Analyzing effects from well to wheel to air (the long tailpipe)
By: +David Herron; Date: Thu Oct 17 2013 19:05:46 GMT-0700 (PDT)
The best way to compare the impact of one transportation choice over another transportation choice is what they call the "life cycle assessment." This sort of assessment takes into account every aspect from mining raw materials to disposing of the thing and every use in-between.
For example a common flaw in life cycle assessment is the handwaving argument against electric vehicles. The electric vehicle, it's said, only moves emissions from the tail pipe to the smoke stack at the power plant. And that power plant is run with coal isn't it? So therefore does the electric vehicle owner want to increase coal use? Those statements are an example of partial use of life cycle assessment, because obviously it's important to learn where the fuel for a car comes from, and the impact of generating that fuel. The people who throw out this argument about electric cars do not at the same time apply the same reasoning to gasoline cars. If they did they might realize just how dirty their gasoline cars are because the oil mining business is just as dirty (if not dirtier) than the coal mining business.
- Resource availability for fuel and the other resources in the vehicle (peak oil, peak everything)
- Mining and refining, side effects
- Transporting and distributing fuel, side effects
- Direct result of using the fuel