Recently I embarked on another road trip adventure in my 2012 Nissan Leaf EV. Due to many factors in and out of my control, that adventure turned into a bit of a misadventure. In the following pages I will outline the trip and share with you the unfortunate series of events and factors that seemed to be compounding and conspiring against me reaching my destination.
Purpose of the trip: install a citizen science air quality
monitoring device at a remote location near Franklin, NC. This air monitor was to be part of the Clean
Air Carolina Air Keepers project that is working to build a statewide network
of private air monitoring stations that will help us all become more aware of
what is in our shared air. This network will
give us all better tools, data, and evidence in fighting air pollution in our
Chosen vehicle for the trip: 2012 Nissan Leaf SL
This is my personal vehicle and my nonprofit organization’s outreach vehicle. Being a 2012 “first generation” Leaf it is now suffering from battery degradation due to a chemistry issue Nissan has been aware of for many years. Unfortunately, Nissan HQ has been zero help in repairing or replacing this failing battery despite their knowledge of and my extensive documentation of the issue. I dearly love the car, its technology – well, except for the battery chemistry that is causing the degradation – and all that it stands for as the planet’s highest selling all electric vehicle, however, I am extremely upset with Nissan on this issue and I am sure this fact will impact my decision making process when it comes time to buy a new electric vehicle for myself or for my nonprofit organization. That however, could change if Nissan would choose to support their end of the deal.
Weather: 45F rain and fog.
EV status: 92.1% SOC, 14 kWh available in traction battery
(yes, that is all it will hold – the car is a 2012 Nissan Leaf SL with a
generation one traction battery…oh how I miss those lost 10 kWh…)
Battery capacity bars remaining: 8
Beginning odometer: 70,609
10am – departed Brevard, NC bound for Cashiers, NC
Travel was slow going due to rain, fog, and slow traffic on
curvy mountain roads.
11:00 – arrived in Cashiers, NC at the Ugly Dog Public House.
Weather: 48F heavier rain.
EV status: 20% SOC, 2.5 kWh remaining in traction battery.
I plugged the Leaf into the Ugly Dog’s Clipper Creek L2 EVSE (the only public L2 in Cashiers), verified the charger was working, then I took a wet walk for about half an hour. Upon returning I discovered the L2 had died during my absence and charging has stopped. Red lights on the unit indicated a power/charging fault. In my almost six years of EV ownership, this was only the second time I have had an EVSE malfunction while charging. The first time it was a Clipper Creek EVSE at my workplace – good thing I had L1 “trickle” charging capabilities adjacent to the L2 so no worries. This time however was very different…and it was dumping down a cold winter’s rain.
Lucky for me the EVSE had delivered a 1.9 kWh increase to the
drive battery before it malfunctioned and the car now had a 32.6% SOC and 4.4
I visited the Ugly Dog pub and informed the manager of the station error and thanked them profusely for installing the only EVSE in Cashiers. Staff said they would inform their owner and would work to remedy the problem ASAP. I updated the EVSE error status on Plugshare and then noticed that other Plugshare users had reported charging issues for this EVSE in the past…then I asked myself why the *!@#%! didn’t I check Plugshare before I departed home…!
It was now noon.
Weather: 48F heavy rain.
EV status: 32.6% SOC, 4.4 kWh remaining in traction
I consulted with Waze and realized that I had only two
Drive the 21 mile, mostly downhill yet out of my way distance
to the L2 EVSE at WCU in Cullowhee and maybe get a battery boost from regen and
make it there…or…take the shorter, but steeper, 10 mile run to Highlands and
maybe make it to the Highlands Ugly Dog’s L2 EVSE. From there I could charge up a bit and then
roll downhill through the Cullasaja gorge letting gravity give me forward
momentum and some great regeneration and hopefully make it to my destination of
Franklin, NC. This time I checked
Plugshare and based on the good ratings chose Highlands as it was closer and
there was only a 730 foot elevation gain before I would reach the high point of
this next leg of the trip and could run on regeneration over the last few
miles. Based on my Leaf’s current 3.2
kWh/mile and 32.6% SOC, the regen, and some dumb luck – I calculated that I
would be able to make it to Highlands…but only just…what could go wrong…
I departed the Ugly Dog and went into full on power saving mode…or as some call it – “hypermileing.” I powered off all nonessential systems, turned off the stereo, seat, and steering wheel heater, dimmed the info-tainment display and instrument cluster lighting, turned off the defroster using my hand to wipe the windshield when needed…however, due to the weather, safety, and NC law I had to use the headlights and windshield wipers…and I set out into the cool, foggy, rainy winter weather bound for Highlands almost 11 miles up the mountain.
