TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

Environmental footprint always FAR exceeds carbon footprint

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by AudubonB, May 28, 2013.

  1. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2013
    Messages:
    4,219
    Location:
    Denali Highway, Alaska
    I'm starting this thread because I've been musing over the lack of input by both EV supporters as well as ICE boosters regarding effects to our environment other than how much CO2 is produced by the manufacture or use of a particular vehicle. I have read of the consideration of other tailpipe emissions - although ICEs of today exhaust far less in the way of NOX, unburned hydrocarbons, soot, CO, Pb and other nasties than they did 20 or 30 or 40 years ago - there remain some very significant contributions to atmospheric pollution; ones that no EV creates.

    There are additional elements of an ICE that are bypassed with EVs. As someone who has changed many, many hundreds of gallons of engine oil, I can vouch that even careful handling of same can lead to significant environmental oopses that never will be a concern with an EV. The same is true for ATF - no such stuff needed either to be produced for or gotten rid of because of a Tesla-style powerplant. Now, I'm not sure about pumpkin oil: the S hasn't any pumpkin, but what will happen with an AWD X-car?
    I do not know how one can compare coolant systems: radiator and its attendant antifreeze - with its disposal and leakage problems, on the part of ICEs, versus TM's vehicles and their battery coolants and whatever possibilities that fluid has for becoming a ground or aquifer pollutant.

    I also haven't read any mention about a factor long known in the world of resource economics. It is far far easier to empart effective pollution controls on a point source of energy than it is on an equivalent amount of diffuse sources. That translates to supervising one (e.g.) electrical powerplant versus 300,000 (e.g.) tailpipe-containing ICEs.

    There - I've thrown out some other possibilities to consider when one is discussing the relative environmental merits and flaws of these different technologies. Comprehensive? Not at all. Another pollutant just crossed my mind: anyone living close to a freeway bears the burden of noise pollution. How does a fleet of EVs compare to a comparable fleet of ICEs in this respect? We subjectively know the answer (very favorably, of course) but who has put together the hard data?
     
  2. derekt75

    derekt75 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    592
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    First of all, to the title... really? I'm genuinely interested if that's true. I would have guessed that CO2 was the biggest environmental danger, but I have no basis for that.

    Secondly, I think many power plants emit lots of crud other than CO2. I think coal is somewhat infamous for spewing lots of nasty stuff (and contributing far more to the radioactivity in a region than a nuclear power plant).

    I don't have any numbers on anything, and I do agree that it should be much easier to control the pollution of a handful of power plants rather than millions of cars, but I'm not sure the environmental impact of EVs vs ICEs is as lopsided as you seem to think it is.
     
  3. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2013
    Messages:
    4,219
    Location:
    Denali Highway, Alaska
    If that is how you read my title, then perhaps I didn't phrase it carefully enough. I absolutely include CO2 as one of the manifold elements comprising an overall environmental footprint. The sense of my title, then, is that there are a lot of factors to consider: don't focus ONLY on CO2 whilst neglecting all others as well.
     
  4. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2011
    Messages:
    7,842
    Location:
    Portland, Maine, USA
    @derekt: remember that the location of the pollution matters for many pollutants. CO2 is a global problem, but many other pollutants have adverse affects only in high concentrations or simply don't travel far from the point source. Consider Particulate Matter, which has adverse health and environmental effects and is a contributor to the smog and low visibility that plague most cities. Power plants produce some PM, but these are well-controlled by filters, dispersed by tall stacks to reduce concentration levels, and generally located away from urban areas. Cars produce more PM, and this is dumped directly into congested urban areas -- made worse by the fact that PM is higher with inefficient gas burn typically seen in congested urban areas.
     

Share This Page