My children used to love listening to They Might Be Giants’ Here Comes Science in the car. This song stuck with me; it was clear, even in 2009, that electric cars were the future.
The reason I’m writing this is, unsurprisingly, because tomorrow I’ll take delivery of my first electric car.
It’s kind of a big deal for me. I’ve always loved cars, and I love internal combustion engines. They’re awe-inspiring, among the greatest engineering achievements of humanity. It’s a mass-produced device with lots of moving parts that have to function, in concert, in extremely adverse (high pressure, extreme temperatures, sudden changes in both) conditions – and they do so with amazing precision, reliability, and effectiveness.
Really, have you ever considered the fact that thousands of actual explosions are taking place, in an utterly controlled and predictable manner, every single minute a car’s engine is running? And that these devices are relatively affordable? They also make some wonderful, wonderful sounds when working.
BUT. But. These wonders of engineering aren’t exactly great for the environment, and there’s a sense of urgency creeping in that we need to do something, and soon.
A single individual, even a petrolhead’s, individual carbon footprint is minuscule. According to the EPA, approximately 15% of greenhouse gas emissions from US sources (50% of “Transportation’s” 29%) are from terrestrial vehicles. There’s a separate rant here about how Industrial sources, electricity generation, commercial transport, and agriculture are responsible collectively for 72.5%, and how we individuals have been spoon-fed the idea that it’s “our” individual-level fault. Sure, our consumption drives much of the other sources – but industry could clean up a lot easier and in a more centralized fashion that hundreds of millions of homes and light-duty vehicles.
We as individuals CAN do things, even if the impact is small. And if we all do small-impact things, the cumulative impact isn’t small any more.
Now that I have put all of my eco-worthiness up front, and how enlightened I am about saving the planet, I can tell you the truth: I was bored of my car, and used cars are selling like hotcakes at the moment. So I drove my Kia to Carmax, left with a nice fat check, and started studying the market.
Internal combustion is indeed on the way out. Elon Musk, that incredibly annoying, alt-righty, manchild billionaire visionary called it correctly when he started Tesla, and he dragged the car industry -kicking and screaming, mind you- towards electrification. Many kudos to him for the vision and for executing on it. I think it might end up being an even larger accomplishment than SpaceX.
Next: I don’t want a Tesla.