Californian scholar criticises environmental claims for electric and hybrid vehicles
In his book, Green Illusions, Ozzie Zehner, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, claims the impact of material mining and energy use during production offset the benefits of greater efficiency during the vehicle’s life cycle.
Higher use of fossil fuels during the production process is reflected by the knock-on higher screen price, and moves air quality problems elsewhere, he claimed.
‘Shifting from gasoline to electric vehicles is like switching a smoking habit from cloves to menthols,’ Zehner said in a recent radio interview. ‘It isn't acceptable for doctors to promote menthol cigarettes — should environmentally minded people promote alternative fuel cars?’
But, he added, there is a wider problem: ‘Alternative-fuel vehicles stand to define and spread patterns of 'sustainable living' that cannot be easily sustained without cars. Suburban infrastructure maintenance and road construction induce ecological consequences beyond the side effects of the vehicle itself.’