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Electric cars actually causing more pollution

Electric cars actually causing more pollution thumbnail

Al Gore, call your office!

A University of Toronto professor says owning an electric car in some Canadian provinces could actually be worse for the environment than conventional gas-powered automobiles.

In Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, electric cars generate more carbon pollution over their lifetimes than gas-powered cars, according to Chris Kennedy, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Toronto, in an interview with CBC’s The Current.

electric car

Those provinces generate much of their electricity by burning coal, so consuming more electricity – such as by charging an electric car battery – significantly boosts carbon emissions.

“So… literally, if you’re living in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Nova Scotia, an electric car does not make you green?” wondered host Anna Maria Tremonti. “You’re better off filling up at the pump?”

“You’re better off filling up at the pump,” Kennedy said. “Or if you really want to go for something greener, you should be buying a conventional hybrid car.”

The professor published a commentary on the issue in the March issue of Nature Climate Change.

According to the CBC:

The carbon emissions from electricity generation are measured in tonnes of CO2 emitted per gigawatt hour of electricity produced. That ranges from:

* Close to 0 for hydroelectric, nuclear and renewable energy.
* 500 to 600 for natural gas power plants.
* 1,000 for coal-fired power plants.

Thus, Kennedy urges low-carbon sources of power.

“Electrification,” he said, “is the most pivotal strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.”

But for the time being, electric cars may be doing more harm than good.

The American Mirror

42 Comments on "Electric cars actually causing more pollution"

  1. Plantagenet on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 4:14 pm 

    Its been known for a long time that many “green” solutions actually cause more environmental damage. A classic one in the US are the federal ethanol subsides —– the government spends billions to subsidize rich agribiz and wealthy farmers to grow corn for ethanol, and it takes as much oil to grow the corn as can be produced in ethanol to supposedly reduce the use of oil.


  2. Pveroi on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 5:08 pm 

    Or move away from coal and them you’re good.

  3. mike on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 5:31 pm 

    The last Plantagenet king of England got buried earlier this week. To be more precise, reburied. He had been first buried in a monastery 1485 after being killed in battle. The monastery wes razed to the ground a century later, and in the 20th century, it became the site of a municipal car park. Archaeologists dug up Richard Plantagenet’s bones this year and DNA proved the skeleton with its twisted spine was indisputably that of Richard III, a failed king who ruled only for two years and probably murdered his nephew/predecessor, as well as his own brother. Shakespeare has the man whose skeleton has just been reburied say “Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,Have no delight to pass away the time,Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
    And descant on mine own deformity:
    And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,To entertain these fair well-spoken days,I am determined to prove a villain And hate the idle pleasures of these days”. Those old 1485 bones of Richard Plantagenet belonged to a man who chose to be perverse and contrary and to embrace negativity, and It is a nice irony that another Plantagenet has adopted a set of unfleshed bones as his avatar and seems to be trying to be contrary, perverse and “to prove a villain”


  4. penury on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 5:59 pm 

    It would appear that in this time of travail, the more we humans attempt to improve the situation, the worse we make it. It really is a shame this used to be such a beautiful planet.

  5. Plantagenet on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 6:58 pm 

    Hi MIke:

    I don’t make fun of your relatives. Please don’t make fun of mine.

    Yes, Richard III was a bit of a piker, but I’m told I take more after King Richard I.


  6. GregT on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 7:41 pm 

    So Mike,

    Are you blaming lil planter’s demeanour on genetics? I guess it could be a possibility, but I really do find it hard to believe that Richard could have been an annoying little troll. They didn’t have internet forums to hide behind back then.

  7. DMyers on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 7:41 pm 

    Plant, I agree with your comment. But I question the following: “…supposedly reduce the use of oil.” Simply as a matter of clarification and of perspective, ethanol was originally promoted to lessen our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, rather than to reduce oil usage, per se. I realize there’s a fine line between the two, but ethanol had an explicit purpose.

    The whole ethanol thing started after the oil embargo of the seventies (a time, characterized in part by long lines at gas stations). It was based on a political reaction to an apparent oil shortage, which threatened to alter the American lifestyle. Ethanol was to be a gasoline replacement, home grown, so we would not need to import oil for gasoline. It was all about energy independence and forging ahead (i.e., using ever more energy as quickly as possible).

