Driving electric may not just save you a tonne of money, and the atmosphere tonnes of CO2. It will also save the environment tonnes of toxic fumes.
A recent report commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation has found that converting road transport to electric will save the health care system about half a trillion dollars over the next 3 decades in Australia. Much of that will in savings to the health system.
The report noted that petrol cars contribute heavily to air, noise and water pollution through the particles emitted from the exhaust and through the waste grease, oil and rubber needed to run them. By contrast, electric vehicles have fewer components and more efficient motors.
“We create invisible, unborne costs whenever we go driving. Obviously, we pay for fuel and the maintenance, but there are these additional costs we impose on our neighbours and our community,” it said.
“We think about petrol costs, we think about getting stuck in traffic. We don’t necessarily think about the noise, or the pollution coming out the tailpipe or the damage to waterways.”
A classic example of this is the number of diesel and petrol cars which sit idling in school pick-up zones without a thought for the developing lungs of our children. This practice is banned in the UK.
Another example is the amount of pollution caused by the two-stroke garden equipment which we use each weekend – a practice about to be banned in California.
It amazes me the number of people running and cycling alongside our highways, breathing deeply the air which is clogged with pollutants. Even boating on the crystal clear waters of Moreton Bay can be fouled by the smoke of outboard motors running on two-stroke fuel.
The honorary secretary of Doctors for the Environment, Dr Richard Yin, said independent research suggested the combined pollution from coal-fired power and internal combustion engines caused 5,000 deaths a year in Australia, with some studies finding the cost to the health system running as high as $24 billion a year.
If this is the cost in Australia, a country renowned for its wide-open spaces and small population, what must it be in more populated parts of the earth?
David Waterworth is a researcher and writer, a retired school teacher who continues to provoke thought through his writing. He divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla.