Study: Your All-Electric Car May Not Be So Green
|Charging a car with coal|
The key is where the source of the electricity all-electric cars. If it comes from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution made in generating the electricity, according to the study that is published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They also are significantly worse at heat-trapping carbon dioxide that worsens global warming, it found.Of course, these are largely "statistical deaths"; deaths calculated to have occurred by a model which extrapolates from studies using much greater concentrations of pollutants than found in the real world, and using a number of assumptions including "no threshold" which "produces" deaths at very low levels of pollution, given the exposure of a sufficiently large population.
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The study finds all-electric vehicles cause 86 percent more deaths from air pollution than do cars powered by regular gasoline. Coal produces 39 percent of the country's electricity, according to the Department of Energy.
But if the power supply comes from natural gas, the all-electric car produces half as many air pollution health problems as gas-powered cars do. And if the power comes from wind, water or wave energy, it produces about one-quarter of the air pollution deaths. Hybrids and diesel engines are cleaner than gas, causing fewer air pollution deaths and spewing less heat-trapping gas.
But ethanol isn't, with 80 percent more air pollution mortality, according to the study.
"If we're using ethanol for environmental benefits, for air quality and climate change, we're going down the wrong path," Hill said.
What the proponents of this model usually forget to tell people is that indoor air pollution, from local sources is much greater than outdoor pollution, and probably causes far greater mortality.