Electric Cars: The Solution to Climate Change

By: Nikki Hindman 

These past few summers, those of us in the Puget Sound area have looked outside to see smoky air and an ominous orange moon in our midst. In an era of widespread climate anxiety, it is easy to become flustered at the thought of one’s actions having a consequence on the environment. We might wonder if any of our personal actions have damaged the environment. How often do you drive to the sub instead of walking?

  I had a chance to interview John Doherty, a member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Tacoma Chapter, to understand how to prevent climate change in the future. We talked about the small, individual steps we could take, such as walking or riding a bike, but the solution he thought most effective made me skeptical at first: Electric cars.

  Electric cars are starting to become a prevalent part of society. Some local grocery stores and car dealerships now offer free charging stations for electric vehicles. One potential issue: the price. While the common assumption is that electric cars cost exponentially more than gas cars, electric cars, on average, are $10,000 more than gas vehicles according to Kelly Blue Book. The up front cost may seem unattainable, but Doherty believes there is no choice in the matter.

  By 2035, Washington state will prohibit the sale of gas-powered cars. Doherty himself owns an electric car. He plugs his car into an outdoor outlet and can easily make his way around the city on one charge. One disadvantage he acknowledged was the amount of time it takes for cars to charge: It takes 30 minutes for a quick-charge at your local gas station. However, he also pointed out that electric cars will be made for long drives at approximately 300 miles per trip. As for the cost, he says that charging an electric car is ten times less expensive than pumping gas.

I also asked Doherty about how would lower-income citizens pay for an electric car. How would people who lived in apartments charge their cars? For the first question, Doherty responded that they could buy used electric vehicles that would cost on average 20,000 dollars. For the second, he slightly hesitated before telling me that there would be a need for government assistance to install charging stations.

  While large corporations account for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, taking action as individuals is not pointless. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average car emits nearly five metric tons of CO2 annually, with a single gallon of gasoline burning around 9,000 grams. Even if you can’t afford to buy an electric car, consider cutting down on your number of trips from your house to campus.