Switching to vehicles powered by electricity from renewables could save lives

December 15, 2014, University of Minnesota

Driving vehicles that use electricity from renewable energy instead of gasoline could reduce the resulting deaths due to air pollution by 70 percent. This finding comes from a new life cycle analysis of conventional and alternative vehicles and their air pollution-related public health impacts, published Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study also shows that switching to vehicles powered by electricity made using natural gas yields large health benefits. Conversely, vehicles running on corn ethanol or vehicles powered by coal-based or "grid average" electricity are worse for health; switching from gasoline to those fuels would increase the number of resulting deaths due to by 80 percent or more.

"These findings demonstrate the importance of clean electricity, such as from natural gas or renewables, in substantially reducing the negative health impacts of transportation," said Chris Tessum, co-author on the study and a researcher in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering.

The University of Minnesota team estimated how concentrations of two important pollutants—particulate matter and ground-level ozone—change as a result of using various options for powering vehicles. Air pollution is the largest environmental health hazard in the U.S., in total killing more than 100,000 people per year. Air pollution increases rates of heart attack, stroke, and respiratory disease.

The authors looked at liquid biofuels, diesel, compressed , and electricity from a range of conventional and renewable sources. Their analysis included not only the pollution from vehicles, but also emissions generated during production of the fuels or electricity that power them. With ethanol, for example, air pollution is released from tractors on farms, from soils after fertilizers are applied, and to supply the energy for fermenting and distilling corn into ethanol.

"Our work highlights the importance of looking at the full of energy production and use, not just at what comes out of tailpipes," said Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Assistant Professor Jason Hill, co-author of the study. "We greatly underestimate transportation's impacts on air quality if we ignore the upstream emissions from producing fuels or ."

The researchers also point out that whereas recent studies on life cycle environmental impacts of transportation have focused mainly on greenhouse gas emissions, it is also important to consider air pollution and health. Their study provides a unique look at where life cycle emissions occur, how they move in the environment, and where people breathe that pollution. Their results provide unprecedented detail on the air quality-related health impacts of transportation fuel production and use.

"Air pollution has enormous health impacts, including increasing death rates across the U.S.," said Civil, Environmental and Geo- Engineering Associate Professor Julian Marshall, co-author on this study. "This study provides valuable new information on how some transportation options would improve or worsen those health impacts."

The impact of transportation fuel choice on PM2.5 concentration
The impact of transportation fuel choice on ground level ozone concentration

Explore further: WHO sets guidelines to reduce indoor pollution deaths

More information: Life cycle air quality impacts of conventional and alternative light-duty transportation in the United States, Christopher W. Tessum, PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1406853111

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MR166
1.5 / 5 (6) Dec 15, 2014
Perhaps taxing drivers who use fossil fuels say 20 cents a mile could save more lives. Perhaps we could outlaw gas engines altogether and save another few. BTW if you see a farmer plowing his fields with anything other than a solar powered tractor feel free to launch an ICBM at him and take the bastard out.
aksdad
3 / 5 (6) Dec 15, 2014
whereas recent studies on life cycle environmental impacts of transportation have focused mainly on greenhouse gas emissions, it is also important to consider air pollution and health

Air pollution has a real, quantifiable adverse impact. Greenhouse gas emissions? Not so much. Of course pollution is only a small part of the net impact. Consider the improvement in living standards and health that also accompany inexpensive energy and transportation.

And so far, despite billions spent on years of research, it is not known if "greenhouse gas" emissions have a negative or positive net effect. After all, modest warming and increased CO2 concentrations are preferable for agriculture, for increasing habitable areas of the planet, for moderating severe winters (which are more deadly than heat waves), etc.

MR166, lol! How about if a farmer uses a renewables-powered tractor like grass-fed oxen and plow? Probably not, right? Methane emissions...
Eikka
4.6 / 5 (21) Dec 15, 2014
Perhaps taxing drivers who use fossil fuels say 20 cents a mile could save more lives.