    In any event, if this seemed prudent in the seventies, it looks utterly ridiculous now, from several different points of view. But it does indeed stand as a prime example of all the problems a solution can cause.

  8. dave thompson on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 8:35 pm 

    Yes Planta good observation. This electric car alternative energy greenwashing needs to be exposed for the fraud that it is.

  9. Ted Wilson on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 8:40 pm 

    Electric cars have atleast 90 MPGe (e for equivalent). That means when a gallon of gasoline is burned in a power plant and from that electricity, the vehicle will run for 90 miles which is 3 times more than a regular gasoline vehicle.

    So even if the electricity is produced from coal, electric vehicle will be lot cleaner than regular gasmobile.

    Find out how much money this professor got from oil companies.
    And also check weather he is a professor in Science
    some Egyptian History.
    Sometime in near future Oil will be pushed to History.

  10. Makati1 on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 8:42 pm 

    When any one says “green tech” I laugh at the oxymoron. About like “military intelligence”. A contradiction of terms.

    Name one techie product that is not a negative on the ecosystem. And the ecosystem is all that is important to life. Not one microchip can make oxygen or water or food. They can only waste resources.

    Capitalism and techies will both shrink to nothing in the world of the future as excess energy was all that spawned, and kept alive, the techie religion. A previous article on Serfs and Lords has it right. Maybe we will call them fiefdoms, run by a mafia boss or a chieftain, or a warlord, but they will be powered by serf muscle.

  11. Poordogabone on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 8:59 pm 

    Plant you should get a more eco-friendly avatar, you’re draining the electric grid with all the comments you are leaving.

  12. Bandits on Wed, 25th Mar 2015 9:53 pm 

    Okay Wilson, you should be able to provide and instance where a barrel of oil was not burnt because of an electric car, (if you do attempt this impossible task, I would like to know where it is) keeping in mind we are producing oil at maximum from every accessible niche on the planet.

    I would venture to claim that in fact electric cars are contributing to the burn by extending the time we have at BAU. The same goes for Windmills, solar, geothermal, hydro, tidal or whatever. They ALL, including electric cars require oil for manufacture, oil to maintain and oil built infrastructure to be viable.

  13. mike on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 3:30 am 

    Ah yes. Richard I. Another Plantagenet. Hardly ever in England. Spent most of his adult wasting English men’s lives and treasure in massacring Muslims in a futile war, a kind of mediaeval George Dubya Bush really. Neglected his duties back home in England and let his incompetent brother rule in his stead (remember Magna Carta?)and got himself kidnapped and held to ransom somewhere in Central Europe so that more taxes raised from the English population had to be wasted on getting him back to his kingdom.

    You’re welcome to mock my relatives, Plantagenet. Find ’em first.


  14. Richard Ralph Roehl on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 5:16 am 

    Think about billions of electric cars. Think of the material resources (mining operations) needed to manufacture new mega-batteries (and replacement batteries) for all these billions of electric cars. Think of the recycling issues involved with this technology.

    And think about all the nuclear fission time-bomb plants needed to produce electricity for these billions of cars and trucks.

    Think of the god damn glory of technology… such as microwave cancer cooking.

  15. GregT on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 10:29 am 

    Think about billions of electric cars.

    Now think about where they would be driven to, and what they would be driven on.

  16. Kenz300 on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 10:48 am 

    Coal is becoming out of favor around the world and is quickly being replaced by wind and solar power.

    Even China is shutting down coal fired power plants.

    Beijing to Shut All Major Coal Power Plants to Cut Pollution

  17. Mike989 on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 12:21 pm 

    Right Wing again caught Failing Math.

    Completely forgets about the efficiency difference of a gas car vs. an electric car.

    Whenever someone this smart makes this kind of BLUNDER you know there’s Oil Money involved.

    Want the world to be 1000% better, Never Listen to the Right Wing Dumbass Corporate Ass Kissers.

