The Instigator
wierdman
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

Resolved: Electric cars should be a priority in plans to fight global warming

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/20/2011 Category: Technology
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,496 times Debate No: 17976
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)

 

wierdman

Pro

The debate will go in the following order:

Round one: Intro

Round two: main round/ Case

Round three: CX

Round four: conclusion.

My opponent will answer the following questions as well as use these questions as a base for his contentions:
Are electric cars helpful in fighting global warming?
Are electric cars economical?
Are electric cars compatible with electric grids?
Are electric cars reliable?

My opponent also agrees that i could use the same case as i did in my previous debate. http://www.debate.org...
Thank you.
RoyLatham

Con

I appreciate Pro extending this challenge to me. His opponent in a previous debate declined to make a case. It's an important topic to understand.

The resolution


Since the debate would be pointless if the resolution does not affect public policy, so I assume "given priority" means given a government subsidy or either mandated or encouraged by law.

I interpret "helpful" as having a significant effect rather than merely a symbolic effect. We would "give priority" to something only if it had a significant impact on global warming.

Pro has the obligation to show a worthwhile cost-benefit relationship between some form of mandate or subsidy for electric cars and the outcome on global warming.

For this debate, I will assume that the consensus climate sensitivity supposed by CO2 crisis advocates is correct, which is is to say that CO2 causes two to three times the among of global warming than the straight physics pf CO2 as a greenhouse gas predicts. It's debatable whether that's true, but that's a subject for a different debate.

Pro's Questions

For the purpose of introduction I will answer Pro's questions without arguing the reasons for my answers.

Are electric cars helpful in fighting global warming?

No, the use of electric cars would have an insignificant effect on global warming.

Are electric cars economical?

They are economic only for very limited use, basically only for small cars used for short commutes.

Are electric cars compatible with electric grids?

Small numbers of commuter electric cars are compatible, because they can be charged at night. However large numbers are not compatible. Pro needs to be specific about how many electric cars he supposes will be put to use and in what time frame.

Are electric cars reliable?

Yes, electric cars are reliable up to their battery capacity. Pro need not argue the point.

My question

How much will what Pro advocates cost and what reduction in global warming does he expect to get as a result?
Debate Round No. 1
wierdman

Pro

An electric car is a type of alternative fuel that uses electric motor instead of a internal combustion engine. This debate will focus on the question: Should electric cars be a priority in plans to fight global warming?

Are electric cars helpful in fighting global warming?

When discussing an issue such as this one, we must properly discuss the advantage of the product as well as the possible disadvantages of the product. In terms of electric cars, we find that electric cars can significantly reduce green house gases. Electric cars are environmentally friendly as it reduces air pollution. electric cars are 100% emission free as well as free of any pollution by product.

"There are many advantages that are accompanied in an electrical vehicle. Namely, you are saving air of pollutants that would otherwise be spewing into the environment. Electrical vehicles are 100% emission free, and are free of pollution by-products. They provide their power from batteries, solar, or hydrogen fuel cells."

(http://www.articleinspector.com...)

Although Electric cars are constantly tweaked, researchers tells us that these cars can significantly reduce Global warming. A recent study shows that by the year 2050, broad acceptance of PHEV's could cut green house gases by approximately 6.12 billion tons each year. (http://www.popularmechanics.com...). The acceptance of electric cars will not only reduce green house gases but will also increase air quality thus proving that electric cars are more than helpful in fighting global warming.

Are electric car economical?

To properly answer this question, we must first compare the cost efficiency of both a gasoline powered car with an electric car. In doing so, we must first distribute the different factors into sub points.

Sub point one: gas
When you compare gasoline to electricity, it is clear that the electricity wins in a landslide.

"A 2007 study by the non-profit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) calculated that powering a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) would cost the equivalent of roughly 75 cents per gallon of gasoline—a price not seen at the pump for 30 years."

(http://www.scientificamerican.com...)

Sub point two: power plants
Not only is the electric car more efficient in terms of gas, we also find that we do not have to build new power plants.

"A 2005 study by the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory estimated that three-quarters of the country's current small vehicle fleet could be charged by our existing electrical grid without building new power plants."

(http://www.scientificamerican.com...)

