Why Nissan and their Leaf car deserve applause

I want to call myself an environmentalist and convince people to go greener without being hypocritical. I want to turn off lights and screens when unused, recycle and compost as much as possible, and vote for politicians willing to shut down polluters I have no power over. The biggest dilemma I face, however, is transportation, and how the world revolves around filling the air with fumes so people can get to where they need to be.

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), modern-day cars pollute 75-90% less than they did in 1970. However, pollution rates are still high and climbing, because there are SUVs and trucks out there that still guzzle several grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, and a lot more cars in general are on the road today. In short, the pollution generated from individual cars has decreased, but the pollution generated from all cars has drastically increased, by 33% since 1990. The EPA says in 2017, 29% of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were from transportation.

That is why if I ever get a car, I would want a completely electric one, and the Nissan Leaf comes to mind. I remember seeing a commercial for it as a kid with a woman jokingly struggling to fit her purse into a gas station nozzle. Introduced in 2010, the Leaf was the first-ever mass produced fully-electric vehicle. The question that should be asked is, is the advertising on this “100% green” car self-congratulatory, and honest, and does it thoughtfully address the issue of climate change?

Hesitation on the environmental optimism of electric cars comes from its power source and design. According to that same chart on U.S. pollution in 2017, 28% of that year’s pollution was from electricity manufacturing and 22% from industry. Alternative, renewable energy sources are on the rise right now, but about 85% of current sources for generating electricity are non-renewable pollutants, like oil, natural gases and coal. For industry, electric cars require a lithium ion battery, and obtaining that lithium and designing the batteries also have a say in pollution.

I still say it is a solution to the problem of transportation pollution for a few reasons. One is, by promoting a 100% renewably powered car, it also promotes 100% renewable ways of working the rest of the world. If a car can operate completely without carbon monoxide and without worry, why shouldn’t factories be able to operate that way too?

A transition to renewable energy sources for factories is a long shot, but it’s not impossible. Fossil fuels, solar panels, wind turbines, they all produce the same sort of electricity. The significant differences are, fossil fuels are toxic and finite, and studies have confirmed renewable energy sources are just as, if not more reliable.

Two, a study on how much the car’s pollution from design was taken in 2014, and the study found the Leaf held the smallest environmental footprint of ANY four-person car in ALL of North America, and the zero-emissions driving more than made up for manufacturing the car.  

Three, it was reported, in December 2016, Nissan Leaf drivers were, since the car’s release, able to save 500 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions by driving it instead of a gas-powered car. 75% of current carbon monoxide emissions come from automobiles, a frightening majority number that shows cars rely on these emissions. Yet the Nissan Leaf succeeded in spite of that. There are also hybrid electric cars that do require a bit of gas-powered emissions, but with a significant percentage of its energy being renewable, driving them when necessary, instead of full-gas automobiles, also significantly helps.

Today, the world is not set up to function with all eco-friendly automobiles, and the only ways even one country could be, are committed governments, forceful action, and time the world is running out of. Also, there are several other issues world governments have to tackle to save the human species. However, the Nissan Leaf is, in my judgment, an example of a corporate environmental project that isn’t out to generate revenue by only saying it’s eco-friendly. It’s terrific.

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