The electric car, seemingly on its death bed throughout the 90s and much of this decade, appears over the past two years to be rising from the grave. Every car company worth its road salt is rushing to put a plug-in hybrid or an all-electric car on the market.
All-electric cars directly release no air emissions, and they seem for many a perfect green alternative to “clunkers,” SUVs, and other road hogs dependent for their get-up-n’go on internal combustion engines.
Cars of course need energy to move, so when someone plugs in an electric car, the battery is charged with electricity from the electric grid. In the U.S., electricity generation is responsible for about 40 percent of total carbon emissions. So from a full life-cycle standpoint, electric cars are hardly zero-emissions when it comes to carbon; and depending on where one lives, a new electric car may not be the only – or the optimum – choice, at least until we get more renewable energy on our grid.
From various media outlets’ efforts to try to clarify and make relevant the climate change story, two points stand out. One involves the challenge of adequately addressing the nuances of science, making the story both scientifically rigorous and yet accessible. The other involves how to make climate change issues tangible to a public which, studies show, often thinks the issue is remote from them in time and space.
Now, artists have begun to address both. And, increasingly, they are getting their inspiration from scientists and researchers.
Add Electricity to Americans’ Addictions? ... Scary?
An interactive graphic on the new website Powering a Nation says a lot about America’s insatiable appetite for energy.
The graphic is part of a Web feature called “Down The Lines.” And it’s scary.
A sliding scale (you can move it yourself with your mouse) takes you from the year 1910 to 2010. As the years progress from left to right, two circles below expand. The one on the left represents the nation’s population. The one on the right shows the amount of electricity generated, in kilowatt hours, for that population.
Exploring Journalism's Unchartered Future
When Marianne Lavelle left U.S. News and World Report a year ago, the news weekly was rapidly shrinking the amount of space devoted to in-depth reporting as part of its transition to becoming strictly an online journal.
“You could just see there wasn’t going to be a place for that kind of reporting any more,” says the long-time environmental writer.
The current state of most of the world’s coral reefs is so calamitous that it’s difficult to over-dramatize the situation.
Reefs have seen massive declines around the globe, and while there is much debate about which particular threat is most responsible, most scientists agree humans are to blame.
New Urban Land Institute Study
A new Urban Land Institute report on Americans’ traveling behavior concludes that cleaner cars and cleaner fuels alone can’t reduce carbon emissions unless Americans drive fewer miles at slower speeds, avoid gas-burning traffic jams, and reduce their number of trips.
It’s all part of the prescription being put forward by a new ULI report linking carbon emission trends and excessive climate change to a growing population.
Is Nuclear Really 'GHG-Free'? ... and Why Not
As America lumbers along toward a low-carbon economy, nuclear energy is expected to play a significant role in generating emission-free electricity.
But how significant?
The Senate’s debates this fall on plans for the nation’s energy future may provide some clues.