After an uneventful but wet, foggy, and slow drive up the
mountain I somehow made it to Highlands arriving with a 13.6% SOC and 1.4 kWh
to spare. I made my way through the
little mountain hamlet and up yet another hill to the Ugly Dog Pub #2…only to
find that their only Clipper Creek L2 EVSE was ICED – as it often is – DRAT!
Raining harder. DRAT! DRAT!!
I had to park the Leaf crooked and illegally hoping nobody
would notice the little bright blue EV blocking access to the recycling bins…
I made my way around the ICE car to access the EVSE – which, by the way had a nice sign stating “Electric Vehicles Only” – a sign that has been conveniently (or arrogantly) ignored by many ICE driving visitors to the area who frequently block access to it…so, I dragged the nice long charge cable around the ICE car to my Leaf and plugged it in. As I was about to head into the Ugly Dog to get out of the still heavy rain, the owners of the ICE car (a Porsche Cayenne) came walking up and moved their car…but not before I was able to nicely introduce myself hand then hand them a “If you are not charging then you are blocking” notice which was greeted by nothing but snorting attitude from the recipient – fat lot of good it will do I’m sure. I wonder how they would feel if I blocked their gas pump with my EV…hmmmm. I re positioned the LEAF into the EV parking space and plugged it back in, verified a bit longer this time that the car was going to continue to charge, and then made my way into the Ugly Dog pub where I had an ice cold Guinness to calm my rain soaked, hypermileing, inconsiderate ICE driver stressed nerves.
I charged the Leaf @ L2 for about 1.5 hours for a 41.5% SOC and 5.9 kWh, and jumped back on the road with my next stop in Franklin – it was all downhill through the Cullasaja gorge so no worries – lots of regen – and lots more rain and fog. As I coasted through the beautiful Cullasaga gorge I watched as the cliffs become waterfalls under the torrential winter rains and wondered, and a bit worried, about how much more rain it would take before more than water was going to come tumbling down the steep ridges into the gorge and the road I was driving on? Luckily no rocks, trees or mud joined me on the road and I made it to Franklin.
2:30pm Arrived in Franklin, NC at the Ingles L2 EVSE with 20.1% SOC and 2.2 kWh…and it was still raining. All five EV spaces were open and well-marked (THANK YOU INGLES!) so I rolled into one close to the EVSE and stepped out into the rain to plug in the Leaf. First I plugged the left cable into the car and…nothing. Tried again…nothing. I then tried the cable on the right side of the bollard and luckily it worked. I reported the faulty charger on Plugshare and to Ingles.
I let the car charge for 2 hours while I worked to install the air monitor at a nearby location then returned to pick up the Leaf. The two hour L2 charge session had brought the leaf’s battery up to a 70% SOC and 10.3 kWh.
4:30 pm. Departed for Cherokee, NC in yet more rain.
I drove over 441 in the rain, high winds, and fog and because I was driving on an expressway I was traveling at a higher rate of speed and climbing one of the steepest, longest grades of the entire journey – so all of these factors became a real battery drainer – until I drove over the top of the mountain and regenerated for several miles down into Dillsboro, NC. This regen boost pushed me on to the Cherokee Welcome center where I rolled in at 5:30pm with a 10% SOC!!
