Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 11th, 2022

Some Turk’s caps have stamen columns; others don’t.

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Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii in our front yard on September 7th.



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Those Inconvenient Truths


The climate effect of our electric-car efforts in the 2020s will be trivial. If every country achieved its stated ambitious electric-vehicle targets by 2030, the world would save 231 million tons of CO2 emissions. Plugging these savings into the standard United Nations Climate Panel model, that comes to a reduction of 0.0002 degree Fahrenheit by the end of the century.

Electric cars’ impact on air pollution isn’t as straightforward as you might think. The vehicles themselves pollute only slightly less than a gasoline car because their massive batteries and consequent weight leads to more particulate pollution from greater wear on brakes, tires and roads. On top of that, the additional electricity they require can throw up large amounts of air pollution depending on how it’s generated. One recent study found that electric cars put out more of the most dangerous particulate air pollution than gasoline-powered cars in 70% of U.S. states. An American Economic Association study found that rather than lowering air pollution, on average each additional electric car in the U.S. causes additional air-pollution damage worth $1,100 over its lifetime.

The minerals required for those batteries also present an ethical problem, as many are mined in areas with dismal human-rights records. Most cobalt, for instance, is dug out in Congo, where child labor is not uncommon, specifically in mining. There are security risks too, given that mineral processing is concentrated in China.

That’s from a September 9th commentary in the Wall Street Journal by Bjørn Lomborg that carries the headline “Policies Pushing Electric Vehicles Show Why Few People Want One.” The subhead is “They wouldn’t need huge subsidies to sell if they really were a good choice, and consumers know that.” I invite you to read the full article, which contains other inconvenient truths.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 11, 2022 at 4:32 AM

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