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Electric Vehicles and Global Warming

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    ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND GLOBAL WARMING

                Global warming continues to threaten the human population as its effects on the environment grow over time. Subtle changes in weathers and climates across the world bring destruction to humans and the environment as they make life here on Earth more difficult and worrisome. Air pollutants from vehicles cause respiratory ailments to people especially children, making survival in highly urbanized cities troubling. As automobiles continue to consume tons of fuel on a daily basis, air pollution, although a menace on its own, remains the least of our worries. Climate change is the bigger force that poses far more vicious consequences in the long run. Today, researchers and scientists are looking at the possibility of electric cars as the best alternative for cars that feed on fossil fuel. Current efforts have already led to significant results although the future of electric cars hitting all roads in the world remains to be seen.

                Global warming is defined as “the perception that the atmosphere near Earth’s surface is warming” where “temperature increases will have significant impacts on human activities; where we can live, what food we can grow and how or where we can grow food” (Wood, 2001, p. 240). Carbon dioxide has been argued as a major contributing factor in global warming (Zumerchick, 2001, p. 273). With millions of car engines consuming billions of liters of fossil fuel everyday and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, emitted carbon dioxide hardly escapes to the higher part of the atmosphere (Danesh, 1999, p. 22), trapping heat in the Earth in the process and eventually raising global temperatures. The idea of transforming cars from machines that feed on fossil fuel into machines that solely rely on electricity is interesting in many ways. For the most part, there is the prospect of greatly reducing the concentration of air pollutants that contribute to the continuous rise in temperature from around the world.

                Car manufacturers have begun to develop automobiles that rely on electricity and have already produced prototypes. These developments in the automobile industry only suggest that it is not impossible to create cars that no longer depend on gasoline for fuel. In fact, car manufacturers have shown the potential of electric cars to dominate the streets in the future. Steven C. Hackett (1998) contends that “electric cars and cars powered by fuel cells appear to offer some of the best alternatives to gasoline-powered cars” (p. 275). He also observes that electric cars “are typically about 30 percent efficient” while cars with “internal combustion engines use less than 25 percent of the available energy in a unit of gasoline” (Hackett, 1998, p. 275). Despite the immense possibilities that lay ahead for electric cars, there are several challenges that make things a bit harder for the full realization of electric cars.

                One of the challenges is the fact that electronic cars currently produced have high price tags. In effect, not all people can be able to afford a car that is environment friendly and that only needs electricity for it to run. Apparently, this is not at all surprising primarily because electric cars are not yet manufactured on large volumes. As more researches are yet to be made, the concept of a fully functional electronic car is a work in progress. Production limitations and resources are yet to change over time, thereby affecting the price for electric cars as the progress continues.

                Another challenge is the fact that the electric cars recently produced by car manufacturers do not last long on the road in terms of operation. Electric vehicles do not stand at par, at least as of now, with cars that use fossil fuel in terms of speed and power—two essential features that  buyers often look for in a car. Electric vehicles need constant charging for them to be able to continuously run on the road and having to charge constantly is a hassle on the part of drivers especially on rush hours. David A. Crocker (1998) observes that “the limiting factor thus ar in the use of electric cars has been the long time it takes to recharge the battery and the relatively short distance the car can be driven between [recharges]” (p. 205). Indeed, more research is required in order to develop electric cars that perform better and have more capacity for stored power.

                Lastly, there is the argument that major oil companies will lose their business when electric cars are made fully operational today. Suspicion is oftentimes raised as to whether major oil companies have direct influence on the development of electric cars since such types of vehicles can become a source of stiff competition for companies that sell oil in the global market. Since these corporations make profit from the oil fuel that they sell, it is not surprising at all if they decide to make certain ways that will hamper the progress of developing electric cars.

                Despite the challenges involved in developing electric cars, there is little reason to believe that people should not seek alternatives to today’s gasoline-fueled automobiles. The fact that fossil fuel is a limited resource that will soon be gone only suggests that people should find substitutes to fossil fuel. The sooner we are able to fully realize such substitutes the more chances we have of surviving. Electric cars, being one of those substitutes, do not only help in eliminating our dependency on fossil fuel. Perhaps the more important idea is that electric cars can greatly reduce the carbon emissions of machines into the atmosphere. The use of electric cars in the future is not only an economic alternative. At its best, it is also a response to the growing environmental threats that humanity is facing today. We are living in a time where climates are changing and risks to life from environmental concerns are rising. We may not be able to provide the cure to the problem of global warming just yet, but it is a good thing if we are able to at least find for ourselves viable means to lessen the presence of factors that contribute to global warming.

    References

    Crocker, D. A. (1998). Ethics of Consumption: The Good Life, Justice, and Global Stewardship. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Danesh, A. H. (1999). Corridor of Hope: A Visual View of Informal Economy. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

    Hackett, S. C. (1998). Environmental and Natural Resources Economics: Theory, Policy, and the Sustainable Society. Armonk, N.Y.: ME Sharpe, Inc.

    Wood, R. A. (2001). The Weather Almanac: A Reference Guide to Weather, Climate, and Related Issues in the United States and Its Key Cities. Detroit: Gale Group.

    Zumerchick, J. (2001). Macmillan Encyclopedia of Energy. New York: Gale Group.

     

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