Darwinian Evolution is defined as: “descent with modification from preexisting species : cumulative inherited change in a population of organisms through time leading to the appearance of new forms : the process by which new species or populations of living things develop from preexisting forms through successive generations” – From Merriam-Webster
In Automotive Evolution we might say the following: automotive technologies descend with modification and enhancement from earlier preexisting forms and technologies : cumulative inherited change of traits occur within a population of automobiles/automakers through time leading to the appearance of new and often more evolved/advanced automotive forms : the process by which new automotive systems and/or collections of systems – as dictated by necessity and/or markets – lead to novel and more advanced automotive systems and/or collections of systems developed from preexisting forms through successive generations often (but not always) leading to more superior technological adaptations : those forms and technologies deemed inferior by function/markets are quickly weeded out of the population by the process that drives both automotive and Darwinian evolution – Natural Selection. Those forms and technologies deemed superior and that perform at or above their design will survive and their technological traits will be passed down to future populations.
Recently, I made the EVolutionary choice and I EVolved my automotive system.
In late September 2019 I purchased a 2019 Chevrolet Bolt.
Yep. The days of the BlueWaterLeaf are over.
My trusty old 2012 LEAF “Elektra” served me well for a little over six years but due to her failing battery chemistry and resulting limited driving range of only around 45-50 miles – natural selection prevailed and I was forced to automotively EVolve.
The old LEAF found a new home with a wonderful couple in a nearby town. Since they only drive around 25 miles per day I believe it will serve them well for many years to come.
For my needs, I require a vehicle that will travel more than 50 miles per day and sometimes upwards of 200 miles at a time. I also needed a vehicle that I can afford to fuel, maintain, and pay for as a company vehicle. Now that we have EV’s I feel that it is not logical nor is it a good use of funds for a small nonprofit organization to pay large amounts of money for fossil fuel powered vehicles and their fuels. Essentially, using a fossil fuel powered vehicle for a nonprofit – or any business for that matter – is like lighting generously donated and/or hard earned money on fire, then tossing it out the window. It is not only a garish waste of funds but it also pollutes the environment – the very thing my organization is working so hard to protect, conserve, understand, and share.
So, after extensive research and planning, I decided to purchase a new 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV – Premier edition as a replacement outreach vehicle for my small, non profit organization Earthshine Nature Programs (501c3) – www.earthshinenature.com
I have owned the Bolt EV now for four months and during that time I have driven the little EV close to 6500 miles! It is a remarkable car that makes the old LEAF seem, well, – like ancient technology – or, in keeping with the EVolutionary theme – an earlier form of life.
I really loved my LEAF but the primary reason I decided to go with a Chevrolet over another Nissan was mainly due to the ongoing terrible experience I had with Nissan HQ. Despite my detailed record keeping, sticking with the car’s dealer defined maintenance/warranty schedule, countless service visits/inquiries/emails/phone calls with Nissan HQ about my LEAF’s battery degradation issue, and even working tirelessly to promote the LEAF to many people online via this blog and in person via my nonprofit programming through EV education classes, and through the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club at EV car shows during National Drive Electric week – all of these things lead up to many people I knew and many I did not who then purchased Nissan LEAF’s for themselves. Despite all this Nissan still refused to stand by their product and would not offer to replace my car’s degrading battery. Then, to make matters worse – just when I was about to consider the purchase of a new battery for my LEAF – Nissan raised the price by thousands of dollars as if trying to force owners of the first generation LEAF’s to upgrade to a newer car!
On top of all this madness, Nissan opted to forgo the implementation of an active battery management system that would extend the useful life of their EV batteries in favor of keeping the costs down so they could then sell more new LEAF’s using an out-dated technology while making a higher profit.
All these reasons pushed me over the edge so I decided that I was finished with Nissan and chose to look elsewhere. I looked at Tesla, Hyundai, Kia and then Chevrolet. Chevrolet already had several years of EV experience with the Volt and the Bolt’s technology was a few years old therefore giving them some time to weed out any major issues with the newer Bolt. Chevrolet also opted to go with a battery management system similar to Tesla’s that would keep the battery at the optimum operating temperature extending its driving range and its useful life. The bolt also has amazing driving range second only to Tesla (at the time) – at 238 it was a massive improvement over the old gen one LEAF which would only travel 73 miles before needing a charge. Another big deciding factor for me was the fact that at the time I was shopping there were some really nice end of model year deals on the Bolt so, for all these reasons, I chose the Bolt EV.
So far I love the little EV – although, it does have a few odd issues that need mentioning. These are issues that I believe need some real attention from Chevrolet – so let us get those out of the way first.
1: Ultra reflective dashboard deck. The windshield facing side of the dashboard (in my car) is light colored so it reflects sunlight onto the underside of the windshield making it almost impossible to drive without visual discomfort from the “flashing” reflections. This creates an unsafe and uncomfortable driving experience. During the test drive I did not notice this phenomenon – possibly due to the sun angle at the time – or I would have chosen a vehicle with a dark colored dashboard. To remedy the situation I purchased a custom fit charcoal black, non-reflective dash cover from Covercraft.com and the problem was solved.
2: Thin driver’s seat bottom cushion. I am a relatively thin person so the narrowness of the seats do not bother me as they do for some people. However, the thin cushion and adjacent plastic framework of the seat near the seat adjusting levers puts pressure on my left outer thigh region as I exit the vehicle. Over time this fact began to cause my left upper leg to ache. I fixed the issue with a simple pool noodle slipped over the plastic piece. It worked for me but GM should really work to remedy this problem as it may be a deal breaker for some buyers especially those who do not want a pool noodle flopping about in their new car.
This added pool noodle cushion ended all discomfort and is removable if need be.
3: Cargo space. For many people the Bolt will be perfect in size for town runs etc but I needed more carying capacity so I opted to install a roof basket.
This allows me to carry much more cargo when I take long trips and even lumber 🙂
Or bales of straw for the chickens 🙂
And even more lumber and conduit 🙂 !
Things I LOVE about this little car.
238 miles of range – and more depending on conditions! WOW! It is a real car!!
Range anxiety is a thing of the past!
Cool UI. I love all the data and functionality the UI provides and it is pretty.
One pedal driving – SO COOL!!! (and the brakes will last MUCH longer!)
Awesome stereo system with the option of SiriusXM.
Roof rack ready.
The three level cargo area.
Arm rest/drink holder in the rear seat.
Heated seats and steering wheel.
USB charging ports everywhere.
Qi/wireless phone charger.
Wonderful windshield wipers that really work well.
Deep, multi-level storage in center console.
Sliding sun visors.
Built-in rear-view mirror backup camera.
Surround view camera.
Automatic Emergency Braking.
Lane keep assist.
The hulkingly huge 60 kWH battery that lets me go for days without needing to charge.
The insanely low cost to fuel and operate.
In fact, lets look at some numbers on that last topic.
I am not bragging but I feel that I need to share this very revealing automotive data with you should you be considering EVolving up to a Bolt or other EV.
I have calculated the fuel costs to drive the car the 6500 miles I have traveled up to this point.
Are you ready for this?
Are you sitting down?
Here it is.
