Although you don’t need to pay for gasoline to fuel up an electric vehicle, driving one still comes with a carbon emissions price tag. However, according to a science advocacy nonprofit, the emissions associated with an electric vehicle throughout its lifetime — meaning production to driving to disassembly and disposal — are still dramatically lower than their gasoline-powered relatives. In a recently released report, the Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed emissions data to determine that for almost the entire population of the U.S., driving an average electric vehicle would be less emissions-intensive than an average vehicle with an internal combustion engine. Just 3% of Americans would be better suited with an average gasoline-fueled vehicle, although the report did not make clear which areas that included.
On Friday, January 15th, two activists drove eight hours from Eugene, Oregon, to a remote corner of public land in Nevada, where they pitched a tent in below-freezing temperatures and unfurled a banner declaring: “Protect Thacker Pass.” You’ll be forgiven if you’ve never heard of the place—it’s seriously in the boonies—but these activists, Will Falk and Max Wilbert, hope to make it into a household name. One of the activists is Will Falk, a writer and lawyer who helped bring a suit to US District Court seeking personhood for the Colorado River in 2017. He describes himself as a “biophilic essayist” and he certainly lyrical in describing the area where they set up.
Electric cars will eventually be all cars, but the speed by which they displace conventional cars will depend on making them affordable for low- and middle-income drivers. This transition already risks leaving low- and moderate-income people behind at a time when the country should be accelerating this shift to meet the ambitious net-zero emission goals needed to save a habitable planet. These concerns have spurred the push for an equitable transition that avoids the apartheid that has characterized the country’s most significant economic and technological transitions.