By Lethbridge Herald on January 23, 2024.
Thank you to Al Beeber for an excellent article about electric vehicles (EVs). Thank you to the Lethbridge Herald for putting it on the front page on Jan. 6.
So much more could be said about the problems that governments are having as they try to force people into expensive vehicles that they don’t want, vehicles that are unsuitable for travel on the Canadian prairies particularly in winter.
As I write this, the ambient temperature is -32C and people in rural Alberta would be foolish to attempt a trip in an EV in these conditions. It is just too dangerous.
Yesterday, I read a related story. That story was about Hertz (the car rental company) selling off 20,000 EVs in their fleet for two reasons.
The first reason is that customers don’t want to rent them and the second is that insurance and maintenance costs are higher than similar vehicles powered by ICEs (internal combustion engines).
Hertz expects that the early sell-off of these vehicles will cost the company $245 million US.
Buyer push back against EVs is only part of the story about the problems of moving to electric vehicles.
The second problem is trying to fix a problem that does not exist. That problem is trying to rid our atmosphere of carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant – it is an essential compound which is necessary for food production and maintenance of our forests and green spaces.
Anyone who wants to confirm the amount of CO2 required to produce an acre of wheat should go to Dr. Google and ask that question.
The answer is 10,000 pounds or five tons per acre.
The province of Alberta produces about 12 million acres of wheat a year, so we require about 60 million tons of CO2 each year just for our wheat crop.
A crop of canola uses about the same amount of CO2 per acre and Alberta produces approximately the same acreage of canola each year, therefore another 60 million tons of CO2 for canola production.
Sugar beets, potatoes, and corn all require more CO2 per acre. The concerning thing about all of this is that even most farmers are unaware of the role that CO2 plays in food production.
Where are the biochemists who know these things but say nothing?
I fear that our universities are playing a great game of “wack-a-mole” and the biochemists would sooner collect research money than “speak truth to power”.
In Canada, we build most of our houses with wood. It is an excellent building material.
The house I live in is wood framed, over 40 years old and could reasonably be expected to keep somebody sheltered from the elements for several decades to come.
It is estimated that our boreal forests consume another 5 tons of CO2 per acre per year.
The forests in B.C. provide much of the lumber for our homes and those forests need more than five tons of CO2 per acre per year. Much of our Alberta boreal forests do not produce trees of sufficient size and quality for dimension lumber but our forests are still a wonderful asset to the province.
Alberta’s boreal forests cover approximately 125 million acres. These boreal forests require at least 625 million tons of CO2 annually.
Wheat, canola, other agricultural crops and boreal forests would do better with higher levels of CO2 – not lower levels.
Greenhouses try to keep their CO2 levels above 800 parts per million while our atmosphere is only at 420 ppm. Remember, as plants consume CO2 they release oxygen which is essential for all animal life (including human).
There is no substitute for CO2 – if we were to significantly reduce the amount of atmospheric CO2 there is no other compound to step up to the plate and fill the gap left by the diminution of CO2. This is not a great risk as so little of the atmospheric CO2 is produced by man (less than five per cent) or is it worth spending billions trying to reduce it.
If you remember little of what I have said I hope you will remember two things:
• Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant — it is a chemical compound which is essential for life on this planet.
• It takes five tons of CO2 per year to grow one acre of wheat, or canola, or boreal forest.
Floyd Joss C.E.T., DVM, MSc