Those costs come primarily from the five “quick charge” sessions I needed during these first four months of ownership. Those sessions resulted in a total charge of $77.95 or and average of $15.59 per charge.
The remaining $41.76 comes from multiple “Level 2” charge sessions on the road and from several overnight “Level 1” and “Level 2” charging sessions at home.
In summary, during the last four months, I have driven an average of
1,625 miles per month. 406.25 miles per week. 58.03 miles per day.
At a cost of –
$32.60 per month. $8.15 per week. $1.16 per day.
119.71/6500 = .0184
So that breaks down to be $0.0184 cents per mile for the Mighty Bolt’s electron fuel.
$0.2 cents per mile! I will let that sink in for a moment.
Those numbers are accurate as I keep detailed notes on all charge sessions/energy costs.
My EV’s electric fuel costs are much lower than many EV drivers since I am able to use locally generated renewably produced solar electricity as my EV’s primary fuel source. The largest percentage of my Bolt EV’s electron fuel comes from the classroom solar array my students, interns, volunteers and I installed on my nonprofit office/classroom.
For the average US homeowner without solar who is charging their EV at home using the local power utility energy mix (US average @ .12/kWh), their costs would be a bit higher than my numbers.
The fact remains that no matter an EV’s fuel source – fueling, maintaining, and driving an EV will always be much lower than anything powered by dirty, toxic, nature, life, earth, and future polluting fossil fuels.
It is very interesting and revealing to note that if I had driven those 6500 miles in my only remaining gas guzzler – a 2013 Honda Pilot – I would have needed to stop maybe 15 – 20 times to refill the gas tank (and change the oil and oil filter one and possibly the air filter once) and therefore my gasoline fuel bill (maybe we should call it a conveyance convenience cost) would have been a massive $812.50 or around 0.13/mile! …then add in the cost of the oil/filter change of around $50 and that’s $862.50!!
I do not care who you are, where you are from, or how much money you have to burn but you must logically agree with me – that is a CRAZY STUPID expense for anyone to spend just to get from point A to point B!
In fact, below is a photo of the gas pump the last time I filled up the Honda’s fuel tank…YIKES!
That $47 will push the Honda Pilot around 360 miles but it will also push the Chevy Bolt EV over 2300 miles!!!
6500 miles at an average of 20mpg = 325 gallons x $2.50 (per gasbuddy.com) = $812.50
Or 812.50/6500 = .125 (per mile)
(812.50 (gas) – 119.71(electricity))
That is a fuel only cost savings of $692.79!!
No one can deny the fuel savings of driving electric – but what about the grossly unacceptable downsides of driving EV’s:
THE DIRTY DOWNSIDES OF DRIVING ELECTRIC
Charging: What about the horrible inconvenience of charging my EV while I sleep…It is just so difficult and time-consuming to need to remember to plug in the car before going on to other things…oh the horror!
Stopping: The painfully needling fact that when on a road trip I always need to stop driving every 200 miles or so to plug in my car while I take a break, read a book, surf the net, take a nap, graze on food, have a cold one, get some exercise, go shopping, fish for lunch, fly a drone, watch a movie, spend time with friends and family, ride a zipline, pet a dog, pick some fruit, or just smell the flowers (these are just a few of the terribly inconvenient things I have been forced to do or could do while waiting for my EV to charge)…I just can’t take this intolerable electric car life of any longer!
Gas Stations: What about the hot insanity of never ever again needing to stop at dirty gas stations*? I so greatly miss the ritual of waiting in line for a pump, grasping the infectious germ and “booger” covered gas nozzle, shoving it into my legacy vehicle’s fuel port, engaging the trigger, inhaling deeply of the toxic and highly flammable hydrocarbon fumes while watching other oil addicted users doing the very same – oh and sometimes some of them leave their engines running and/or are even smoking while fueling – WTF!!! All this time our tanks fill up and our bank accounts drain…oh and let’s not forget the great fun of shopping in the station’s store for low quality overly processed foodstuffs…oh how I miss those days. *Ok, so I do occasionally stop at filling stations – but only if they have EV charging stations and/or to use their bathrooms or squeegee my EV’s windshield 🙂 (Read one of my earlier posts about an earlier and most unusual filling station experience.)
Cash Flow: How about the fact that driving electric means you will never again be forever stuck in the endless “subscription to dependency” that owning and driving petroleum-powered vehicles truly is. Therefore, I will be FORCED to stop endlessly paying out loads and loads of cash for gas/oil only to just burn it up over and over again harming our individual lungs and our shared environment. Whatever will I do with all this extra cash???
Health: When my asthma and the seasonal ozone/fossil fuel pollution-induced respiratory inflammation and distress go away – I will shed a great and lonely tear of loss. What will I ever do with all this improved health I just do not know…
Maintenance: Then there is the unbelievable madness of having virtually no maintenance costs/repair downtime on the EV’s motor, battery, brakes, and drive systems…like the LEAF before it, this BOLT EV (and all EV’s) are virtually maintenance-free. I am going to really miss the time-honored ritual of raising the hood and/or crawling under my vehicle on the side of a busy road – in the rain, mud, ice, snow, and boiling summer heat (been there done all that many, many times) – to fix some failing component such as a faulty belt/hose/fuel line/fuel tank/plug wire/radiator/thermostat/clutch/carburetor/alternator/exhaust/intake manifold/”johnson rod” and on an on…and/or wiring up a broken exhaust pipe/muffler…and/or adjusting some broken or maladjusted linkage/shaft in 20-degree weather then bashing my knuckles on a cross member etc…or having my old beater car towed to a repair shop and then waiting hours or days for it to be professionally repaired and then receiving the huge charge $$$$$$ for all those frequent repair/labor costs…again, what will I ever do with all this extra money and time? Note: I really do love working on older, classic cars – especially with my dad. However, working on a classic car at home in the garage or in the driveway/yard on a nice day is a totally different animal than what I described above – which is a fresh hell I would not wish on anyone.
Efficiency: Oh, and what about the insanely stupid fact that EVs produce a portion of their own electron fuel through the process of regenerative braking thereby extending their driving range by hundreds to thousands of free driving miles each year and therefore lowering my fuel costs even more…how will I ever adapt to all this egg-headed science nerd tech geek madness saving me loads of money and making my life easier, faster, stronger, better?!
Sound of silence: How about the unbearable and unbelievably smooth, quiet ride? I just cannot handle all this calmness, comfort, and serenity. Oh, how I miss the endless internal combustion engine drone drowning out the silence and/or the nuances of my favorite songs, audiobooks, and podcasts. Then there are the random noises, sudden jerks, squeaks, rattles, bangs, parts falling off (yes, that really happened), and body wrenching lurches that used to assault my ears, muddle my thought processes, and often torque my spine in all my previous legacy vehicles…
…all this EVolved silence is just so unbearable – oh, the humanity!
Convenience: What about that ridiculous one pedal driving thing! It is just so bizarre and inconvenient to only need to use one pedal instead of two. Not having to step on the brake all the time means my brake pads may last over one hundred thousand miles – how will I ever adapt to all this efficient madness? What will I ever do with all the extra money that I would have spent on bake jobs? My foot really misses stepping on the brake all the time so sometimes I do it out of nostalgia.
