Air Quality

Published on July 14th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


Why Kill?

July 14th, 2016 by  

deathbedOne of the key things you have to “figure out” when engaging in public health economics, environmental economics, climate economics, etc., is the value of a human life, and, similarly, the value of one year of life, one month of life, etc. The point is, if you are to do a cost–benefit analysis and quantify the results of public health improvements, less pollution, and a more stable climate, you have to put the benefits of regulation into financial terms, so you have to put an assumed value on some subjective but hugely important matters.

This reminds me of my childhood, incidentally. I never decided to “go vegetarian,” because I was born and raised vegetarian. When the topic came up as to why my dad went vegetarian, he seemed to remember very clearly the realization that led to the decision: if he could be just as healthy (or even healthier) without taking an animal’s life, why take an animal’s life? (Of course, this was well before the broader US medical/health establishment recognized that being vegetarian was a completely fine dietary choice, before Carl Lewis won Olympic gold medal after gold medal as a vegan, and before people like Bill Clinton were switching to a plant-based diet simply for the health benefits, but even back then, if you learned enough about the matter, it was clear that you could live a happy, healthy life without taking the lives of cows, pigs, chickens, fish, etc.)

Of course, the point here isn’t to get into a discussion about dietary choices. The point is that it brings to mind a similar argument with regards to energy (for electricity and transport) and human life, one that is so routinely ignored in public discussions about energy that it’s nearly invisible:

Why kill humans with pollution when there’s absolutely no need for that?

The discourse on energy is so warped that we have to talk about the “economic benefits” of cutting pollution and stopping global warming (feeding into the equation assumptions for the value of human life, the value of one year of your life, etc.).

How much is your life worth to you? $1 million? $10 million? It is a ridiculous question, of course — there’s no value to money once you die.

If you have to create a cost–benefit analysis that takes into account human life, or simply run an equation related to that, sure, it’s better to make an assumption than to leave life as worthless. But we don’t need to do that at this stage of the energy discussion.

As The Solutions Project has shown, as well as others, we can go 100% renewable for electricity without killing people. In regards to transportation, aside from bicycling and transit (the best ways to prevent transport-related deaths), there are now dozens of electric car models on the market, more are being announced often, used EVs offer some of the best deals around (value for the money), and I personally can’t think of a good reason to buy a gasmobile except in niche situations. We can legitimately stop killing people via pollution from exhaust pipes.

But hey, someone does lose when you transition from one technology to another, right? Well, let’s think: who really gains from continuing to pollute the planet?

Coal miners in many places get to retire early since their lifespans are shorter (and less pleasant) due to the harm of coal mining — are they really benefiting in their jobs? People working in coal, natural gas, oil, and combustion-engine industries can shift to industries related to solar, wind, geothermal, energy storage, electric vehicles, or other growing industries.

So, who actually loses if we stop killing people with pollution? Basically, fossil fuel & related industry millionaires, billionaires, shareholders, and others who are somehow attached (logically or not) to the old industries.

As Mike Barnard pointed out the other day, renewables are better than fossil fuels in multiple ways. As Susan Kraemer noted and others here on CleanTechnica have in the past, solar and wind are already beating natural gas and coal on price. Electric cars also have multiple consumer benefits, aside from the life-saving benefits. So, why still kill people with pollution? Really.


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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Epicurus

    I think this is one of the most important articles ever posted. Aside from our military adventures, this is truly the moral issue of the day. Why do we continue to kill ourselves with fossil fuel pollution when there is no longer any good reason to continue to do so.

    This thesis needs to be delivered in speeches by Hillary and other Democratic Party politicians. The speeches should also spell out how cheap solar and wind are now to counter the Big Lie, repeated ad nauseum by Republicans, that renewables are so expensive that they will bankrupt America, make our goods non-competitive, and further impoverish the poor.

    Great job, Zach.

