Green Car Guide: Understanding the History and Future of Hybrids and EVs
Without fanfare or an exact date, a collective automotive epiphany took place a decade ago. Nearly every major carmaker was in on it, except for Toyota. The Japanese manufacturer had its own environmental awakening 17 years ago when it introduced its first hybrid car.
Toyota unveiled its gas-electric engine in Japan in 1997, and then brought it to the U.S. market in 2000. It wasn't the first electric or hybrid car available in the U.S.; Honda introduced the Insight seven months earlier but in limited supply. But the Toyota Prius was the first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car, and the auto industry hasn't been the same since.
Combining the increasing influence of the environmental movement, pending federal regulations for increased fuel efficiency and wishful thinking for diminishing reliance on foreign fuel, the rest of auto industry now gets it. The "greening of the mainstream" means one thing to automakers—game on.
The Prius, which has expanded into a family of Prius offerings, still nearly outsells all other hybrid, alternative fuel, and electric cars combined. The Detroit News reported that Toyota products represented about 60 percent of 2013 alternative fuel vehicles sales in the U.S.
According to the Alternative Fuels and Advance Data Center, since the debut of hybrid cars in the U.S., the Toyota Prius family of hybrids has sold 1,537,609 units. The remaining hybrid manufacturers combined have sold 1,550,352.
But now there's plenty of competition. Honda embraced the new technology first with the odd-looking, peanut-sized Insight. It was largely a novelty, and its lack of success was reflected in a review in The New York Times, which, in part, read that the car's style "suggested Popeye's pal, Olive Oyl, in her ankle-length dress."
In 2009, three years after Honda ended the first generation of the Honda Insight, the redesigned second generation arrived. It no longer resembled a peanut, but rather a stylish small sedan. Nearly simultaneously other stalwarts manufacturers did the same. Mainstays like the Chevy Malibu, Ford Escape, and even the Cadillac Escalade were all expanded to offer hybrid models.
Much has happened since. In 2013, nearly 60 hybrid cars and trucks were available in the U. S., with about 500,000 units sold. While expanding, hybrids sales still represented only 3.81 percent of the vehicles sold in the U.S. last year, according to the Electronic Drive Transportation Association. But hybrid vehicles or smaller car with better fuel efficiency, pending federal mandates should mean additional sales.
In accordance to legislation finalized by the Obama Administration in August 2012, a new car in the U.S. must average 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2016. The mpg average must increase to 54.5 by 2025.
The growth of alternative fuel vehicles is promising, according to J.D. Power and Associates, the global market research firm. It reports by 2025, more than one-third of passenger vehicles will be equipped with alternative powertrains and operated with alternative fuels. About 17.5 percent of the vehicles will be hybrid gas/electric hybrids powertrains (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids.
Plug-in electric hybrids will comprise about a five percent share. Availability of hybrid and electric vehicles will more than double the current variety by 2016 to 159 models in the U.S.
It wasn't until 2010 when Nissan and Chevrolet began heavily marketing their new offering that the eco-car segment gained a national buzz. Unveiled nearly simultaneously, the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt competed for the public's attention with massive advertising campaigns. Nissan, which has received a 99 mpg electric equivalency for the Leaf, sponsored the cycling team of pro cyclist Lance Armstrong. It then hired the now dethroned seven-time Tour de France winner as a commercial pitchman and gave him the first Leaf. The automaker then "replaced" Armstrong with a polar bear. It lumbered through neighborhoods and hugged the driver of a new Leaf in the owner's driveway.
Chevrolet chose actor-comedian Tim Allen as the voice of its first commercial pitch for the Volt and chose an Americana theme.
"This isn't a country where plans made at 9 necessarily apply at 5. This is America, man," said Allen in the commercial. "Home of the highway, last-minute detours, and spontaneous acts of freedom. We're wanderers, wayfarers, even nomads. So doesn't it just make sense that we build an electric car that goes far? Really far."
