The Truth is Out There

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The meme in question is below.

lithium_tar_sands_meme

This meme was obviously designed to;

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

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

3. Or all of the above.

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

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

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

oilsands

Alberta Oil Sands mining from Mining.com

oilsands2

Canada’s Mordor.  From Hubpages.com

And a few from this Greenpeace article

alberta oil sands greenpeace

oilsandsalbertacanadagreenpeace

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

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

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

Another one from Scientific Amerian

And this one also from Scientific American.

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

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

.

sasket2

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

mordor

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

I have dug up the truth.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get back to the lithium.

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

mina-de-sal-en-uyuni_1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Really?  Are they really that ignorant?

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

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

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

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

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

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

pelican

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good job SP you must be really proud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

solar-meme

Photo source C4MB

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

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

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

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

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

So let us all work together and do this thing!

 

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

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

Some of these I have included below.

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

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

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

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

The time for change has never been more clear.

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

Go Fossil Free

Break Free

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

The Guradian’s Keep it in the ground

Greenpeace’s Keep it in the Ground

350.org’s Keep it in the Ground

Center for Biological Diversity’s Keep it in the Ground

The Sierra Club’s Keep it in the Ground

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pope recently issued his encyclical in support of nature.

pope

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

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

dl

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

PrinceEa with more to say

 

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

The Break Free movement

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.

DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.

FIND YOUR OWN ANSWERS.

BE THE CHANGE.

JOIN THE MOVEMENT.

GO GREEN.

*Definition of meme:

MEME

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

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

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

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

The cost of driving an Electric Vehicle

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

Chevy-Bolt-2015-Orange-889x592

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

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

Either one is a subscription to dependency

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

moneycar

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

spock

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!).

carsalesguy

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.

sherlock

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.

1970OldsVistaCruiser_01_700

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.

OilSupplyChain

Source

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

bpdeepwater The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon incident 

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

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

AddictedUncleSam

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.

earthmoonmillionmilesout

Source NASA

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

It is time for a big change. 

Enter the Electric Vehicle

t

A Tesla Model S

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

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

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

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

That my friend is brilliant!

solarcharging714UNCA

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.

BMW-i3-031

The BMW i3 EV

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

online

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

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

eNV200

The Nissan eNV200 100% electric small van.

The Roadblocks

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

kochdenial

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

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

T3

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

The future

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

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt

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

ids

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

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

What path will you choose?

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

 

Changing the Cabin Filter in a 2012 Nissan Leaf

It had to happen eventually…routine maintenance.   I have been driving my Leaf now for over 30k miles and the little EV has required no specialized routine maintenance by me other than the occasional washing and vacuuming, a set of new windshield wiper blades, adding a little air to the tires, and the occasional topping off of the washer fluid – you know, the things you would need to do to any type of vehicular construct no matter its fuel source.

DCQCAloft

Recently however the Leaf popped up a message on the infotainment/nav screen and informed me that it needed maintenance on its Air Conditioner Filter aka: cabin air filter.

filter

Below I have outlined the step by step method I used to change the filter.

  1. Remove the glove box in its entirety–a simple matter of removing a few screws and then gently pulling the unit down and toward the rear. (This does not need to be done if you are a contortionist and want to use the tiny plastic door located on the back left of the inside of the glove box).  This is a view with the glove box removed.  GBremoved

2. A look inside reveals the ECM – the “brains” of the beast – bolted to the bulkhead.

brains

3. Looking to the left of the ECM we see the air handler system.

filtercover

4. Note the white plastic cover (black in some model Leaf’s).  You will need to remove this to access the air filter. No tools are needed, just simply locate the tab on the bottom of the cover and lift outward to remove the cover to reveal the air filter.  Mine was overdue to be changed so there was an assortment of botanical debris collected around and on the forward side of the filter.

oldfilter

5. Lift the flexible tab near the top of the filter (just above the word front in the above and below photos) and pull gently down and out to dislodge the top of the filter from its housing. Then pop out the bottom and the filter will slide out as in the next photo if you do it properly.

oldfilterout

6. Continue to slide the filter outward until it stops. You will then need to gently work the other side of the filter loose to get it out of the housing.  Once out, you can inspect it for damage and debris.

