Cat Facts: Electric Vehicles Beat Gas Cars
We've stuck our cat-noses up at the notion that April Fools' means one day of fun. So in the spirit of whimsy and whiskers, each day this week we present an environmental fact and a cat. First, we focused on a fat cat and oil shale. Next came big ears and bicycles.
Any-meow, here’s today's environmental fact, along with a cat.
Just the facts:
While the best bet for curbing carbon emissions is driving less, period, driving smart helps.
Conventional cars and the process of extracting, refining, and transporting the oil they require dumps more than three trillion tons of carbon pollution into the air each year. Electric vehicles (EVs) rely on battery power — which can take from 30 minutes for an 80-percent charge to eight hours for a full charge, outlet-voltage depending. For fully electric vehicles, no tailpipe is necessary.
EVs aren't a panacea, though. Their environmental boon varies depending on how the electricity that charges them is sourced.
While 45 percent of the country's electricity comes from coal, which has the highest global warming pollution intensity, regions that use a cleaner mix of energy sources are great for EV drivers. California, for instance, gets a bit more than half of its electricity from natural gas, with much of the rest coming from hydro, nuclear, and renewable sources. The Pacific Northwest, upstate New York, and parts of Alaska also provide the country's least destructive cocktails of carbon emissions.
The coal-heaviest areas like the Rocky Mountains give EVs the least return on emissions-reduction, so charging an EV there produces about the same level of emissions as a gas vehicle that gets 34 miles per gallon.
Still, charging an EV anywhere in the U.S. emits less than the average new gas vehicle.
Mackenzie Mount is an editorial intern at Sierra. She's cleaned toilets at Yellowstone National Park and studied sustainable cooking at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas. She has a dog.
--cat image courtesy of istockphoto/GlobalP