  18. Mike989 on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 12:29 pm 

    China is building 20 Gigawatts of Wind Power just this year. Even they are DROPPING Coal.

  19. Mike989 on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 12:31 pm 

    Think about billions of electric cars and Solar and Wind power: NO POLLUTION Anywhere?

    – Quiet cities
    – Cool cities in summer.
    – Clean air everywhere.

    Yes, that would be terrible, for Exxon.

  20. GregT on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 12:54 pm 


    China’s coal consumption doubled from 2003-2010. Exactly what would be expected with ~10% growth rate in the economy. At the current growth rate of ~7% coal consumption should be expected to double in another decade.

    Alternate energy production in China accounts for less than 1% of total energy usage. Wind Power makes up less than .08% of total electric power generation.

  21. GregT on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 12:57 pm 

    “Think about billions of electric cars and Solar and Wind power: NO POLLUTION Anywhere?”

    Think again. Where do you think that billions of electric vehicles will come from? Never mind the infrastructure to support them.

    You are living in a dream world Mike. Nothing could be further removed from reality.

  22. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 1:01 pm 

    Greg this is not possible in today’s world. “At the current growth rate of ~7% coal consumption should be expected to double in another decade”. I have seen multiple articles saying that China’s coal growth is stalling for a number of reasons from limits to production to regulatory reasons concerning pollution. Growth cannot increase at quoted rates with coal in decline. It is not possible to bring enough of any of the AltE, Hydo, and or gas to offset that coal decline. This IMHO is a defacto indicator of a lower than posted growth rate for China. This will become all too evident shortly once the fog of the fake reporting and the malinvestment extend and pretend policies are over.

  23. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 1:13 pm 

    “You are living in a dream world Mike. Nothing could be further removed from reality.” I agree Greg fully. Mikie is in an AltE haze with greenie delusions of an alternative BAUtopianism without pain and suffering. He can’t get his mind around the fact that his greenie world is fossil fuel driven. He can’t understand that there is no breakout of AltE from this fossil fuel reality. AltE can never replicate itself and at the same time support the complexity of BAU. Mikie, there is no substitution to the foundational commodity oil to BAU. Get a grip on reality and leave denial. AltE is great but the delusions of a vast AltE smart grid and shiny BAUalternative is hogwash.

    Mikie that does not mean AltE is bad. Greg and I are fully behind any and all AltE efforts just without the denial and delusions. We support your efforts and are ourselves in that effort. Good luck with your efforts and keep us updated on what you are doing.

  24. Bob Owens on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 1:48 pm 

    I am so tired of articles like this. EVs are mostly charged at night. That is when electric rates are the cheapest and there is the least stress on the grid. At night generators are run when they are not needed so they will still be producing the next morning. They can’t ramp up and down very quickly, for the most part. A lot of nighttime electric is basically thrown away. So EVs will be using electrons that are going to waste in our current system. There will have to be a lot more EVs before we have to increase our generation capacity at all. This author needs to start ranting about the giant SUVs that are gobbling down twice the gas as their thrifty sedan counterparts, if he wants to talk about pollution.

  25. Apneaman on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 2:09 pm 

    I recall Tainter talking about EV’s and Hybrids are just throwing more complexity at the problem. That seems to be the preferred (only) solution; thinking if it worked in the past it will always work. The No Limits mentality. Very childish me thinks. Even if you could replace every internal combustion vehicle with an EV (you can’t) you still need an expanded electricity delivery system. How is that possible in America when the existing one is falling apart and fuck all is being done about it? Let’s throw more complexity/money/energy at it and when the unintended consequences (always) of doing that rear their ugly head – we will throw some more…to infinity. Tell yourself.

    Aging US Power Grid Blacks Out More Than Any Other Developed Nation

    The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

    Public spending on roads, airports, bridges, railways and power grids is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened

  26. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 2:44 pm 

    The U.S. spending 1/2 what Europe does on infrastructure may partly explain why Europe is bankrupt. The huge malinvestment in China of highways to nowhere as one example of many, well, that shows some smart planning. All in all I don’t see much better in the rest of the world concerning infrastructure.