Safety: I am not at all comfortable with the increased safety of this car. It will automatically and without asking me to authorize it – put on the brakes to avoid a collision!! What a HUGE compromisation of my freedoms to stop whenever I want to and under my own power and control!!! …oh and then there are all the airbags – they wrap around me on all sides – and then there’s the seatbelts holding me down keeping me from flying through the windshield in an accident – I feel so invaded!! …and what about all the CAMERAS!!! Giving over control to the machines – we all know where that leads!! It all must be a conspiracy…a plot fabricated by the Russians or maybe the Chinese…NO it is the greenies working with the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans and the DUTCH!!!! (To be clear: I am not racist and this was not a racial slur – it was a cheezy reference to an obscure comedy movie series staring Mike Myers.)
I will not stand for all the EV safety madness!!!!
Give me back my 1969 Vista Cruiser!!
That 70’s Show photo courtesy of Carsey-Warner.
Fuel: How about the garishly un-American ability to charge an EV’s traction battery with home-grown electron fuel made on my own soil – be that electron fuel renewably generated by sun, wind, water, landfill gas, cow farts, or even the dirtiest hulking coal-fired power plant.
It is all domestically produced American made energy that does not require dirty deals, endless wars, and the terrible loss of our brave loved ones in the service just to keep it flowing into our tanks.
Nor does all this locally grown renewable energy destroy the very environment that gives all of us clean air, clean water, healthy food, diverse wildlife, our own lives, and a healthy future.
Driving electric vehicles powered by renewable energy is obviously such an un-American, un-patriotic sacrilege that our founding fathers must be spinning like oil-soaked V8 crankshafts in their graves!
Ok, so for those of you that somehow missed it – I absolutely LOVE my Chevrolet Bolt EV and I absolutely LOVE driving electric. I was attempting to be overly and intentionally sarcastic and humorous with my previous outline of EV shortcomings. From my point of view and over six years of EV driving experience – there really are no EV shortcomings.
Driving electric is simply a better way to drive.
Despite my sarcastic attempts at humor aside and despite all the mostly manufactured EV shortcomings you may encounter from the deniers, doubters, Luddites, and FUD generators – and those with money/politics tied up in the legacy automakers and fossil fuel economy – I fail to see how anyone can rationally dispute the massive cost savings of driving electric vehicles as daily driver commuter vehicles and soon, much, much, more…and all this before we have even looked at the significant reductions to toxic air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions saved by driving electric vehicles especially when they are charged by locally grown renewably generated 100% energy secure electricity – but that is another long-winded data-rich topic for yet another blog posting on yet another day.
How much does it cost you to drive your fossil burner 6500 miles?
So, suffice it to say that I absolutely LOVE my Chevrolet Bolt EV.
I will keep you posted on my newly EVolved EV life with the “Mighty Bolt” EV and hopefully I will be able to offer you some insight into the world of the Electric Vehicle, renewable energy, and maybe, if you have not already, you will take the necessary steps toward your own automotive EVolution.
SPECIAL THANKS to Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute, Jim Hardy, Catherine O’Neil, Marian O’Neil, and the Blue Ridge EV Club, my awesome students, and everyone who worked with me to make all of this possible – you know who you are!
Note: I do not work for, receive compensation from, or own stock in GM, Chevrolet, Tesla, or any electric vehicle or electric vehicle supply equipment company or renewable energy technology or company. I do however support all of these technologies, companies, and ways of life as long as they stay focused on their goals and work to help more than harm and because they are all working toward a better, cleaner, more energy secure, lower ecological footprint, science-focused way of life that supports everyone everywhere.
Over the last few weeks, there have been several reported instances from all over the USA of a minority of pickup truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Supercharger stations (aka Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)/Electric Vehicle charging stations. This relatively small number of incidents has generated much attention on various social media outlets and from EV owners groups/clubs and other automotive-focused news outlets and on YouTube.
At first, I was hesitant to write anything about any of these instances because, in a way, writing about them is drawing attention to the small number of individuals who commit these crimes. However, I decided that – as a previous truck, 4WD, and current sport-utility vehicle and EV owner – it is my obligation to report on these thoughtless incidents and put these narrow-minded knuckle-dragging dunderheads in their places with the facts before they destroy the reputations of respectable pickup truck owners everywhere.
For background I will share a few of these incidents below;
This is the first high profile incident that gathered nation-wide media attention – and from my home state no less.
The revealing thing is that the entire parking lot was practically empty…
It seems obvious to me this was an intentional act directed at Tesla and/or EV’s in general. The other obvious thing is the driver of the truck either did not care or was possibly not aware they were openly advertising who they were with the conspicuous company magnetic sign on the truck door – what a great invitation by EV owners (and others) to report their team member’s thoughtless EV charger blocking action to the company…oh and what a great reason to NEVER use the services of that company in any way. Good work Navarro & Wright, what a great way to make a name for yourself…
In another thread on Twitter, Nascar driver and Tesla owner Leilani Munter garnered some notice when Elon Musk and many others spoke up about this issue;
Recently from not far from my home a Hummer driver intentionally blocks two Tesla Superchargers as a “prank” – what a total wanker.
From this blogger’s point of view these actions do not appear to be accidents since the Tesla Supercharger stations are;
1 – Very visible being lit up with red lights on a white background.
2 – Well marked as TESLA charging stations…not Ford, not Chevrolet, not Dodge, not Toyota, not Jeep – but Tesla.
3 – Tesla EVSE stations are most often located in remote parts of the parking areas so as not to take up available parking spots for all other vehicles near the entrances of the nearby establishments where they are found.
In other words – in order for you to block a Tesla Supercharger charging station with your vehicle you would need to either;
1. Drive a Tesla and know where the station is because you have been there before – or you have used your Tesla’s navigation system to guide you to it for a charge.
2. You do not own a Tesla and have made a premeditated decision to locate the Supercharger station for the purpose of blocking it with your non-electric vehicle for whatever bizarre load of jollies that action would give you and/or your childish comrades.
3. You are a new Tesla owner/driver/borrower/renter who is unfamiliar with Tesla/EV charging etiquette and are unaware that after the car finishes charging you should kindly move it to a nearby standard parking space so the next person will have access to the charging infrastructure.
4. You are a Tesla owner on the bleeding edge of the lunatic fringe of Tesla/EV ownership. Perhaps you feel that – because you have the means to own a Tesla, that you are somehow above/better than everyone around and you now have the right to park your car in the charging space for as long as you like. If this is your reasoning – then you, my friend, are an entitled little bully and are no better than those who block charging access with their garish toy trucks. In my experience this type of Tesla/EV owner is rare, yet I have heard reports that they do exist.
So, aside from the occasional parking accident by the un-observant or uneducated – there is no real reason and no real excuse for parking a non-Tesla vehicle in a Tesla or any other electric vehicle charging station.
Misunderstandings Do Happen
As stated earlier, sometimes EV owners who are new to the world of EV’s and have not learned the appropriate EV charging etiquette might mistakenly leave their EV parked in an EV charging space for much longer than needed after the car’s charge is complete – I did this a few times early on in EV ownership and quickly learned my lesson. Most of these infractions are innocent mistakes that can easily be remedied with gentle education of the new EV driver either with a few words or an informational card/flyer left for when the driver returns.