  • Ian

    I think this hits on one of the great underestimated future drivers of green energy. We live in a culture which is increasingly intolerant of risks to human health and life. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of products are recalled for things like lead-based paint, choking hazards, etc -risk that used to be accepted without comment. Indoor smoking bans have grown into outdoor bans. Cars and other products have ever more safety features and consumer want them. Virtually every outdoor sport now seems to requires a helmet. Yet the fossil fuel industry, which came to be indispensable long ago when health and safety standards where much lower, represents a non-stop assault on health and life- from exploding oil trains and well heads at the front end to the millions of lives shortened by the pollution on the back end. They’re even causing earthquakes! This level of disregard for human health isn’t tolerated nowadays in almost any other field of human endeavor. We used to have no other choice, but now we’ve got options. I suspect that as it becomes increasingly clear to the general public that we don’t need to tolerate fossil fuel’s health risks, they will be increasingly regulated, accelerating renewable energy.

    • Agreed. It hit me how crazy it was that we are so obsessive (not a bad thing) about protecting human lives in so many other ways, yet leave death from pollution (and climate change) as an invisible fact of life we just have to accept.

    • Robert Pollock

      The term “Critical Thinking” is largely undefined, but refers to someone’s ability to sort out the nonsense from the truth. A parking solution that makes perfect sense in L.A., might not work at all, in B’ham, AL due to demographics and attitudes. Keeping ears and eyes open to the differences requires looking at things from different distances, in close and from far away. Most of my life I assumed inquisitiveness was a natural urge that everyone had, but sadly that’s not true at all. Even Phd’s I know, seem to think that once the diplomas are on the wall, the learning is over.

    • Rick Thurman

      “We used to have no other choice, but now we’ve got options.”

      Ian, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with that. Whether it’s food, fuels, or some other product, every generation has to, or gets to, rethink their living situation anew. What once was a critical innovation is now a boring basic commodity. Yesterday’s small-scale industry that caused amazing increases in productivity, or even survivability, now causes large-scale problems with its externalities, which could be ignored when they were first produced — precisely because they were then on a small scale.

      The more we develop sophisticated technologies with productive potentials in a wider variety of areas, the more we will be able to afford to be intolerant of risks that used to be “realistic”. As yesterday’s biggest threats are tamed, what used to be a mere runner-up in the list of top ten hazards to life becomes the new top hazard. This probably affects our reading of situations more than we realize — it takes a certain amount of effort to learn enough about various parts of the world to realize what in the news is really important now. It’s likely that all of us, to some extent, are a bit behind the times in differing areas when it comes to being aware of what we (or “they”) could be doing better. And I suspect our collection of habits, customs, and moral beliefs are an assembly of yesterday’s insights necessary to solve yesterday’s immediate problems. In a world without cheap fertilizer, clean water and refrigeration, cheap starch and sugar (potatoes, corn/maize and cane sugar) as well as preserved meats probably were marginally better innovations to ensure sufficient food for whole populations on average. Now, in today’s higher tech/income economies, not so much. More salads and less starch and meat is technically viable, as well as nutritionally better, on the margin, in these economies, now.

      Similiar points can be made about long term transitions in energy for tools: England was once better off, barely, with smoky coal fires since they had cut nearly all their forests for firewood — waiting a few centuries for PV panels wasn’t any option. Now PV panels (and yes, wind turbines) are the next best option — in part because of the centuries of tech development made possible in large part by those smoky coal fires. It seems we need to do a better job of really embedding into our culture what it means to live on the margin, or “on the right edge”, as a fundamental part of our way of life.

      Cleantech/ Sustainable tech is one important area I try to understand, where advances in technology, if consciously applied to a certain area of problems, can have what could be considered a morally powerful and positive outcome — the ability for everyone to live a fulfilling, empowering life without that being predicated on precluding others’ opportunity for the same via pollution or resource depletion. This is a real moral choice, because given the size of the human population, we do need to consciously develop a full range of technologies (and then build out, deploy and operate/ maintain them) in order to make this goal practical. It won’t happen by chance, no one person can invent or develop any of these tools, and no one social institution has sufficient incentives to ensure it happening in time.

      Cleantech/ sustainable tech isn’t the only applied tech/ industry/ cultural area where tech development is not only helpful but necessary to achieve what many believe to be morally better outcomes:
      a.) Hopefully robotics, AI and automation can help make various industries so productive that exploitative labor practices, including slavery (still a real issue in the 21st century) will become laughably obsolete.
      b.) Some people are researching away on means to use biotech, neurotech, and cyborg technologies to do away with our built-in biological and neurological limits on lifespan, health, learning and communication (usually termed “trans-humanism”).
      c.) Musk, Bezos, and the rest of the billionaires that are shoving piles of their own chips into the lower-cost launch or asteroid-mining betting tables are engaged in a similar multi-institutional social movement that necessarily includes tech development but then requires business development, and probably even new supporting subcultures as well.

      Each of these movements (probably more) are trying to achieve basic improvements in our life-opportunities — and can only do so by developing certain new technologies. If you see these movements as morally or socially beneficial, then developing the right technologies to meet the challenges we currently face in these areas is as much a moral act as choosing to live by certain guidelines. From another perspective, no matter which moral or social outcomes you prefer, certain technologies are more likely to favor bringing about those outcomes. Technology is never morally generic — every tool lowers the cost-terrain for some acts more than others. Perhaps “we” can come up with a way of developing that into some ethical principles or insights that any interested party could use to guide (and even simply promote) investments in applied tech research.

      Sorry for the lengthy response, this is something I’ve been mulling over for a while (could turn into term paper material). I hope this posts with the paragraph-spacing that appears while I’ve written this. If not, I’m going to start composing on a writing program and pasting in the results.

  • Thanks, Zach. Good points.

    If anyone is interested in learning more on the science of nutrition as it pertains to a plant-based diet, there are some lectures from some MDs and PhDs here:

  • JamesWimberley

    The job changes very often require workers to move. There aren’t many renewable energy jobs in Appalachia. Americans are readier to move than most Europeans, but still many are prevented from moving by family obligations like caring for an old relative, or pay a high psychological price if they do move for work. Community has value. The post also ignores the costs of retraining, and the difficulty of getting it if you are old.

    It is comforting to believe that the only losers from the energy revolution are a few fat cats: comforting but false. It is better to recognise that the change we call for has a human cost, that it is worth it on the overall balance sheet, and that the costs must be mitigated by generous policies to support stressed mining communities and retrain displaced workers.

  • Necro Nomaken

    Economics is not just a game that the rich play with each other to get a high score. A strong economy creates a high standard of living. The whole reason we COULD get cars into the hands of most americans is because the incredible amount of energy required to run them was so cheaply available. If we had some kind of a zero tolerance attitude about pollution we couldn’t have even had the industrial revolution.

    Developing the technology and implementing the technology that reduces and eventually eliminates pollution is WORTH IT, but to act like pollution is some kind of an optional thing people did because they were being silly is outrageous.

    • Brooks Bridges

      Your argument only has application to earlier times when there was true ignorance. The FF companies have now known for decades the extraction, refinement and use of FF was killing people. But just like the tobacco companies they put profits far ahead of human life.

      • Necro Nomaken

        My argument has nothing to do with ignorance. It isn’t like if they KNEW that pollution hurt peoples health that they wouldn’t have done the industrial revolution. It hurt peoples health but it made higher quality goods CHEAPER so that more people could afford them. Thus raising their standard of living.

        The expense of things is not just an arbitrary number that greedy businessmen assign to it to bilk you out of your hard earned money. The dollar value of a thing is a representation of how much effort it takes to create it. The reason why gas is cheap and lithium ion batteries are expensive is because it takes a lot more effort to make a lithium ion battery than to make gasoline.

        Before the industrial revolution, the reason why people had so few high quality goods was not because some rich fat cat was being greedy, it was because it took SO MUCH EFFORT to make high quality goods. With the advent of the industrial revolution, it made high quality goods take much much less effort, so the cost of these goods went down and more people could afford them.

