In the 21st century, there is no doubt about it -- it is cool to be green. Kermit the Frog’s infamous line about it not being easy to be green, well, that is outdated. Many Hollywood celebrities are driving around in a hybrid car, talking about organic, whole and slow foods, eating little red meat and going to yoga almost daily. Of course, their houses are ridiculously large and they engage in shameless consumerism, but the appearance of being green is certainly there. However, is this appearance of being green the best thing that hybrid cars have going for them?
The masses always want to follow the stars. I do not know if anyone can truly say if the stars started buying hybrids because they were green or simply because they were a more expensive way of doing the same thing, but they started buying them—and now everybody is. Are hybrids really that green or do they simply appear that way?
Hybrid Car Fuel Economy
A hybrid car is more fuel-efficient, some more drastically than others. The Honda Insight can get 68 miles to the gallon while driving on the highway, which is impressive. In terms of fuel economy, buying a hybrid sedan over a traditional sedan is certainly a greener choice. Replacing your standard-shift sedan with a hybrid SUV will not change your fuel efficiency. You will still be paying just as much for your fuel.
If approached logically, choosing a hybrid car can certainly have a positive impact on the environment in terms of total fuel used, not to mention the effect it has on your wallet.
Less fuel consumption not only affects oil digging across the world. Another important consideration in using less fuel is in the amount of toxic gases being released into the air as the fuel is burned to make the engine run.
Air pollution and global warming are very high up on environmentalists’ list of things to ameliorate in the global environment. Again, politically speaking, the ‘environmental’ interest in hybrids is in using less gas…for political reasons such as the public image of the US as a fuel consumer.
The true environmental interests lie more closely in the burning of fossil fuels than in the gathering and selling of them, but as environmentalists, we will take whatever help we can get. If it is a political move, so be it, as long as we are moving in the right direction.
Hybrid Car Battery
Are there other features that make a hybrid greener than a traditional car? Perhaps-- hybrid car batteries have recently fallen under fire as speculation about their environmental impact has come onto the scene. All manufacturers promise that the nickel in hybrid batteries is less harmful than the lead in traditional car batteries. They stand behind the statement that if the batteries are properly recycled, they have less of an environmental impact than their traditional counterparts. To ensure that this happens, Toyota and Honda are labeling their hybrid batteries with recycling instructions. More importantly, they are shelling out a $200 incentive for bringing in your battery to be recycled.
The Hybrid Car and the Environment
Talking air pollution, hybrids produce less than half of the carbon dioxide and half of the carbon monoxide produced by their non-hybrid counterpart. Hybrids also produce less nitrogen oxide, less hydrocarbons, and less particulate matter than traditional cars. Particulate matter is a mixture of soot and dust that floats around in the air you breath and poisons the body, contributing to cancer and respiratory and heart diseases. All of this is related to the undesired by-products of running a car. The fact that hybrids produce considerably less of these things makes the hybrid car a very environmentally friendly choice.
Hybrid Car Cost
Some people are buying hybrids because they will turn out to be cheaper in the long run (once gas savings make up for and surpass the extra amount of the initial price of the car). This line of thinking is perhaps erroneous since only car buyers who keep their hybrids for more than five years (longer for some models) will see an overall decrease in the amount devoted to buying and running a vehicle.
However, the other main reason behind choosing a hybrid is a compelling one. It is better for the environment and this line of thinking is 100% valid. From fuel consumption to emissions, with batteries and by-products in between, the hybrid car is simply greener, no questions asked