However, some entitled EV drivers seem to be treating EV spaces as a pass to free parking, not at all caring about the other EV drivers who need to stop and fill up their “electron tanks” so they can get on down the road. In the following photo, we see a Tesla parked and not charging in an EV only charging space – how rude.
This is the same as filling up your gas tank, hanging up the gasoline nozzle, and walking off leaving your vehicle blocking the pump.
I have observed this practice on several occasions and when I do I always leave a nice note in the hopes of educating the parking perpetrator on the errors of their ways. In the above case, part of the error may be in the wording of the signage on the wall beyond the Tesla and it reads – “Electric Vehicle Parking Only.” This wordage may give some EV newbies the idea that they are able to park their EV here even when it is not charging. That is just not the case. and is bad planning on those who chose the signs for this site. Luckily, many charging stations now have signs that read “EV Parking only while charging.” Along with this fact many EVSE units will continue to charge you money if your car remains plugged in after the charging session has ended as an expensive reminder to be courteous and move your car so the next person will be able to charge.
Most EV’s and EVSE come standard with internet connectivity. This allows them to be easily configured to send a text to your mobile device when your vehicle has finished charging, therefore, you have no excuse not to move your car thereby opening the space up for the next EV needing a charge.
Bad Parking Planning
On several occasions, I have encountered non-EV’s blocking charging stations – most frequently (in my experience) at this downtown EV charge point supplemented with solar power.
While these non-EV vehicles are directly blocking one of the chargers, at least they are following the directions printed on the pavement and signs that state “EV Only.” In reality, this type of EVSE blocking will not limit the ability to charge an EV since the power leads are usually long enough to reach an EV parked in the EV only spaces nearby. However, the limiting factor here would be available parking. There are three EV chargers and only two marked EV parking spaces so only 2 EV’s would be able to charge when ICE vehicles are parked in the non-EV marked parking spaces. It seems that common sense would dictate that if you install an EVSE for EV’s, then the number of charge points and parking spaces should be equal.
How some Tesla owners may choose to handle EVSE blocking situations – but it is not at all recommended by this blogger…unless there is no other option I suppose.
Obviously, Teslas do have more than enough power and torque to handle any situation.
Another fun option for Tesla owners to get rid of EVSE blockers – this one is in Chinese but no translation is needed 🙂 Follow the link to view the video
So, what do I, as a previous truck/SUV owner and current Electric Vehicle owner and driver of over 5 years, what do I think of this recent practice of some truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Superchargers with their pickup trucks?
Before I get into my answer I must first note that it is in my humble opinion, based on over 35 years of driving and many more years of life experience, that the perpetrators of these thoughtless acts are a very small percentage of overall truck owners.
So let’s call them the: lunatic fringe.
The vast majority of pickup truck owners I know and have met are good, respectable people that own and drive pickup trucks because they serve a utilitarian purpose in their lives – you know, hauling stuff, pulling stuff, doing work, and having fun outdoors.
These good, respectable truck owners would never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source and would never think to use their vehicle as a bullying tool/weapon in the attempt to make some sort of misguided personal, political, or anti-environment statement. They just drive their trucks and use their trucks – and that’s it.
I say this because not only is it common sense and fully supported by evidence – but I also have a bit of experience in this area. In my over 35 years of driving, I have owned, driven, and used the following vehicles:
My first truck – a 1978 Chevrolet C-10 step side.
My first 4WD vehicle – a 1965 Land Rover Series 2a 88″ – before the restoration.
After I personally restored it.
On the trail with friends.
It was a wonderful 4×4, and my favorite, that I drove daily and used for the purpose it was intended – an all-terrain, go anywhere utility vehicle – truly the world’s best 4x4xfar (that may change when Bollinger Motors starts selling their game-changing B1 and B2 SUT’s to eagerly awaiting truck-o-philes everywhere 🙂
I sold my first Land Rover as it was just too nice to drive on a daily basis and then purchased a very well used 1966 Land Rover Series 2a 109″ ExMoD Field Ambulance. I modified this classic old aluminum workhorse into an overland camper and drove it for several years as my daily driver and on many on and off road-trip adventures, wildlife study and conservation expeditions. When gas prices started to climb I was forced to sell it to continue paying for my college education…
…then came the 1987 Suzuki Samurai – a wonderful little 4×4 that took me into remote areas for my wildlife conservation work and more.
It was a great little 4×4 that served me well for almost a decade. It was my daily driver, my wildlife study and conservation vehicle, and my firewood acquisition vehicle making use of the custom winch and bumper to often pull trees weighing more than the vehicle out of the woods for later processing into firewood.
And it was fun, fuel efficient, and reliable off-road…but after over 250,000 miles it began to show serious signs of age so it found a new home and along came…
…a 1999 Toyota 4Runner – a great 4×4 that served me well.
And finally, my most recent 4WD is a 2013 Honda Pilot SUV (random internet photo) that we use for hauling the family around and hauling/pulling loads.
As you can see I love the utility of trucks and 4WD vehicles and I would love to have another one day to make my life and my job easier and more productive. As soon as the all-electric trucks, vans, and 4WD’s hit the market – I will be driving one daily as my company/commuting and utility/wildlife conservation outreach vehicle – and that day is approaching faster than you may think.
Back to the Question
With all that out of the way, let’s get back to the original question:
What do I, a seasoned truck/4×4 owner, driver and aficionado of many years AND an Electric Vehicle driver of almost 6 years think of the recent practice of some pickup truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Supercharging stations?
I could relate to you how unbelievably childish, small-minded, knuckle-dragging, infantile, non-sensical and stupid it is while tossing out many colorful metaphors, however, I will refrain from that level of thinking and offer my answer in the form of the following thought experiment:
What would YOU do, as a gas/diesel vehicle driver looking to fill up your vehicle’s fuel tank with refined hydrocarbons, if you arrived at your filling station of choice only to find an EV driver intentionally blocking your gas/diesel fuel pump with their electric vehicle?
Hopefully, you would think the same way I would: either they had made a mistake or…they may be potentially unstable and may even be dangerous – especially if they insulted and taunted you with vulgar language and gestures as some of the perpetrators are being reported to have done.
Why would you think these things?
The common sense answer:
The evidence is blocking the fuel pump.
Due to the obvious fact that the owner of the pump blocking vehicle is driving a vehicle that does not ever need access to the fuel source it is blocking, then evidence and common sense would dictate the following:
1: They may have blocked the pump accidentally. After they have been respectfully informed of their error, they should not hesitate to move their vehicle to the correct nearby charging point. However, being an EV driver I would highly doubt that this would be the usual scenario as EV drivers do not often make the mistake of blocking petroleum-based fuel pumps if the vehicle they are driving is theirs and if they are at all familiar with it. (If you are driving a vehicle of any kind you had better take some time to read the instructions and become familiar with it – all the more so if it is a state of the art high-speed low drag Tesla aka: Intergalactic SpaceBoat of Light and Wonder or any other EV.)