        And the same forces exist today that prevent us from just “simply stop polluting”. If we for instance, illegalized new gas car sales today, not everyone would be able to afford electric cars, and it would cripple the economy. That is why Musk has been innovating a cheap electric car as fast as he possibly can. When we get a cheap little electric sedan that competes with our cheap little gas mobiles, then THEN you can phase out gas cars without crippling the economy.

        • Ian

          You’re right that if there is no other choice but to pollute or live hungry in the dark and cold, folks are going to pollute. But I think that as renewables, EVs and conservation become economically viable options, it’s going to get very hard to justify using fossil fuels. The human health costs, which until now have been largely ignored and priced out of fossil fuels, will start to loom very large in the public consciousness.

        • Robert Pollock

          True, but, time is working against us.

        • krypton

          It is also a matter of attitude. Prof Ringelmann was asked in the late 19th century to settle an argument between two industrialists who both claimed to have blacker smoke
          than the other. He developed a simple method of measuring smoke density to assist – a black and white set of charts.

    • I wasn’t referring to how we got into pollution, and thought I made it clear that it may have been a necessity of sorts in the past. The point was that it no longer is.

    • Robert Pollock

      Campfires, while the wind is shifting illustrate your point. Smiles and laughter, choking and cursing, new smiles and laughter, more cursing.

    • Bart_R

      Except your argument is based on a false assumption. From the start, electric vehicles for common domestic uses and needs were as economical as, often moreso than, fossil fuelled vehicles. There was no reason based in economics to go with fossil fuels for domestic vehicles.

      The reason for fossil preference in the auto industry was military demand for military vehicles which could operate best in wartime conditions, and the oligopoly promised by the state for complying with state-sponsored militarisation of motor transport. That’s the historic reality of why the early electric vehicle disappeared.

      Now, of course, there’s no more need for domestic vehicles to continue to sustain military motor transport. America’s military is large enough to sustain any motor transport technology it chooses. America’s fossil industry sway is the sole reason the electric car was challenged, blocked and finally killed in the 1990’s, despite government and consumer preferences.

      Now Elon Musk is spearheading electric vehicles again, a century after they were choked out by military policy. Has the sway of fossil fallen far enough, has the gullibility of the public and their willingness to see pet politicians on the fossil leash win diminished enough, for economic sense to rule yet?

      This hasn’t been about pollution for a very, very long time. This is fossil trusts hurting the economy, the standard of living of the world, through ploys and games, influence and shenanigans, racketeering and corruption.

      • Bob_Wallace

        ” That’s the historic reality of why the early electric vehicle disappeared.”

        Never heard that claim before. Assume you have a source….

        • Bart_R

          Not to be rude, but I note you do not ask any source for the claim, “The whole reason we COULD get cars into the hands of most americans is because the incredible amount of energy required to run them was so cheaply available. If we had some kind of a zero tolerance attitude about pollution we couldn’t have even had the industrial revolution.”

          Why would that be?

          It’s the absurdly ludicrous handwaving generalization.

          Anyone who tells you they have a legitimate source for all of what I’ve shared from my years at the headquarters of Ford in Dearborn and time at the short-lived North American hq of Nissan in Compton is lying: both companies enforced a shred-it-and-forget-it policy about all things related to electric vehicles.

          Much of what people claim is the history of electric vehicles is pure bunkum, belied when one looks into the actual facts in detail. is one example, claiming the 1908 Ford displaced the electric vehicle, even though electric sales remained strong and Ford struggled until wartime came and fossil fuel proved transportable and versatile on the battlefield in ways electricity was not.

          Once the military had its choice, electric had no chance.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Not to be rude, but I note you do not ask any source for the claim, “The whole reason we COULD get cars into the hands of most americans is because the incredible amount of energy required to run them was so cheaply available. If we had some kind of a zero tolerance attitude about pollution we couldn’t have even had the industrial revolution.”

            Why would that be?”

