Originally Posted by slytown
I think converting to electric vehicles though in the aggregate is much more efficient and green because electric power doesn't create heat (or as much.) If all cars suddenly went electric, there would be much less CO2 in the air because only a few sources in a city would be burning things.
Gasoline engines are much less efficient than a highly regulated power plant - so a power plant is capable of producing far more power per unit of CO2 produced. A power plant can also use the most advanced technologies to attain efficient conversion as well as to maximize clean emissions. However, most power plants do not operate that way, as they look at maximizing short term profits, and will only "invest" when the law or cost-benefit shows they can score fast profits.
Electric cars are not an ideal solution. The problem we have is that cities have grown inefficient, with onerous zoning that removes business and industry from the areas where people live. Thus, people are forced to commute to and from work. Not only does this drive energy use, it also creates the culture of obesity and bad health that are driving us to bankruptcy. All of our "problems" are interlinked, and are all derived from destroying the "old ways" which centered on us living within walking range of our homes - and instead, migrating to suburbia, with people driving for an hour, or even two or three hours, back and forth to work.
I live in a city which suffers from that exact malady. Local jobs are so rare that to have one makes one an elite, while everyone else has to schlep their way on overcrowded highways to distant work places, with a million cars idling for hours at a time, with road rage and bad health all around. Electric cars would help with pollution, to an extent, but to actually bring work places closer to where people actually live, where people could take buses or simply walk, and to have infrastructure where people could work from home, these would yield very real benefits.