10 February 2020
Get a Tesla, Save the World
The global crisis that is severely underreported and swept under the rug with the potential to destroy the planet we call home: climate change. The large increase in greenhouse gas emission caused by our own human activity is resulting in the warming of our atmosphere, and has already proven to cause sea ice to melt, animal ranges to shift, and weather patterns to drastically change- these results are only predicted to worsen with time. If this crisis is not addressed and merely attempted to be repaired we as an entire population can expect our wildlife, water availability, food, and physical health to be severely damaged. The United States (U.S) alone has been named the second highest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, and has declared this to be a national security threat that must be addressed now. Fortunately, the world is not yet ending- we still have time to make change and improve our lifestyles; through improved energy efficiency, careful balance, and reducing the amount of fossil fuel we burn daily with electrically powered vehicles, some negative effects can be reversed and even relieved, along with a number of benefits for the environment and consumer. This change cannot wait for everyone’s convenience, climate change is an urgent global crisis that must be recognized and dealt with- with the population of the United States participation in modifications, greenhouse emission can be drastically reduced and encourage positive transformation across the country.
Reported by the Climate Special Science Report (CSSR), a website consisting of principledactive reports responsible for assessments of the science of climate change regarding the United States, climate change is largely the result of human activity- as there are no other convincing alternate explanations… considering the alarming rate is it worsening at. Innovations of technology, such as earth orbiting satellites and climate models, have allowed scientists the ability to collect accurate data on the planets climate on a global scale, and compare the temperature over spans of time. The rise of greenhouse gas emission is the largest cause of climate change and responsible for over half of the planets increased temperature form 1951-2010 alone- these gasses absorb and emit radiant energy within the thermal infrared range thus leading to the greenhouse effect, and are mainly the result of burning fossil fuels like gas, coal and oil (CSSR). The greenhouse effect is generally when heat radiation from a planet’s atmosphere increasesthe planet’s surface temperature above what it would be normally withoutthis atmosphere, a.k.a. human inhabitants.
As of 2009 the U.S was the second top emitter of CO2 (fossil fuels) producing 5,200 million MT – that was 17.8% of the world’s total; not to mention being the second top emitter of greenhouse gasses, producing 15.7% of the world’s total as of 2005 (F. Cherubini et al.). Overall, from 1850-2007 the U.S was responsible for 28.8% of the entire worlds greenhouse gas emissions, placing the nation at the top of contributors to climate change as of those years and these number have only continued to increase. If the U.S has the power to contribute such large numbers to the rise of climate change, the U.S then has the ability to make powerful, positive steps in attempt to reduce the planets warming. The leading physical driver of these gas emissions in the U.S is power generation such as fossil fuels being burned to produce electricity, particularly in order to run cars. Considering the immense amount of power generated daily throughout the entire country, greenhouse gasses are produced rapidly and being densely held in the atmosphere, versus being radiated off into space as they naturally would. If the U.S was to improve energy efficiency, gas emissions can be reduced and provide a number of environmental and economic benefits.
The question still remains: “What difference will I really make?” as one person out of seven billion people on earth, diminishing motivation to make change. Majority of the U.S population own a personal vehicle in order to live a sufficient life- unfortunately, tailpipe gas emissions are a large cause of pollution in the U.S and emit 24 pounds of global warming gasses per gallon of fuel, accounting for one fifth of allU.S gas emissions (Granovskii, Mikhail, et al.). Switching from a gas fueled vehicle to an electric vehicle (EV) that is solely “fueled” by electric power eliminates burning fossil fuels and tailpipe emission, thus creates less pollution, and can drastically reducing greenhouse gas emission.The typical gas-powered engine is replaced by an electric motor which is essentially powered by a rechargeable battery- charging stations then replace gas stations. Harmful emissions not only destroy the atmosphere but impact our physical health- less gas emission equates to better air quality.
