Friday, July 31, 2015

Guest Post: How Green are Green Vehicles? Why Fuel Efficiency Isn’t the Only Factor

(Clean Air Watch periodically accepts guest posts of general interest.  Today's provocative post is from Jon Wikstrom)

In 2013, the Motor Trend Car of the Year award was given to a surprising new company that promised to change the way we perceived cars forever. 
The car was awarded for being the quickest four-door in the country, and for being the most agile and responsive vehicle around. But what made this car special wasn’t how fast and nimble or even good looking it was, but rather how it worked. This surprising winner was the Tesla Model S, an all-electric car made in California.
The sleek design, super-fast pick up and remarkable features convinced many that the electric engine is here to stay. In fact, the trend of combustion engines being replaced by electric motors has just begun. Tesla distributes its electric cars in 4 countries, but they aren’t the only ones - many other well-established names, such as BMW and Toyota, are trying to get in on the action. 
Every single car manufacturer is at least entertaining the notion of building electric or hybrid cars. It seems the demand for a green vehicle is substantial. As the world battles environmental issues and consumers become more aware of their own impact on the planet, the need for green means of transport is only set to grow. 
But exactly how green are these electric and hybrid vehicles? A look into the factories of some of the key players in this revolution may reveal some dirty little secrets.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Guest Post: Pope Francis' “Climate Change Encyclical” Could Change the Game

[Clean Air Watch periodically accepts guest posts that we think would be of interest to readers.  Today's guest post is from Beth Kelly.]

When Pope Francis issued his “environmental” encyclical document, entitled "Laudato Si", he undoubtedly sought to push world leaders towards meaningful action ahead of the Paris Climate Summit later this year. The central theme of Francis' powerful address is that humanity stands alone in its responsibility for past, present, and future climate-related issues facing the planet. 
Francis’ remarks call for nothing short of a "bold cultural revolution" in how humanity interacts with the environment. For him, this will begin with a radical shift in how we produce and consume energy. He continues in the piece however, condemning a myriad of other aspects of modern culture that he believes are contributing to climate change - including consumerism and an unhealthy obsession with new technology.

By going further than any prior Pope on the topic, Francis has invited controversy from those on either side of the “debate.” Even before it was released to the public many were aware of the fact that it contained contentious, even inflammatory, content. Francis reserved his harshest criticism for conservative economic principles that have played a role in preventing serious action to stop climate change. He dismissed free market solutions to the problem, called trickle-down economics "crude" and "naïve," and criticized the economic culture that prizes profits over human welfare. Francis also wagged his finger at big business and energy companies for their role in contributing to climate change, as well as the pollution of the earth's air and water.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

What Has to Happen Before Electric Cars Replace Standard Cars?

[Clean Air Watch periodically accepts guest posts that we find interesting.  Today's guest is Jaclyn Lambert]

The advances in battery and hybrid vehicle technology over the past two decades have been so amazing that it causes one to wonder if there could be a world where traditional cars with gasoline engines no longer exist. After all, cars powered entirely by electricity are no longer a far-fetched idea, with high performance supercars coming out now that are capable of reaching incredible speeds.

There are, however, still significant barriers that stand in the way of electric cars becoming the new standard for everyday transportation. Let’s take a look at the biggest ones.