Fossil Fuel Fanatics Ramp Up Attacks On Electric Cars While Ignoring The Dangers Of Their Own Products

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If you want to understand the sick, twisted mind of fossil fuel fanatics, you need to look no further than the words of Darren Woods, the CEO of Exxon, who said recently:

The dirty secret nobody talks about is how much all this is going to cost and who’s willing to pay for it. The people who are generating those emissions need to be aware of and pay the price for generating those emissions. That is ultimately how you solve the problem.

This is the sort of “blame the victim” strategy invented by Big Tobacco and honed to perfection by every corporation since then to slough off their responsibility for behavior that damages the environment. It makes those corporations little more than viruses who feed off the bodies of their hosts until both die. The end game is that a few gazillionaires will live in underground or undersea bunkers when the surface of the Earth gets too hot for most humans to survive. What is perplexing is how the corporate mind can believe that killing its customers is good for business.

The “it’s your fault, not ours” game was perfectly illustrated by the “Crying Indian” project funded by the Make America Beautiful campaign, an industry group originally created by the American Can Company and Owens-Illinois Glass Company in 1953. Using the same approach as the Smokey The Bear public service ads well known to every American in the 1950s and 1960s, it purported to show a Native American brought to tears by the blight of throwaway cans and bottles all across America.

The problem, the ad suggested, was careless, clueless people, not the manufacturers who made those bottles and cans. According to Wikipedia, the companies behind Keep America Beautiful did not want the government to pass laws that would cost them money. For example, they wanted to stop laws that would make them sell drinks in reusable bottles. Throwaway bottles were cheaper. Keep American Beautiful wanted voters to look at the ad and think people made pollution one person at a time. Keep America Beautiful did not want people to think that big companies made pollution.

The Ad Council started by talking about litter as something ugly and poor citizenship. They said that people who littered were thoughtless and careless and made the world ugly for other people. The Keep America Beautiful media fact sheet read that littering ruined “pleasure and recreation from their beautiful outdoors. … enjoyment of the natural and man- made attractions of our grand landscape is everywhere marred by the litter which careless people leave in their wake. … The mountain of refuse keeps growing.” They also said that litter cost money to clean up and could be bad for health.

The Ad Council focused on three ideas:

  • Show litter and pollution as if they were the same thing.
  • Show that littering was a choice made by individual people and not by big companies.
  • Show that all people were equally guilty.

The beauty of the “Crying Eyes” ads was that they were packaged as public service announcements that got put on the air without costing the Keep America Beautiful cabal a penny. What few knew at the time is the actor who portrayed the “crying Indian” was not a Native American at all but rather Espera Oscar de Corti, the son of Italian immigrants from Sicily who became known as Iron Eyes Cody in the film industry.

Furious Fossil Fuel Attacks On Electric Cars

The latest outrage from the fossil fuel apologists was on full display a few days ago in this screaming headline from the New York Post, one of the favorite newspapers of Magalomaniacs — “Electric vehicles release more toxic emissions, are worse for the environment than gas-powered cars: study.” Wow! That is some scary stuff, huh, boys and girls?

The study referred to is by Emissions Analytics, which claims fine particulates are 1800 times greater from tire wear than from the exhaust pipes of cars and trucks powered by gasoline engines. The key to understanding the result is what EA is measuring is fine particulates — particles less than 2.5 microns in size — not carbon emissions. EA claims calling a car “zero emissions” while ignoring the particulates from its tires is misleading.

They have a point. Just as all the impacts of burning fossil fuels must account for drilling, transportation, refining, distribution, and use, so too must the impact of electric vehicles include an accounting of all their influences on the environment. The part the New York Post fails to report is the statement by EA that says, “Quoting such ratios, however, needs careful interpretation. The fundamental trends that drive this ratio are — tailpipe particulate emissions are much lower on new cars, and tire wear emissions increase with vehicle mass and aggressiveness of driving style.”

Electric cars are heavier than comparable combustion engine vehicles and that extra weight causes more tire wear. Can’t argue with that. EA emphasizes fine particulates and their negative health impacts, which are considerable, but nowhere does it say tires on conventional cars are somehow immune to wear. What it does say is that the tires on heavier vehicles wear faster. OK. Point taken. EA does advocate for tire manufacturers to alter the way they make their tires to reduce the amount of particulates created as they wear. That seems like a laudable goal.

Fossil Fuel Explosion And Fire Risk

There has been a lot of hoopla about battery fires in electric vehicles, especially electric bikes. There is no question that e-bike battery fires are a problem and can be deadly, primarily because many of the battery cells used are rejects deemed unacceptable for use in electric cars. But nowhere in the news is any mention of gasoline fires. According to Statista, “in 2021, there were 174,000 highway vehicle fires reported in the United States which caused 650 civilian deaths.” They are so numerous that news organizations don’t bother reporting them any more.

In Virginia recently, an underground 500 gallon propane tank blew up, killing a local firefighter. Did you read about it? Probably not. In 2018, a series of explosions ripped through up to 40 homes north of Boston after workers for the local gas company accidentally allowed high pressure gas to fill supply lines designed for low pressure operation.

According to a report by the Environmental Defense Fund, there are more than half a million leaks in methane (natural gas) transmission lines in the US. All of those leaks are potential explosion sites and contribute substantially to higher average global temperatures. The EDF estimates that if all those leaks were eliminated, that alone would be enough to lower average global temperatures by one third of a degree Celsius. It says natural gas pipelines nationwide are leaking as much as 2.6 million tons of methane each year, which has the same climate impact as nearly 50 million passenger cars driven for a year.

Last week, MethaneSAT was launched into orbit. It will provide the most accurate data on methane leaks both large and small. That data in turn can be used to locate and repair those leaks. What the satellite won’t detect are leaks inside of homes that threaten the health of residents. In addition to particulates from tires, EA should be very concerned about the fine particulates added to the air inside those homes when people cook with methane. Because they are contained within the walls of those homes, they are more concentrated than they would be outdoors, making the health risks, especially to children, much greater.

The Takeaway

As advocates for the electrification of transportation, we need to own both the advantages and disadvantages of EVs. We can’t dismiss that tire particulates increase with the weight of vehicles. At the same time, it is fatuous for fossil fuel apologists not to acknowledge that ALL vehicles are getting larger and heavier year after year. Putting all the responsibility for tire particulates on EVs is simply dishonest.

By the same token, those groups prance around gleefully when a Tesla in Chicago suffers a frozen charging port but fail to acknowledge the number of conventional cars that won’t start on a frigid morning because their batteries are dead. Cherrypicking data is dishonest. Solving the problems of pollution and global heating requires honest debate among people who are interested in the big picture, not just a little sliver that favors their special interests.

Those who seek to distort such debates must be held accountable for muddying the waters and devising scare campaigns that are deliberately misleading. Ideology is a poor basis for making informed decisions.


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