Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Germany has a goal: Introduce a million electric or plug-in hybrid cars into the transportation mix by 2020. But a recent study by the German branch of the World Wildlife Foundation projected the impact: If successful, carbon dioxide emissions would decrease 1 percent in the transportation sector, 0.1 percent in Germany, total.

That’s not much.

The trouble with switching to so many electric cars is that they rely on increasing amounts of industrially produced electricity. Which would bring additional coal-fired plants online, thereby increasing carbon dioxide emissions.

Maybe the only way for electric cars to really impact carbon emissions is to increase nuclear power production at the same time. Nuclear power is the only practical, real-world-right-now way to increase energy and reduce carbon dioxide production by an appreciable amount.

Barring such a move, switching to electric cars expending energy gained from burning coal doesn’t offset our alleged global greenhouse problems. It is true that centralized coal-burning emissions can be scrubbed for pollutants, and we might expect progress here better than progress in auto-emission scrubbers. But that helps with problem of dirty air, a very different issue.

Even big steps addressing complex ecological problems tend to produce small gains, at best. One should question how much wealth to sink for nearly infitesimally small gains.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Matthew says:

    I have an all-electric car. I offset the emmissions from my house electrical unit by installing a solar panel on the roof over my garage. The battery it’s charges, relays that power to the car. So far, over the year since the purchase, I’ve only had one day where I did not get enough power to completely recharge the car. Sure, the oulay was a bit costly upfront, mostly in hiring someone to install the power system so I didn’t electrocute myself, but it’s been worth it not paying for gas or electricity at all. This is the way we should consider handling the all-electric car concept, until then it’s going to be too costly and too ineffective to most people, especially apartment dwellers.

  2. Joseph E. Miller says:

    Sorry Paul, you may think nuclear power is the answer, but I disagree. I agree that on the surface, nuclear power seems like the answer. But, when you consider the five to ten years it takes to bring a new plant on-line and the billions each new plant costs and the hazardous waste disposal problem each plant creats, nuclear energy looks less appealing. Nuclear energy is not a long term solution to our energy needs. We need power from multiple sources: solar; wind; coal; oil; nuclear; geothermal; hydroelectric; and any other source we can develop. We need to make them efficient cost effective and as non-poluting as possible. Achieving true reductions in CO2 emissions requires a comprehensive energy policy that promotes and rewards innovation and invention. A policy that rewards companies for reducing CO2 emissions without reducing capacity or the amount of power distributed to the grid.

  3. How much coal produced electricity is produced in Germany vis-a-vis atomic?
    I see atomic production along the Rhein. See north of Koblenz for one.

  4. It’s ironic that the “greens” are so terrified by CO2 which is indisputably the ultimate “green” gas . Every tree and green living thing is CO2 + H2O plus ash and even the EPA admits the few percent humanity is adding to the planet’s CO2 budget is greening the planet .

    On the other hand classical physics dating back as far as 150 years shows the earth’s temperature is inexorably constrained to be about 1/21st whatever temperature the sun decided to be . ( See my for the calculations . ) Astoundingly , the most ubiquitous explanation of the need for a “greenhouse” effect is based on the false notion that a radiantly heated white ball will come to a lower temperature than if it were black . Perhaps consequentially , it appears impossible to find either quantitative analytical theory or experimental validation of purported “greenhouse” effect on temperature .

    And , incidentally , America’s irrational fear of nuclear power and made up issue of its waste , the rest of the world is growing it out as the major competition to coal .

  5. cyberchem says:

    My take on the benefit of electric cars is the reduction in consumption of foreign sourced liquid fuels, ie., petroleum. Alternative energy sources such as nuclear, coal, hydro, geo, etc. can then be used from a country’s domestic resources, as available. Otherwise, it’s a zero-sum game. See US energy flow chart for a good picture of the issue regarding transportation.

  6. Hank says:

    As noted above, Germany is rather heavily involved in nuclear power productiion. When I was living there in the early ’70s, the Germans were getting plants built and it did no take any ten years to do it. This would seem to be because the idiots who protested the building of said plants, to a large degree, were not allowed to stop constuction and the people who ran the government had a bit more sense than the halfwits who run ours.

    With the exception of Japan, who has the only real reson to dislike things nuclear, a great part of the world is goiing that way. Disposal of wasste, if it is a problem, can be solved as have all the problems we have encountered over the years we have existed.

    Don’t you think it strange that the country which developed all these things is the only one restricting development of them for domestic use, but can go hell bent to make them useful for things such as blowing up people? So much for our politicians who seem to collectively have a room temperature IQ.

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