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Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment Essay

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The Electric Wave

Modern electric cars are detrimental to our environment and our modern society through the many negative effects they pose that many people are simply unaware of. Our society is being taught that electric cars are the way of the future in terms of helping the environment, but in reality, they are the opposite of what is believed. Recent studies are predicting and proving electric cars are having more negative effects in comparison to gasoline-powered cars or internal combustion vehicles. Major problems involved with these electric cars consist of being powered by fossil fuels, the resources used for producing these vehicles such as lithium, nickel, and cobalt, and the pure electricity used to power these cars. All of these problems present pollution of some sort, pollution can cause damage to crops, animals, forests, and bodies of water. It also contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from the sun's UV rays. In addition, there are alarming personal health effects, when we breathe, pollution enters our lungs and can enter our bloodstream. Air pollution can contribute to small annoyances like coughing or itchy eyes. It can also cause or worsen many diseases involving the lungs and breathing, leading to hospitalizations, cancer, or even premature death. No matter where you live, you can be exposed to air pollution. The “Energy Information Administration” is projecting that if the number of electric cars by 2030 is replaced with internal combustion vehicles, air pollution would actually decrease more than in comparison to having electric vehicles.

Electric cars are causing significant amounts of pollution through the electricity that powers them. The majority of all electricity generated for electric cars people are simply unaware of, The Pittsburgh Post, also known simply as the PG, is the largest newspaper serving metropolitan Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, states, “Energy doesn’t come from nowhere. Cars are charged from the nation’s electrical grid, which means that they’re only as ‘clean’ as America’s mix of power sources which is still mainly generated mainly by burning fossil fuels,” burning fossil fuels emits a number of air pollutants that are harmful to both the environment and public health. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions, primarily the result of burning coal, contribute to acid rain and the formation of harmful particulate matter. Furthermore, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, an online article produced by Athena Information Solutions Pvt Ltd a leading content aggregation and an emerging business information company based in India, adds, “Electric cars are dependent mostly on coal for their electricity supply and coal, being the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, can add to the problem.” Greenhouse gases have far-ranging environmental and health effects which cause climate change by trapping heat, along with contributing to respiratory disease from smog and air pollution. Extreme weather, food supply disruptions, and increased wildfires are other effects of climate change caused by greenhouse gases. Now, in comparison to internal combustion vehicles, people believe that they aren’t any better than electric vehicles, but a study from the Pittsburgh Post estimates how much electricity the pollution these electric vehicles would generate and they noticed there would be an increase in pure overall air pollution if our roads were purely electric cars. Unironically, electric cars are the opposite of what a lot of everyday people and environmental advocates believe. Similar to fossil fuels we can also see nuclear power play a role in electric vehicles, Guy Walters, a well-known independent British author, and journalist, declares that “Nuclear power much loathed by many ‘green’ advocates is responsible for 21% of your electric car’s power”. Nuclear energy produces radioactive waste, a major environmental concern is the creation of this waste, such as uranium mill tailings, spent (used) reactor fuel, and other radioactive wastes. These materials can remain radioactive and dangerous to human health for thousands of years. In addition to Walter's study, “The scientist at the Trancik Lab (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have shown that an electric Tesla Model S P100D produces more carbon dioxide at 226 g/km(grams of carbon dioxide produced per kilometer), in comparison to a Mitsubishi Mirage, which is responsible for just 192g/km”. The all-praised and popular Tesla Model S, one of the most purchased electric vehicles on the market creates some of the most pollution in terms of other electric vehicles whose sales are much lower. As society embraces electric vehicles it is crucial that the pollution they cause does not go untaught.

The raw resources mined and gathered to create electric cars and their batteries cause pollution before they even hit the road. It is stated, “Mining huge amounts of nickel, and cobalt which is used in manufacturing comes at an environmental cost. A 2009 study revealed that nickel was the eighth-worst metal to mine and process in terms of global warming and pollution”(Walters). Mining adversely affects the environment by inducing loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, and contamination of surface water, groundwater, and soil. The leakage of chemicals from mining sites can also have detrimental effects on the health of the population living at or around the mining site. Pursuing this further, Walters reveals, “Producing lithium also has an environmental cost, as rocks need to be crushed, often in Australia, and then shipped to China to be processed. The lithium extracted from deserts results in one ton of carbon dioxide for every ton of lithium carbonate produced.” Lithium extraction inevitably harms the soil and causes air contamination with its carbon dioxide side effect. Following this to the everyday driver, “Drivers are also after cars with a long-range battery to travel long distances before being charged up again”(The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly). The demand for longer car batteries will always be in pursuit and the producers will always attempt to reach this, the more power the battery needs, the more overall pollution increase there will be. Moreover, batteries don’t last forever, “Batteries need to be replaced from time to time, making it costly to run and also risky for the environment”(The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly). It would be nearly impossible to have every person who replaces an electric car battery be accountable for proper disposal as that in itself will lead to more pollution because of not recycling the battery. Furthermore, Walters claims that,

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“It is predicted that 11 million tons of old lithium - batteries will be thrown away over the next 12 years, of which only 5% will be recycled.” People are not caring enough to recycle precious material, which when mined more, causes pollution. As expressed the resources needed to produce electric cars and the little amount of re-use overall increases pollution.