From smart phones and smart TV’s, to smart refrigerators and even smart cars, technology has proved to provide convenience and ability beyond what we could have imagined before- it now offers assistance in improving our environment. Recharging the battery of an EV costs less than refueling a car with gas- Energysage provides a simple hypothetical that applies to most, if not all, EV’s: advanced lightweight batteries can travel 100 miles, only consuming 25 to 40 kilowatt-hours of electricity.Presumingan EV can travel three miles per kWh, it can then travel about 43 miles for $1.00. In contrast, if gas costs $2.50 per gallon, an average gasoline vehicle with an average fuel efficiency of 22 mpg will travel 10 miles for the same price- the distance traveled for a fuel cost of $1.00 is quadrupled (Energysage). Estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency, an EV owner saves roughly $4,250 in fuel costs alone over a five-year period- not to mention never making inconvenient trips to the gas station again as you can “gas up” at home, or even at a public charging station. Furthermore, electric cars are low maintenance and typically only require maintenance visits for tire rotation, brake pads, and other components that are essential in all vehicles.
Naturally, the cost of a car is one of the first concerns that comes to the average person’s mind- fortunately as of 2020 EV’s have been around for roughly 12 years (thanks to Tesla) and are progressively becoming more common as the market grows- a simple google search can land you no less than 65 car options of $10,000 or less where their value is only going up. The selection is grand and public charging stations are more convenient than ever, as of 2019 there are more than 21,00 accessible charging stations throughout the U.S in common public places like shopping malls, airports, parking garages, etc.- road trips across the country are effortless. Being that the car can be charged at home, the cost of electricity will inevitably increase- the best economic option is to convert the home and garage to solar panels, which can potentially set the owner back almost $20,000. However, this is not accounting for how much money that will be saved within years of having this EV in gas money and maintenance tune-ups; a federal tax can cover up-to 30% of the cost and some states offer incentives to encourage going solar! You don’t have to tackle these finances all alone. Take the infamous Tesla for example: charging a Tesla from 0% to 100% takes about 12 hours which can be done overnight, or whenever is most ideal, that is essentially waking up every morning to a full tank of gas that lasts average 370 miles; to put it in perspective, that’s a drive from LA to San Francisco. Making the sacrifice to go solar and charge your car with natural energy from the sun is not the only option available, just the eco-friendliest. The benefits of owning an EV are worth the minor sacrifices and will help save our planet.
The rate at which climate changes depends on the amount of heat-trapping gasses that are emitted, the choice is ours. If we don’t act now sea levels rise that have the potential to affect over 1 billion people by 2050 will rise, coral reefs will diminish, arctic sea ice will melt (as if it hasn’t enough already) which is warming faster than anything else on this planet, extreme heat waves will take place that will severely affect millions of people, and we will experience increased flood risk (World Wild Life). As just a short list of consequences that will take place if change is not made, the least we can do is make effort in acting on climate change by something as simple as switching to an EV- a new car that will save money, last long, require minimum maintenance and improve our environment. As the second highest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world, we as the population of the United States clearly have the ability to make a lasting impact and take the lead in transformation for the better.
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Granovskii, Mikhail, et al. “Economic and Environmental Comparison of Conventional, Hybrid, Electric and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles.” Journal of Power Sources, Elsevier, 18 Jan. 2006, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378775305016502.
“Our Planet Is Warming. Here’s What’s at Stake If We Don’t Act Now.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/our-planet-is-warming-here-s-what-s-at-stake-if-we-don-t-act-now.
“Pros and Cons of Electric Cars.” EnergySage, 2019, http://www.energysage.com/electric-vehicles/101/pros-and-cons-electric-cars/.
Usgcrp. “About This Report.” Climate Science Special Report, science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/front-matter-about/.
Ürge-Vorsatz, Diana, and Bert Metz. “Energy Efficiency: How Far Does It Get Us in Controlling Climate Change?” SpringerLink, Springer Netherlands, 17 Mar. 2009, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12053-009-9049-7.