The air we breathe – Going Electric – Going clean


I believe that the biggest challenge which awaits us this century is to address the global environment problem. We have to stop to see everything we do exclusively from a financial and economical point of view, but must also do so from an ecological point of view. We cannot continue to take the earth, the seas and the air as bins. The short-term effect are bad enough (contamination of groundwater and rivers, toxic waste dumped in oceans and seas , and high levels gas emissions from factories and transport, cancers), and the long-term effects are terrifying (increase of sea-level, warming of oceans, melting of the ice cap, to name a few).  I am particularly sensitive to the air we breathe. We need air to breathe, it is a necessity and the cleaner the air, the better our health.

I will concentrate on transportation as I believe that it takes a lot of time and lobbying to make the industry adopt new anti-pollution laws, but deciding how we will go from A to B is a choice every individual can make. Let’s discount walking and cycling as they are obviously very green choices and there is not much of a debate here apart from the pollution caused by the manufacturing of those shoes and bicycle parts. But I am not going to concern myself with this today. Instead let’s talk about cars and planes.

At the moment there are 2 types of “green” car: the hybrid, which in my mind is a half solution and I never liked those, or the electric car. Electric cars are great as they don’t pollute. Their main drawback however is their short range, usually around 100 to 120 miles on a single charge. Although this may not make them practical for commuting between town and country, it makes it an ideal city car providing there are enough points where you can recharge your battery and the charge time is under an hour. Ideal places to recharge are supermarkets, shopping malls and inner city car parks. In Paris, you don’t even need to buy an electric car, you just take an Autolib’, which is the equivalent of the Boris bikes for electric cars!!. There are plenty of docking stations where you can rent a car for a journey as short or long as desired. I use it all the time and find it very convenient and of course, very environmental friendly, much more so than taking the bus. But if you really want your own electric car, most manufacturers today have one or more models for sale, and if, like me, you just love speed and find the typical electric car a bit sluggish, well, try the Tesla!! There are also big research being done for electric trucks as transport of goods by trucks is on the uptake and highly pollutant. Again the main drawback here is the short range due to the limited battery charge.

But why stop at car/truck journeys? A team of Swiss adventurers has successfully flown an electric plane across America. Their plane is called the Solar Impulse. It is a great adventure and they plan to circumnavigate the globe in 2015, flying day and night without the use of any fuel. Google has partnered with them to help them promote their goal. Read their message on it is very inspiring.

It is of course very naive to think that things will change quickly and that we all see the environment in great danger. I am not sure that protecting the environment is very high on the agenda of a lot of people who might be more concerned about what they are going to eat, drink, where they are going to sleep and are basically just surviving. But as citizens of the earth concerned with preserving our planet, we can do two things: make our habits greener (recycle, try not to use plastic, use electric cars, maybe soon electric planes, pick up rubbish when we see it lying around, sign petitions that go towards protecting and restoring the environment, etc), and educate the people we meet, make them aware of the dangers of pollution, of simple steps than can make a huge difference (don’t throw rubbish in the street, use paper bags instead of plastic ones, and if you do so, re-use them not just once, use recycling bins, go electric, etc…).

Together we can make the world a cleaner place.


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