Sub point three: repair cost
Yes its is true that the electric car is very expensive to buy; however we must also consider the efficiency of the car. These cars are built buy top car manufacturers with advanced technology meaning that they are very efficient unlikely to break down if treated with proper care. The fact that these cars have been researched and worked on for years also means that it parts are efficient and affordable. These factors contributed in the making of the perfect car (as for now).

"the good news is that over the years the repair costs have significantly come down due to manufacturers better understanding the technology, and have become much more adept to building reliable parts.

" (http://www.articleinspector.com...)

Are electric cars compatible with electric grids?

Like i mentioned in my last contention, electric cars are compactible with existing power grid. This means that we do not have to build new grids to power the cars. electric cars will not strain the power grids as they will be charged at night when power need is low. This will not force but rather encourage the advancement of the power grid.

" Electric cars can utilize the existing electric grid rather than require the development of a new, expensive energy infrastructure (as would be the case with hydrogen)."

(http://www.whokilledtheelectriccar.com...)

Are electric cars reliable?
Electric car are more reliable than gasoline car. this is because electric cars engine are simpler than that of a gasoline car reducing the need for repairs as well as increasing the performance and maintenance of these cars.

I believe i answered my opponent's question in my first contention.

i conclusion, i have answered all questions required to prove that electric cars should be a priority in plans to fight global warming meaning that i also proved that electric cars are reliable, capable of performance and environmentally friendly.

RoyLatham

Con

Definitions

An "electric car" is a car powered by electricity. That's consistent with, "An electric vehicle or EV, by definition will use an electric motor for propulsion rather than being powered by a gasoline-powered motor." http://inventors.about.com... Pro's references sometimes confuse hybrid cars with electric cars.

Pro offered no alternative to my interpretation of "given a priority" so I assume he accepts it. So far, Pro has not said what he would do to give electric cars a priority, perhaps a subsidy or mandate, nor has he offered any evidence that impact on global warming would result. Therefore, his case thus far is irrelevant to the resolution.

Pro's four questions

1. Are electric cars helpful in fighting global warming?

Pro's reference on the advantages of electric cars is an unsigned articles posted on a web site where apparently anyone can post. The articles has no authority. The says that the cars have no emissions, but it neglects to point out that the energy for the cars comes from electric power plants fueled predominantly by coal (45%) and natural gas (23%). http://www.eia.gov... Shifting the production of CO2 from the car to power plants does nothing in itself to fight global warming. Pro's [2] confirms this, saying "Right now, electric power plants could power a huge number of PHEVs with little effect on the air quality from extra particulate—thanks largely to coal plants."

The reductions in CO2 derive from the theoretical switching of the power grid to CO2-free sources. Switching the power generation sources is would cost about $26 trillion and save only 0.026 degree of warming, not a viable proposition. However, even if it were viable, then the priority would be converting the power grid, not promoting electric cars. Electric cars themselves would have no effect.

Are electric car economical?

The study showing the relative economy of electric cars makes unrealistic assumptions, "The calculation was made using an average cost of electricity of 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour and the estimated distance the car would travel on one charge, versus a car that gets 25 miles per gallon and is powered by $3 per gallon gasoline. Change any of those variables and the relative costs change." The current average cost of electricity 11.09 cents per kilowatt hour. http://205.254.135.24/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_b.html In New England, the Middle Atlantic states, and California --places with lots of cars-- electricity is already 15 to 18 cents. If wind and solar were used to generate the power, The price would rise to well over $1 per kilowatt. The 75 cents per gallon is thus already 98 cents nationally and $1.41 in states with a lot of cars. Using wind and solar would make it over $9.

Gasoline prices are now about $3.70. Present hybrid cars, which get all their energy from gasoline, get 50 miles per gallon. Hybrids are enormously attractive than electric cars because they can travel any distance, while electrics only get about 70 miles to a charge. That means the current match up is about $1 for electricity versus $1.85 for hybrids. In the states with lots of cars it's closer to $1.41 versus $1.85.

The big error, however, is in thinking that fuel costs are the major cost of driving. A mid-sized hybrid Prius costs about $21,000 while a Chevy Volt is about $41,000. A tiny Nissan Leaf electric is around $28,000. The average car lasts 9.2 years. http://www.autospies.com... The average car is driven about 15,000 miles per year for an average cost of 45 cents per mile for a small car, and 57 cents for a mid-sized. http://www.aaaexchange.com... For a hybrid, only about seven cents per mile is fuel cost. For an electric car, the electricity would be about $600. Fro a hybrid, the gasoline is $1110.

