By Lethbridge Herald on February 9, 2024.
It has long been a trueism that the media thrive on bad news, not on good news.
Bad news sells, because bad news, apparently, is news, good news is not.
The same thing applies also to public perceptions of reality – humans are more prone to imagine bad scenarios than good ones. Discussion of the role of electricity versus fossil fuels is a case in point.
On Feb. 2 Tom Moffat, an EV owner for the past three years, gave an upbeat account of the advantages of driving one. He pointed out benefits that any EV owner could only agree on: an EV works fine in the winter even at 30 degrees below zero (we’ve all done it), you have the unique advantage of a cabin heater that warms up your ride far faster than it takes an ICE (internal combustion engine) to get warm; you do charge more often but range anxiety is not an issue when the car knows when it needs to charge, knows where the chargers are and will navigate to one as needed for a typical 20-minute stop.
As an EV owner myself for over three years I have learnt to relax in the knowledge that even if you choose to ignore all the car’s charging suggestions and notifications, it will, in the last resort, limit your highway speed so that you can make it safely to the next charging station.
The network of chargers has grown exponentially; at a busy stopping point such as Canmore or Kamloops second and third sets of chargers have been installed, so, in our part of the world at least, it is rare that one ever has to wait one’s turn.
The required infrastructure is already a mature system that is growing to meet growing needs. Tom mentioned other benefits like charging at home, where the extra burden on one’s monthly electricity bill is barely noticed, which makes driving an EV virtually cost-free for most of the year since most of us typically don’t do long highway trips except when going on holiday.
The majority of trips are around town, where the magic of regenerative braking makes energy consumption virtually the same as when driving the highway.
On this topic, if you take a trip to Cameron Lake, the long winding drive up from the Waterton townsite uses lots of energy, but you get most of it back when you come back down the road when the motor is now functioning as an alternator — no wonder EVs are the most common type of car in Norway.
That is just some of the good news, and we have not yet mentioned that because EVs last longer, you can buy one more affordably on monthly payments spread over a longer period than the usual maximum of seven years; nor have we even mentioned the moral imperative of doing all we can to save our planet from the ravages of fossil fuels before it is too late.
I must squeeze in one last benefit: I have yet to spend any money at all on maintenance apart from for the repair of a flat tire in 2021.
A week before Tom’s letter, a very different one was printed that attempted to discredit all efforts to electrify. It denied that rising CO2 levels were a problem, actual or potential, on the curious grounds that since CO2 is essential to plant growth, there can be no such thing as too much carbon in the atmosphere. Predictably the letter also dismissed EVs as impractical in a climate such as Alberta’s but presented no first-hand evidence for this notion.
This should not surprise us, since a person who dismisses EVs is someone who doesn’t own one, who has most likely never driven or ridden in one, and whose opinions are therefore based on the common misconceptions about EVs that have become popular to repeat because being negative is more popular than being affirmative.
Does that mean that bad news is always based on popular misconceptions? On the contrary, bad news is not always based on misconceptions. When bad news is based on accurate, truthful and balanced analysis of what is wrong, it is always a good thing, especially if you don’t like to hear it.
The starting-point for solving human problems always has to be a full and frank acknowledgment that there is a problem, and what that problem is.
That is the first step and a positive one. Measurement of the amount of CO2 in the air is as good a statement of the problem as you can get, especially when it is made in conjunction with observed changes to global climate. It has revealed a problem that is clearly bad news.
But it is bad news that can spur hope and above all effort to address the problem in every way available to us.
Can EVs ever be bad news then? Well, maybe for some people. It is still true that if you want to drive the Alaska highway you won’t buy an EV. If your needs are for hauling large loads to Winnipeg or Wisconsin you won’t buy an EV, unless it’s an electric semi.
If you don’t do either of these things but are convinced that at some point in the future you might conceivably want the option of making a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Alaska, pulling a utility trailer, before chargers have come to line the highway, then by all means pay the extra cost, to your budget and to God’s creation, of burning fossil fuels every day of every year to get groceries and get to work — simply to keep your future options open.
Doing so will add a whole new dimension to the phrase: ‘It’s a no-brainer.’