Electric cars won’t solve climate change

By Donald Halsing

Editor-in-Chief

I love my Dodge Dakota. She’s Atlantic Blue, 19-feet long, and 18 years old.

I love my truck so much I named her Pegasus after a British Rail Class 47.

This truck has cost me thousands of dollars for new tires, a replacement water pump, new exhaust system, and, of course, fuel for the beast.

While the 3.9 liter V6 engine inhales gas, averaging 16 miles per gallon, Pegasus has faithfully flown me to school since 2017. I couldn’t ask for more, and can’t afford a new set of wheels, either.

But if I could get a new vehicle today, I would not buy an electric car.

Last December, Gov. Charlie Baker announced the state plans to ban the sale of combustion-engine vehicles by 2035.

Baker’s plan is the wrong approach to achieving carbon-neutral transportation.

Electric cars cover up the root cause of climate change: an inconceivable amount of greenhouse gasses humans have artificially added to the atmosphere.

While electric cars can receive power directly from renewable energy sources, chances are their batteries are charging on dead dinosaur fuel because of the U.S. power grid’s operational design.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal, oil, and natural gas power plants provide electricity when renewables cannot, especially at night.

Solar panels are useless if the sun isn’t shining and wind turbines serve no purpose when the wind doesn’t blow. 

Electric vehicles won’t solve climate change if they are plugged into a power grid that still largely relies on fossil fuels.

According to the EIA, 60% of U.S. electricity production in 2020 came from fossil fuels. Electricity production accounted for 32% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions last year.

I believe combustion engines are an integral component of a carbon-neutral transportation system. Our cars will be clean and efficient once we feed them the right type of fuel.

Biofuels don’t add greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. Plants grown to create biofuels absorb carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

For example, ethanol is made from corn and already mixed into gasoline.

If we change where liquid fuel comes from, combustion-engine vehicles already on the roads, rails, and airways can become carbon neutral without any modifications.

Biofuel technology is still an emerging field. Just like electric vehicles, the biofuel industry requires more research and resources in order to provide environmentally friendly transportation solutions.

Humanity’s time and resources would be better spent researching new biofuels instead of electric cars. Until most electricity comes from renewable sources, including power plants run on biofuel, electric cars will worsen climate change.

If we want to reverse climate change, we need to capture greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere and put them back in the ground.

According to MIT, carbon capture technology allows carbon dioxide from industrial processes and electricity production to be captured and injected into empty oil wells and other storage reservoirs deep underground. 

I believe scientists need to research ways to convert plant biomass into a substance which can be injected back into the ground, too. This research would add a new route to the carbon cycle, speeding up our species’ response to global climate change.

Carbon capture technology has the potential to reverse global warming. But as with biofuels, it needs more research to expand its scope. 

Governments and companies should direct research and resources into biofuel and carbon capture technologies, not electric cars. These technologies can stop global warming faster than electric vehicle technology.

I hope my Pegasus stays on the road for many more years. She’s only clocked 123,000 miles and has many more to drive. 

My dream will only become a reality if liquid fuels remain a viable option, which is only possible if humans address climate change head on by investing in biofuel research and carbon capture technology.

The only wheel that needs reinventing is the carbon cycle.