While the electric car costs $510 less in fuel. A Chevy Volt would cost $2173 extra in depreciation. Even if the electric car lasts somewhat longer, it's still not going to be economical. It actually worse tan simple depreciation. The $20,000 extra could have been invested, say in a utility bond yielding $860 in interest.

Electric cars are not economical.

Are electric cars compatible with electric grids?

Small numbers of commuter electric cars are compatible, because they can be charged at night. However large numbers are not compatible. Pro needs to be specific about how many electric cars he supposes will be put to use and in what time frame.

Are electric cars reliable?

Yes, electric cars are reliable up to their battery capacity.

The main source of unreliability is running out of the electric charge in the battery. With a gasoline engine, one can stop at a filling station to fill up. Electric cars charge very slowly, and the claim that they are compatible with the electric grid assumes they are only charged overnight. If you run out of charge, there is no alternative to being towed to a charging station.

Electric cars get all of their heating and cooling energy from the battery. A conventional car or hybrid uses gasoline to power the air conditioner, but the engine heat is obtained with no additional fuel cost. That means that in cold weather the driving range of the car is reduced. The Nissan Leaf is claimed to be able to go about 70 miles in 15 degree F weather. Below 15 degrees, the range will drop even further. If the car runs out of charge, perhaps stuck in snow. you are without a source of heat.

It's like the story with private airplanes. The number one source of accidents in small planes is engine failure, and number one reason for engine failure is running out of fuel.

My question

How much will what Pro advocates cost and what reduction in global warming does he expect to get as a result?

Conclusion

Electric cars may have a role for people with short commutes to work or school, especially for people who car afford several cars. A real car is needed for trips. Even that limited role depends upon lowering the purchase price considerably.

There is no impact on global warming, because the CO2 production is merely transferred to the electric power plant.

So if one is worried about global warming, what should the priority be? It should be o researching climate engineering. Attempts to limits CO2 production yield a few hundredth of a degree for $25 trillions. Climate engineering has the potential for lowering temperatures by several degrees for under $1 trillion. One method is to inject sulphates into the stratosphere, mimicking the action of past volcanic eruptions that had the cooling effect. http://www.vqronline.org...; There are many other possibilities. http://iopscience.iop.org...

Priority should be given to studying these methods.
Debate Round No. 2
wierdman

Pro

Thanks for the definition and argument.

"Pro offered no alternative to my interpretation of "given a priority" so I assume he accepts it. So far, Pro has not said what he would do to give electric cars a priority, perhaps a subsidy or mandate, nor has he offered any evidence that impact on global warming would result. Therefore, his case thus far is irrelevant to the resolution. "

Rebuttal:
I will like to state that my opponent's source does not match with the cite provided.
My opponent brings up the interesting point of electric power plants fueled predominantly by coal and natural gas. My opponent however misunderstood my point.The fact still remains that an electric car has no emission of its own. It is true that the power plant does have small amount of emission; however we must always compare it to that of a gasoline powered car. The gasoline powered car not only emit huge amounts of green house gases, but the power plants used to drill this gasoline also emit huge amounts of green house gases. At the end of the day, after comparing the gasoline powered car to the electric powered car, we find that the electric powered car is far more environmentally friendly than the gasoline powered car. The fact that electric cars do not have any tail pipe excision also adds to its positive impact on global warming. below is proof of the electric car's positive impact in the issue of global warming.

"BEVs are recharged with electricity from power plants that use fossil fuels, they are up to 99 percent cleaner than conventional vehicles and can cut global warming emissions by as much as 70 percent. " (http://www.ucsusa.org...)

