Anyone who is a student of environmental issues knows that fossil-fueled vehicles are a major contributor to our present predicament, and are unsustainable both from an emissions standpoint, and because the worldwide resource pool used to power them is in decline. The answer is often touted to be electric cars. But how “green” are electric cars? If a recent study is to be believed, not as green as you might think.
There are two basic lines of thought about the negative impact electric vehicles have. The first is that all the mining, refining, manufacturing and disposal associated with the required batteries comes with significant environmental costs, with special worries associated with the necessary lithium. The bigger issue argues that charging an electric car from a dirty, inefficient grid doesn’t reduce emissions, but rather simply shifts them to a new outlet, the power plant. That’s the “long-tailpipe” argument, and there are claims that under certain scenarios driving an electric car can be more environmentally detrimental than driving a fossil-fuel car.