Electric Transportation, Fossil Fuels, and “Internalizing the Externalities”

Do you have a clean energy story that you’d like to tell the world?

One day each month, I shoot a series of short television shows called the “2GreenEnergy Video Report” in which I interview folks with interesting stories to tell at a television studio. The shows air throughout the month on a local channel here in Southern California — but, perhaps more important, we host the videos on YouTube and this website where they get some really good, longer-term exposure.

If you’re interested in being a part of this process, please check out the sample below, and let me know if you’d like to participate.

Here’s the first in a series of interview snipets that I conducted with Paul Scott, vice president and co-founder of Plug-In America. Here, we discuss the concept of “internalizing the externalities” associated with fossil fuels, i.e., requiring producers and consumers of oil, coal, etc. to pay the true and comprehensive costs associated with these ecologically harmful forms of energy.

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11 comments on “Electric Transportation, Fossil Fuels, and “Internalizing the Externalities”
  1. Roland Hamann says:

    Hello Mr. Shields.
    It is a very good idea to spread information via moving pictures (video blog type) as you are intending to do. For most people, any kind of information gets absorbed better if presented in such a form, that one can see the face of the person talking. Leads me to a little comment.
    The background of your video is a bit dark – grey carpet and black walls. Creates a somewhat gloomy atmosphere. Very often a neutral or personal background (even if it is someones dinner-table) is perceived as more comforting to a potential viewer.

    Another comment would be on the subject you picked. Externalities and how to incorporate them into our economics (internalizing). I have done some of these calculations as well and the results are nothing but plain shocking. Straight forward calculations, though. Anyone who can compare the prices of two milk-bottles can do them. However – the concept of internalizing Exties is somewhat abstract to the regular viewer. Unfortunately, an intact environment does not have a price tag on it, but if it is lost, than it is priceless and that means – a lot of value (even monetary) lost!!! It would help to illustrate the topic with one or two simple graphics and possibly a small calculation, which people can remember, do for themselves to understand the concept and impress their friends with.

    In case you are looking for inspiration on how to structure a neat video blog and get some information on the “burning” topic of electric mobility and its public perception , check out http://www.evtv.me
    Jack and Brian might not be the most professional looking video hosts on this planet, but they are both very genuine and especially Jack certainly brings a point or two across in his shows.

    Best regards from world, europe, germany, south,
    Roland Hamann

  2. Greg says:

    I have found a very profound and un deniable aspect of the info. / net/ people relationship.
    I have done over 30 podcasts and hundreds of hrs. of free info. sharing on my two websites. I have a tracking record that supports my point, and that is, proactive active thoughts are for the wise. Most people wait till an emergency exists to get their attention.
    This might be why hysterical reactionary news is so popular. I do suggest an objective mature delivery, yet I suggest Tags that suggest “If this happened” we would all be w/o whatever…I hope you get my point. Past tense seems to be key to “reality” oops we are falling, gets people to listen to the Airline Attendant on how to don a face mask .
    As Early Adapter Leaders, we need to know these things.

  3. Doyle Price says:

    Doyle Price:
    We have a 1995 Oldsmobile 88 Royale with a v6 engine. We have a small Solar Panel pluged into a lighter socken to chare the battery.The battery had a 6 year warranty and was over 7 years old and was getting hard to start the car. We took the car to Auto Zone to have them check the chargeing system and the barrery. They said that the chargeing system working fine, but the battery was “dead”. The car would still start every time and never had to get a”jump start”. We know that the Solar Panel was not putting out the power to crank the car to start,but the Solar Panel must have helped the battery just enough to get thre car started.

  4. Ray Gecas says:

    * Proposal for your ‘Video Report’ shorts …..
    @ Utilize from the grassroots forum >>> “SOLAR” biz + “DESIGN” biz Synergies ! ??
    = DesignPROs transform into SolarPROs >>> SuperSolar @ design/build/Retrofit
    = SuperSolarAPPs @ “Community Solar” = * SolarNeighbors * ….. [ SUNiSHINE ]
    Empowering the DESIGN community to Scale Solar up for their Neighbors …..
    To un-fragment the SOLAR + DESIGN sectors to help facilitate their synergies towards
    an inertia for struggling DesignPros to become SolarPros @ SOLARiZED ENTREPRENEURS !
    Thanks and best, RAY GECAS / SuperSolar Synergist

  5. arlene allen says:

    Given the trend of a video based, sound bite world where reading is frowned upon, one needs to build the pyramid of argument a block at a time. It is unclear how many blocks are required to create the recognition of the intended message in the viewing community, so the process would seem to be keep doing it until game over, one way or another.