Similarly, the vast majority of respectable gas/diesel vehicle drivers would never think to intentionally park their vehicles in front of EVSE stations and/or intentionally vandalize EVSE units and/or intentionally taunt/insult drivers whose vehicles operate on fuels other than gas/diesel…until recently that is…
2: They may have committed this pump blocking act intentionally. Furthermore, if they were taunting/insulting you or your vehicle/fuel of choice with rude and/or hateful colorful metaphors, it would be even more evidence that their actions were not accidental and they might not be entirely stable individuals – you know, those on the lunatic fringe.
How should you respond?
The safe approach would be to er on the side of caution and be very wary of their actions because no thinking, rational person with even a gram of common sense and decency would ever commit such a blatant act of intentional bullying unless they had an over-sized, unstable, reactionary chip on their shoulder and/or were intentionally looking for a dangerous confrontation.
Suggestion: before you take matters into your own hands in regards to option 2 you should be absolutely sure the situation was not an accident by a person unfamiliar with driving an electric vehicle – possibly something like in the video below where the driver may have borrowed the car from a friend and/or the owner of the car was playing a joke on them.
Once you rule out an accidental parking maneuver, the next step would be to report the thoughtless, possibly intentional fuel pump blocking action to the nearest authorities, step back to a safe location, and wait for the police/tow truck(s) to arrive to remove the disruptive perpetrator(s) – be they an EV blocking a gas, diesel pump or an ICE vehicle blocking an electric fuel pump.
Those of us that drive plug-in electric vehicles refer to the act of accidentally or intentionally blocking charging stations with Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicles – “ICEing” or being “ICEd.”
For clarity: ICE = Internal Combustion Engine
Most of the time, when an ICE driver blocks an EV charging station it is an honest mistake made by someone either in a hurry or simply not being observant enough to see all the signs denoting the space as EV use only.
These innocent people should be excused from their mistake and politely educated either in person if possible, or if they are not available, with an informational flyer placed under the windshield wiper – many EV drivers carry these for events such as these.
As an EV driver I encounter ICED EVSE stations frequently – in a recent incident, I was sitting in my EV while it was plugged into a Level 2 EVSE and charging during a heavy rain shower. As I sat there in the rain reading a book and charging up the LEAF I watched as an ICE driver pulled hastily into the parking space opposite mine, jumped out, and ran off into the rain. It seemed to me that the driver had absolutely no idea that he had parked in an EV charging location. He was in a hurry, whipped into an open space failing to notice the signs, the two EVSE units…and the EV parked and charging 10 feet away.
In another recent incident I stopped in a local parking garage to plug in my EV only to find both charging spaces ICED…despite the fact that there were several empty parking spaces in the garage…
…and despite the signs and EVSE (charging station) on the wall in front of them – there they sat blocking access to the charging stations and neither of these vehicles were plug-in electric vehicles. I left respectful notes on their windshields and then later encountered the owner of the Prius. She was very nice and seemed totally unaware of her mistake. Hopefully in the future she will be more observant and leave the EV spaces for the EV’s (If you want to get technical: it’s not like there is a shortage of non-EV parking spaces, it is the other way around – there are plenty of standard parking spaces with EV charging locations remaining in the minority – which means blocking them creates an even bigger negative impact – so please, use some common sense here and just don’t do it.)
I believe what happens in many ICEing events is that many ICE drivers are just not very observant of anything outside of their comfortable, daily frame of reference. They are unfamiliar with EV’s and they do not use the EVSE charging network so they do not see the signs and the equipment – they just find an open slot, park their car and run. Maybe someone needs to come up with an ICE vehicle detector that, when deployed in EV charging spots, will detect the hydrocarbon-based fuels/lubricants/exhaust gasses used in/produced by ICE vehicles and, when detected, trigger highly noticeable strobe lights and illuminated signage indicating to the ICE vehicle driver their mistake. If their mistake is not rectified, the system would automatically either: identify their vehicle sending them a pricey ticket and/or notify parking authorities so they can move the blocking vehicle, and in repeat offenders/intentional blockers – place a wheel lock on the vehicle and have it impounded.
This past winter I encountered yet another form of ICEing…with real ice.
The evidence suggested that the snow removal crew chose to pile up the snow in both of the marked EV charging spaces. This is as irresponsible as blocking the spaces with an ICE vehicle especially since there was ample space nearby on the grass surrounding the parking area to pile the snow where ALL drivers – no matter the fuel that powers their vehicles – would then have access to parking. Yes, it may have been an accident, but due to the perfect blocking of the only two EV charging spaces in the parking area – I cannot help but wonder if the individual(s) that did this did it on purpose possibly as some sort of statement against EV’s, their charging infrastructure and/or the people that drive them. Hmmm, I wonder if these snow pushers also block “handicap” spaces with huge piles of snow…
Accidental ICEing aside, the thoughtless act of intentionally blocking electric vehicle charging stations with ICE vehicles (or blocking gas pumps with EV’s for that matter) should never be excused and should always be reported to the authorities as soon as possible in the attempt to stop the madness before it gets out of hand.
Speaking of intentional ICEing, I would like to share a couple of unusual examples with you. The first one is an absolutely bizarre case. Apparently the owner of this highly modified and obviously entirely powered by fossil fuels “street-rod” – complete with huge engine, visible gasoline tank, and dual exhaust pipes – has attached a fake J-1772 charge connector to the side of his vehicle to try and gain access to electric vehicle charging locations.
Does he actually believe this ludicrous tactic will work? It is no different that if I parked in a handicapped parking space, hung a fake handicapped tag from my rear view mirror, hopped in a wheelchair and rolled off thinking I was somehow the smart one…riiiiight.
Then recently another “ICEhole” has been intentionally blocking a local EVSE and leaving threatening notes to EV drivers as seen in the below photos.
In the first photo he is parked in a spot where ICE vehicles may park – but only if the rest of the parking lot is full as the below sign reads…
…and it hardly ever is…
…so it is obvious to everyone that he is parking in this location intentionally as an instigator/bully. Another problem I have with this image is how far over he parked into the EV only space to his left. It seems as if he parked this far over on purpose with the intention to instigate a response from the EV owners that use the charging station on a regular basis.
The sign in the adjacent parking space reads as follows:
The true revelation of his intentions came in the form of a venomously worded, hand written letter stuck on the inside of his windshield…
It is obvious that the owner of this vehicle has intentionally ICED this EVSE space even when there are several open parking spaces in the parking lot where the EVSE is located. Why? What are his motives? A few weeks later the Jeep owner even went so far as to again park in the same space and affix another childish sign to his vehicle…
While he would be legally parked if the entire parking lot were full and the space he has chosen to park in was the only one available – that is not the case as there were several open spaces in the remainder of the lot. It seems that Mr. Ledford has intentionally chosen to park his vehicle in this spot in the attempt to instigate a response from EV/PHEV owners. Evidence suggests that he is a bully pure and simple and is looking for a confrontation.
In this type of situation the best action is to report the parking perpetrator to the authorities. However, before reporting the perp, it is probably a good idea to attempt to covertly get a photograph(s) of his/her vehicle and its license plate and the perp’s themselves if possible so you will have evidence to hand over to the authorities. In my opinion, it is not ever a good idea to confront these types of people as they are often aggressive and volatile and may even be intoxicated and/or have dangerous or deadly weapons in their vehicles or on their persons and may even retaliate later with childishly destructive tactics that small-minded bullies often exhibit.