I rolled up to the site where the trusty Schneider L2 EVSE – that I have used many times in the past – only to discover that it was missing!!!! I looked around for it and found nothing but a metal plate on the ground where it used to be…DRAT DRAT DRAT!!! …
…again, why did I not check Plugshare before I left home…???…had I checked I might have noticed a comment by Plugshare user/Model 3 driver “Steven” who stated ““Please note the charger has been moved and is next to the main street now.” Because I did not check Plugshare I was not aware of this fact, and from my vantage point near the original location of the L2 EVSE I could not see the new location obscured behind some shrubs in the distance. So, due to my oversight – and my lack of sight – my only apparent option was to drive to the Oconoluftee visitor center 3 miles away in the GSMNP where there is a DCQC and L2 EVSE. Again I practiced my best “hypermileing” techniques, however, as it was now getting dark, still raining, and foggy I was again forced to use the Leaf’s wipers and lights and soon my car dropped into the dreaded “Turtle Mode” as I passed through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance gate. I have only encountered the turtle once before and that was part of a controlled, good weather, safe, daytime test so I would know how the car performed when in an extremely low battery scenario (watch my video of that test here https://youtu.be/ZTNZchis_Fg ). This time however was not controlled, nor was it daytime, the weather was terrible and safety was most definitely an issue as a huge pickup truck was now riding my bumper. I could see my destination in the distance about ½ mile away and I was not about to pull off the road unless the car stopped dead. At the time of the initiation of Turtle Mode the car was moving about 30 miles per hour and as I made my way across the ½ mile distance to my destination the car started to slow down, getting slower and slower but still moving forward up the slight incline adjacent to the “Elk field.” As I topped the small incline I was able to back off on the almost nonexistent accelerator and let gravity help pull me forward…but it really did not help much as the vehicle was continuing to gradually slow down. Somehow, the EV was able to slurp up enough ghostly electrons to make it into the parking area at the VC at a little better than walking speed, I rolled past the main building, around the curve, and then, when I had the EVSE in my sights – the car just could not give me any more and it came to a dead standstill…about 50 feet from the EVSE. According to LeafSpy Pro the drive battery was sitting at an SOC of 6.6 with 0.3 kWh remaining.
We pushed the LEAF the remaining distance to the EVSE only to find the DCQC offline and dark – DRAT! DRAT!! DRAT!!! I tried the reset button a few times – no luck – still dark and offline.
The Greenlots L2 was online so I plugged in and left the car alone in the growing darkness to charge.
We trekked into Cherokee for dinner and later returned – 4.2 hours later – and the car was still charging but it now had a 76% SOC and 11.3 kWh. Still raining, foggy, dark…but at least it was not cold. I updated Plugshare with details of offline DCQC and drove to a friend’s home in a neighboring county for the night. I arrived at his home with a 32.5% SOC and 4.6 kWh. I plugged the Leaf into a wall outlet and bedded down for the night exhausted and personally out of a charge from all the discharging drama of the day.
The next morning, after trickle charging all night, I awoke to fine the Leaf still charging – yesterday was a long day for the little car and I did not plug in until around 11pm.
Morning stats: SOC 88.5% and 13.3 kWh available. Light rain and fog. I made my way back to Cherokee without issue and immediately found the new location of the Welcome Center’s Schneider L2 EVSE and laughed at myself for making such an obvious error the night before. Had I found the new location of the EVSE I could have easily avoided the dreaded turtle mode. I plugged into the trusty Schneider EVSE with a 35% SOC and 4.9 kWh and charged for 2 hours for an 84% SOC and 12.8 kWh. Before heading over Soco gap to Waynesville I updated Plugshare with the new location details.
I then unplugged and drove up, up and up over Soco in the rain and fog and on to Waynesville where I arrived at the downtown DCQC with a 25.4% SOC and 3.5% kWh.
I plugged the little old Leaf into the Greenlots DCQC and charged for 30 min for a 81% SOC and a gain of 12.5 kWh. After all the drama of the last day and a half I wanted a full charge before heading out on the last leg of the journey up, up, and up through the rain, fog and steep terrain of the last steep, remote ridge crossing.
When the DCQC finished I unplugged the L3 and then plugged in the nearby L2 for a further 40 minutes charging to top off the Leaf with a final full charge of 94.1% SOC and 14.2 kWh that would hopefully push me up and over Hwy 276 and back home safe and sound. As I sat there in the rain charging L2 I watched as an ICE driver in a red Nissan 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 just parked in an EV charging location. He was in a hurry and failed to notice the signs…and the EV parked and charging 10 feet away.