You may want to take a look inside the air handler box to make sure all is clean and debris free.  This is the inside of mine…

filterchamber

The old and new filters compared side by side. The old one (30k miles) is on the left.  The new one looks darker due to a coating of charcoal and baking soda that will act as an air freshener apparently.

filters

7. Installing the new filter is the reverse of removal but you will need to be careful in how you insert the filter to get it just right.  I found this video tutorial very helpful – especially for this part of the job.

8. The type of filter I used is pictured below.

filter

After the filter is inserted, replace all the parts and you are good to go for another 15k miles or so.

I hope this tutorial has helped guide you in the replacement of your Leaf’s cabin air filter so you can save even more money and grin an even wider EV grin 🙂

Notes.

By replacing the filter myself I saved around $50 labor cost (as quoted by my local Nissan dealership)!

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

The simple fact that EV’s do not have as many many moving parts as ICE (petroleum) powered vehicles makes them much more reliable and cost effective to operate than their fossil fuel powered counterparts.  This is one of the many reasons that EV’s are superior to everything else on the road.    march

* Parts replaced under warranty included one shock absorber, 1 strut, grease for the power window actuators, and two suspension bushings – all of these things are not EV specific and are commonly replaced/repaired items on all road vehicles.  Non-warranty covered and non-user replaceable parts that needed replacement due to age/wear = Tires and brake fluid.  Total cost = $610.

** Oil change only parts I have purchased for the 4Runner over the last 30k miles – several gallons of GOil and several Oil Filters = $230.  Had I included all of the other parts I have replaced myself on the 4Runner over the same time-frame – the costs would have been well over $800!  (If I had included the non-user replaceable parts and labor I have given to Larry at the auto repair shop then add another $1200!!!)

Total parts cost to operate Nissan Leaf for $30k miles = $665

Total parts cost to operate 4Runner for 30K miles = $2000

While I am aware that the 4Runner has over 6 times the mileage as the Leaf, the point remains that I have spent over 3X as much money on just parts to keep it on the road during the same period of time so…

After “Godzilla” dies, I will never go back to gas.


Chapel Hill and Back Without a Drop of Gas. By Guest blogger Rudy Singh

“Chapel Hill and back without a drop of gas,” I exclaimed, walking through the door, after traveling from Asheville to Chapel Hill in the electric vehicle.   With a “range” of only 85 miles, traversing 500 miles in two days was a significant good achievement.   Gone were the days of “range anxiety” as I had mapped out the trip to the last mile.

Two days earlier, after dropping my child to school I headed to Black Mountain. Opposite the visitor center there are two J1772 chargers. Attached to one charger was a red Model S from Georgia. No doubt they were on a road trip. It looked like they had left it there overnight as the screen on the unit indicated “charge complete” with a charge time of 10 hours. I had a mind to pull out the charger from their car in case someone else needed to charge, but decided not to lest they were offended.

Knowing the car would require a few hours on the Level 2, I needed something to do. I strolled downtown Black Mountain and found a café where I grabbed a coffee and bagel while settling into The Martian, by Andy Weir.   A friend recommended the story to me after hearing of my adventures on the trip to Atlanta!

Leaf 1

After 1 hour and 50 minutes, I returned to the chargers. The red Tesla was gone. My car had 98% charge and 90 miles. I then headed to Ridgecrest – the top of the grade.   Regenerative Braking is an aspect of EVs that is unparalleled in gas counterparts.   At Ridgecrest the meter read 80% and 77 miles.   By the time the car had wound down the 6% grade to Old Fort, the meter was at 83% and 85 miles – a gain of 3% in battery energy – more than 700 watt-hours of energy (about 2400 Btu). Tell me of a gas car that can gain fuel while driving!