". Switching the power generation sources is would cost about $26 trillion and save only 0.026 degree of warming"

This statement is false. The problem with the gasoline powered car is not the power grid but the oil intake. The fact that the electric car unlike the gasoline car does not need oil, the amount of oil drilling will significantly decrease.
"gasoline. The production and use of gas and diesel in
cars, trucks, and buses also account for 27 percent of U.S. global warming
pollution. Promising new transportation technology called plug-in hybrid
electric vehicles (PHEVs) could help Americans spend less money at the
pump, and at the same time reduce global warming pollution and decrease
our reliance on oil."
This means that the electric car can solve about 27% of the U.S global warming pollution.
RoyLatham

Con

I hope Pro and any readers are enjoying the debate. I think the discussion is worthwhile.

What does"giving a priority" mean?


I asked Pro what he meant by "giving a priority" to electric cars, how much it would cost, and what result would be achieved. So far, he has said nothing about what "giving a priority" means. Does it mean subsidies or mandates? He doesn't say. I also want to know what he claims will be accomplished in terms of lowering the warming of the earth. He hasn't said anything about that either.

Electric cars only move the CO2 to power plants

Electric cars are very expensive. Pro's sources admit that. All that electric cars do is transfer the CO2 produced by automobiles to CO2 produced by power plants. For power plants to produce less CO2, they must be converted to something other than fossil fuels, and that's an extremely expensive proposition. Even if we did that, it would have almost no effect on global warming, because the US currently produces only 18% of the CO2, and that percentage is dropping rapidly as the developing world consumes more energy. To combat global warming, the priority should be put on methods of climate engineering that not only can solve the problem, but at reasonable cost.

Pro claims that moving energy production from vehicles to power plants substantially reduces CO2. Pro relies on the Union of Concerned Scientists web site that asserts. "BEVs are recharged with electricity from power plants that use fossil fuels, they are up to 99 percent cleaner than conventional vehicles and can cut global warming emissions by as much as 70 percent."

The site gives no references for the assertions. It has no credibility beyond that of an unsupported blog post. The Union of concerned Scientists has few scientists as members. It is composed of political activists http://www.sullivan-county.com... who get scientists to sign petitions outside of their specialties, like physicists willing to go on record with claims about engineering.

The first statement is that power plants are "up to 99% cleaner" than automobiles. "Cleaner" means lower in production of sulphates and other pollutants. That's not the subject of our debate. However, 8% of electricity is from hydroelectric plants and 23% from nuclear. Neither produces any emissions, so they are 100% cleaner. The key is the "up to" part. That means that it is possible if you happen to be charging the vehicle from one of those sources. However, most of the power comes from coal and natural gas, and that's not going to change without the many trillions of dollars of expense in building new plants. Incidentally, Kilauea, the volcano in Hawaii, emits more pollution than all the cars of the world combined.

The second part of the statement uses the same trick. CO2 emissions may be reduced "up to 70%." If the car is charged from a hydroelectric or nuclear source, the reduction is 100%, so they can make any claim they please "up to" 100%.

How warming would be prevented by electric cars?

Pro claim by numbers of $25 trillion for 0.026 degree reduction in global warming are false, but he gives no reason why. I thought my claim might prompt him to find some numbers, but not so.

The temperature reduction I gave is an upper bound, assuming that somehow the US could reduce its CO2 output by 50% by converting all the cars and power plants. It would reduce U CO2 contribution for 18% to 9% of the world total. The rise in global temperature is proportional to the logarithm of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. http://motls.blogspot.com... So if the total CO2 produces a one degree rise in fifty years, a reduction by half the US total would reduce the temperature by 0.026 degree, That comes from the math of logarithms.

There are 250 million passenger cars in the US. Going to $40K electric cars would cost $10 trillion. All the cars would ordinarily be replaced eventually, in about 20 years. Advancing that to replace them faster costs an amount proportional to the total.

When the capital, backup, distribution costs are counted, wind power costs about five times as much as conventional power and solar power about seven times as much. Hence the green upgrade is the cost to replace 70% of the power plants in the country, times about six. The US needs about 900,000 megawatt. http://www.eia.gov... A new 300 megawatt coal plant is roughly $1 billion. http://www.jsonline.com... A green energy upgrade would be about $12.6 trillion. The total for just the cars and power plants is $22.6 trillion, to which we must add the new infrastructure for charging stations and new plants to accommodate the 250 million electric vehicles. The current grid will not accommodate that many electric vehicles.

How much CO2 is from cars?