Chevrolet, which manufactured 45,000 Volts in its first full year, said the car had driving range of up to 379 miles. It was capable of 35 miles on a full electric charge, and an additional 344 miles on its gas-powered engine/generator.
Tesla, the Bay Area-based manufacturer, debuted its all-electric, super-quick, but limited, production Roadster in 2006. It's gained substantial attention for its superior acceleration, innovation and its outspoken owner, Elon Musk.
Automakers carefully choose when and how they've debuted new models, although most often it occurs at various auto shows around the country throughout the year. Ford in 2011, unveiled the Focus Electric, C-Max Energi and C-Max Hybrid, all manufactured at Ford's high profile, overhauled Michigan Assembly plant. Honda, whose Civic has been the country's second-best selling (albeit far behind the Prius) hybrid for several years, announced in 2011 the Civic's first complete redesign, including a hybrid model, since 2006.
Ford was the last major manufacturer to enter the hybrid competition. Its celebrity endorser was Ed Begley, Jr. In his new collaboration with Ford, the actor, a noted environmentalist, showcased his “green” lifestyle pointedly on television and in print media. In a three-and-a-half-minute video, which debuted in conjunction with the carmaker's new electric offerings at the Detroit Auto Show, the actor poked fun at several other manufacturers' electric and hybrid offerings. But so far, the last laugh is on the eco-car industry.
Like the Toyota Camry and Chevy Malibu, the Honda Civic gas edition is perennially among the country's best-selling cars. While Honda's redesign of the Civic touting an estimated 51 mpg in 2012, Ford hoped to seriously compete with the Prius with its C-Max. It hasn't been much of a competition yet.
The unfortunate irony is that while many additional major manufacturers, from Audi to Porsche and BMW to Volkswagen, all have hopes to provide competition for the Prius, with new hybrids and other alternative fuel cars, there's one certainty: All manufacturers embracing hybrid and eco-friendly technology are vying for a still-small share of the market.
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By Zahida Sherman
Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.
Falling in Love With Food All Over Again<p>Slowly, through my most intimate relationships with friends and partners, I began to see the beauty — and rewards — of cooking.</p><p>I got tired of giving in to defeat and always bringing chips or paper products to social gatherings. I started asking my mom to send me her Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes. I even volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my place.</p><p>Each time I heard my loved ones sing the praises of the foods I prepared for them, I felt a tinge more confident that I could carry out our traditions my way.</p><p>In reaching out to other relatives for their favorite recipes, I learned that they had a little help of their own. They didn't rely solely on their ancestral cooking instincts. They turned to Black chefs for guidance.</p><p>These 7 cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired my family and fed us in nutrients, joy, and spiritual sustenance. They're also helping me overcome my personal fears of cooking.</p>
Get CookingWhether you're in recovery from cooking fears like me, or are just looking to expand your culinary confidence with dishes honoring Black heritage, these Black chefs are here to support you on your journey.Turn on some music, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and throw down for yourself or your loved ones. Glorious flavors await you.
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By Tara Lohan
The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.
