Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Prius: More Enviro Harm Than A Hummer

Eat my CO2, DiCaprio! Up your tailpipe, Maher!

Leonardo and Bill are but two of a plethora of Hollywood hype-buyers who drive about in their Priuses with smug superiority, sure that they are greener than thou. But they would be better off driving a Hummer.

That's right. The total cost of energy (that's manufacturing and operating costs) for a Prius is $3.25 per mile over the 100,000 miles you can expect it to run. A Hummer on the other hand is expected to run 300,000 miles (You know the old saying, "GM cars run bad longer than most cars run.") at $1.95 a mile.

OK, maybe you're not going along with that 300,000-mile Hummer. So give the Hummer a 150,000 mile life -- that's still $2.93 vs. the Prius' $3.25.

That's just the conclusion of a fascinating article by Chris Demorro that ran last week in the Central Connecticut University Recorder. Here's the much juicier stuff:

Building a Toyota Prius causes more environmental damage than a Hummer that is on the road for three times longer than a Prius. As already noted, the Prius is partly driven by a battery which contains nickel. The nickel is mined and smelted at a plant in Sudbury, Ontario. This plant has caused so much environmental damage to the surrounding environment that NASA has used the ‘dead zone’ around the plant to test moon rovers. The area around the plant is devoid of any life for miles.

The plant is the source of all the nickel found in a Prius’ battery and Toyota purchases 1,000 tons annually. Dubbed the Superstack, the plague-factory has spread sulfur dioxide across northern Ontario, becoming every environmentalist’s nightmare.

“The acid rain around Sudbury was so bad it destroyed all the plants and the soil slid down off the hillside,” said Canadian Greenpeace energy-coordinator David Martin during an interview with Mail, a British-based newspaper.

All of this would be bad enough in and of itself; however, the journey to make a hybrid doesn’t end there. The nickel produced by this disastrous plant is shipped via massive container ship to the largest nickel refinery in Europe. From there, the nickel hops over to China to produce ‘nickel foam.’ From there, it goes to Japan. Finally, the completed batteries are shipped to the United States, finalizing the around-the-world trip required to produce a single Prius battery. Are these not sounding less and less like environmentally sound cars and more like a farce?

Demorro's piece is damning, indeed, and he doesn't even touch on the energy costs involved in recycling the Prius' batteries once the car goes to the junk yard.

I remain, and probably shall remain for the foreseeable future, a fan of the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. Gasoline burns incredibly efficiently and engines have become gas-sippers (I get 19.1 mpg in my 325 hp German V8) with very low emissions.

Behind the wheel of your gas-fired car, you may not be Oh, so cool driving down Rodeo Drive among the Prius glitterati, but you'll be driving the smarter car.

hat-tip: Incredible Daughter #1

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