While uncomfortable, sometimes it pays to think beyond the obvious:
People who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming.
Ethanol isn't so green, either.
"It's kind of hard to beat gasoline" for public and environmental health, said study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota. "A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean ... are not better than gasoline."
The key is where the source of the electricity all-electric cars. If it comes from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution made in generating the electricity, according to the study that is published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They also are significantly worse at heat-trapping carbon dioxide that worsens global warming, it found.
I'm not saying the authors are right or wrong--I haven't read the original study and I know how findings in studies can get mangled in press blurbs. But I've often wondered if those who buy electric cars think about electricity sources when they buy. I get the sense that buyers are often well-intentioned ('At least I'm not burning those evil fossil fuels.') without considering the unintended (and unseen) consequences.