The History<p>The Middle Fork Nooksack drains glacier-fed headwater streams that run off the icy summit of 10,778-foot Mt. Baker. The Middle Fork joins the North Fork and then the mainstem of the Nooksack River, which travels to Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound. The entire Nooksack watershed stretches 830 square miles across Washington and into British Columbia.</p>
A Plan Comes Together<p>The Middle Fork dam is not a pool dam built for water storage. Much of the time, water flows over the top until dam operators drop a floodgate to divert water to new locations. That water travels about 14 miles through tunnel and pipeline to Mirror Lake, then Anderson Creek, and to Lake Whatcom before finally being delivered to residents' taps.</p><p>Before removing the dam, engineers had to move the water intake 700 feet upstream and situate it at an elevation that still enabled city water withdrawals throughout the year, regardless of flow conditions.</p><p>They also needed to make sure that the rushing water didn't sweep up fish and accidentally send them through the water-supply system.</p><p>"The solution required a fairly complex design in the intake structure, including a fish exit pipe out of that structure to put fish back into the river in a way that meets current environmental permit standards," explains LaCroix.</p>
Project layout for the removal of the Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam and rebuilding of water intake. City of Bellingham<p>Despite the cost and the work, she says, being able to continue to meet their municipal water obligations while opening up habitat for threatened species has been a win-win.</p><p>"I think there's a lot of benefits to having a dam removal versus fish passage — the main one being that you get a free-flowing river that can be a dynamic ecosystem and change over time," she says. "A static fish ladder just can't provide that same level of ecosystem benefit."</p>
Restoration Success<p>Despite local authorities' championing dam removal on the Middle Fork, the project has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by heated discussions about a much larger potential project — removing <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/feds-reject-removal-of-4-snake-river-dams-in-key-report/" target="_blank">four federal hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River</a>, a major tributary of the Columbia River.</p><p>Proponents of dam removal there see it as the best chance for recovering threatened salmon populations, including Chinook, which could help starving Southern Resident killer whales. Those dams also provide irrigation water, barge navigation and hydropower, so there's been more pushback against removal efforts.</p><p>Previous dam removals around the country, however, have proved successful at aiding fish recovery and river restoration.</p><p>Most notably the 1999 demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/edwards-dam-removal/" target="_blank">Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River</a> restored the annual run of alewives, a type of herring essential to the food web. The fish run has gone from zero to 5 million in the two decades since dam removal. Blueback herring, striped bass, sturgeon and shad have also extended their reach. And the resurgence has brought back osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife, too.</p><p>The overwhelming success of river restoration on the Kennebec helped to spur a nationwide dam removal movement that's now seen 1,200 dams come down since 1999. Last year a record <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/a-record-26-states-removed-dams-in-2019/" target="_blank">90 dams</a> were removed in 26 states, including <a href="https://therevelator.org/cleveland-forest-dam-removal/" target="_blank">20 dams in California's Cleveland National Forest</a>.</p>
Spider excavators remove on dam on San Juan Creek in California's Cleveland National Forest. Julie Donnell, USFS<p>The results have been seen in the Pacific Northwest, as well, which boasts the largest dam removal thus far in the country. In 2011 and 2014, the demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/" target="_blank">two dams</a> on Elwha River, which runs through Washington's Olympic National Park, opened up 70 miles of habitat that had been blocked for a century. Scientists have started seeing all five species of salmon native to the river coming back, particularly Chinook and coho. Bull trout, they've observed, have increased in size since the dams were removal.</p>
Benefits on the Middle Fork Nooksack<p>McEwan hopes to see a similar outcome on the Middle Fork.</p><p>Like the Elwha the Middle Fork Nooksack is a relatively pristine river with little development, and dam removal is expected to provide a big boost to fish. The additional miles of spawning habitat are important, but so is the temperature of that water.</p><p>The dam removal will open access to cold upstream waters, which are ideal for salmon and getting harder to come by as climate change warms waters and reduces mountain runoff.</p><p>"This is really great for the climate change resiliency for these species," says McEwan.</p><p>Steelhead will get back 45% of their historic habitat in the river, and scientists expect Chinook populations to increase in abundance by 31%.</p><p>That <em>could</em> help Southern Resident killer whales.</p><p>"When you get to the ocean, it's a little bit of a black box in terms of what you can model and say definitively is going to help, but more fish is better for orcas," McEwan says.</p><p>Upstream habitat will see benefits, too.</p><p>Oceangoing fish like salmon enrich their bodies with carbon and nitrogen while at sea. When they return to their natal rivers to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients they carry back upriver become important food and fertilizer for both riverine and terrestrial ecosystems — aiding everything from trees to birds to bears.</p><p>"Once the fish start making their way back, it will start changing the whole ecological system," says Delgado.</p><p><span></span>But any ecological benefit from salmon restoration, either in the ocean or the upper watershed, won't be immediate.<br></p><p>"The population of salmon on the Middle Fork is so low that we expect it's going to take quite a while to rebound," she says. "But the big picture is that what's good for salmon is good for the region — our history and our destiny are intricately intertwined."</p><p>After decades of work, that process of restoration has finally begun.</p>
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It can grow to a maximum of six inches (16 centimeters), change color depending on mood and habitat, and, like all seahorses, the White's seahorse male gestates its young. But this tiny snouted fish is under threat.
