Environment Forum

How I overcame range anxiety in Mitsubishi’s new electric car

(photo gallery)

By Kwok W. Wan

I’m perhaps not the best person to test drive a car around London, as I consider these metal boxes only as machines to take me from place A to place B, and not vehicles of pleasure.

I did once have a very enjoyable road trip from New York to Los Angles, but someone else was driving, and I just looked out the window.  I’ve never even owned my own car, so approached Mitsubishi’s new electric car with trepidation.

“Here’s the car charger,” the Mitsubishi man who handed over the i-MiEV car said, pointing to a yellow springy cord with an ordinary three-pin plug at one end and round black socket to attach to the car at the other.  He also told me not to use the heating too much, as it drained more power than any other dashboard function, and to call him if I encountered any flat battery problems.

Flat battery.  I have since found out that electric car makers have coined a phrase to describe a driver’s paranoia that the battery is about to run out of power. “Range anxiety”.  And I was about to experience range anxiety in full force.

Before the 16 kilometre (10 mile) drive from my house on the border of Kent to central London, I did a few hours research to find the shortest distance to the charging bay near Victoria train station, calculating to the mile how long it would take me to get there.  As I started driving on that grey cloudy day, I kept constant monitor of the battery gauge, doing the range calculations in my head, and tried to avoid wrong turns and detours as to conserve charge.  My range anxiety was a relaxed medium.

from James Pethokoukis:

Create jobs, don’t go green

As usual, Joel Kotkin nicely encapsulates the problem at hand:

Now the question is whether the president can refocus on jobs. This will take, among other things, backing off the economically ruinous climate change agenda. Even the most gullible economic development officials are beginning to realize that "green jobs" are no panacea. In fact, as evident in Spain, Germany and even Denmark, over-tough green legislation can destroy the productive capacity of the most enlightened industries. Similarly in green strongholds like California and Oregon, the mounting climate change jihad could slow and even explode the incipient recovery by imposing ever more draconian regulation on businesses that can choose to migrate to less onerous locales.

There are some hopeful signs of Obama's repositioning. His recent moves embracing nuclear power and off-shore oil drilling, however inadequate, show that he's at least trying to triangulate between the green purists and the unreconstructed despoilers. Some sort of moderated energy legislation--there's no way to get the more radical House version through the Senate--would reassure businesses and the public that the president has jobs as his No. 1 priority.

from Tales from the Trail:

U.S. reveals nuclear target: oceans


The new U.S.  nuclear weapons doctrine released on Tuesday had stern warnings for Iran and North Korea, with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explaining that it left "all options on the table" for dealing with atomic renegades despite its broader goal of restricting the U.S. use of its nuclear stockpile.

But Gates also let slip a bit of information that may give pause to environmentalists: most U.S. nuclear missiles are now targeted at the world's oceans.

"Our ICBMs are all targeted right now on the oceans, so that if, God forbid and for the first time in 60 years, there were an accidental launch or a problem ...it would put a missile right into the middle of the ocean, rather than targeted on any country," Gates told a news briefing.

from Ask...:

Poll: Do you support offshore drilling?

President Barack Obama is to announce on Wednesday a plan to permit exploration for oil and natural gas off the coast of Virginia as a way to create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Obama, who wants Congress to move a stalled climate change bill, has sought to reach out to Republicans by signaling he is open to allowing offshore drilling, providing coastlines are protected.

For more than 20 years, drilling was banned in most offshore areas of the United States outside the Gulf of Mexico because of concerns that spills could harm the environment.

Pearl Jam: rock, trees and business

gossardPearl Jam reckons that 380,000 fans last year drove an average 23.6 mile round trip to the rock band’s concerts.

And two fans travelled in each car, which had an average fuel consumption of 21.9 miles per gallon — roughly what the U.S. government would expect from a Pontiac G6 or perhaps an Audi TT Roadster in a city.

Rather than a bizarre insight from a crystal ball or a step towards a Big Brother society, the figures are part of a complex calculation about the band’s greenhouse gas emissions on a 32-stop tour.

Why subsidize the surfeit of wind turbines?


With an oversupply of wind turbines, why are governments subsidizing new manufacturing plants?

In recent years, China has ramped up its efforts to become a world leader in manufacturing and installation of wind turbines.

But the other side of the story is that China has also idled 40 percent of its industrial wind turbine manufacturing capacity as a result of oversupply and plummeting prices.

Turn out the lights for climate change (and polar bears)?

polar bearLights will go out around the world on Saturday from Beijing’s Forbidden City to a village in the Arctic where they usually keep street lights blazing to ward off polar bears.

The “Earth Hour” — when everyone is asked to turn off lights for an hour from 8.30 p.m. local time — is meant as a show of support for tougher action to confront climate change.

Organisers say that hundreds of millions of people last year joined in the annual event that has flourished since it began in Australia in 2007 and has won support from more than 120 nations, with endorsements from companies, government leaders and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

from The Great Debate UK:

Bringing a new perspective to World Water Day

van lier- Dr. Ir. Jules B. van Lier is a professor at Delft University. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The international observance of World Water Day, this year on March 22, is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.  This year’s theme -- ‘Clean Water for a Healthy World’ -- reflects the fact that population and industrial growth are adding new sources of pollution and increased demand for clean water across the world.

Human and environmental health, drinking and agricultural water supplies for the present and future are at stake, yet water pollution rarely warrants mention as a pressing issue.

from Russell Boyce:

Don’t drink the water, even if there is any to drink (Update)

One more picture that caught my eye during the 24 hours news cycle for the World Water Day is the image of hundreds of hoses providing drinking water to  residents of a housing block in Jakarta.  The grubby plastic pipes supplying a fragile lifeline to families seem to represent the desperation that people face when the water supply is cut off.


Hoses used to supply residences with water are seen hanging across a street at the Penjaringan subdistrict in Jakarta March 22, 2010. Residents in the area say that they have had to construct makeshift water supplies for their homes by attaching hoses to pumps bought with their own money, as the government has yet to repair the original water supply which was damaged. March 22 is World Water Day.     REUTERS/Beawiharta

Today, March 22 is World Water Day and Reuters photographers in Asia were given an open brief to shoot feature pictures to illustrate it.  The only requirement I asked of them is that they included in the captions, the fact that while the Earth is literally covered in water, more than a billion people lack access to clean water for drinking or sanitation. At the same time in China 50 million people are facing drought conditions and water shortages and the two stories seemed to tie in with one another.

from Summit Notebook:

Economic security or environmental destruction?

The Oil Sands, the world's second-largest proven reserves after Saudi Arabia, hold out the promise of energy security for the United States and economic security for Canada. But environmentalists fear the destructive, energy intensive process of extracting the oil will carry direct consequences for the planet. Despite the doubts, new oil sands projects are again springing up after the financial crisis halted development. How will oil companies balance the quest for more oil with environmental concerns? Mar. 22-23 we'll put those questions to the oil companies, environmental groups and government officals at the first Reuters Canadian Oil Sands Summit in Calgary.