            Because that fits with what I know. The industrial revolution was incredibly polluting.

            Now let’s look at your source…

            “Electric cars didn’t have any of the issues associated with steam or gasoline. They were quiet, easy to drive and didn’t emit a smelly pollutant like the other cars of the time. Electric cars quickly became popular with urban residents — especially women. They were perfect for short trips around the city, and poor road conditions outside cities meant few cars of any type could venture farther.”

            “… it was Henry Ford’s mass-produced Model T that dealt a blow to the electric car. Introduced in 1908, the Model T made gasoline-powered cars widely available and affordable. By 1912, the gasoline car cost only $650, while an electric roadster sold for $1,750. That same year, Charles Kettering introduced the electric starter, eliminating the need for the hand crank and giving rise to more gasoline-powered vehicle sales.”

            I don’t find anything in your linked article about war, wartime, the military or the battlefield.

            By 2016 one could purchase a Ford Model T for $325. The US did not enter World War I until 2017.

            Ford was hardly struggling until 2017, sales had been climbing at a good rate and climbed until 2018 when sales plateaued until the war ended


          • Bob_Wallace

            Now let’s go back to your earlier claim –

            ” There was no reason based in economics to go with fossil fuels for domestic vehicles.”

            And look at something from your linked source –

            ” By 1912, the gasoline car cost only $650, while an electric roadster sold for $1,750.”

            By 1915 one could purchase a Ford Model T for less than $400. Purchase price is a huge driver of purchase choice.

            I’d say that there was an excellent economic reason why fossil fuel vehicles replaced EVs at the start of last century. And now, early in the next century, we are about to see the favor returned as EVs reach purchase price equity with ICEVs and then become cheaper to purchase.

          • Bart_R

            “I don’t find anything in your linked article about war, wartime, the military or the battlefield.”

            The source I said was wrong?

            Gasoline vehicles were dirt cheap, this is true. But this was true because of mass production, economies of scale, and Ford’s gift for getting government contracts and state support (subsidy).

            The cost of the fuel compared to the cost of electricity, where electrification had already happened?

            Electric still won.

            No, it was that signed the fate of electric vehicles for domestic use.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s your claim –

            “The reason for fossil preference in the auto industry was military demand for military vehicles which could operate best in wartime conditions, and the oligopoly promised by the state for complying with state-sponsored militarisation of motor transport. That’s the historic reality of why the early electric vehicle disappeared.”

            Having never heard that version of history I asked for backup.

            You’ve now given us two links which provide zero substantiation for your claim.

          • Bart_R

            READ HARDER. Compare the difference between the version in America and the version in the UK (which very much substantiates my claim directly). There’s a reason American history ignores the influence of war on industry, and that Americans learn a version of facts the rest of the world calls fiction: if you don’t have to think about what being on a perpetual wartime footing costs you day-in-day-out, you don’t protest having to pay it.

            Ford’s production line techniques work fine on electric vehicles, and even favor them as all the components of electric vehicles are as simple to manufacture or simpler — wrapping a coil on a rotor is far less demanding of precision than boring cylinders and valves, fitting radiators and crankshafts and on and on; economies of scale favor electric vehicles, too. If Ford hadn’t hated the electric car with an unholy passion, his production lines would have brought their cost down as low as his internal combustion models, except state subsidies and military sales would not have followed. The electric car was killed by war, not peace.

            My only interest in this is economics. If you think living in constant readiness for the last war is good, who am I to throw shade on that?

            But at least understand that it’s costing you in the wallet.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sorry, I can’t read stuff into articles simply because you wish they said something to back up your claim.

            You made a claim. You can’t back it up.

            ’nuff said.

          • Bart_R

            You’ve made some 20 irrational comments like this a day for six years now.

            The claim is the generally-accepted understanding of the reason why uneconomical fossil vehicles were built for the domestic Market and economical electric vehicles weren’t.

            That you have a Kubler-Ross prejudice blinding you to grasping it, hardly my issue.

