Kids are freaked out about climate change. One student approached me wiping away at his tears, “Are we going to be able to fix this climate thing or is the whole world just going to burn up?”
A science assignment asks eighth graders at the school where I work, “If you could solve one of the world’s problems, what would it be?” Ninety percent responded they would save the planet. But our children didn’t create this mess and they can’t fix it, so the adults must do it. And what does directly reduce global warming? Electric Vehicles powered by renewable energy.
Driving an electric vehicle dramatically reduces our personal contribution to this growing catastrophe. According to Carleen Cullen, Marin resident and founder of Drive Clean Bay Area, “Driving an EV that is charged using green power reduces your carbon footprint by 50%.”
Switching to MCE’s deep green option means my home and my car are powered by 100% wind and solar power. The $7,500 federal tax credit, California’s $2,000 rebate (some Bay Area counties offer up to an additional $9,500) and Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s $800 rebate helped me get in an EV.
Children are especially vulnerable to the toxins emitted from our gas powered cars. Harvard School of Public Health states that, “Burning fossil fuels (for example, from power plants, cars, and trucks) produces carbon pollution that drives climate change and creates conventional air pollution, including particulate matter, that can harm developing brains. Many research studies have suggested that the more particulate matter a child or teen breathes, the more their brain may be harmed.” Children need to be protected from the poison released from the cars we drive. EVs are the answer.
The planet cannot survive our gas powered cars. The oil needed to fuel them releases greenhouse gases from the extraction to the pump to the tailpipe. EPA research has shown that, “Driving most vehicles creates tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions. Producing and distributing the fuel used to power your vehicle also creates greenhouse gases. Gasoline, for example, requires extracting oil from the ground, transporting it to a refinery, refining the oil into gasoline, and transporting the gasoline to service stations. Each of these steps can produce additional greenhouse gas emissions.” Switching to an EV powered with clean energy means you’re tackling the major source driving climate change.
Our children’s mental health, their physical health and the health of the earth depends on all of us buying the cleaner car. So now every time I see a new gasoline fueled car I cringe — that car will be spewing its toxic and harmful greenhouse gasses for the next 13 years. But I get it. Initially buying an EV was frightening to me. However, Drive Clean Bay Area helped me make a smooth transition, and now I volunteer to help others to do the same.
Apps tell you where the charging stations are. I didn’t even install a home charger. More and more chargers are being deployed, including ultra fast chargers that make road trips simple. Plus, I’ve saved 10 hours a month on my commute time because of the HOV sticker and there are no gasoline bills, oil changes, or excessive maintenance costs. Many EVs can also serve as back up power during PG&E public safety power shutdowns. On top of all that the car performs great.
Our kids are growing up in a new climate era with wildfires a direct result of our collective inaction, so I’m calling on all of us to switch to an EV or sign up at DriveCleanBayArea.org and pledge to make your next car electric. No path exists to achieve climate stability without a transition to electric vehicles. The gasoline or diesel powered SUV you drive isn’t keeping your child safe. It’s making them sick and killing their planet and it’s not alright. The kids are not alright.
Susannah Saunders, of San Anselmo, is an educator at Mill Valley Middle School and volunteers for Drive Clean Bay Area.