Editor’s note: This op-ed is by George Plumb, the executive director of Vermonters for Sustainable Population and the author of the 2011 report, “Vermont Environmental Trends: The Population Connection.”
“Without memory, our existence would be barren and opaque, like a prison cell into which no light penetrates; like a tomb which rejects the living. If anything can, it is memory that will save humanity.”
– Eli Wiesel, Noble Prize Laureate and Holocaust survivor
Connecting the dots with increasingly devastating storms, forest fires, droughts, and rising sea levels with global heating I have been asking myself what more can I do to personally reduce my carbon emissions. I already heat with wood, generate my own electricity with an AllSun Tracker, drive a high gas mileage car, never fly in a jet plane, grow some of my own food, and use battery powered machinery such as lawnmowers and chainsaws. What more could I do?
After thinking about it a long time the one big thing left that I could do, and it is the big things that really count, I decided to start driving an all electric vehicle now that there are several models to choose from.
With my income about the median for Vermonters I couldn’t afford to buy a new one even with the federal tax credit of $7,500. So I decided to lease one instead. Mitsubishi has a deal where one can lease the MiEV for $199 per month which I can handle. Of course with the saving on gas and maintenance the final monthly cost is less than it would be if I leased a new regular low gas mileage car.
Driving an EV (electric vehicle) is at first a bit of a challenging experience as the technology is very different. However, the car feels and handles much like a regular car although it certainly is quieter. It is a also a wonderful feeling as I now pass the gas station where I used to fill up once a week and instead just plug the vehicle into my charger when I get home. Yes, it takes 22 hours to charge on a regular 120 volt charger but I usually only need half a charge so overnight I am ready to go again. And I could buy a 240 volt charger which charges it in about one-third of the time.
The MiEV goes about 62 miles on a charge so I can easily make it from Washington to Montpelier and back, and if I do need to go further, the Montpelier City Hall has a free public EV charging station where I can get an extra charge if I need to and enjoy being in a local café for a coffee and read the paper while I wait a half an hour or so. There are also several other communities in Vermont where there are public charging stations.
So now, except for my tractor which I don’t use much, I have no direct need to burn fossil fuels! Yes, I am well aware that indirectly I still am responsible for a lot of carbon emissions ranging from the majority of my calorie intake to the things I buy. I also realize that manufacturing the car itself has a huge carbon impact, to say nothing of the rare earth minerals that are used in the batteries. But out of compassion for my grandchild and people all over the world, I think I am doing my part to help slow global heating while we also work on political solutions to burning fossil fuels.
Is an electric vehicle right for you? That depends on several variables but I urge you to consider one as your important part in reducing your carbon footprint. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.