Building an Ocean Seahorse Destination<p>Seahorses are found in tropical and temperate coastal water worldwide, but are most abundant around Australia, China and the Philippines. </p><p>Trade in the tiny creatures is strictly regulated because of their use in traditional medicine, aquariums and their sale as dried curios. But because they are poor swimmers and cannot easily move elsewhere, habitat loss is a particular threat for these curious animals. </p><p>Seahorses wrap their tails around seagrass and corals to avoid being carried away on currents. They use the habitat to spawn and hide from predators such as crabs, while also feeding on riches of plankton and small crustaceans living in the reef.</p><p><span></span>Where corals aren't available, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/aqc.1217" target="_blank">scientists</a> found seahorses taking up residence in fishing nets and old crab traps abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. </p>
Mixing With the Locals<p>Baby seahorse mortality is high in the wild because they are easily caught, so those bred in the protected environment of the aquarium weren't ready to be released into the wild until early May.</p><p>The team released 90 new arrivals into Sydney Harbor, placing some directly into the purpose-built hotels, and others onto a net that wild seahorses had already settled on.</p><p>Before setting them free, the researchers marked each young seahorse with a fluorescent tag with unique IDs inserted just beneath the skin to track how they get on in the different environments. </p><p>"The most exciting part was being able to put these animals into the wild and then go back a month later and still see them surviving and growing," said McCracken. </p><p>The seahorses will be old enough to mate and reproduce around October or November 2020. And researchers hope that by then, they will be able to breed with the wild population. </p>
Building a Global Seahorse Hotel Chain<p>With seahorses everywhere facing the loss of their coral reef homes, similar projects have sprung up in places like Greece and South Africa, home to the world's most endangered seahorse, the Knysna seahorse. </p><p>"The endangered South African seahorse is benefiting from something quite similar, even though it wasn't intentional," said Peter Teske, professor at the Department of Zoology, University of Johannesburg.</p><p>In the South African <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322649251_An_endangered_seahorse_selectively_chooses_an_artificial_structure" target="_blank">case</a>, seahorses have bedded down in "Reno mattresses" — wire cages filled with rocks — that were used to build a new marina. Researchers from NGO Knysna Basin Project found the structures acted as a refuge for the animals.<span></span></p><p><span></span>While Teske describes the seahorse hotels as "a positive news story" and a great way to create public awareness of conservation, he added that establishing artificial habitats in some areas will only prevent the extinction of local populations.</p><p>"For a complete recovery, it is necessary to give the natural habitat a chance to regenerate," said the seahorse expert. </p>
Underwater Mascot<p>In Australia, the researchers hope the project could provide an opportunity to raise awareness not only of the plight of the Sydney seahorses but the other animals with which it shares its ocean habitat.</p><p>The waters around Sydney and the east coast are rich in biodiversity and include several threatened species like the weedy seadragon — a relative of the seahorse — and the grey nurse shark. Like the seahorse, they're also under pressure from pollution, ocean traffic and habitat loss through storms and coastal construction. </p><p>"It's a good thing to get people's support and interest. The seahorses are a useful vehicle to get people concerned if the harbor is in trouble," said David Booth, professor of marine ecology at the University of Technology Sydney who is also working on the project. </p><p>The hotels have become an attraction for divers hoping to catch a glimpse of these small but near mythical creatures. </p><p>"Everyone loves seahorses," added Booth, "they are so popular." </p>
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