Posted by: jmtoriel | January 15, 2015

Hate ’em or Love ’em, Cars are Here to Stay

The “less cars, the better” argument only goes so far…
no-cars_1
We have spent trillions of dollars over the past century to now on roads and infrastructure and any significant shift away from that will be sluggish at best. It’s really not an either or situation — as in bike or car — realistically. Nor will everyone wake up tomorrow sell their ICE because of some blog piece they read.
It’s easy to slag the problems associated with cars and trucks: pipelines, tar sands, climate, spills, air pollution, loss of arable land.., the list is long and you’ve heard it before.  The real work is on shifting away from the real problem: the internal combustion engine or ICE. Plug-ins (which include electric vehicles [EVs] and plug-in hybrids [PHEVs]) should not be
Let’s look at the facts:
  1.  Record new car purchases from 2014 indicate an increase in reliance to cars as the primary source of personal mobility in Canada despite higher gas prices for the year over previous years.
  2. Expect that trend to continue and increase with significantly lower gas prices.
  3. Efficiency is the key — this translates into better propulsion or more distance for same amount of energy.
  4. Electricity is STILL cheaper than gas, remains stable and is about 94% renewable in BC, so a much cleaner source.
  5. In the context of BC and Metro Vancouver, our public transit is already insufficient to meet current demand, inefficient and in dire need of an upgrade. Having lived in a number of cities in North Am, Europe and Asia, it pales in comparison…
  6. Car sharing demand has increased significantly — this is positive and indicates that younger demographics cannot afford buying a new car as young as they did in the past for a variety of reasons — higher debt, lower incomes/wages, affordability challenges, etc The cleaner these vehicles, the better.
  7. Environmental groups have long advocated for getting cars off the roads — here in Vancouver we are fortunate that this was a well-fought battle that discouraged HWY expansion at a time where most metropolises in North America were clamouring to to carbon copy the L.A. model — resulting in smog and EPA regs that helped bring the EV into fruition. Tailpipe emissions can be eliminated (with EVs) and most of these groups recognize the advantages of cars without tailpipes — especially when mounting climate warming is considered. Let’s also not forget the billions spent on health care due to respiratory illnesses.
  8. HOV access would lessen congestion — especially while we await construction of more and better transit. With a Yes result in the upcoming referendum, we’re still about a decade away.
  9. In the near future, plug-in vehicles will have the ability to provide power back to the grid at peak demand in the same way that PV solar can lessen the demand with grid-tied installations. Instead of building Site C dam to enable natural gas companies to liquify and send somewhere else (though I doubt the industry has a chance at this point), we should be focussed on decentralizing our grid with small-scale projects. Either way, plug-ins are not the problem, but part of the solution.
  10. Most importantly, if the car remains a significant part of our lives with regards to transportation, what cars would we rather see on the roads?… If you answer more F150 pick-ups, then keep with the status quo. This must change and supporting plug-ins has never been more important.

So the next time, you hear someone dis the car, set them straight. It’s not so much the car itself, but what’s propelling it. The longer we burn fossil fuels to meet our transportation needs, the longer the problems associated will exist and worsen. Now is the time to divest from fossilfuelishness and invest in a stabler and cleaner future.

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