I believe this is what happens in many of the innocent ICEing events – people are just not very observant of anything outside of their frame of reference. 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 used in ICE vehicles and, when detected, trigger highly noticeable strobe lights and possibly even illuminated signage indicating to the ICE vehicle driver their mistake. While many ICEing events are simple mistakes, others are intentional acts of aggression toward EV’s – but that is another story I have written about before in this blog.
charging I updated Plugshare.
As I set out on 276 it was still raining, but this time it was only a mist and the sky seemed to be clearing a little bit – a good sign? My drive up 276 and over the Blue Ridge Parkway was uneventful, and upon reaching the highest point of the last leg of the trip my SOC was 39.7 and kWh 5.7. With all the great gravity provided regeneration I pulled on the descent to home I soon arrived in my garage with a 28.9% SOC and 4 kWh remaining in my trusty old first generation Leaf’s ageing battery.
Against all the odds I had made it.
I plugged the Leaf into the nearby wall outlet and let it
trickle charge until morning.
I love my old Leaf even with its rapidly failing generation one battery. The Nissan warranty department – I do not care for them very much. Maybe one day a 3rd party battery manufacturer* will make a replacement battery for the first generation Nissan Leaf or, Nissan will drop the price of the OEM unit to something much more reasonable than the current outrageous and unreasonable price that is so egregious that I will not even speak of it here. I really hope one of these things happens soon so I can upgrade my old Leaf and give it a renewed range and a second life as my nonprofit outreach vehicle and daily driver. *Note: If you are the maker of such a battery please do contact me because we need to talk 🙂
Round trip statistics
Beginning odometer: 70,609
Ending odometer: 70,835
Round Trip Mileage 226
L1 – 2
L2 – 5
L3 – 1
Time spent charging:
L1 – 6.0h (overnight), 8.0h (overnight), = 14h
L2 – .50h, 1.5h, 2h, 4h, 1.5h, .70h = 10.2
L3 – .50h = .50
Total charging time = 14 + 10.20 + .50 = 24.7h (14 overnight,
5.7 during lunch and dinner and down time, 2.0 while working and 3.2 on the
It is important to note that my EV is a first generation Leaf. This simple fact means that it charges 50% slower than newer EV’s due to its 3.3 kW onboard charger which limits the speed at which it will charge from L1 and L2 charging sources. If it were a newer EV my L1 and L2 charge times would have been cut in half.
Electric fuel cost for 226 mile round trip: $6.72 (L3) + $2.00*
(L2) + .75(L1) = $9.47
*All but one L2 charge session were cost free.
kWh per mile = 3.57
kWh used for round trip = 62.8
Electricity cost/kWh from energy mix on the road = 0.04
Electricity cost/kWh – if I had used only electricity from my
home power grid = $7.53 (62.8kWh *
Electricity cost/kWh – if I had used only electricity from my
solar workplace L2 EVSE = $3.76 (3.76 =.06
MPGe = 120.4
MPGe cost for round trip = $2.64/226 = 0.01/mile WOW!!!
It is interesting to note that if I had driven this route in
my 2013 Honda Pilot I would not have needed to stop to charge but my fuel bill (maybe
we should call it a conveyance convenience cost) would have been $31.72 or
around 0.14/mile! (0.14 =
That is a fuel cost savings of $22.25!! (22.25 = 31.72 (gas) – 9.47(electricity))
These savings add up rather dramatically when you consider
Even with all the charging station issues, the old EV battery
related crazy, and the garishly long charge times – you cannot rationally dispute
the cost savings of driving electric…and that is before we have even discussed
the significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions!
Those savings are as follows:
A total of 97.9 pounds of CO2 were released into the
atmosphere by using 62.8 kWh of electricity to push my EV on this round trip.
Therefore, by driving electric I prevented over 509.1 pounds
of CO2, as well as other harmful pollutants from entering the atmosphere. (607 – 97.9 = 509.1)
Where did I get the 509.1 pounds of CO2?
