I am certainly not part of the Green movement, unless it is green money, but I do believe in protecting the environment. I want clean air and clean water. I want there to be enough energy to get us off of this planet someday. I hate to see litter and occasionally get involved in picking it up during clean-up days. I’m amazed in my area that fishermen throw their trash from lunch and their fishing supplies in the water or leave it on the banks of the river. You’re eating from that water, you morons!
The reason I’m not in the Green movement is because things that are “green” are typically really dumb ideas that don’t do anything to help the environment and sometimes even hurt it. In general they are things people do to feel better about themselves or get some environmental “street cred” from their hyper-elite friends and neighbors who have more income than sense. Basically being Green is just another way to try to stay ahead of the Jones’ and people waste a lot of money doing it. I also think there are a lot of people using the Green movement to line their own pocketbooks, either by guilting people into giving them money to feel better about themselves or forcing people to give them money through government action (see the banning of the incandescent light bulb and carbon taxes for examples of this).
A better idea to be environmental – I just got one of these little wood burning/alchohol burning stoves. No need to make a camp fire to cook, and no fuel canisters to throw out. Love it! Click on the picture to learn more about them.
By far one of the dumbest ideas the Greens have devised, second only perhaps to recycling plastic bottles of water(why not just bring a cup or bottle and get water from the faucet!) is the electric car. Here are seven reasons why buying an electric car is a stupid idea, both economically and environmentally:
1. They cost twice as much as gas and diesel cars. Many people buy electric cars to save money on gas, but with the additional cost of an electric car, it is very unlikely you will ever make the extra money you paid for the car back. Note that many of us who don’t drive electric cars are helping pay for this since there is a huge subsidy. Note also that because you must work and consume all sorts of energy to earn the extra money, you’re hurting the environment by paying more.
2. They drop in price like a rock. The Wall Street Journal had an article yesterday where they looked at the value of electric cars versus gas cars and found that electric cars declined in value by about 75% in three years versus about 50% for comparable gas cars. Because they started out costing twice as much, this means an electric car would cost about $10,000 per year for the first three years, versus about $2,500 for a comparable gas car. Get a year-old gas car and you’ll save even more since there is a huge drop in value when you drive the car off of the lot and it will depreciate slowly after that. By the way, if you really want an electric car, you can get a used one for about $10,000 and get maybe six years out of it before the batteries go; at that point you might as well junk it because the batteries will cost more than another used car. And that brings us to the next point.
3. You’ll get less range every time you recharge. Just like with your cell phone or your laptop, the batteries in your car last less and less time before needing a recharge each time you recharge them. The range number you see, which are pretty sad to begin with and unsuitable for many commuters, is only for a new battery. Put a few years on that battery and your range may be cut in half. Note that there was also a brilliant idea being circulated to use electric cars as back-up batteries to supply the grid, where your car would be supplying the grid during the day when parked and then recharged in time for you to commute home. That would make your battery life even shorter.
4. You’ll get far less miles than with a gas car, and it will be no resale value if you keep it for several years. Because the batteries are a really expensive item and because they wear out in maybe 6-9 years, don’t expect to get a quarter million miles out of your electric car like you will with today’s gas and diesel cars. Plus the car will be parked most of the time getting recharged. With a gas car, when something breaks it is usually only a few hundred dollars to repair, meaning that it is almost always less expensive to maintain an old car that buy a new one, so there will always be someone willing to buy your old car for $1000 or so. Because the batteries go and they cost more to replace than the cost of a used electric car several years newer, the only place your ten-year old electric car will be heading is to the dump. And because there is no one fixing up old electric cars, it will likely sit there and rot rather than being used for parts, which brings down your scrap value and isn’t very environmental. It’s more environmental to drive a gas car for twenty years.
Gear to help you get away from it all.
5. You use more energy driving an electric car than a gas or diesel car. Electric car makers and enviro-elitists like to quote numbers like 200 or 400 miles per gallon, but that is either a made-up number based on how often you need to stop and put gas in the back-up tank some electric cars have or (more honestly) a calculation of the energy used per mile by an electric car. The trouble with even the honest calculation, however, is that it starts when the energy is already in the battery, at which point you might have an efficiency of 35%-40%. It leaves out the losses at the power plant (35-40% efficient), losses in transmission through the lines (maybe 98% efficient), and the losses when you’re charging the battery, (Note how hot it gets – that’s energy losses!) Include those losses and you’ll be lucky to get 10-12% of the energy in the fuel converted to forward motion of your electric car, versus 22% for an average gas car. Diesel cars are even more efficient. Greenies who find this fact out (and can do the analysis) tell themselves that at least the energy could be coming from solar or wind, but right now it is coming from nuclear or coal and there is no viable renewable alternative. How’s that coal powered car of yours driving?
6. If they ever catch on, you’ll no longer be paying less per mile. Most things cost less when more people use them. Electric cars may well drop in price if a lot more were sold, but the price of power would spike if most people made the switch. The reason is that the electric grid cannot come anywhere closer to handling the capacity needed if even one out of ten people had a plug-in car, meaning there would be a huge amount of money spent on stringing new lines (at tens of thousands of dollars per foot) that would be tacked onto your bill. There would also be taxes added to cover the cost of maintaining roads that electric car drivers currently don’t pay for because they are included in the cost of gasoline. Increasing the demand for electricity would also cause the rates to rise as new power plants are built more slowly than the increase in demand. Not only would you be paying more to drive your car, you’d also be paying more just to power your house. If you like driving an electric car, you don’t want to encourage your neighbors to get one because you’re getting a special break right now.
7. The materials for electric cars are not green in any way. The materials used for batteries and other electric car parts are extremely nasty to mine and process. You might think you’re saving the planet by purchasing an electric car or a hybrid, but somewhere in China there are some nasty things being dumped in the drinking water.
How about we start making some smarter choices for preserving the environment. Let’s try to reuse things instead of buying things in one-use plastic containers. Let’s compost our yard waste. Let’s turn out the lights in the room when we leave. But don’t fall for gimmicks like electric cars that make you feel good but actually hurt the environment.
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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice. It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA. All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.