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The Electric Car

“Don't find fault, find a remedy” said Henry Ford, the inventor of the first mass production of cars. So what would Ford think of the predicament that his invention left for the world? Ford was a problem solver, and would agree to any change that would make the world better, even if it meant replacing his revolutionizing gas-powered cars with electric ones. Making the transition and ridding the world of gas-powered cars in favor of the electric models should happen now, so our generation can begin to solve the worldwide energy crisis.

There will soon come a time when you will lecture to your children: “When I was your age, there used to be ice year-round in the Arctic” or “Back in the good old days, there were still coral reefs”, or maybe you’ll mention your favorite animal that has long become extinct. It was all caused by uncontrolled global warming. The blame can only be put upon yourself; you could have taken action and saved the world. You could have switched from your gas guzzler to an electric car, and you could have done it awhile ago, in the year 2009.
First off, the carbon emissions from gas powered cars are destroying the planet and presenting many global disasters. A Los Angeles Times Environment journalist notes that“Vehicles…account for 40% of U.S. fuel consumption and about 20% of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions, a colorless, odorless gas that is trapping heat in the atmosphere and disrupting the climate” (Roosevelt). Gas-powered cars are destroying the natural balance of the earth, and by instead using electricity and taking away these emissions, we would be on track to prevent complete destruction of the planet. Unfortunately, as Mark Hertsgaard, a writer for Time Magazine reports, “It now accounts for 80% of energy usage now in the U.S.”( Will We Run Out of Gas?”). This is the majority of the energy usage, and to change this usage by removing the carbon would have a huge impact on fighting the climate crisis. The widely published author Nick Georgano who is an expert in the automobile industry, says that “The electric car is 100% emission free. It is much more efficient, by 400-600 percent”( Ch 2: Alternative Power.). The electric car’s rechargeable battery gets better mileage than using gas. The carbon emissions of cars are not only altering our environment, but also create air pollution, which has become a leading source of illness. Hertsgaard later continues that in fact, “9 of the world's 10 most air-polluted cities are found in China, and nearly 1 of every 3 deaths there is linked to the horrific condition of the air and water”.Since the majority of air pollution is produced by car emissions, it has been found that gas guzzlers are directly responsible for much illness. Electric cars reduce these emissions, which will create a better environment.
At the same time, critics of the electric cars still find much fault in the electric battery reliability. They argue that it still has room for improvement, and a critical journalist insists that “charging and depleting a battery is a destructive process. The battery will eventually die out. When the battery degrades, the original 100 mile-range can dwindle to 35 miles” (Slegers). “But in the last couple of years, huge improvements and new battery chemistries ‘opened the opportunity’ for ambitious product plans…”(Electric Vehicles are Charging Up the Automotive Industry), says Ken Bensinger, a business blogger and reporter for the Los Angeles Times. The problems with the technology are quickly being overcome, and there will soon be no reason to not buy an electric car.
Meanwhile, the noise pollution caused also by the gas guzzlers harming city life. “A growing body of evidence confirms that the chronic din of…traffic…is taking a toll on our health and happiness…But study after study has found that community noise is interrupting our sleep, interfering with our children's learning, suppressing our immune systems and even increasing…our chances of having heart attack[s]”(Weiss) says a science and medical reporter for the Washington Post. These troubles can be ameliorated by the increased use of electric cars. “Experiments by psychologist Lawrence Rosenblum of the University of California at Riverside found that subjects listening to recordings of combustion-engine vehicles approaching at 5 mph—with traffic noise mixed in to simulate a parking lot—could detect its familiar rumble at a distance of 28 feet. They couldn’t detect a Toyota Prius going that speed until it was just seven feet away” (Stover). Hybrids and electric cars are much quieter than gas guzzlers and cut down on noise pollution. Nevertheless, this presents a problem: with less noise and therefore less warning of an oncoming car, pedestrians are more at risk. Still, the problem has been foreseen and the threat of quiet cars is currently being minimized. A Pedestrian Safety Act is pending approval in Congress, and it lobbies to require a certain decibel level to alert pedestrians to a car’s presence.
If we switch from gas powered cars to electric, we will not rely other countries and their natural gas and oil reserves. Relying on other countries renders us dependent, which weakens the U.S., especially its economy and power. Dr. Fatih Birol, Chief Economist and Director of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, said in an interview with a U.K. newspaper: “‘The market power of the very few oil-producing countries, mainly in the Middle East, will increase very quickly’” (Connor). If we all switch to electric cars, we won’t need as much gas, which will create more independence. We won’t be under the influence of other countries, who can manipulate us with their power. Even President Barack Obama cries out in desperation: “Will we allow ourselves to be held hostage to the whims of tyrants and dictators who control the world’s oil wells? Or will we control our own energy and our own destiny?”(Revkin). These are the questions that must be considered. There is another aspect to consider as well: what if we use all the gas and oil in our planet? For Dr. Birol then asserts that “the oil on which modern civilization depends is running out far faster than previously predicted and that global production is likely to peak in about 10 years – at least a decade earlier than most governments had estimated” (Connor). We can completely side-step this problem if we switch to electric cars now, and swear off using large amounts of gas on just transportation.
As an added bonus, electric cars are much cheaper than the average gas-powered car. The original prices of both cars are approximately the same, but the owners of the electric vehicles save at the pump: “A 2007 study by the non-profit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) calculated that powering a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) would cost the equivalent of roughly 75 cents per gallon of gasoline—a price not seen at the pump for 30 years” (Scientific American). This price change will save the owner approximately two dollars and twenty five cents per gallon. This is a huge difference, and the biggest incentive to our materialistic society to buy an electric car. However, an opponent of the electric car from the New York Times Design column criticizes it because “…the electric car is plagued by all of the problems that dogged its eco-phobic predecessors. One is the automotive industry’s preoccupation with the car’s engine, which is perfectly understandable but shouldn’t be at the expense of styling. Another is the car designers’ obsession with the exterior, to the detriment of the interior” (Rawthorn). In reality, the Tesla Roadster, starting at $101,500 is certainly chic enough for anyone who craves that in a car. Still, the electric car is not merely a frivolous accessory: the most important parts of electrical cars are the practical advantages.
The electric hybrid offers us a singular opportunity to keep our prized automobiles on the roads and yet leave a smaller carbon footprint. There is a revolution beginning, and if we join now we can save the human race. To accomplish such a feat is not daunting, but instead easy: buying and driving electric hybrids will improve the earth. You can honestly tell your children: “I was one of the first world-wide heroes.” But hat is more, you will have absolutely no regrets about your actions concerning global warming.

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JordanBlue said...
Mar. 5, 2010 at 3:15 pm
Henry Ford invented the assembly line, not the car.
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