Blackening the Green March

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Sonal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

Global warming, as an issue has been discussed in so much detail that its mere mention may question the point of doing so. Whole world seems so much consumed by the idea of global warming that every act that we do, everything that we consume and every item that we produce seems to decide whether the catastrophic culmination of weather failure will happen in near future or not. But this is surely not illogical. Mankind has learnt from its mistakes. Several times in world history, we have celebrated beginning of a new change and, have repented the change as speedily the very next day. Now we are careful and farsighted. We study future scenarios, speedily merge our new capabilities to leverage gains as soon as possible. The society is a fast learner now and we adopt new developments more readily than how we did few decades ago. So, you shouldn’t complain if I express my disappointment over primitive reactions of a few people towards onset of electric cars.

Electric cars as the name suggests, run on electricity and not on the non-renewable fuels like petrol and diesel. So, they are expected to leave no carbon footprint unlike their older counterparts. The critics then started speaking about the problems in cost, range and charging speed. Because of their less demand now, electric cars are costly to make and purchase, the persistent worry of having the car discharged midway every 50-100 miles and the shortage of charging centers and the less charging speed (around 4 to 6 hours). Apart from these, the cars are mostly two seaters and their batteries have to be changed every 3-10 years.  Big companies, who have been technical leaders in futuristic approach like Tesla, Nissan are spending heavily on research and development in electric car projects. Now a new shortcoming in electric cars have seemed to surface. Critics say that the manufacturing of the common lithium-ion electric car battery and their final disposal entails release of harmful pollutants. Also, electricity that feeds this novel conception itself comes from processes that run on non-renewable resources, chiefly coal. And this is not a minor conjecture. Surveys have been carried out to make the comparison. One of the findings is that the energy intensive manufacturing of EVs mean that some cars make almost double the impact on global warming as conventional cars. If the energy is coming from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas driven automobiles. Also the greenhouse effect of soot is even more than carbon di oxide itself.

While we went on reprimanding electrical vehicles for being disruptive, we neglected some essential facts. First of all, not all energy is coal powered. According to a 2012 study only 40% of total energy is coming from coal and according to Department of Energy and Climate Change, by 2020, this will reduce to around 10%. In fact, there are countries like Norway that almost completely run on renewable energy like hydroelectricity. Even if we choose to expunge these facts, we have to face a simple reality. Developing nations like India and China are going to pour a large amount of greenhouse gas in the coming future mainly because their energy will come from coal. And developed countries are doubting electric vehicles because coal will cause global warming. Connect the two and you will notice that our opposition to green vehicles simply means delaying the inevitable and more we delay it, more are we aggravating the greenhouse problem. Instead of quarantining green vehicles, we need to strike at the source. An innovation like electric vehicle is just in its budding stage and needs extensive research and trials for betterment. Nipping this now will mean stopping the progress of something that could have been timed with proper onset of renewable energy resources to solve the greenhouse problem of Earth. Let’s not be the ones only sting problems, but the ones who are actually solving them.

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