IMHO the best bet in these situations is to just step back to a safe place and watch the action happen when the police, tow trucks, and news crews arrive.
EVSE Vandalism Issues
Intentional EVSE blocking is not the only issue. Most recently a Tesla Supercharger in Utah was vandalized when some lowlife intentionally tried to drill out the charge connector and cut the charging cable – WTF, really people? How would you like it if I intentionally tried to cut your gas/diesel hose or intentionally vandalized the fuel pump handle that you needed to fuel your vehicle? Grow up people – or crawl back under your rock and stay there.
I have encountered EVSE vandalism on a few occasions in my area. This is one of the most recent – a quick charger’s screen was damaged by an unknown assailant. The crack pattern of the glass suggests a blow from what may have been a hard object such as possibly a rock or hammer or maybe even a fist. The height of the screen from the ground and distance from the parking space places the EVSE’s screen too far out of range for this to be an unfortunate parking accident. This suggests to me that this may have been a deliberate act of vandalism.
In many of these places, those ICE drivers who block an EVSE will receive a hefty fine. Raleigh, NC is a great example where EVSE ICEr’s are fined $50 for blocking a charge point – thank you Raleigh! In my opinion, this should be the rule everywhere and any fines collected could be used to improve roads and infrastructure for everyone no matter what they choose to drive.
And now, from one of my favorite YouTube personalities, Robert Llewellyn of Fully Charged Show , comes this great video illustrating that the phenomenon of ICEing EVSE stations is not just a quandary in the States…
Hmmmmm….all this EV charging station blocking makes me wonder if – way back in the early days of the internal combustion engine – did some horse and wagon owners who felt threatened by the gas-powered future, seek out and block fuel pumps?
I seriously doubt it because I am pretty sure they had something called common sense and morals so they did not waste there time on creating more needless drama.
A bit of a tangent for a bit of a comparison.
Blocking EV charging points is similar to the uncaring, malignant practice that some call “coal rolling.” This is a practice where some truck owners – a very small percentage overall and yet another lunatic fringe group – illegally modify their diesel pickup trucks to – on-demand – emit clouds of black diesel smoke through over-sized exhaust pipes.
These “coal rollers” then often use their illegally modified vehicles to intentionally target pedestrians, police officers, bicyclists, runners, groups of people on the sidewalk, and people who drive hybrid and electric vehicles. They intentionally align their vehicle’s often grossly over-sized exhaust orifice in the direction of their target and flip the switch vomiting copious amounts of dirty, toxic, diesel smoke all over their innocent targets. If you are interested in seeing evidence of this stupidity – just input “coal rolling” or “rolling coal” into a YouTube/Google search and you will find the video evidence shared by the polluting perpetrators…and you will also find some great memes revealing just how ridiculous the act of coal rolling truly is, such as this one.
For whatever bizarre, childish, testosterone soaked, insecurity driven reasons, this small number of fringe dwelling truck drivers seem to be proud of their illegal atmospheric littering escapades and wish to share their madness with the world.
If a combination of common sense, the law, and natural selection have their way (and they will), then their actions suggest that it will not be long before these polluted perpetrators will be weeded out of the population and the bones of their illegally modified machines will soon be covered in rust fossilizing in the junkyard – or better yet, melted down and recycled into a Tesla, Bollinger, Atlis or any other EV, a bicycle, wind turbine, or solar array.
The act of intentionally modifying one’s vehicle with a driver operated “defeat device” thereby allowing it to bypass the factory emission controls for the purpose of emitting visible clouds of smoke, and then intentionally targeting people with that hazardous particulate-laden smoke (diesel exhaust is a documented carcinogen by the CDC, the WHO, and the ACA*) is not only illegal in many areas but is an uncaring, thoughtless act of bullying that should not go unpunished. Recently, I was instructed by a State Patrol officer that targeting and “rolling coal” on a person(s) is considered a form of assault and should be reported to the authorities by calling 911 and reporting the incident making sure to get the make, model and, if possible, the license plate number, road name and direction of travel of the offending vehicle.
It is possible that these intentional charging station blockers (and “coal rollers”) may suffer from personal or peer group driven insecurities such as toxic masculinity and possibly even what some may call “short man syndrome” – or both. They may be using their huge, overly modified, often garishly loud, black smoke vomiting toy trucks as an attempt to compensate for some emotional or even physical quality in which they perceive themselves to be lacking.
Another good possibility is that many of these pickup truck drivers are simply just children. Children who have only recently felt the call of their surging primal hormones driving them to make a place for themselves within their world and to seek out a mate in the only way they know how.
In their world, all the other young males (and some young females) in their tribal cliques drive large, noisy, dirty pickup trucks. This being the only courting technique their childish minds can interpret must mean that it is the preferred and accepted way to entice a mate into their arms and beds. In other words – driving a large, loud, jacked up, overly modified, polluting truck and insulting others with venomous vitriol might just be the mating call of their sub-species.
I speak from some short-lived experience in this area. When I was a teenager I briefly fell into a similar clique where I tried to fit in and impress by modifying my first truck with a roll bar, light bar, lift kit, loud stereo, and “glasspack.” (No, not on any planet or in any universe was it the truck pictured above) Needless to say, it did not work for me – in any way. This was primarily because of my extreme geek factor/nerdiness that was of such an outward and obvious magnitude that no amount of expensive modifications to my vehicle, myself, piles of money, or purchased trinkets would have ever made me “cool” and popular with the “in” crowd. At the time I was just trying very hard to fit in – somewhere – anywhere – and I had fallen to peer pressure. Lucky for me, after about 6 weeks my brain won the fight and I grew out of my fitting in phase. The glasspack came off and the stock muffler went back on in favor of the stereo because enjoying my music was far more important to me than the garishly flatulent exhaust noise. I also removed the lift kit as it ruined the truck’s handling and reduced my fuel mileage. I also later sold the roll bar since all it really did was take up space in the bed. Some people grow up, some never do.
It is also possible, although remote, that many of these folks are just envious and jealous of the awesome Tesla’s and other EV’s and they secretly want one really, really bad – but they could never admit that fact to their fellow pickup truck driving tribe members. To do so would mean ridicule and possibly even exile from their tribe. So to save face they take out their misplaced frustrations in the only way they know how – they block Tesla charging stations and insult the very thing they are secretly in love with and pining away for. It is very much like the jealous little bully in the sandbox breaking the other children’s toys because they are not his.
Don’t be the bully.
Tribalism aka Us vs. Them
Another motive that may drive these individuals to act is simple tribalism. Related and intertwined with the previous motives, tribalism is like the proverbial tick – dug in deeply. Like the tick, they may be so “dug in” to their tribe and their us vs. them outlook on life that nothing will ever be able to tear them out of their ancient tribal tendencies to do a thing. All the others in their tribe are doing that thing so that obviously must mean that thing is the correct and acceptable thing to do – even if all the evidence is against it. You know the type: “My people have always done it this way and I do not believe all the evidence against it so I’m just going to do it anyway!”
Fear of Change.
