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ARE ELECTRIC CARS SUSTAINABLE?



Let's look at this question from three different scales:

a personal scale (we personally switch from a gas-powered car to an electric car)


a regional scale (the region where we live adopts electric cars on a large scale)


the scale of the entire Earth (the entire humanity switched to electric cars)


What kind of changes can we expect?


Personal: does it feel better to ride in in electric car, is it healthier? Is it more economic?


Regional: does the local air quality improve? Traffic noise? What other benefits can we expect?


Global: in addition to the benefits above, what effect does the transition have on global CO2 emissions?


Are there any limits to how many electric cars can be produced or powered?


In other words, as we try to imagine a city of the future, how do we see it? Does it look just like today, only with gas-powered cars replaced by electric cars?


Do we expect the number of cars in the world to increase at the same pace as they had in the past? Or is the personal car becoming obsolete and there will be fewer cars, not more?


Here are a few links to get started. Union of Concerned Scientists (USA) https://www.ucsusa.org/transportation Transport and Environment (EU) https://www.transportenvironment.org/what-we-do/electric-cars/how-clean-are-electric-cars https://www.transportenvironment.org/what-we-do/electric-cars Economic and climate benefits of electric cars https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.9b00531 Here are some questions that we will try to answer in this research project:


1. What is the benefit to the Climate/ Air Quality/ Water Quality/Noise. etc. of switching to electric cars?

2. What are the environmental costs of producing, using and disposing them? (from extraction of Lithium, Cobalt, production, use, etc. )

3. How many cars are in circulation today worldwide? Can you find some estimate of how many electric cars can be in circulation while the world stays within planetary boundaries? https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries.html 4. Is a transportation system based on personal electric car transportation possible in a sustainable future that stays within the planetary boundaries shown here? 5. In a sustainable future, will there be some trade-offs necessary between modes of transportation, total distance traveled etc.?

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