Pro cites, "The production and use of gas and diesel in cars, trucks, and buses also account for 27 percent of U.S. global warming pollution." No one claims that heavy long haul trucks can be converted to electricity, and each long haul truck uses as much fuel as forty cars. http://online.wsj.com... There are 2 million heavy trucks, http://www.truckinfo.net... which therefore consume as much fuel as 80 million cars. That means that converting all the cars to electric can at most reduce 20% of the country's CO2 emissions.

Going back to the previous calculation, if reducing US CO2 emissions by half saves 0.026 degree of warming, the 20% reduction can obtain at most 0.01 degree. Actually, it's less, because warming is proportional to the logarithm of CO2 concentration.

Summary

Around $25 trillion spent on electric cars and green power plants in the US will save about 0.01 degree of global warming. That's not worth any priority. Instead, we should put priority on climate engineering, where less than $1 trillion can get a degree or more of cooling.

Debate Round No. 3
wierdman

Pro

since i cannot post a rebuttal or new case, i urge you to vote for me as i answered the questions directly as well as countered my opponents case.
RoyLatham

Con

Thanks to Pro for offering the challenge and presenting the arguments for electric cars as a solution to global warming.

Pro claims he answered my question as to what he would do, by mandate or subsidy, to make electric cars a priority. I don't see any sign of that. He also claims to have said how much it would cost. I don't see any sign of that either. Pro provided no analysis of costs and benefits.

I calculated the cost of replacing the fleet of cars with electrics and of converting fossil fuel power plants to wind and solar. CO2 is only saved if the power plants are converted, otherwise the CO2 generation is just moved from the cars to the power plant. Optimistically $25 trillion would save about 0.01 degree in global warming. Pro did not contest my calculations or provide an alternative claim. The estimate is optimistic, because electric cars have a short range and many people will be unwilling to accept that severe limitation.

I'm not opposed to electric vehicles. They may be useful in lowering the concentration of pollution in central cities, although right now the economics are not favorable even for that. However, as a means of stemming global warming the high cost and low benefit rules them out as being an sort of a priority. Electric cars might also provide a reduction in foreign oil dependence, again if the economics of the vehicles can be improved.

What should be a priority is research on climate engineering. Pro did not rebut my claim that climate engineering offers a much greater payoff at much lower cost. Climate engineering might yield a degree or more of cooling for under $1 trillion.

Pro did not meet the burden of proof. The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 2 years ago
RoyLatham
I don't know if the government tried to encourage hybrid cars as a step towards electrics. I suppose it would encourage battery technology. Much of the early development of hybrid technology was done by the military for armored vehicles. The military doesn't much care about the price of fuel, but it as big problems with keeping fuel available on battlefields. Also, the vehicles can run silently on the electric power for short times, which is good for sneaking up on bad guys when you happen to be driving a tank.

Hybrids store the energy that would otherwise be wasted in braking. Current hybrids can repay the extra initial cost in three to seven years, which is could enough to make it in the marketplace without subsidies. So whatever the initial intent, it's only the market now at work.
Posted by madhuri123 2 years ago
madhuri123
I read somewhere "The hybrid car was a way to give the electric car more action time but still keeping its environmental approach. " is that true??? How???

http://newcars.indiandrives.com...
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 2 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Also, I'm not sure if Pro made a clear difference between purely "electric" cars and hybrid cars. A differentiation in the first round would have been helpful.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 2 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Continued from RFD: Con used mostly reliable sources. Pro used some unreliable sources but he also uses many reliable sources so the points for sources are tied. SG good from both sides.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Double_R 2 years ago
Double_R
wierdmanRoyLathamTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro seems to misunderstand Cons arguments and in some cases fails to address them altogether. Con for example puts forward a very convincing rebuttal concerning Co2 production and how the US only produces 18 percent of the Co2 in the world, a figure which is dropping. Pro did not even attempt a rebuttal. The same goes for many of Cons claims.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 2 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
wierdmanRoyLathamTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Con successfully argued (and convinced me) that electric cars would be too insignificant to merit being a priority in global warming. Conduct to Pro because Con says in round 1 that Electric cars are reliable up to their battery capacity and that Pro need not argue that point leading me (and possibly Pro) to believe that that point would'nt be debated. Con instead brings it back up later and argues about battery life. However, even disregarding that point, con still had the more convincing arg.