            Regardless of the past, electric vehicles in the present are a far more economical fit for domestic use, and save their drivers immense amounts of money all things considered.

            The Industrial Revolution didn’t invent pollution: farms polluted for thousands of years, as did dyers (who’ve existed for thousands of years) and the ordinary functions of cities and towns. The Industrial Revolution surely made pollution worse, but there was no zero-tolerance policy for pollution prior to that time. With the spread of education and science, our understanding of how trash heaps might attract disease-ridden vermin, of how peeing-in-the-well might spread contagion, of how heavy metals were bad for our health increased.

            The original thesis, that fossil was necessary, inevitable, beneficial is false. Fossil enabled longer and more brutal wars, and ultimately meant the side with the better engineers won. That’s not an argument against fossil or technology; if someday some energy source more mobile and powerful than fossil becomes practical at the level of the infantryman, then the side with that will win. But wars are not how most of us hope to spend most of our days; for most of our days, the electric vehicle is the better deal, and has been from the start, except for the influence of the needs of warfare.

            Take away the military purchases that gave fossil vehicles greater economies of scale, take away the government subsidies to fossil vehicles, use similar production line methods, and you find electric vehicles are cheaper than fossil, better, a better fit for domestic needs.

            With Elon Musk’s strategies, it appears Tesla will beat fossil at that game. The military needs battery technology for the next war, not fossil. The state can decouple itself from fossil like Peabody and Exxon with no harm to electability, because renewable jobs and electric vehicles aren’t just for the fringes anymore.

            The argument of fossil manifest destiny is dead.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Bart, try to get ahold of your emotions.

            You made an apparent mistake with your original claim. I say “apparent” because it’s possible you might find some facts that back up your claim, but so far you have failed.

            Don’t lash out at those who point out your (apparent) mistakes.

            And it would be best to not further dig yourself into a hole by making claims like this one –

            “The claim is the generally-accepted understanding of the reason why uneconomical fossil vehicles were built for the domestic Market and economical electric vehicles weren’t.”

            You’ve already presented the data which shows that ICEVs were significantly cheaper to purchase than EVs back in the very early 1900s.

            ” By 1912, the gasoline car cost only $650, while an electric roadster sold for $1,750.”

          • Bart_R

            Worry irrelevantly about the imagined emotions of strangers on your own time.

            Pay what you owe.

          • Rick Thurman

            Hello Bart_R,

            Having undergone both learning and unlearning history within the US, I accept your view on petrol engines winning the economic competition because of their military value more than their perfection for domestic markets. I can’t cite chapter-and-verse for any published academic work on this thesis (maybe someone in the “world systems” school of thought has already made these points), but this is the general sense of history I’ve come to understand after independent reading — it’s a view of history and economics that seems to make better heuristic sense.

            Countries engage in massive technological development for weapons and other military-support, since that ensures the survival of the state (and the elites that live on top of it). It’s probably the historically dominant form of capital development throughout the history of civilization: Sumeria and Egypt developed the ability of their peasants to specifically grow cereal grains because grain keeps better than, say, leeks — which makes it much easier to use as a tax in kind for feeding soldiers, state-supported priests, the royal court, as well as keeping some in stock as famine insurance. Empires favor developing food supplies, record-keeping, transportation utilities, navigation and mapping, logistics, medicine, as well as weaponry. Then, as it happens, what got you through the last war (and hopefully will through the next) often increases (the victor’s) postwar peacetime economic prospects as well. I think that’s a fair reading of postwar economic expansions in the US after WW2 and the Civil War, at least; I’m willing to bet others more knowledgeable can apply to other countries and eras as well.

            We’re all probably familiar with the quip that history is always written by the victors; peace, including growth in a peacetime (nearly always a postwar, one way or another) economy is always defined and shaped by the victors as well. This almost inherently falls in between economics and political science, which probably works against its academic development, not to mention promoting some uncomfortable thoughts among those not experienced in having uncomfortable thoughts. Most US high schools’ history lessons are meant to be indoctrination, not education.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Having undergone both learning and unlearning history within the US, I accept your view on petrol engines winning the economic competition because of their military value more than their perfection for domestic markets.”

