Hybrid Cars - Are They Really Good for the Environment?

Monday, May 21, 2007
There's been increased attention focused on hybrid cars recently - Toyota has the Prius and the Highlander, Honda has a Civic model - especially with the rising cost of gas at pumps around the world. The US is freaking out at $3.19 / gallon. Um, Edmonton is paying $1.21 / litre and we have the Oilsands project just north of here. Essentially when you do the math, it means we're paying $4.57 / gallon (I made no allowances for currency conversion given the strength of the CDN dollar at the moment). If anyone should be complaining, it should be us!

Back to hybrids. I agree that electric and hybrid cars have a lot of benefit for the environment are a start in reducing our massive Western dependence on oil. However, I've also got a bit of a problem with them. Where are these cars built? Aren't they assembled in the exact same factories that manufacture regular fossil fuel burning vehicles? Aren't the plants major consumers of electricity (which I'm guessing is probably NOT derived from solar or wind power)? What about the individual components of the vehicles? Are the free of petroleum products? How are the radio knobs, door handles, sunroofs, and seatbelts made? I'm guessing that just as much pollution results from the manufacture of a hybrid or electric car as does from that of a regular vehicle.

A former friend who worked for a government environmental organization and I once discussed hydrogen powered vehicles. Naturally, I argued that they were a great idea and good for the environment. She countered by asking how do they create the hydrogen required to power the vehicles. Apparently there is a huge amount of fossil fuels used to produce the hydrogen that powers these cars. I hadn't thought of it that way. Not to mention the gasoline required by the trucks to transport the hydrogen so that it gets to the few pumps out there.

Just a little something to think about. Not so great but I guess we have to take baby steps first, right? Perhaps they should go back to rationing gasoline as they did in the past...no drive Sundays, do away with SUV's...that sort of thing :-)


Candy Minx said...

These are all important questions affecting the environment. And it goes all over the place, where are the buttons on our clothes made? The soles of our shoes, every camera we make...every fleece and well I've posted about corn a jillion times. It takes half a gallon of oil to grow a bushel of corn. (corn which is in 25 % of all products ina grocery store, and makes ethanol.)

The first step to cutting back on carbon products is to walk and take public transit. Buy second hand products like most of our clothes furniture. Buy organic food. Buy less. Walk more.

I am all for carbon tax...but I have come to a place where I don't think people will change their habits. They hope others will, and they won't have to...it might take a crisis to change. Ick?

kelly said...

did you know that....the nickle for the batteries in the hydrids is mined in sudbury shipped to the uk (I think) and processed, shipped to china and processed more and then shipped to japan for the final product....think about all the carbon dioxide produced in all that shipping

also..a smart car which is diesel will emit more pollutants (pollutans being different than carbon dioxide) than a gasoline powered avalanche (big chevy truck that can operate on 8,6,or 4 cylinders depending on situation

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