In 1996 Electric cars began to appear on roads all over California. They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust, and ran without gasoline. 10 years later these futuristic cars were almost entirely gone. What happened?
This is the question that is addressed in the award winning documentary 'Who Killed the Electric Car' recently released on DVD in the UK.
The website for the film makes interesting reading so I'll definitely be checking out the DVD. It seems the technology is there, has been for a long time, and is fit for purpose, contrary to what the motor industry tells us.
The charge is made that the motor industry, in cahoots with the US federal government and the big oil companies (mainly Exxon Mobil) launched a successful campaign to kill off the electric car. But why?
The oil companies interests were obvious: they wanted to kill off anything that may reduce the need for fossil fuels. As for the US federal government, there links to the oil companies are well documented. But what about the car manufacturers? It seems most of the profit generated by the car manufacturers actually comes from maintaining and replacing the internal combustion engine. A transition to batteries would have been a disaster for the profit/loss sheet.
Yet again another documentary which shows how the world is being killed by the greed of big companies. I personally believe this is systematic of the market capitalist economy we rely on. Some people argue that it's exactly the market capitalist economy which will save the world. As climate change affects us more, the market will act to correct prices which will reduce demand for fossil fuels and put more pressure on companies to develop alternatives, which will in turn lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions.
This is a dangerous assumption. Yesterday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released it's second report of the year which yet again gave a unanimous declaration by the world's leading climatologists that global warming is happening, and is a result of human activity. Scientists also agree that we are quickly approaching the point of no return. Can we afford to wait for market corrections to kick in? I doubt it.