Also tied to the previously mentioned topics, the fear of change is very powerful and it keeps many from ever progressing. Some of these individuals may do these things out of fear of inevitable change, fear that their comfort zone will be violated. Fear that the comfortable status quo will be disturbed. Fear they will lose their toy trucks to new technology, or maybe fear that “the government” will try to take them away and force them to drive electric cars. The fact is that no one, especially the government – is going to force anyone to drive an electric car – it is more the opposite. The way the system is currently set up favors and promotes the status quo. It promotes vehicles that run on fossil fuels even though all of the available evidence suggests the continued rate we are burning through fossil fuels is harming the very environment we all rely on for our very survival – but that is another story for a different day.
Your Vehicle Is A Tool – Not A Weapon.
A rock, a stick, a knife, a gun, a snowball, a brick, a spoon, a ham bone, a sack of ‘taters, and yes, a car or pickup truck – are only as dangerous and/or potentially harmful as the person controlling them.
Hopefully, if that person has been lucky enough to receive the following;
good and positive moral training as a child from parents and mentors
respect and trust of their elders – but not blind trust or blind faith – those are very dangerous
an unbiased and well-rounded education with a focus on the importance of facts, evidence and critical thinking skills
quality time outdoors in nature learning how all things are connected and developing a respect for all living things and for the environment that gives us all life
an understanding of the scientific method and how to use it
a purposeful separation from lunatic fringe/extremist – hate, religious, and political groups and training in how to recognize them
training into how to use the internet appropriately in order to take advantage of the powerful research tool that it is, while intentionally avoiding the deep quagmire of dead-ends, lies, filth, misinformation, manufactured FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) and divisive hate that is also the internet
the appropriate science-backed training in the appropriate use of their chosen tool(s)
the appropriate licenses and certifications to operate that tool or tools in accordance with the laws set by their state/national governments
a good dose of common sense
Then hopefully, that person, when they are released into the wild to wield any of the before mentioned tools – including pickup trucks – will use them wisely for the purpose intended and not ever as weapons of hate or malice to be directed at others – even if they do not agree with their driving, energy or life choices.
No matter the motive, the truth of the matter is this: electric trucks (and cars, sport utility vehicles, airplanes, helicopters, motorcycles, buses, boats, bicycles) are here and more are coming fast – and they will eventually replace the majority of fossil burners simply because they are better, faster, safer, stronger, more reliable, less expensive to fuel and maintain, and more convenient than the old smoke spewing, oil leaking, dinosaur juice burners of yesteryear. Yet, even with all those facts we still must deal with human nature, and tribal-focused brains that evolved during the stone age. With human nature and stone age brains, we are forced to contend with all of the above factors which work together to slow the forward march of progress…
Luddites and complacency aside, nobody will ever take your beloved truck (or car) away from you (unless you intentionally break the law for your own personal gain – then you deserve to have your vehicle impounded and your license revoked).
Your favorite old car and truck and all the previously produced petroleum burners will always be around (if you take care of them) and will always be available for you if you want them – just like horses, buggies, and wagons are still available – nobody took them away. These beautiful, classic cars and trucks of yesteryear will always have a place in history and they should as they are a beautiful part of the complex story that brought all of us to this day in time. They are a testament and a tribute to all the inventors, engineers, makers, scientists, doers and adventurers who had an idea for something better, worked hard to make it happen – and then changed the world. Yes, their creations were based upon and relied upon the internal combustion engine and petroleum-based fuels – back then they were the only viable power-plant option. It is a scientifically supported fact that these fossil fuels and the machines they powered have allowed the human species to expand across the globe at an unbelievable pace, light and heat our homes, farms and cities, grow more food to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population, develop better health care, science, and systems that allow us to live longer than ever before, explore the depths of the oceans, and the far reaches of our solar system and even peer into outer space and back into deep time almost back to the “big bang.” In many unique ways, these vehicular creations and these ancient fossil-based fuels may be the very reason – or at least have played a key part – in the very existence of many of us alive today – including the author of this blog post. We all owe an undeniable debt of thanks and gratitude to fossil fuels and to the beautiful vehicles of yesteryear.
However, as with all things, as with all seasons, change is the way of things. Now is the time for change, the time for growth, the time for progress – it is time to stop burning things for fuel to move us around. Like the horse and wagon before them, the majority of these beautiful, earlier modes of transportation worked well for a time, but eventually faded away because something better, faster, stronger, lower maintenance, less stinky and less polluting, was invented – think how fast the Ford Model T displaced the horse – and how the majority of the population quickly accepted the change and adopted it because it was the best option.
The transition from internal combustion to electric transportation will be very similar.
Another thing to ponder is this; how long before our gas/diesel burners (if you are still driving one by ~2025) become a wonderful weekend novelty like the horse and wagon/buggy/Ford Model T is today?
How long before they become a cherished piece in a museum collection…or worthless rusting, forgotten hulks covered in weeds in backyards?
How long before ICE drivers are treated the same way litterbugs (and smokers) are often treated today and end up catching all sorts of flack from those around them every time they drive their old fossil burner because everyone around them is aware, accepts, and understands that toxic emissions from driving fossil fuel powered vehicles harm all life forms and nature – the very life support system that gives all of us life?
How many years will it be before insurance companies start raising their rates on older vehicles because those older vehicles lack any modern autonomous safety features – such as automatic emergency braking, back up cameras, “Autopilot” and “Sentry Mode” – features that make newer vehicles so much safer to drive for the driver and for everyone else on the roads – thereby making older vehicles a dangerous liability to drive – for the driver and others around them – which therefore means it is now much more expensive to insure and to drive the older cars?
If you do not believe autonomous “autopilot” safety features will become popular on vehicles or if you do not trust them – think again and watch this amazing video of the evidence.
When will ICE powered vehicles become as obsolete as the slide rule, the film camera, the 8 track, VHS, and cassette tapes, Blockbuster video, Kodak, phone booths, CRT computer monitors and console TV’s…in other words – when will they go the way of the dinosaurs that power them?
A recent article by Zachary Shahan of Clean Technica predicts that the EV disruption has already started and the major disruption will begin very soon. A great comparison between the EV and other disruptive technologies can be seen in this chart.
It will not be long dear reader, it will not be very long….
…this is not a question of if, it is a question of when.
A great example of the fast-growing trend in vehicle electrification is the simple fact that many young, forward-thinking companies (and even the legacy auto-makers) are working hard to bring more than capable fully electric and hybrid-electric cars and now trucks and 4×4’s to market including but not limited to…
Erroneously enough, it seems that some of these EVSE blocking folk may be committing these acts as some form of misguided political statement. There is some anecdotal evidence suggesting some of these individuals may feel that owning Tesla and other electric vehicles are somehow anti-American. If this is true, then it is obvious – these people have not done the simple online research revealing Tesla as an American car company. Tesla’s vehicle and battery factories, parts suppliers, shops, and service facilities create a manufacturing, delivery, and customer care chain employing tens of thousands of hard-working Americans in hundreds of cities, towns, communities, and truckers on the roads (soon to be driving Tesla electric Semi trucks.)
You may also be surprised to learn that Tesla now rates as the
MOST AMERICAN car company.
Furthermore, all of Tesla’s cars (in this country) and all other EV’s in this country – run on American generated electricity produced on our soil by Americans operating American power generating facilities.
