Adam Ruins Everything‘s electric cars episode might not be as true as you think. On his ever-popular internet show, which branched off from College Humor, Adam Conover routinely pokes holes in popular theories big enough to drive an 18-wheeler through. Between his often factual statements and his signature dark brown-framed glasses and haircut riddled with hairspray, he has become almost an icon for those looking for a humorous take on how everybody is wrong.
However, the facts Adam presented about electric cars might have been borderline fake news. The emergence of fake news in 2016 almost rivals the number of celebrities who died this year, starting with a lot of rumors about the Presidential election made up to gain views for fake sources. Facebook has taken steps to attempt to eliminate fake news, but there is only so far they can take it without risking the elimination of news entirely.
The video where Adam Conover takes on the electric car industry may only be adding to the problem, as The Verge and other sites have come forward to reveal that Adam ruined his credibility based on allegedly lazy research. Said research can happen when the facts presented are based on little more than word of mouth and twisted logic.
Electric cars run mostly on – well, you know – eliminating the need for fossil fuel to operate and reducing the carbon footprint for as long as they last, and this is the idea behind why manufacturers like Tesla are pushing to make the vehicles more mainstream.
The Adam Ruins Everything electric cars episode starts out the way it usually does, with an average guy excited about buying one of the vehicles because he says it will help save the environment. Conover appears and tells him they’re not as “green” as he thinks.
Adam’s first point is that current vehicles produce carbon emissions, which add to the greenhouse effect. He then states that electric cars actually shift their source to power plants which allegedly run on coal, something he explains is somehow dirtier than common fuel. This is ignoring the existence of windmills, solar panels, and hydroelectric plants entirely. It also ignores that the equipment used to create that episode also used the same source of energy.
Motor 1 debunks Adam’s theory that electric cars produce more carbon emissions during production, transportation, and consumption, by explaining that everything we buy goes through the exact same process. The same trucks are used to transport electric cars as those with fuel combustion engines. The alternative to driving is to use public transportation, which isn’t always available or reliable, especially in smaller cities and towns.
Uber has been attempting to get the taxi system converted to electric self-driving cars to at least help with the carbon emissions in major cities, despite being faced with legal hurdles, such as those in San Francisco.
As Electrek points out, the practicality of an electric car often depends on where you live. Small cities and towns take the biggest hit due to the lack of charging stations, practically necessitating gas-powered electric generators and defeating most of the reason to even own an electric car. If you live in major cities like New York City, San Francisco, or Seattle, you’ll often find charging stations if you really look for them.
The materials involved with creating an electric car might produce emissions in their creation, but they and their batteries can be mostly recycled if you end up buying another one. It’s harder to recycle parts for an SUV or pick-up truck made before 2000 since they are often made in a way that the parts can’t be swapped between, say a Nissan and a Ford. Metal is more difficult to break down than plastic and fiberglass.
The part where Adam Ruins Everything‘s electric cars episode really fails is that there is an online tool provided by the U.S. Department of Energy to help you compare the emissions difference between gas-powered and electric cars. The research is already done, and the writers of that video apparently never checked it.
More work was apparently put into creating toy versions of Adam and his “ignorant” consumer actor for the video than actually checking the facts.
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