The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Electric Cars Hurt the Environment

The U.S. and other countries have spent billions subsidizing electric cars, an environmentalist solution which has been met with only lukewarm enthusiasm from customers. And it turns out environmentalists are split over whether these things are in fact worse for the environment than what we’ve got. A new research paper from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has this to say (via The Guardian):

The study highlights in particular the “toxicity” of the electric car’s manufacturing process compared to conventional petrol/diesel cars. It concludes that the “global warming potential” of the process used to make electric cars is twice that of conventional cars.

The study also says – as has been noted many times before – that electric cars do not make sense if the electricity they consume is produced predominately by coal-fired power stations. “It is counterproductive to promote [electric vehicles] EVs in regions where electricity is produced from oil, coal, and lignite combustion,” it concludes.

Making batteries for electric cars is a dirty process, and if the electric cars are run off a grid which is primarily powered by coal, as it is in China, the environmental benefits completely disappear.

Green jobs, green energy, green cars: the record of green public policy is far more problematic than most environmentalists are willing to acknowledge. Like the “peace activists” of the 1930s whose foolish policies helped Hitler stage a bid for global mastery by disarming the democracies, green activists today are often doing more harm than good.

The world needs better environmental policies; unfortunately, environmentalists are often some of the biggest obstacles to clear thinking and smart policy. The movement isn’t ready for prime time.

Published on October 6, 2012 11:30 am