Many EV drivers, including this blogger, charge their EV’s at home/work with “homegrown” renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar arrays thereby making them 100% energy secure and practically free to drive. Read my last post about how I power my EV with solar produced electricity and came to the conclusion that my EV (a 2012 Nissan Leaf) costs me only one cent/mile to power and drive!
In other words – any electric vehicle used in this country – no matter it’s manufacturer – is charged by electricity produced from fuels primarily sourced within this country by hard working Americans operating American power plants.
The same cannot be said of fossil fuel powered vehicles whose fuels of choice were – as of 2017 – around 19% sourced from foreign lands* at great cost to our countries safety, security, and future.
The bullying bozos blatantly blocking Battery-Electric Vehicle charging stations and rolling coal on EV’s and innocent pedestrians with their garishly modified vehicular dinosaurs while attempting to make some sort of macho, tribal, hateful, nationalistic, political, and/or anti-environmental statement against “anti-American electric cars” – are powering their toy trucks on fuels that a percentage of has been procured in faraway lands with governments and policies often hostile toward our way of life.
Seems like someone did not do their research.
On top of all this madness – just keeping the fuel flowing into the tanks of their stinky little trucks (and all of our fossil fuel powered vehicles and systems for that matter) has required decades of war*. It has required the sacrifice and the deaths of tens of thousands of our brave and beloved children, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, and lovers who were and are often fighting to protect oil rights and resources to keep your (and my) fuel tanks topped off with petroleum-based fuels because, for the last 100 years there has been no other option – but that is about to change.
While I will always 100% support our brave servicemen and women in the military, and all of my friends and family members who are serving and have honorably served – and some who have paid the ultimate price – I am not at all OK with, and will never support sacrificing my loved ones and friends lives just to protect the flow of oil so I can think I am free when in fact I, and all of us, remain addicted to the fossil fuel machine.
IMHO – to be truly free one must be as self-sufficient as possible. If we are relying on imported energy sources while sacrificing our loved ones to acquire and protect that energy – we are not self-sufficient and we will never be truly free.
To be truly self-sufficient and truly free, our country needs to work toward the ultimate goal of sourcing all of our energy needs from our home soil.
Being self-sufficient also means to respect and care for that which gives you life. To me, this means using energy resources that do as little harm as possible to the very environment that provides all of us with all of our survival needs. To me, this means we need to focus on developing the amazing untapped potential of ALL available renewable energy sources available to us and keep fossil fuels as a strategic reserve and a backup power source for the lean times. If the USA continues burning through almost 20 million barrels of petroleum per day not only will we quickly exhaust these finite fossil fuels and be forced to scramble to get renewable energy sources online and operational while millions suffer, but we will also speed up the destruction of our health and shared environment with fossil fuel pollution speeding up atmospheric pollution, planetary warming, and weather weirding due to anthropogenic climate change.
Common sense and scientific evidence say that now is the time to start making a system-wide switch to renewable energy sources.
We need to move toward 100% renewable energy now.
We know what we need to do.
We have the technology.
We have science on our side.
But do we have the personal and political will power to do it?
Sadly, to keep the costs at the pumps down so the fossil fuel addiction can continue to flow to consumers unabated, and to keep EV and domestically produced renewable energy adoption low – the fossil fuel supported powers and bribed politicians in government keep funneling our hard earned money into supporting the fossil fuel producers and pushers with massive subsidies to the tune of tens of billions of our tax dollars annually*! The massively powerful and insanely wealthy fossil fuel machine, working with uncaring, bribed politicians and policymakers on both sides of the political fence, are funneling loads of money into organizations that work to manufacture loads of FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – in the peer-reviewed scientific evidence presented to us by the vast majority of the planet’s climate and environmental scientists. Evidence that has collectively revealed that we humans are changing the climate, the natural processes, and the stability of our atmosphere – thereby bringing about anthropogenic climate change and the sixth mass extinction of life on planet earth – and we just sit back and let this happen.
Furthermore, the acquisition, shipment, refining, distribution, and use of petroleum-based fuels has resulted in countless oil, gas, and fuel leaks, spills and other accidents that have created massive impacts to our shared environmental life support system, loss of human life and wildlife, loss of health and livelihoods for countless people and families, oh and those nagging and worsening air pollution and climate change issues…just to keep the oil and gas flowing to feed the status quo so the cash can continue to flow into the deep bank accounts of the filthy mega-rich oil barons and corrupt politicians who are working together to enrichen themselves while destroying our shared futures.
All this madness trickles down and the lunatic fringe – in petroleum production, government, and those in their charging station bocking little toy trucks – who remain free to target and assault those of us working to make good and lasting changes in the world by adopting and promoting the following;
promoting and using “homegrown” renewable energy
promoting domestic energy security through the adoption of domestic renewable energy resources
teaching preparedness and self-reliance through the scientific method
accepting science supported evidence and expert guided change
driving a much more energy secure, less polluting, lower maintenance, cheaper to drive, electric vehicle built in the USA and powered by American electrons.
The problem with the small number of fringe-dwelling, macho-driven, small-minded individuals that choose to intentionally block and vandalize charging stations, insult EV drivers for childish, thoughtless “reasons,” (and roll coal) is that they do not think – they just act on their primal, fear-driven, toxically tribal emotions without any actual evidence based facts or reason to back up their childish actions.
I could go on but I believe you now know what I think about this issue.
In closing – I have offered examples and explained ad nauseum the many reasons why the thoughtless practice of intentionally ICEing/blocking/vandalizing Tesla and other EV charging stations is ill-advised. However – while I may have explained it, I cannot understand it for you. That challenge is up to you and I hope you have the intellect and the common sense to do so…and to never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No dirty, toxic, life-destroying fossil fuels needed for this configuration.
Sunshine + Science + EV + Willpower + Determination + Generosity +Hard Work = a Solar Driven Electric Vehicle!
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
Total kWh from fossil fuel generation sources: 180.8 kWh
153.6 + 27.2 (fossil fuels) = 180.8
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
This trend is happening all over the country as evidenced by this amazing graphic from this UCS article.
Many more solar and wind generating facilities are planned for the 2018 year as can be seen in the map below.
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 🙂
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!!!
That my friends is the ultimate smackdown to petroleum-based fuels.
I could not be happier.
Thank you to everyone who worked with me to make this dream a reality!
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.
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, explosions, oil 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.”
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.
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…
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
…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.
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.
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…
…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.)
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 omnipotentdeity 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 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 –
Warmer air holds more moisture.
Warmer water feeds more powerful storms.
Prior to hurricane Harvey gulf coast water temps were 85 degrees – 5 degrees above average.
Sea levels have risen by around 6″ on the Texas coast in the last few decades.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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…
Many are also areas known for oil and gas production/distribution.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yet even greater hope comes from the many churches, monasteries, and convents are installing and blessing solar arrays. Scout groups, schools 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.
Photo 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.
The students and children shall lead the clean energy revolution.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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?
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.
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!
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 🙂
And I noticed that the pumps were all still out of service…all except for diesel.
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.
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.
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!
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.
***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!
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.
To me the logical choice is to buy the one that fits your needs and is more, well…logical.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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!!
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 🙂
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.
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.
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/ )
The 215 mile range Tesla Model 3 will be hitting the roads very soon!
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
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.