    As far as externalities go, I have not seen a significant portion of the public even begin to comprehend them, let alone act. It is almost exclusively the province of government to bring such considerations into the equation, and given the public opinion and appetite for increased governmental intervention, I predict very little if any forward motion in the USA. Today’s news cycle has increased cuts to the budget of the EPA so that we can starve them out of carbon regulation activities.

  6. Frank Eggers says:

    Internalizing the externalities of burning fossil fuel would be a good and fair thing to do. Whether it is possible is another matter, but the attempt should be made.

  7. Cameron Atwood says:

    That was a great feature, and could easily have been longer and more comprehensive.

    I think it would add a lot to the impact to include some specific examples of results on actual cost breakdowns – in terms of the resulting hospital costs and lost production from illness and premature death in a given area divided out among that populace in terms of cost per kWh and average monthly dollar increase.

    The same thing could and should be done with oil – perhaps divide the ‘defense’ budget plus the additional $3 trillion we’re paying for the wars in the Middle East (where 2/3 of the world’s oil resides) by the number of gallons of gasoline the US consumed in the period.

    In an article called “How Gas Prices Work” by by Kevin Bonsor and Ed Grabianowski on the website HowStuffWorks.com, the figure of 178 million gallons per day is given for US consumption. That’s a little less than 65 billion gallons a year. By my calculations – just using the $3 trillion figure, spread over over ten years consumption – that’s an additional $4.61 per gallon we should be paying per gallon.

    Now, as of today – according the website GasBuddy.com – the current price of a gallon of gasoline averages from $2.84 to $3.42 in US counties (although I can find as high as $3.59 for ‘regular’ at the local Chevron here in Ventura County, CA). In a very instructive chart they post on average price per gallon by county, we can see that the price is far higher wherever there are more people. Therefore, it seems that the average price actually paid for a gallon is quite likely to be much higher than the ‘by-county’ median of $3.13 per gallon (which, by the way, is given as the national average).

    So, if we take the given average of $3.13 (likely a very conserative estimate), that gives a total cost of $7.74 per gallon – with the just the cost of the current wars included.

    That price leaves out a great many other externalities – like the costs of increased asthma and cancer, and the cost of maintaining about 1,000 foreign military bases for our forces.

    David Vine of Foreign Policy in Focus writes, “Officially the Pentagon counts 865 base sites, but this notoriously unreliable number omits all our bases in Iraq (likely over 100) and Afghanistan (80 and counting), among many other well-known and secretive bases. More than half a century after World War II and the Korean War, we still have 268 bases in Germany, 124 in Japan, and 87 in South Korea.”

    Would we ‘need’ this kind of massive forward placement if we weren’t addicted?

    All this is not even to mention the hotly debated impacts of global climate disruption we are already realizing in the form of increased storm severity and damages.

    Well then… What’s the real cost of a gallon? $10.00? $15.00? … $25.00?? Where’s that cash going to come from?

    The next time you talk with a child, apologize to them for bankrupting their future, because that’s when the bulk of these costs will come due… but our parents’ children – we who sit here today – will also surely suffer personally, far more than we do presently. Do we possess the collective wisdom and will to stem that tide of pain and change course of our nation?

  8. The topic is extremely important. A topic that should create the necessary synergies between consultants, policy, finance, business operator, universities, to start projects that can successfully prevent and tackle the theme of “energy. ” The speculation often leads to neglect that sometimes the costs, particularly over time, are understated and do not consider a multitude of factors.
    It seems obvious to issues such as nuclear or extraction of oil offshore, as discussed in my blog (http://michelepiano.blogspot.com/) on the Gulf of Mexico, but sometimes also renewables can be.
    The correct use of renewable sources and its use can become a driving force for sustainable develop or a mere aggravating critical socio-economic situations, see some examples in the course of development, awarded by a large organization like the CDO on my blog.
    I conclude with the hope of so much energy and synergy for sustainability.

    Piano prof. Michele

  9. jimmiller5417 says:

    I’ll be in CA from mid-Nov to mid-Fed or mid-March. You can interview me on a variety of clean energy subjects, such as Algal Oil Diesel, Solar Furnace CHP, some very interesting PV panels made in Japan which are flat to the horizon, yet pick-up ambient (reflected) solar energy, “Run of the River” power, and the BioVolt Truck.

    Jim Miller

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