Had I used my Honda Pilot for this journey it would have used
over 31 gallons of gasoline which would have emitted 607 pounds of CO2 into the
That is equivalent to burning 301 pounds of coal which would
generate 1,068.96 kWh of electricity.
This amount of energy would be able to charge over 35
And…this next fact is mind-blowing…
This same amount of energy (1,068.96 kWh) would push my Nissan Leaf over* 3,816.18 miles!!!! *I say over because with regenerative braking it would go even further since EV’s make a portion of their electric fuel when slowing down, descending grades, and braking!!
Here are the numbers so see for yourself.
If one gallon of gas contains 33.70 kWh of electricity and my
Honda Pilot would have burned 31.72 gallons of gas on the 226 mile RT trip
If 33.70 kWh * 31.72 gallons = 1,068.96 kWh
And my EV will travel an average of 3.57 miles per kWh
Then 3.57 * 1,068.96 = 3,816.18 miles
The cost, efficiency, and environmental savings of driving electric cannot be rationally disputed.
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.
3 – They are most often located in remote parts of the parking areas so as not to take up available parking spots for all other vehicles near the entrances of the nearby establishments where they are found.
In other words – in order for you to block a Tesla Supercharger charging station with your vehicle you would need to either;
1. Drive a Tesla and know where the station is because you have been there before – or allow your Tesla’s navigation system to guide you to it for a charge.
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 access with their garish toy trucks. In my experience this type of Tesla/EV owner is rare, yet I have heard reports that they do exist.
So, aside from the occasional parking accident by the un-observant or uneducated – there is no real reason and no real excuse for parking a non-Tesla vehicle in a Tesla charging station.
Misunderstandings Do Happen
As stated earlier, sometimes EV owners who are new to the world of EV’s and have not learned the appropriate EV charging etiquette might mistakenly leave their EV parked in an EV charging space for much longer than needed after the car’s charge is complete – I did this a few times early on and quickly learned my lesson. Most of these infractions are innocent mistakes that can easily be remedied with gentle education of the new EV driver either with a few words or an informational card/flyer left for when the driver returns.
However, some entitled EV drivers seem to be treating EV spaces as a pass to free parking, not at all caring about the other EV drivers who need to stop and fill up their “electron tanks” so they can get on down the road. In the following photo, we see a Tesla parked and not charging in an EV only charging space – how rude.
This is the same as filling up your gas tank, hanging up the nozzle, and walking off.
I have observed this practice on several occasions and when I do I always leave a nice note in the hopes of educating the parking perpetrator on the errors of their ways. In the above case, part of the error may be in the wording of the signage on the wall beyond the Tesla and it reads – “Electric Vehicle Parking Only.” This wordage may give some EV newbies the idea that they are able to park their EV here even when it is not charging. That is just not the case. and is bad planning on those who chose the signs for this site. Luckily, many charging stations now have signs that read “EV Parking only while charging.” Along with this fact many EVSE units will continue to charge you money if your car remains plugged in after the charging session has ended as an expensive reminder to be courteous and move your car so the next person will be able to charge.
Most EV’s and EVSE come standard with internet connectivity. This allows them to be easily configured to send a text to your mobile device when your vehicle has finished charging, therefore, you have no excuse not to move your car thereby opening the space up for the next EV needing a charge.
Bad Parking Planning
On several occasions, I have encountered non-EV’s blocking charging stations – most frequently (in my experience) at this downtown EV charge point supplemented with solar power.
While these non-EV vehicles are directly blocking one of the chargers, at least they are following the directions printed on the pavement that state “EV Only.” In reality, this type of EVSE blocking will not limit the ability to charge an EV since the power leads are usually long enough to reach an EV parked nearby. However, the limiting factor here would be available parking. There are three EV chargers and only two marked EV parking spaces so only 2 EV’s would be able to charge when ICE vehicles are parked in the non-EV marked parking spaces. It seems that common sense would dictate that if you install an EVSE for EV’s, then the number of charge points and parking spaces should be equal.
How some Tesla owners may choose to handle EVSE blocking situations – but it is not at all recommended by this blogger…unless there is no other option I suppose.
