Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

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

with 22 comments

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



§        §        §



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

22 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Let’s see. I can see my taxes subsidizing the development of a way to use the sun to power my vehicle and in the process use the sun for other energy needs or pay ridiculous subsidies ($5.9Trillion) to fossil fuel suppliers who already make obscene profits.

    Steve Gingold

    September 11, 2022 at 5:08 AM

    • I’m an equal-opportunity non-subsidizer: I don’t want the government taking our money to subsidize anything. Let technologies rise and fall on their merits. Our federal tax code is a disgrace, with thousands of pages of special-interest deductions and exemptions. Both of the two main political parties cram in as many favors as they can every time a Congressional bill is up for ratification, regardless of the ostensible subject of the bill. Like I said, it’s a disgrace.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 11, 2022 at 7:07 AM

      • I have no problem with our government helping move our society forward to assure technology moves us into the future. Just like I don’t mind my taxes paying to educate children, despite your insistence that they are not being educated, even though we have no children. If needed the assistance could be tied to some form of return to the government or to society as a whole through service of some sort. Letting business live or die depending on the vagaries of economics isn’t the best solution because, as we have seen, larger interests use their own vast wealth to assure their position at the top, either by quashing upcoming competition or buying them out so they cannot compete.

        Steve Gingold

        September 11, 2022 at 9:14 AM

        • Different people have different preferences for what a national government should do. I favor a minimal approach, with the federal government in charge of defense and a national court system to secure our rights. We currently have anti-monopoly laws but the federal government doesn’t enforce them. Companies like Amazon and Google and Facebook started from nothing and through their own initiatives succeeded, but all of them have taken advantage of their success to suppress competition and also to suppress the viewpoints of people they disagree with. As someone whose views those companies work to suppress, I’d be happy to see our anti-trust laws enforced and those monopolies broken up.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 11, 2022 at 10:45 AM

          • As you surmise, I am not against big government but wish its bigness had more to do with making sure everyone has an even playing field so then businesses can indeed succeed on their own as you wish. One thing I’d like to see is government funded candidates and elections with no or very limited private corporation involvement. Supposedly corporations cannot donate directly to a candidate but they manage to funnel money anyway through PACs and other interest groups.

            Steve Gingold

            September 11, 2022 at 11:05 AM

            • Along those lines, you may recall one of the “fantasy Constitutional amendments” I proposed last year: a citizen would be allowed to donate money to a candidate only if the person is legally entitled to vote for the candidate. For example, nobody but people who live in Georgia should have a say in choosing the two senators who will represent Georgia. As things often are now, the majority—sometimes the large majority—of the money in a state race comes from people and groups in other states.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 11, 2022 at 11:36 AM

  2. What about the stork in the sky? In our lifetime the population of the world has ballooned from 2 billion 8 billion. Whether it’s atomic power or electric cars neither of these solutions address the real problem of the resources needed for such a population increase

    Robert Hirsch

    September 11, 2022 at 8:06 AM

    • Back in the 1980s I had an article published in which I cited figures to show that the United States alone, relying on just the grains and legumes it produced, could provide enough food for the entire world’s population to subsist. That didn’t even take into account all the vegetables our country grew, not any of the food produced by all the world’s other countries. While the world’s population has doubled since my article appeared, the fact remains that the world still produces more food than it needs to keep everyone fully nourished. Many things keep that from happening. People in rich countries waste a lot of food; I’ve heard that Americans waste a full third of the food they buy. Dictators restrict food supplies, as Stalin and Mao did, causing the deaths of millions of people. Governments impose ideological agendas on farmers, causing a big reduction in the food supply, as happened this year in Sri Lanka and the Netherlands. Wars prevent the normal production of food and cause the destruction of some of it that’s already been produced, as we’ve seen in Ukraine.

      In short, we have the necessary resources, if only they were properly used and fairly distributed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 11, 2022 at 11:00 AM

      • Food alone is not going to cut. Most everyone alive wants to live the “good life,” which requires lots of natural resources. Plus, those of us who are leading such a life are not likely to give it up.

        Robert Hirsch

        September 11, 2022 at 11:17 AM

        • I contend that beyond food there are enough other kinds of resources to allow people to live well, but there, too, much is squandered and monopolized and needless destroyed.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 11, 2022 at 11:30 AM

          • I contend that you are overly optimistic. Within the not too distant future there will be 10 billion people competing for the world’s resources. Climate change and wars will greatly increase immigration. Very few people want immigrants in their backyard as they are viewed as competition and an economic burden.

            Robert Hirsch

            September 11, 2022 at 11:39 AM

            • Perhaps I’m overly optimistic. One thing that’s long been noticed is that as a society becomes more prosperous, its birth rate goes down. In places like Japan, too few people is now the problem, not too many.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 11, 2022 at 4:01 PM

              • Sustainability would be wonderful, but the major world systems are driven by growth, which is not sustainable. One way or another humans will extinct themselves…

                Robert Hirsch

                September 11, 2022 at 5:22 PM

                • I don’t think so, but if it’s any comfort to you, we won’t be around to see it.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 11, 2022 at 6:13 PM

                • You are an optimist 😉 I do hope we won’t be around to witness it. That is as optimistic as I get.

                  Robert Hirsch

                  September 11, 2022 at 6:29 PM

  3. And some Turk’s caps are red, while others are not: a fact which I found confirmed just today. Walden West continues to provide surprises, and I’m looking forward to sharing that one.


    September 11, 2022 at 6:49 PM

    • People in the Texas Flora and Texas Wildflower groups have mentioned pink Turk’s caps, which I’ve still never seen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 11, 2022 at 6:53 PM

      • There’s a cultivar that came out a few years ago, named after Pam Puryear, but I can’t imagine the one I found is a cultivar – it was too deep in the woods, all by itself. I once found a white one, too; you can imagine how happy that made me!


        September 11, 2022 at 6:56 PM

  4. Thanks for your visit, Steve. It’s a beautiful world that we inhabit, but there are many unpalatable truths out there. While I don’t wish to get involved in the discussions, I hear you.


    September 13, 2022 at 1:43 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: