Are Teslas Front Loading Emmisions?

Are Teslas Front Loading Emmisions?

I am reading articles that accuse battery powered cars of front loading emissions in their manufacture. Somehow that sounds wrong. Any experts that can clarify how this argument is just in error?

jbunn | October 15, 2012

"Whales were on a trajectory for possible extinction prior to the discovery of petroleum though."

Fascinating. So the Atlantic Grey Whale which thrived from the Pleistocene eara hundreds of thousands of years ago, just happend to go extinct in in Europe after Roman times, and became extinct on the American coast in the late 1800's when the American whaling fleet was at it's height?

Shame they are all wiped out now. All gone. But I'm sure it was headed for extinction anyway and we had nothing to do with it.

mrspaghetti | October 15, 2012


The Exxon Valdez incident is a great event to mention if you're looking for an emotional response, but it has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.


I never said human activity wasn't responsible for the possible extinction trajectory. We definitely hunted them and used them for all kinds of stuff, and other species of whales probably would indeed have been hunted to extinction if not for the discovery of petroleum.

But somehow I don't seem to miss them. Maybe I should - I bet they tasted great.

mrspaghetti | October 15, 2012


I don't see any heckling going on, just a discussion.

Captain_Zap | October 15, 2012

Another group to ask about unsustainability is the Easter Islanders.

I can't make any sense out of claims that unsustainability is a hoax with regard to ICE vehicles as personal transport.

Oil, CO2 and other air pollutants are just a small part of the equation but once you factor in other things such as deforestatation, non-point pollution, population dynamics, food resources, water resources, economics, the impacts of necessary infrastructure for processing, transport & exploration, and the other factors I can't help but conclude that it adds up to unsustainable with the path we have been on.

Also, we need to prioritize our use of fossil fuels so that we can use them for air travel, space exploration, materials and other things that do not yet have sustainable, reliable and/or economically feasible alternatives.

danielccc | October 15, 2012

+1 Captain_Zap

Brian, 100 years ago is of little relevance. Population is now four times what it was then, energy use has gone up by a factor of 10, materials use by a factor of 8.

This growth is continuing, and it is unprecedented in history. 100 years ago was just the start. At that time, vast areas of land had only been explored in the previous 50 years. There were huge virgin forests and jungles around the globe.

Do you seriously think we can increase our resource extraction by a factor of 8 or 10 again? Please spend some time with Google Earth. look at the Amazon, what's left of it. It's as if it was being shaved clean.

The rules are simply different than before 1850. Don't think by historical analogy, just do the math.

Brant | October 15, 2012


Oh boy, queue dramatic music.

"Recycle your breadcrumbs! Save the wheat!"

I don't know whether I should yawn or laugh. Prob'ly both.

mrspaghetti | October 15, 2012


What's your point? Shall no one on this forum use hyperbole or sarcasm without being asked to leave by you?

Brant | October 15, 2012

Just proving that you live in denial in more than one aspect of your life

mrspaghetti | October 15, 2012

Ok, the topic of this thread was pretty much a guaranteed disagreement between a couple of us and everyone else. I can see things are not going in the generally positive way most of the threads here go and I'd like to avoid getting personal or hurting anyone's feelings. I've intended no offense with any of my comments and I apologize if any was taken.

To make one final comment 'on topic' that we can all agree on - John Peterson is an idiot. [I don't mind hurting his feelings]

danielccc | October 15, 2012


Heh, you didn't hurt my feelings, for sure.

Look, this whole thing is about what Tesla means. To me it means excellence and performance in an environmentally sound way.

Yes, the Model S has been designed to be the best car, period. But Elon is not shy about the environmental goals of the company, so a discussion on what that means is worth having.

It ends up being a matter of degree. There is a spectrum between the bamboo bicycle crowd and the 0-60 in 2 seconds (but EV) crowd. My rough position is that Tesla has to be at par or slightly better than industry standards for the glider, but needs to have a very solid story for the power train, which is the brand's signature. There are a lot of ways to do this.

Brian H | October 15, 2012

Your worries are based on misinformation. Forests in North America are larger than when the Pilgrims arrived. Much tropical deforestation is occurring to feed inane biofuel targets with palm oil (at net negative energy output, and increased net fossil fuel use). Much of the rest is due to pre-industrial-style slash-and-burn agriculture. Technology exists to make softwood superior to teak, etc. (Kebony co., uses furfuryl alcohol, sugar cane waste product). Population will plateau around 2035 at 8bn or so and decline thereafter (per the always-accurate UN Population Survey Low Band projections). CO2 production soars globally, temperatures flatten and drop. Etc.

Elon's "Save The Planet" delusion is harmless, because he chose very constructive ways to improve humanity's prospects.

Captain_Zap | October 15, 2012

I can't buy that. Sorry. Don't you look out the window as you fly across the US? Just in my lifetime the amount of forest land has dwindled substantially. Our State has not been a great steward since they "get revenue" from logging. Mountains look like shabby patchwork quilts. Rivers are getting choked with silt from the runoff and we are having some of the worst floods in 1000 years. We are running low on stocks of many varieties of fine wood due to over-harvesting. Its going to take hundreds of years to bring Cedar back.

Many of the forests in mainland Europe ended up underneath Venice may years ago.

Logging in Brazil is making some numerous varieties of wood scarce. There a black market for some varieties.

Several varieties of wood have become like unobtanium.

Tree farms do not replace viable forests or a jungles by any stretch of the imagination.

jbunn | October 15, 2012

Actualy Brian, no. From the USDA Forestry division report -

"It is estimated that—at the beginning of European settlement—
in 1630 the area of forest land that would become
the United States was 1,045 million acres or about 46
percent of the total land area. By 1907, the area of forest
land had declined to an estimated 759 million acres or
34 percent of the total land area. Forest area has been relatively
stable since 1907. In 1997, 747 million acres—or
33 percent of the total land area of the United States—
was in forest land. Today’s forest land area amounts to
about 70 percent of the area that was forested in 1630.
Since 1630, about 297 million acres of forest land have
been converted to other uses—mainly agricultural. More
than 75 percent of the net conversion to other uses
occurred in the 19th century."

Brian H | October 16, 2012

Much that was converted to farmland is now reverting; the marginal lands are being left to "go native" in large areas. But you're probably right overall -- I think the stat I saw related primarily to New England.

There are many ways, of course, in which the land areas of NA have been altered by humans. One surprising recent discovery was in the Amazon, where large earthworks, perhaps like the figures on hillsides elsewhere, have been overgrown by jungle. Much forested area there was apparently under rather intense cultivation by pre-Columbian tribes, etc.

Rich countries do much better at stewardship, etc., in general, because they can afford to -- and because they want to (and can afford to want to).

mrspaghetti | October 16, 2012


Not sure if your view looking out airplane windows is what we should be basing policies on. Is it not possible that what you think you're seeing out there is colored by what you expect to see?

I understand that it would be nice if we could keep all our forest land, or even increase it. I agree. But assuming the excerpt posted by jbunn is accurate, I'd say agricultural use is also important, you know, to do things like feed the human population. That ranks way up there on my list, even a little bit above having lots and lots of untouched forest in which to camp, hunt & fish.

I also agree that the State tends not to be the best steward of the environment, although the govts of wealthier countries do tend to be much more effective than impoverished ones. (Brian H +1 on that). But I think it's just another facet of govt not being very good at most things compared to private enterprises, rather than the fact that they "get revenue" from logging. After all, they "get revenue" from pretty much everything, so you're making a non-point.

danielccc | October 16, 2012

Brian H, I'll make it short. You said my worries are based on misinformation. Then you gave a false piece of information.

Who is misinformed again?

Like I said, spend some time with Google Earth. Get the facts. Do the math.

mrspaghetti | October 16, 2012


We're probably not as far apart as you think. I think there probably are overall environmental benefits to the Model S over gas-based cars. I just don't think they're nearly as important as most of the other posters here seem to think.

I also think that unintended consequences often reduce whatever benefits people anticipate from new technologies, and sometimes they even bring about opposite effects. A good example is that government-induced demand for bio-fuel has driven up food prices and promoted more deforestation.

So if society were to widely adopt EVs, I don't pretend to know what all the long-term effects would be. And I don't think anyone else does either.

mrspaghetti | October 16, 2012

That's why I'm content to buy it because it's an uber-quiet, beautiful techie-geek's dream come true and will keep me from ever having to make an inconvenient gas-run again.

Captain_Zap | October 16, 2012

Biofuel. BIG mistake!

DouglasR | October 16, 2012

Someone said it earlier: in the long run, Earth will do fine. It's the human species I worry about. Compared to other life forms that have dominated this planet, humans have been around a very short time, and I suspect that they will not last as long as the dinosaurs, for example. Moreover, their demise is more likely to be due to their own behavior, as opposed to Earth's collision with a meteor.

I love my grandsons, and I hope that the beauties of this Earth are as available for them to enjoy as they have been for me. Meanwhile, however, I expect they will get a thrill out of going 0 - 60 in the Tesla before their "instant" messages can get delivered -- something I could never do at their age.

Timo | October 17, 2012

I don't agree with that "demise of humankind". It's actually d*mn hard to kill seven billion humans without something like a really big asteroid collision. We are too smart and too widely distributed to die that easily. And even that asteroid would need to hit really soon, or even that could not kill us. Then the only thing that could kill us is the Sun. Give couple of hundred years (blink in geological timescale) and even that might be too late.

Sure a lot can die due diseases and war and other stuff, but enough will continue to be able to keep civilization going. We change and adapt. When we are unable to adapt ourselves we adapt the environment to meet our needs. We are the first species in the world history that can really affect their own fate, correct the mistakes nature has made and eventually migrate to other planets.

Brian H | October 17, 2012

And while we're at it, revise the genome to give us the far superior octopus' eye design. Sensors in front of the capillary web, please! Sheesh.

mrspaghetti | October 17, 2012

Can I have super strength while we're at it?

[Wait, is this the test-ignore thread?...]

jbunn | October 17, 2012

Hi Timo,

Actualy, it's really damn easy to kill off civilizations. Happened lots of times in recorded and archaeological history. The thing that scares me the most is a descent back into a medieval society as happened in to Europe after the fall of the Roman empire.

7 billion is way over the natural carrying load of the planet without modern agriculture, transportation and energy distribution, so lots of folks will die. Lots of other folks will die because we rely on things like eyeglasses, medications, ect to survive. Others will die in the chaos. So the herd gets culled. Might not be a bad idea, present company excluded. But where times get really bad is if we start to lose our technology.

It takes power to start a power plant. If it's completly shut down and off a grid, you need to boot strap it up. But if you don't have diesel, you can't start the backup generators. You might need batteries to start the diesel generators. And without grid power, you can't power the other machinery that supplies the generators with diesel, and your plant with fuel.

It took hundreds of years to build an industrial society. But we did it at a time when oil bubbled out of the ground, and you could dig ore out of the ground with hand tools. That's all gone. Resources are too deeply buried to be accessed without high tech. If we lose our technology, humans will survive. We can do the Mad Max thing for a while, and we can allways go back to the trees. But our culture, our technology, and our civilization will be gone forever.

reitmanr | October 18, 2012

Wow! Seems we have drifted off the subject of this thread. Good to have the information however. I will take Peterson's input as the biased view he represents and not based on science.
So for now I am just trying to plan the celebration when my S arrives. How do we accomodate all those wanting a ride asap? Your thoughts are welcome, but perhaps in another thread. Thanks for all your thoughts and ideas. Nice to hear just how much folks love the model S, regardless of their environmental views.
Some of my friends have simply decided they need their own model S and have gone off and ordered their own, regardless of their environmental views. Thanks again!

Captain_Zap | October 18, 2012

The meek shall inherit the earth.

I think its a treatment resistant virus or infection that'll be our demise if the wars doesn't get us first.

Captain_Zap | October 18, 2012

oops. correction...
wars don't

tharasix | October 18, 2012

I mostly just don't get why environmentalism is such a partisan issue. Even if you don't think it's a huge problem, what harm is there in others doing things that help the environment? If you don't care, don't bother living "green". However, why would you encourage others not to? It blows my mind.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into all this, but, anecdotally, there are people who hate environmentalists so much that they will actively pollute just to irk them. I'm not implying anybody on this board does that, but if people want to live "green", why not just let them do it?

mrspaghetti | October 18, 2012


I think there's room for disagreement about what helps vs. hurts the environment. For example:

Biofuel - promotes deforestation and raises food prices (which hurts everyone, particularly the poor)

Hydroelectric power - requires huge areas to be flooded, which also has an environmental impact

Recycling - for many raw materials, it requires much more energy (and consumption of fuel) to recycle than it does just to use 'virgin' ones

Hydrogen power / hydrogen fuel cells - currently the only feasible way to produce hydrogen on the scale needed is by cracking natural gas with superheated steam. Obviously, this requires far more energy than you ever get out of the hydrogen.

Nuclear power - produces no pollution and would be ridiculously cheap if not for over-the-top regulation by the government due to (largely unfounded) fear by the public. Opposed by many "environmentalists" despite being, arguably, the most environmental way to produce power.

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list, but you get the picture. It's not as clear cut as you suggest above.

Oaktowner | October 18, 2012

tesla.mrspaghet -

Nuclear does produce pollution, of course, but in a different form factor. It doesn't fill the atmosphere with chlorofluorocarbons, but it does produce radioactive spent fuel, which must be dealt with some way or other.

tharasix | October 18, 2012

Believe it or not, I completely agree with you. On all points. On the other hand, I don't think the "everything's fine" standpoint is as clear cut as some make it seem, either.

The big problem with the whole thing is that it's complicated as hell. Even with the same data, rational people can come to vastly different conclusions. My MO is that everybody should do what they feel comfortable doing. If that's just turning down the thermostat a degree or two, fine. I choose to do more, and don't think I'm some weirdo or zealot because of it.

mrspaghetti | October 18, 2012


IMO, not a big issue. You bury it somewhere and forget about it. We have plenty of space.

Brian H | October 18, 2012

" Captain_Zap | October 18, 2012 new

The meek shall inherit the earth."
That's the King James term; at the time it meant "slow to anger". So, "The calm and sanguine shall inherit the Earth." Sounds a bit different, doesn't it?

Genuine environmentalism has little to do with the insanity that now has appropriated the name. Read "Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout" by Patrick Moore, PhD in ecology, early leader of Greenpeace (its only board member with a science degree, "Dr. Truth"), on how the take-over by homeless Marxists occurred after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"The collapse of world communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall during the 1980s added to the trend toward extremism. The Cold War was over and the peace movement was largely disbanded. The peace movement had been mainly Western-based and anti-American in its leanings. Many of its members moved into the environmental movement, bringing with them their neo-Marxist, far-left agendas. To a considerable extent the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anticapitalism and antiglobalization than with science or ecology. I remember visiting our Toronto office in 1985 and being surprised at how many of the new recruits were sporting army fatigues and red berets in support of the Sandinistas."

mrspaghetti | October 18, 2012


Completely reasonable.

IMO, most of the ire aimed at 'environmentalists' results from the interference in peoples' lives that they promote. For example, we did some construction at our house once and some governmental inspector claimed there were "wetlands" within 100 yards of the house, initially prohibiting us from doing the work. It took us an additional year and probably cost us 50% more to do some simple work because there was basically a 20' x 30' mud patch in the yard within sight of the house. [Which, by the way, wasn't affected by the work we were doing anyway.]

My dad also once gave up building a house for himself because the township would never allow him to satisfy their environmental questions. E.g., they demanded that he create some kind of reservoir/disposal system for the rainwater that was going to drain from his roof. I kid you not.

The same thing happens on a much larger scale, where people invest mucho dinero on various projects only to have them stalled or killed by zealots. It costs nothing to make a claim that there's a rare spotted cockroach living in someone's brush pile, unless you happen to own the land the brush pile sits on and you were planning on building something there. Then it can cost you a fortune, or even ruin you financially.