Governments around the world are doing nothing but worsening the situation. As mentioned in “Why more Electric Cars”, an online article published under NLA Media which is notable for its publishing services in the UK, brings up “ Offering incentives to new electric vehicles could make things worse. That includes efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions''. Efforts to stop advocation for worldwide adoption of electric vehicles are dismissed by governments allowing greenhouse gases and pure pollution to plague our society. Moreover, the adoption of electric vehicles poses harm to our everyday driving, as mentioned in ‘One Way Electric Cars’ “A state where gas costs more per gallon, the state will be losing increasing amounts of gas tax revenue.” If hypothetically our world became the majority dominated by electric vehicles there would be fewer sales of gasoline, this means gas taxes would skyrocket and road conditions would extremely worsen since gas tax is dedicated to improving upon these. In addition, government taxing does not take in area-specific driving, as stated by Jason Rusell, an assistant professor at Empire State College, State University of New York, where he coordinates the undergraduate and graduate labor studies program, takes note that, “In theory, it would make more sense for state and local governments to offer their own subsidies since the electric vs gas-powered calculus changes in different localities. Despite this, the federal government maintains a one-size-fits-all electric car subsidy.” Electric cars are proven to be worse per mile driven in rural areas in comparison to cities areas with this noted there is an uneven distribution of money being given by the federal government for electric vehicles that are being spent improperly. Following this Rusell notes, “In monetary terms, electric cars are about half-a-cent worse per mile for the environment than gas-powered cars, on average”. This means that if our government wanted to tax cars based on how much they pollute, electric vehicles should be taxed half of one cent more per mile driven than internal combustion vehicles. In addition, it is stated in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, “In order to reduce dependency on imported oil and be self-sufficient in electricity production, more and more electrical grids have to be made.” Governments are very resistant when it comes to extra spending, as electrical grid development is very expensive but in this case, the sacrifice is less sufficient energy production which means more fossil fuels being burnt and more pollution. On another note, “It is inadvisable for areas having a shortage of electricity, as it can lead to difficulty in meeting the basic requirement of electricity as a source of light” (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly). If we currently had a full worldwide adoption of electric vehicles our nation's power grids would not be able to support certain cities or neighborhoods' essentials. In other words, our government is blowing over the situation at hand with electric vehicles.

Following this, the regular day drivers of the world are worsening the problem when in reality they think they are helping. As mentioned by Rusell “Outside of metropolitan areas, electric cars are 1.5 cents per mile worse than gas-powered. In Grand Forks, N.D., for example, electric cars are 3 cents per mile worse.” Specific areas around the world that happen to account for a large proportion of land are particularly worse to have an electric cars in terms of the pollution they cause. Following this there are societal issues, “The Good the Bad and the Ugly” states, “It’s impractical to be owned by the common man. Moreover, their battery, on which it runs, also is the costliest of components, which can not be owned and maintained by one at all.” Having only the high end of society own electric vehicles leads to economic imbalance and discrimination. Admittedly Kuftedjian, a senior level car service manager at Keys Toyota, when asked if car dealerships inform buyers of electric car pollution states, “No of course not, there is this fairyland persona associated with electric vehicles that they are the solution to all pollution. People eat that up.” At the end of the day the people selling your cars do not care if your vehicle is going to cause pollution, or more harm to the environment, they want a paycheck before anything else. In addition to having electric vehicles dominate the streets, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” brings up, “The no-noise feature of electric cars can be fatal as they do not provide warning of oncoming vehicles.” Accidents involving hitting pedestrians are significantly more likely to occur when in comparison to having an internal combustion car be a replacement in that situation. In a similar situation electric vehicles are more at risk, “The Good the Bad and the Ugly” says, “Being light in weight, these cars can be more vulnerable in times of accidents and collisions.” Electric cars are taking on a smaller and more compact overall look, this is leading to an increase in the total number of fatal deaths from car accidents. In the first place, people should not be driving electric vehicles due to the everyday harm that they cause.

Without a doubt, electric cars are not what they are made out to be. This is through the various reasons from the pollution to the government and to people themselves, it could not be clearer. The main findings from this study reveal electricity generated by these vehicles is harmful to human health, and the environment and resources gathered for these cars also pose similar threats. Following this governments around the world are doing nothing about it, and people themselves are wrongly taught when it comes to purchasing these vehicles. Shockingly the amount of pollution is predicted to be overall lessened in a situation where electric vehicles do not replace internal combustion vehicles at all. Unfortunately, this can not be the case, as electric vehicles will continue to intertwine themselves on our modern roadways, which will lead to more pollution. Pollution will worsen landscapes, contaminate soils, and waterways, and even kill plants and animals. People are also regularly harmed by pollution through long-term exposure to air pollution, chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, and other diseases. Some solutions to this could be instituting hydrogen-powered cars. They work by combining hydrogen with oxygen within the car's own fuel cell and emit nothing but water. Another solution could be advocation for public transportation, and more people using public transportation will lessen traffic build-ups which consist of idling cars plaguing our environment. Originally electric cars are thought to be the savior of modern pollution and the environment, but, sadly recent studies expose the facts that they only add to these issues.

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Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from
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