            Accept it based on what?

            Do you find any reason to suspect the US military would have reached out to Henry Ford, who was one of about 1,000 small manufacturers, and pushed him toward gasoline engines and away from electric motors?

            For that to happen don’t you think there would be a record of the military leaning on hundreds of manufacturers to produce ICEVs. There was no way to know how successful the Model T would be during development. Ford had already built earlier ICEVs which didn’t stand out.

            The Model T was hugely successful well before WWI and the military’s push for usable vehicles. Prior to the war our military was still calvary based. During the war cars were converted for military use. (The Rolls was given armor and a machine gun turbine.)

            It’s highly unlikely Henry Ford was working to benefit the military. Henry was strongly opposed to the war.

            “Ford opposed the United States’ entry into the Great War. One of his most publicized acts was in November 1915. He chartering a ship to take himself and a party of pacifists to Europe in an attempt to end the conflict by means of “continuous mediation.” His so-called Peace Ship was widely ridiculed.”


            “Knowing the tactical advantages provided by automotile (sic) use, both Great Britain and France approached the subject of acquiring Model T trucks for various military purposes early on in the war. Henry Ford, very much a proponent of the isolationist movement prevalent in the United States prior to its war entrance in 1917, was not exactly cooperative with the request. While Ford wanted nothing to do with the war effort during this time, he did authorize the sale of a modest number of Model T chassis to the British military strictly for ambulance use.”


            Fact is, EVs at the time were significantly speed and range limited. In addition to being expensive. As roads improved people wanted to drive further and faster than was possible with EVs.

            Sales for EVs peaked in the early 1910s which would have been before the start of WWI.


            Just because the Egyptian government preferred grain over onions does not mean that the US military preferred ICEVs over EVs, especially before anyone had demonstrated their value on the battlefield.

  • J.H.

    Well composed article, and plants have feeling too.

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    • Thanks.

      I would say that to compare the consciousness of plants to animals is like equating the consciousness of cats to humans. It’s not the way I roll. But it’s a matter for another forum, imho.

      • J.H.

        Back in the 80 and 90’s I was in the green house biz. I used to raise field greens for gourmet restaurants. My daughter is a vegan , so I tease her about it when she eats out of my gardens. My plant listen to classical music.

    • Robert Pollock

      Consciousness, reason, memory, and decision making are all indicative of a ‘sentient’ being. I can’t define it, but France not long ago, declared all pets and ‘owned’ animals sentient beings in an attempt to curb animal cruelty. The law treats them differently when they’re individual beings and not ‘property’, allowing authorities more scope to protect them.
      When I was young, a bunch of us rented an old farm house. One summer in the country changed all our perspectives on how animals live, and die. Watching a farmer load his truck to take his cows or pigs to the slaughter house is a terrible thing to witness.
      Anything we can learn about evolution is important because we’re all evolving, constantly. Watching my two dogs learn and make decisions is an important aspect to my 3D modeling/energy analysis software, believe it. Animals know heat signatures better than us and sub-consciously deal with temperature change all the time. Last week I discovered that positioning the garage door at a certain height allowed for a prevailing breeze to accelerate through the room while passing over the portion of concrete drive that was shaded. Guess who was lying there, while elsewhere outside it was a (desert) 100+F?

    • Vegans hear this argument a lot, and it leaves us a bit baffled for two reasons. First, if people who eat animals are so concerned about plant feelings, then why do they ignore animal feelings?

      Second, it just so happens to be a failed argument due to the fact that people who kill animals kill far more plants than vegans who eat lower on the food chain by eating plants directly instead of eating animals who eat plants. Further, when we eat fruits, we kill no plants.

      • J.H.

        No disrespect I was a veggie for two yrs.

        • Oh, snap. Good thing I didn’t eat you in that time period! 😀

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