As part of their ongoing efforts to perpetuate cars-first transportation, car capitalists in the United States continue to spread the notion that there is or ever could be such a thing as an automobile that is a “zero emissions vehicle,” a.k.a. “ZEV.”
As the slightest thought reveals, this is a 100 percent deceptive claim. We know, for instance, that manufacturing the battery pack for a so-called electric car releases 3.8 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And that is before the so-called electric auto has been driven an inch, i.e. before accounting for the emissions from the coal and nuclear power plants that make the electricity that drive the car’s motor.
Want a couple of yardsticks for assessing just how aggressively dishonest the “ZEV” label really is (and also just how puny checks on capitalist power are in the United States)?
In the UK, corporations are not allowed to run ads that state the “ZEV” claim.
The United States Department of Energy, meanwhile, is fully aware that serious analysis of the emissions impact of all automobiles requires well-to-wheels (WTW), not just tank-to-wheels (TTW), accounting. That’s because every car is a machine that not only gets driven, but also manufactured and fueled. So, the energy and emissions footprint of any and all cars involves both well-to-tank and tank-to-wheels sums. In mathematically form, WTW = WTT + TTW, and this is as elementary and inescapably true as 2 + 2 = 4.
It is the absolute height of dishonesty to lop off and suppress either half of this reality.
Nevertheless, the ZEV formula is 2 + 0 = 0.
It is also the depth of corrupt inaction to permit such dishonesty to rule the day. And of course, that is precisely, exactly what the supposedly public authorities of the United States are doing, despite knowing full well better. “[C]lose attention should be paid to WTT as well as TTW activities,” states the Argonne National Laboratory, to no effect whatsoever on public policy.
Now, there’s your true zero.
P.S. As Billy Bragg once noted in a rather prescient song (“North Sea Bubble”) about Peak Oil, the Russians used to joke that, after the collapse of the USSR, the elites who had once told them that 2 + 2 = 10 were now arguing that 2 + 2 = 5. In the USA, we’re no closer to 2 + 2 = 4 than any of that. Indeed, our overclass’s minimizations of dangers might soon prove to be rather a bit worse than Soviet and Russian exaggerations.