Obviously, Teslas do have more than enough power and torque to handle any situation.
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 over 50 years of life experience, that the perpetrators of these thoughtless acts are a very small percentage of overall truck owners.
So let’s call them the: lunatic fringe.
The vast majority of pickup truck owners I know and have met are good, respectable people that own and drive pickup trucks because they serve a utilitarian purpose in their lives – you know, hauling stuff, pulling stuff, doing work, and having fun outdoors.
These good, respectable truck owners would never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source and would never think to use their vehicle as a bullying tool/weapon in the attempt to make some sort of misguided personal, political, or anti-environment statement. They just drive their trucks and use their trucks – and that’s it.
I say this because not only is it common sense and fully supported by evidence – but I also have a bit of experience in this area. In my over 35 years of driving, I have owned, driven, and used the following vehicles:
My first truck – a 1978 Chevrolet C-10 step side.
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 over 5 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 to arrive to remove the disruptive perpetrator(s) – be they blocking a gas, diesel, or 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 – the most recent incident, I witnessed a few days ago while 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 charging 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 and failed 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 station and neither of these vehicles were plug-in electric vehicles. I left respectful notes on their windshields and then 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, just don’t do it.)
I believe what happens in many ICEing events is that many drivers are just not very observant of anything outside of their comfortable frame of reference. 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 used in 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 ticket and 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.
Before reporting the perpetrators, it is probably a good idea to attempt to covertly get a photograph(s) of the perp’s vehicles/license plates and the perp’s themselves so you will have evidence to hand over to the authorities. In my opinion, it is not ever a good idea to confront these types of people as they are often aggressive and volatile and may even be intoxicated and/or have dangerous or deadly weapons in their vehicles or on their persons.
The best bet in these situations is to just step back to a safe place and watch the action happen when the police, tow trucks, and news crews arrive.
EVSE Vandalism Issues
EVSE blocking is not the only issue. Most recently a Tesla Supercharger in Utah was vandalized when some lowlife intentionally tried to drill out the charge connector and cut the charging cable – WTF, really 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 day s of the internal combustion engine – did some horse and wagon owners who felt threatened by the gas-powered future, seek out and block fuel pumps?
I seriously doubt it because I am pretty sure they had something called common sense and morals.
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 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 reasons, this small number of fringe dwellers seem to be proud of their illegal atmospheric littering escapades and wish to share their madness with the world.
If a combination of common sense, the law, and natural selection have their way (and they will), then their actions suggest that it will not be long before these polluted perpetrators will be weeded out of the population and the bones of their illegally modified machines will soon be covered in rust fossilizing in the junkyard – or better yet, melted down and recycled into a Tesla, Bollinger, Atlis or any other EV, a bicycle, wind turbine, or solar array.
The act of intentionally modifying one’s vehicle with a driver operated “defeat device” thereby allowing it to bypass the factory emission controls for the purpose of emitting visible clouds of smoke, and then intentionally targeting people with that hazardous particulate-laden smoke (diesel exhaust is a documented carcinogen by the CDC, the WHO, and the ACA*) is not only illegal in many areas but is an uncaring, thoughtless act of bullying that should not go unpunished. Recently, I was instructed by a State Patrol officer that targeting and “rolling coal” on a person(s) is considered a form of assault and should be reported to the authorities by calling 911 and reporting the incident making sure to get the make, model and, if possible, the license plate number, road name and direction of travel of the offending vehicle.
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 must be the preferred and accepted way to entice a mate into their arms. In other words – driving a large, loud, jacked up, overly modified, polluting truck and insulting others with your venomous vitriol might just be the mating call of your sub-species.
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 the truck pictured above) Needless to say, it did not work for me – in any way. This was primarily because of my extreme nerdiness that was of such an outward and obvious magnitude that no amount of expensive modifications to my vehicle, myself, piles of money, or purchased trinkets would have ever made me “cool” and popular with the “in” crowd. At the time I was just trying very hard to fit in – somewhere – anywhere – and I had fallen to peer pressure. Lucky for me, after about 6 weeks my brain won the fight and I grew out of my fitting in phase. The glasspack came off and the stock muffler went back on in favor of the stereo because enjoying my music was more important to me than the garishly flatulent exhaust noise. I also removed the lift kit as it ruined the truck’s handling and fuel mileage and then later sold the roll bar since all it really did was take up space in the bed. Some people grow up, some never do.