Perhaps such has already been tried in countries where most of the price of gasoline is effectively tax, and the tax actually does amount to something like 10-15 cents a mile.

The largest effect is that the poor and low-income families spend more money on fuel to drive to work every day and subsequently become poorer, increasing income disparity and inequality in society. A person working a minimum wage simply cannot afford to buy a new fuel-economical hybrid car, let alone an electric car, because one would cost several years of income.

Increasing inequality and poverty then increases mortality and suffering through suicide, unhappiness, stress and illness, where the only cure is simply to give the same money back to the same people in different forms of social aid and public services to ease their burden.

And nothing was gained.
gkam
1 / 5 (21) Dec 15, 2014
"Increasing inequality and poverty then increases mortality and suffering through suicide, unhappiness, stress and illness, where the only cure is simply to give the same money back to the same people in different forms of social aid and public services to ease their burden.

And nothing was gained."
----------------------------------------------

Have you miserable, suffering wretches decided yet to do away with yourselves?
dan42day
5 / 5 (1) Dec 16, 2014
Lives can never be saved, only prolonged.
MR166
1 / 5 (2) Dec 16, 2014
"MR166, lol! How about if a farmer uses a renewables-powered tractor like grass-fed oxen and plow? Probably not, right? Methane emissions..."

Yup, that would work.......Hummm why does this loaf of bread cost $250.00?
yoatmon
1 / 5 (1) Dec 16, 2014
I sincerely appreciate the concern about human life, mine included; not everyone but most mentally sound and healthy individuals desire to live as long possible.
As long as we can't / don't practice effective birth control worldwide, I cannot endorse life extension at any price. I detest and hate the thought of finally living like ants in an ant hill.
Eikka
5 / 5 (18) Dec 16, 2014
Have you miserable, suffering wretches decided yet to do away with yourselves?


Moving money from one pocket to another doesn't solve the fundamental issue that people need to go to work to make a living to live in the first place, and that requires energy, and that energy still largely comes from fossil fuels.

Most of the taxes on pollution and consumption actually hit the poor the worst, because they spend the largest portion of their income to things like electricity, gasoline, heating and lighting. They can't reduce consumption in any meaningful amounts because they're already living close to sustenance.

The point where the middle class has to turn the thermostat down to save on gas, the society has already stretched to the point of violent revolution because there are millions of people starving and freezing to death on the streets - especially if they have the taxes to blame for the condition.
gkam
1 / 5 (20) Dec 17, 2014
Eikka likes fossil fuels. We will need methane for a while, but not coal.

http://www.utilit.../344911/

It is not economically sound. These folk are taking federal money to try to save their own investments.
gkam
1 / 5 (19) Dec 17, 2014
"Most of the taxes on pollution and consumption actually hit the poor the worst, because they spend the largest portion of their income to things like electricity, gasoline, heating and lighting. They can't reduce consumption in any meaningful amounts because they're already living close to sustenance."
----------------------------------------
Ever hear of Lifeline Rates?

We have them. Don't you?
gkam
1.2 / 5 (20) Dec 17, 2014
We do not have to give wind or solar-based energy producers depletion allowances, because we cannot deplete them.
imido
Dec 17, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
imido
Dec 17, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
gkam
1.2 / 5 (20) Dec 17, 2014
" if you would consistently collect the couterevidence against AGW, you would be much less impressed with it by now."
------------------------------------------

We get that "counterevidence" from you and the others. We are not impressed by it.

I have more faith in my Master of Science in the field and the 30 years since then, watching as our fears became realized.
gkam
1.2 / 5 (19) Dec 17, 2014
Imido, please stop the false argument of "resource loss", because none of it is lost. It is not consumed, as fossil fuels are, converted to pollution, nor is it ruined by becoming radioactive, as with nuclear power. We will get the copper from the old coal plants.