B1

The next stop was Hickory, 62 miles from Black Mountain.

One of the disadvantages of electric cars (or me) is that on long trips I tend to drive the speed limit or less, attempting to maximize the range.     Thus, it seemed everyone on the highway was passing me. I drifted into strange thought patterns wondering why we were always in a hurry to get somewhere. I drifted to the past: The distance from Toronto to Montreal is about 550 km. In my college days I would boast: “It took me four and half hours” an average speed of 122 km/hour, way above the speed limit of 100km – and never a ticket!

Finally, I pulled into the Hickory dealership with 25% battery. I charged for 30 minutes (CHAdeMO) and left with 91% and 78 miles.

Leaf 2

By noon, I was in Statesville with 47% charge and 50 miles. I could have tried to venture to Winston Salem without charging, but the distance from Hickory to Winston Salem is 78 miles, plus the dive to the chargers. I felt this might have been stretching it somewhat since one wrong turn it would be trouble!

The dealership in Statesville had only Level 2 chargers.   A friendly sales girl told me where they were and tried to sell me a new Leaf as wellJ One hour later, Watney had almost destroyed the HAB and I left Statesville with the range meter read 77% SOC and 77 miles.

H1

The Winston Salem dealership is far off I40 to the north of the city on University Drive.   The CHAdeMO is located behind the service area. When I arrived a car was blocking the unit, but a nice worker noticed I wanted to charge and moved the car. Arriving with 25 miles and 27% charge, I left with 91% charge and 95 miles.   NASA had discovered Watney was alive.

Burlington was 53 miles away, however I entered the dealership with 40 miles and 40% SOC.   When I plugged into the CHAdemo, the unit showed an error. One of the employees tripped the unit off waited a few minutes and then put it back in.   I re-attached the vacuum plug and hit start. It worked! However, I noticed the battery was hot – 1 bar away from the critical zone.   Perhaps, the continuous draining and charging to over 80% SOC was heating it up. I hoped it would not hit the critical heat zone which could potentially damage the battery. I was tempted to take the vehicle through an underbody car wash to cool the pack, but luckily the “air cooled” system on the car worked keeping it below critical.   I finally arrived at Chapel Hill with 50 miles and 59% SOC. Watney had found the Pathfinder!

The trip back was a retrace of the forward journey with the exception of climbing the mountain at Old Fort. I had planned to charge at a campsite there and had travelled with my Level 2 charger from home to do so.

But, after leaving Hickory, 9 miles out of Old Fort, the sign read “Black Mountain 19 miles”. The car had 37 miles. Sure, a no-brainer, I could make it up without charging. As I entered the grade the meter read 25 miles. Up and up, the car made the hill admirable, but every mile of the 6% grade took away 2 from the meter. By the time I reached the top of the 5 mile grade the meter read 14 miles. Yes, Hickory to Black Mountain was possible using this EV with energy to spare! Having left Chapel Hill at 8:30 am, I arrived home at 5:30 pm, travelling 240 miles with 5 stops and not a drop of gas!   Did I mention that even the energy was free on this trip!   Tell me gas car that can do as much?

So there you have it. Long distance travel is possible with limited range electric vehicles. All it takes is patience and thought. If anyone tells you about the range of electric cars, you know what to tell them as Watney would: “&* &%(+ & $%^&$#%^!”

The reason for narrating this otherwise routine trip as a story is to being attention to a function what we all take for granted – travelling. Our addiction to oil over the last century and a half, while bringing a lot of positive growth has not been without extreme negative environmental and political consequences. While politicians clamor about spending and national debt, they tap into the non-renewable oil bank at alarming rates. In fact, if the US were to use only its reserves for our consumption, we would run dry within 3 to 5 years!   http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/crudeoilreserves/

 

It seems that the advent of the electric car will revolutionize transportation and you all are all pioneers of this technology. I apologize to those of you who have not read or seen the Martian for some “spoiler” effect, but the novel seemed to fit well with this narrative.J