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 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 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 fact that these fuels and these machines have allowed the human species to expand across the globe at an unbelievable pace, light our homes, farms and cities, grow more food to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population, develop better health care, science, and systems that allow us to live longer than ever before, explore the depths of the oceans, and the far reaches of outer space. In many unique ways, these creations and these ancient fossil-based fuels may be the very reason – or at least have played a key part – in the very existence of many of us alive today. We owe a great debt of thanks to fossil fuels and to the 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. Like the horse and wagon before them, the majority of these beautiful, earlier modes of transportation worked well for a time, but eventually faded away because something better, faster, stronger, lower maintenance, less stinky and less visibly polluting, was invented – think how fast the Ford Model T displaced the horse – and 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?
Before some of you start ranting in the comment section about how much pollution is emitted from building/charging/driving EV’s – watch the below video for the facts:
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?
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.
or…become as obsolete as the slide rule, the film camera, the 8 track, VHS, and cassette tapes, Blockbuster video, Kodak, phone booths, CRT computer monitors and console TV’s…in other words – when will 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 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 and came to the conclusion that my EV (a 2012 Nissan Leaf) costs me 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.
The same cannot be said of fossil fuel powered vehicles whose fuels of choice were – as of 2017 – around 19% sourced from foreign lands* at great cost to our country and our future.
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, fathers, mothers, and lovers who were often fighting to protect oil rights and resources to keep your (and my) fuel tanks topped off with petroleum-based fuels because, for the last 100 years there has been no other option – but that is about to change.
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 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 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 $20 billion annually*! The massively powerful and insanely wealthy fossil fuel machine, working with uncaring, bribed politicians and policymakers on both sides of the political fence, are funneling loads of money into organizations that work to manufacture loads of FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – in the peer-reviewed scientific evidence presented to us by the vast majority of the planet’s climate and environmental scientists. Evidence that has collectively revealed that we humans are changing the climate, the natural processes, and the stability of our atmosphere – thereby bringing about anthropogenic climate change and the sixth mass extinction of life on planet earth – and we just let this happen. Why? What is wrong with us?
Furthermore, the acquisition, shipment, refining, distribution, and use of petroleum-based fuels has resulted in countless oil, gas, and fuel leaks, spills and other accidents that have created massive impacts to our shared environmental life support system, loss of human life and wildlife, loss of health and livelihoods for countless people and families, oh and those nagging and worsening air pollution and climate change issues…just to keep the oil and gas flowing to feed the status quo so the cash can continue to flow into the bank accounts of the filthy mega-rich oil barons and corrupt politicians who are working together to enrichen themselves while destroying our shared futures.
All this madness trickles down and the lunatic fringe – in petroleum production, government, and those in their charging station bocking little toy trucks – who remain free to target and assault those of us working to make good and lasting changes in the world by adopting and promoting the following;
promoting and using “homegrown” renewable energy
promoting domestic energy security through the adoption of renewable energy resources
teaching preparedness and self-reliance through the scientific method
accepting science supported evidence and expert guided change
driving a much more energy secure, less polluting, lower maintenance, cheaper to drive, electric vehicle built in the USA and powered by American electrons.
The problem with the small number of fringe-dwelling, macho-driven, small-minded individuals that choose to intentionally block and vandalize charging stations, insult EV drivers for childish thoughtless “reasons,” (and roll coal) is that they do not think – they just act on their primal, fear-driven, toxically tribal emotions without any actual evidence or reason to back up their childish actions.
I could go on but I believe you now know what I think about this issue.
In closing – I have offered examples and explained ad nauseum the many reasons why the thoughtless practice of intentionally ICEing/blocking/vandalizing Tesla and other EV charging stations is ill-advised. However – while I may have explained it, I cannot understand it for you. That challenge is up to you and I hope you have the intellect and the common sense to do so…and to never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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:
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.
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/
…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!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
*Definition of 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 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.