Have that happen to you a few times and you start to get pretty annoyed with people preaching about "living green".

Captain_Zap | October 18, 2012

@ Brian H

I acutally had the Rush 2112 version of that phrase in my head when I said that.

Mel. | October 19, 2012

I still like solar and wind and would like us to use the gulf stream for energy on the east. Coast

Timo | October 19, 2012

@jbunn, Actualy, it's really damn easy to kill off civilizations

Yes, but what killed those civilizations? Other civilizations. Cultures come and go, technologies continue and accumulate. And once we have realized that we are all same then there are no other civilization to kill our civilization.

That realization might take some time though. Seems to be that people are a bit too eager to categorize people in "us" and "them", be it by religion, body color, language etc.

@Oaktowner, tesla.mrspaghet

Nuclear power is currently unbelievably expensive compared to what it could be, and also way more polluting. There are nuclear power plant designs that use the fuel much better and cause way less nuclear waste. In fact most of the "waste" could be still used as fuel for some of the designs. Problem is that those plant designs can be used to produce nuclear weapons, which is probably why they are not used (I think). It is also quite polluting to get that fuel (uranium isn't exactly common mineral).

Real "green" power comes from smarter building and widely distributed power generation (solar in rooftops, small wind turbines etc.). Less big power plants, more small ones. Like with SuperCharging network. There is way more than enough green power into world, we just need to tap into it.

mrspaghetti | October 19, 2012


Wind has it's issues too, including:

High maintenance/low reliability - and maintenance on wind towers is costly, because it involves a lot of highly skilled people transporting a lot of expensive equipment to very remote places

Highly variable power supply - creates erratic spikes in the grid. This can and does have it's own environmental impact.

Not efficient - would not be financially viable without huge govt subsidies

Kills lots of birds

Solar is less objectionable. It would also not be financially viable without govt subsidies. But the extra cost may actually be worth it given the pollution effects of burning hydrocarbons and the cost of mitigating that pollution (e.g., catalytic converters on cars, various pollution-reducing systems used at power plants).

Not sure about using the gulf stream for energy. If someone can figure out how to do it at some kind of reasonable cost, I'm all for it.

mrspaghetti | October 19, 2012


Nuclear power is currently unbelievably expensive compared to what it could be


and also way more polluting.

Disagree. How so?

There are nuclear power plant designs that use the fuel much better and cause way less nuclear waste. In fact most of the "waste" could be still used as fuel for some of the designs. Problem is that those plant designs can be used to produce nuclear weapons, which is probably why they are not used (I think). It is also quite polluting to get that fuel (uranium isn't exactly common mineral).

Actually, uranium is very common and cheap to mine. It also causes no more pollution to mine than iron, gold, copper or any other mineral or raw material that is mined.

As for using it better / re-using it as fuel, see my point above. It's plentiful and cheap, so there's no point in bending over backwards to recycle it. And the waste is no big deal, as stated earlier - you bury it in a designated storage facility and forget about it.

Real "green" power comes from smarter building and widely distributed power generation (solar in rooftops, small wind turbines etc.). Less big power plants, more small ones. Like with SuperCharging network. There is way more than enough green power into world, we just need to tap into it.

Disagree again. Power generation is much more efficient on a large scale, just like many other things we rely upon (e.g., agriculture, car manufacturing, clothing production, etc.)

Timo | October 19, 2012

You don't need to be efficient if you distribute it. Solar on your rooftop might not be as efficient as big power plant, but who cares as long as it provides net gain in energy. That's the point. Just tap into what currently doesn't get used at all. You have green energy everywhere, people just are not used to use it.

Captain_Zap | October 19, 2012
Mel. | October 19, 2012

T.m, ok I am back to my favorite ,natural gas, the only fuel that can quickly get us off saudi oil

Brian H | October 19, 2012

"Quickly" is the key word.
But the whole Gulf only contributes <15% of US oil consumption. Domestic sourcing is now the majority of supply. Canada is next, the main import source.

jerry3 | October 20, 2012

Oaktowner -- Nuclear does produce pollution, of course, but in a different form factor. It doesn't fill the atmosphere with chlorofluorocarbons, but it does produce radioactive spent fuel, which must be dealt with some way or other.

That is only true of the older technology. There are nuclear power plants that can use the spent fuel and produce no spent fuel of their own. Unfortunately, the irrational fear the public has of nuclear energy has stopped these plants, and nuclear power in general, from being built. Nuclear power is the safest and cleanest, and cheapest form of constant energy we have. (solar and wind are not constant).

jerry3 | October 20, 2012

Mel -- I am back to my favorite ,natural gas

You're just trading air pollution for water pollution. Not a good idea IMHO.

Captain_Zap | October 20, 2012

I don't consider nuclear fears irrational.

The Japan Tsunami is fresh in my memory.

They have a leaking waste tank that breached its primary containment at Hanford right now and they have to transfer its contents. Adding to that problem they are running out of space at the Hanford reservation.

Brian H | October 20, 2012

The atmosphere is quite grateful for the H2O and CO2 burning NG produces. So is the plant life world-wide. Only the deluded and the ambitious (EPA) consider those "air pollution".

kalikgod | October 20, 2012

Here is my take on the grid energy sources (US perspective):

Natural Gas

Its cleaner and cheaper than coal. Unlike coal and oil, its price is not determined by global supply and demand but regional (good for the US, bad for Asia). It is also more flexible as far as ramp up ramp down to meet demand and mix with varying sources (solar and wind).


Greatest energy dense source and once was extremely cheap. Regulation has taken the price advantage away. While the likelihood of an event is rare, the risks associated with a worst case scenario are drastic and widespread. It is not the ideal risk/reward ratio and that seems to be affecting its price (through regulation). Cannot ramp quickly to meet demand or other renewable energy sources.


Cheap if used dirty, (prohibitively) expensive if used clean. The local pollution from its emissions cause well documented health issues. Then there is the "global experiment" as Elon calls it. Some of this applies to Natural Gas too, but to a lesser extent (~70%).


Great source, but very regionally and scale limited. Provides power on demand for the most part and can act as grid storage during ideal conditions.

Wind (the only energy I have in depth knowledge of)

Has the most potential as a utility scale renewable energy source. Fixed energy costs over a 20 - 30 year period. Can be ramped (down) to match demand. (Unsubsidized) Costs are about 15 - 20% higher than Natural Gas on average, but is a good hedge against future costs of fuel. Availability is very specific to the region, so multi-regional deployment is needed to balance availability. i.e. the wind is always blowing somewhere.


Matches the generic summer demand curve well, but is completely unavailable at night. The (unsubsidized) costs are still roughly 100% more expensive than the other grid power. Solar is well suited for distributed generation to take the peaks off of summer electricity use, but is not well suited for utility scale. Although there are starting to be more 100+ MW projects, we will see how they do.

My conclusion

It is all about cost of energy and availability. Renewables need to be the cheapest forms of energy, so they will always be used when available. The fossil fuel sources will fill in to match demand. Until there is a major breakthrough in utility scale energy storage, this will be the best case scenario in the near future.

EVs adding some (predictable) night demand should help flatten day/night demand and give the grid energy sources some more elbow room. There is currently a squeeze on the grid with the drop in electricity demand since 2008.

The other factor to consider is time to build the plants. This might be nuclear's biggest hurdle right now. The 5 - 10 year lead time is really a killer. Natural Gas is more like 3 years, wind is closer to 18 months. That (and cost) is why they have been the top two additions to the grid four years running.

Here is the best recent report I know of on the costs of different energy sources -

That is just my 2 (maybe 20) cents...

jbunn | October 20, 2012

Put a plastic bag on you head and take a stopwatch. Let us know how long it takes you to become deluded and ambitious.

mrspaghetti | October 20, 2012


Good summary

Note that the worst case for nuclear power is highly dependent upon the design of each individual plant. There are some designs where the worst case is no worse than for a non-nuclear plant.

But I recognize that's an impossible thing to convince the public of at this point, so nuclear power is essentially dead until there is a breakthrough in fusion someday in the (probably) distant future.