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.

13076616_930825577014723_7307012286365050664_n

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.