We have sufficient resources to do it, and WILL do it.
gkam
1 / 5 (19) Dec 17, 2014
The best use for coal will be for fiber and graphene feedstocks with which we build our new technologies.
MR166
1 / 5 (2) Dec 18, 2014
"Most of the taxes on pollution and consumption actually hit the poor the worst, because they spend the largest portion of their income to things like electricity, gasoline, heating and lighting. They can't reduce consumption in any meaningful amounts because they're already living close to sustenance."
----------------------------------------
Ever hear of Lifeline Rates?

We have them. Don't you?

Ah Gkam you have hit upon the heart of the matter. Tax the people till it hurts and then give them government subsidies to make them dependent on the system. THAT is exactly the progressive plan. That is exactly the rational behind the AGW scheme.
gkam
1 / 5 (19) Dec 18, 2014
Yes, that's it, we just want to tax you folk until you die, not save the Earth.

We have the character of those who inflicted the Bush Police state on us, and the Great Republican Economic Meltdown on us. We have the character of those who mass murdered 200,000 Iraqi civilians because some draft dodgers got them SCARED.

You figured us out. We are conservatives in disguise!
MR166
1 / 5 (2) Dec 18, 2014
Gkam your 100% inability to understand the bursting of the internet bubble just before Bush took office, democratic involvement in the banking/housing bubble and your blind acceptance of our current presidents policies and decisions casts real doubt in your ability to form an unbiased opinion about anything, especially climate science.
gkam
1 / 5 (19) Dec 18, 2014
Yeah, and then, Enron just "happened", and all the other corporate crime just "happened", and the brutal Bush Wars just "happened", like the Great Republican Economic Meltdown just "happened".

Now, we are in the Bush Police State, which just "happened".
gkam
1 / 5 (19) Dec 18, 2014
http://www.utilit.../345117/

Here is where we spend out efforts and money, instead of killing Muslim civilians.
gkam
1 / 5 (19) Dec 18, 2014
A taste of the past and future of coal:
http://www.nytime...amp;_r=0
MR166
1 / 5 (2) Dec 18, 2014
Gkam, just for giggles, name the 5 worst things about the Obama administration.
gkam
1.2 / 5 (19) Dec 18, 2014
not in this forum
MR166
1 / 5 (3) Dec 18, 2014
"Gkam, just for giggles, name the 5 worst things about the Obama administration."
"not in this forum"

Yet you have no trouble bashing conservative values and or "Bush" in "This Forum"!

As I said, your biases make your comments and opinions useless.

gkam
1.4 / 5 (21) Dec 18, 2014
So stop asking for them.
teslaberry
1 / 5 (1) Dec 20, 2014
screw the canned red herring about renewables. MAKE ELECTRICITY CHEAP AND BUILD OUT THE GRID

Without sufficient electricity , the grid to deliver it at peak loads, and the batteries capable of charging at the very minimum of a filling rate of 1 kilowatt per 100 watthours of capacity ( 10c ). you are getting no where with the lies about electric cars being on the path towards 'scaling'.
tesla is a scaling joke. their batteries charge at rought 1c just like ALL typical current lithium chemistries.

you need MORE electricity CHEAPER ELECTRICITY and batteries that can SUCK IT ALL DOWN QUICK.

you don't need renewable electricity, more expensive electricity, a shitty grid, and mega battery packs weighing from 500 to 1500 pounds (tesla 80kwh pack is clocking in at 1500 pounds ) .
you need 100 pounds of battery than chug down as much juice as 1500pounds at the same speed without the heat burnout and lifecycle deterioration , or without simply exploding at that intake rate.
gkam
1 / 5 (19) Dec 20, 2014
Then, build it. Teslaberry.
gkam
1 / 5 (19) Dec 20, 2014
The Electric Power Research Institute put a lot of money into the development of electric transportation. When I was on the committees in 1986, we funded induction chargers, linear motors and loser vehicles to get where we are today. We funded metal-air batteries, all kinds of motors and batteries and control systems, and took years of data on electric vehicles in actual use, . . for decades.

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