Friday, July 15, 2011

Leaf Beliefs

My younger sister is a professor of religion, who focuses on environmental ethics, so she has been really interested in hearing what I am feeling about the ethical implications of owning and operating an electric car.  Since I have had it for a grand total of nine days, I of course feel inherently qualified to discuss all the ethical implications of the Nissan Leaf. (*grin*)

As I said before, I felt a strong ethical impulse to buy the car, and it went further than simple carbon footprint reduction.  I have enough disposable income that I can afford more than just the basic necessities, and I like to choose ethical ways in which to spend my money.  This is why I buy a share in a local farm -- I support the local economy and get tasty fruits and veggies to eat.  I also want to spend my money to encourage more good works, which is why I donate to good causes (e.g., GLBT equality).

I feel that buying a Nissan Leaf helped me to further both these goals.  It is ethical to avoid buying gasoline -- the instability in the Middle East is fueled by our insatiable appetite for petroleum.  (Of course there are ethical issues with the way that electric power is generated, but I think this is the lesser of two evils.)  By being one of the earliest adopters of the technology, I am monetarily encouraging a company that is taking a bold ethical step.

My sister also asked me whether I felt "less-polluting joy" every time I drove the car.  I told her that yes, I do feel a certain sense of joy every time I get into my coal-powered car.  (Most of our electricity comes from coal.)  Sometimes I just feel like, "Oh hey, I can drive anywhere I want!  I am not polluting at all!  I will never walk anywhere again!"

Except, yeah, I'm still polluting.  It's not coming out of my tailpipe.  It's coming out of a smokestack instead.  While it is less than what would come from a tailpipe, even if it's 100% coal powered, that doesn't mean you are absolved of responsibility for pollution.

But since it is hard to see those emissions, it is hard to feel guilty when you step on the pedal and accelerate a little more than you would have otherwise.  And it does accelerate so smoothly and so instantaneously...

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