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Posted on 6th August 2017
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This report from the BBC makes a good case that cleaner cars are not the answer to our problems with environmental problems. We need to reduce the number of cars.
The report describes a study by Professor Kelly, of the UK's Royal College of Physician, which points out that even electric cars produce significant quantities of particulate matter (PM) pollution, from their brakes and tyres, with major health impacts. The UK government's recently announced plan to outlaw the sale of all new non-electric cars by 2040 will help reduce PM pollution from diesel vehicles, but do nothing about these other sources of PMs.
The environmental benefits of electric vehicles are anyway questionable, at best. Electricity is not a pollution-free source of electricity, but only pollution-elsewhere. Admittedly the centralised and bulk production of electricity in power stations is more efficient and lower-pollution than burning fossil fuels in the mini-power-stations of car engines, but there are huge inefficiencies in the storage and later recovery of that electricity from batteries, and more inefficiencies in hauling the heavy battery packs (a 70 kWh Tesla Model S battery pack weighs over 1,000 lbs [~453 kg]) around in the vehicles.
Add to that the pollution from producing and later disposing of the batteries themselves, based, as they are, on highly toxic metals. That same 70 kWh Tesla Model S battery pack contains significant quantities of Cobalt, plus Aluminium and Nickel. Batteries from other manufacturers contain lots of Manganese. There is a nice breakdown of the contents of high-tech batteries here.
I guess that Professor Kelly is right: we really are going to have to learn to live without our precious cars.