, wind and micro-hydro–they will see that driving electric is the better choice and will hopefully trade in or recycle their old gas guzzler in favor of the future of transportation, the EV.

NDEW

 DRIVE ELECTRIC!

The Blue Ridge EV Club meeting at the BrightfieldTS solar charging canopy on Charlotte St. in Asheville, NC.

 

 

 

 

NATIONAL DRIVE ELECTRIC WEEK ASHEVILLE

The Blue Ridge EV Club Presents

NATIONAL DRIVE ELECTRIC WEEK ASHEVILLE

solarcharging714UNCA

Join us for an electrifying experience on

Sunday afternoon, September 21, 1-4 pm.

Asheville’s premier solar powered electric vehicle charging hub will be abuzz with free opportunities to:

  • Talk with owners about their electric cars and see these marvels up close
  • Talk with dealers about new production electric vehicles (EV’s)
  • Drive or Ride in one or more electric cars (10-minute city/highway loop)
  • See the operation of several BrightFieldTS electric vehicle charging stations which produce power for your electric vehicle from the sun
  • Get answers to all your questions on cost of operation, savings, available cars, area charging locations, home charging options, rebates and tax incentives
  • See some specialty electric vehicles
  • Meet members of the Blue Ridge EV Club & join up!
  • EV Parade

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Come out and ride in or drive an EV! Learn for yourself why Electric Vehicle sales have doubled in each of the last three years.

If you would like to reserve a spot for ride/driving an EV or volunteer to help with our event:

First, you will need to “Register” to attend the main event by following this URL:

https://driveelectricweek.org/event.php?eventid=157

Once on the site just fill out some information and click the “Contact” button to give the organizers your request.

During the weeks leading up to the main event, there will be other local learning opportunities:

  •       Wednesday Aug 20, 6-7:30pm, Oskar Blues in Brevard, NC. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Thursday Aug 28, 6-7:30pm, Southern Appalachian Brewery in Hendersonville, NC.  Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Saturday Aug 30, 8am-12 pm, Transylvania farmers Market – Farm Fair in Brevard, NC.  Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Saturday, Sept 13, 8 – 1 pm, North Asheville Tailgate Market, UNC-Asheville Campus. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Wednesday, Sept 17, 2:30-6:30 pm, Weaverville Tailgate Market, Weaverville, NC Community Center overlooking Lake Louise. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Wednesday, Sept 17, 6:30 pm, UNC Asheville Physics Lecture Hall (Rhoades/Robinson 125), Screening of Chris Paine’s documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? followed by audience discussion, hosted by the UNC Asheville Mechatronics Engineering Program. For more information, contact Dave Erb 828-258-7659

 

  •       Thursday, Sept 18, 6:30 pm, UNC Asheville Physics Lecture Hall (Rhoades/Robinson 125), Screening of Chris Paine’s documentary Revenge of the Electric Car followed by audience discussion, hosted by the UNC Asheville Mechatronics Engineering Program. For more information, contact Dave Erb 828-258-7659

 

  •       Friday, Sept 19, am, Workplace Charging Workshop at  Asheville Chamber of Commerce/Visitor  Center.  Businesses learning about providing charging at their sites (Register for this workshop by contacting Bill Eaker, bill@landofsky.org)

 

  •       Saturday, Sept 20, 10 am-6 pm, Weaverville Arts ‘N Autumn Festival, 30 S. Main Street, Weaverville, NC outside of the Town Hall. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Saturday, Sept 20, 8 am-1 pm, Asheville City Market at the Asheville Public Works Parking Lot, 161 S. Charlotte St, Asheville, NC. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

      These events are organized by the Blue Ridge EV Club (https://www.facebook.com/groups/blueridgeevclub/) and Land Of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition (www.cleanvehiclescoalition.org) with help from NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources.

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