  27. drwater on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 3:15 pm 

    Not sure this is correct:

    * Close to 0 for hydroelectric, nuclear and renewable energy.
    * 500 to 600 for natural gas power plants.
    * 1,000 for coal-fired power plants.

    The newer combined-cycle natural gas fired power plants have 1/4 the carbon footprint of coal fired power plants due to double the thermal efficiency and half of the intrinsic carbon in the fuel.

  28. Apneaman on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 3:51 pm 

    Well that did not take you long Davy.

  29. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 3:54 pm 

    Yeap, Ape Man, just callin you on the poop keepin it fair. That is a full time job on this site.

  30. Apneaman on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 4:12 pm 

    What does fair have do do with the facts?
    Have you fallen for the fox news “fair and balanced” propaganda? Political correctness? It’s only a full time job because you let it get to you. Your may burn yourself out trying to keep up with the criticisms of the empire even just the ones from your fellow countrymen. When your the most powerful country in the world, it goes with the territory. Especially when the country has been bragging for so long. Aren’t you from the show me state, Davy?

  31. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 4:19 pm 

    That was quick Ape Man. Ha ha. Keeping the facts fair. You guys with your constant diet of US bashing seem to think anything but US bashing is illegal on this site. If any balancing facts are given the typical Ape Man response like above is given. That response is almost a copy and paste to the last time we had this discussion. I just can’t figure out why you can bash the U.S. and I can’t bash any of your super heros. You anti-Americans are so touchy.

  32. Apneaman on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 4:21 pm 

    If you start connecting the dots that make up the Big Picture it’s obvious that EV’s are just a distraction – another form of denial.

    Fossil fuel firms are still bankrolling climate denial lobby groups

    Antarctic ice shelves rapidly thinning

  33. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 4:33 pm 

    Now Ape Man buddy that is a topic we can agree on and tear apart together. Nice to be on the same side sometimes.

  34. Apneaman on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 4:40 pm 

    What super hero country do I have Davy? Show me any comment I have made saying any country is going to come out ahead. I’m the fucking king of Overshoot-Doom. You are obviously not paying attention to my views on where we are at as a species;just grouping everyone together who hurts you feelings when the say bad words about your country. Do you even understand why it makes you angry? I’m sure some other Americans may find it irritating, but no one comes rushing in like you every fucking time swooping in like the hyper-vigilant hyper-sensitive parent unnecessarily defensive of any and all criticisms of America (your baby). My country, like every other one, is going to shit too. I may be fond of it – even love it, but I don’t love it like some insecure starry eyed teenaged boy who falls in love with the first girl that touches his dick and wants to attack anyone who talks to her. Every time there is a criticism of America, your there saying yabut, “the other kids did bad things too”. True, but the other kids are not the biggest strongest richest kids in the neighborhood (with nukes) who bully everyone every time they want the other kids toys and then brag about how pure and special they are. Lots of people loose their temper every day, but they don’t punch people in the face over it and call it a preemptive strike or some other bullshit pre-text. It’s baffling how reading someone like you who obviously has as good as grasp as anyone on most of the root causes of humanities predicaments, yet continually exhibits one of them (excessive tribalism/patriotism). Other than that your fucking awesome Davy. Get over it.

  35. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 5:14 pm 

    Damn Ape man That’s going to play well with the anties. Like I said why is it legal on this site to give a steady diet of anti-American facts but if someone like me stands up and says “yea but” oh shit the world is coming to a friggen end cause the anties have someone diminishing their arguments. God forbid their super heroes have warts too.

    I enjoy being the anties party crasher. I could give a shit if I am liked because I farted at the party. Your long winded retort shows me I achieved my goal. You succeeded in puking your agenda. What I respect about you Ape Man is you are not afraid to say you hate America. Honesty goes a long way with me.

  36. Speculawyer on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 5:17 pm 

    Right-wing website distorts the findings of one person in order to bash EVs. How shocking. Next thing you know they’ll deny climate change too.

  37. Apneaman on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 1:35 am 

    Davy, I have no quarrel with your critiques of the other basket case countries. I find most of them to more or less match my assessments. Bringing them up is always your response when anyone disses the empire. Why is it always pissing contests?

    Anyway, I just finished reading
    “1177 BC : The Year Civilization Collapsed” by Eric Cline (he’s an American and I like him so there). I highly recommend it.

    Here is a related post Prof Cline did for Huff Post last year.

  38. Apneaman on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 3:26 am 

    Davy, this one is for you.

    Did ‘foreign agent’ held in Turkey work for Canada?
    Questions swirl as Turkey detains man accused of helping three British girls join Islamic State.

  39. Davy on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 7:02 am 

    Ape Man, thanks for the book reference. I am finished with the last one. It looks like one I will like I will check it out.

    Ape, you are pro-North American. You are willing to criticize the other basket case nations. I respect that and admire your honesty for your hate of the US establishment. I have no love for the US establishment nor the lies, corruption, and market manipulations. The American culture is clearly in decline and nothing to crow exceptionalism about. The US foreign policy is the biggest risk to world peace now.

    My point is I am going to keep things balanced here when I see excessive US criticism and a lack of accompanying criticism of the other basket case nations of BAU. I am referring to the Makster in particular. He is an Asian agendist that has never criticized his own adopted country or region. Agendist stink and air freshener is needed to keep the site balanced otherwise this site loses respectability as fair and balance.

    Like you said in a previous comment the excessive US criticism goes with the territory but fairness and balance goes with the territory of a site that has respectability. We can’t let this site turn into a one sided American trashing and bashing site when so many other countries and regions are guilty of the same sins or have the same problems. One example is the water and drought issues. This is a worldwide issues especially representative of a country like China.

    On this site the lion share of the critique is on the US. I am going to make sure the others are mentioned. I suggest you just ignore my effort being you understand this balancing effort and have acknowledge this. I will ignore your focus on the US which you rightly describe as going with the territory of being the top dog of the bad dogs. My beef is with Billy T cousin of Baghdad Bob otherwise known here as The Makster not you Ape Man.

  40. Apneaman on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 7:26 am 

    I’m pretty much disgusted with establishment in Canada too. Same for all the big ones. They are well on their way to becoming a truly global club that transcends all borders. They need those trade agreements as the next step. The technology is what makes it possible. I am not naive enough to think there would never be an establishment/ruling class, but they have gone way too far. Anything could happen. The history books are full of arrogant over confident, dead before their time, elites. Trust me the smart one are sweating bullets. They are running on illusion and faith now. It will not last forever and when enough people lose faith and hope that’s when TSHTF. Ignorance is overrated – people know more than they are saying, but they are trapped by self preservation. Do you really think every American in the police, military, bureaucracy wants to see things continue down this path towards fascism? Do you think they will never push back? I suspect that we will see some moves when there is a crash.

  41. Davy on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 8:45 am 

    Ape, I am part of that group you mention that does not want to see fascism with rigged for the rich economic system continue the rape and pillage of what good is left of this dying country called America. It will only make the collapse worse by destroying what social fabric remains that will be needed to mitigate and adjust to the collapse ahead.

    There is smart money prepping. I read about them on my doom sites. We can be sure TPTB know the full extent of the problems. Where TPTB are deceiving themselves is their belief in the exceptionalism of technology and complexity will give them safe haven. My point is technology and complexity will quickly suffer entropic decay and be rendered useless without BAU resupply and BAU technological maintenance. TPTB are in this denial like many BAUtopians whether green, AltE’ers, AGWer’s or the fascist NWO thieves in the various dens around the world.

    There are few except the pure doomers that see BAU for what it is. BAU is a dying once in a world massive growth of one species at the expense of all other species and the complexity of an earth wide ecosystem from one foundational commodity called oil. Hydro carbons will not form for another many millions of years to allow this again. We should forget our exceptionalism being able to substitute something in place of hydrocarbons. We should forget our knowledge base and technological wherewithal remaining once BAU decays.

    We will be heading down towards the stone age how far that descent goes will partially be related to how much denial we remain in. There are options to salvage civilization but I see none being followed except by small niche groups that will quickly be swallowed up in the mess of descent. Our options also include suicide and there are more indications than not that is our direction in the end.

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