The clear advantages of Electric Cars

A new study by Radboud University along with the Universities of Exeter and Cambridge, has concluded that electric cars cause lower carbon emissions, even if they are recharged from fossil fuel plants.

Translated by: Raul Silva M.

Chinese electric vehicles.
  March, 2020.- Fears that electric cars could actually increase carbon emissions are unfounded in almost every part of the world, according to this research published in the journal "Nature Sustainability", despite various media reports having often questioned whether they are really eco-friendly, considering the emissions from electricity generation.

According to the investigation, driving an electric car is better for the environment than conventional gasoline-powered cars in 95% of the World. The only exceptions are places like Poland, where electricity generation is still mainly based on coal.

Average emissions from electric vehicles are up to 70% lower than those from gasoline cars in countries like Sweden and France (which get most of their electricity from renewable and nuclear sources), and about 30% less in the United Kingdom.

Within a few years, even inefficient electric cars will produce fewer emissions than most new gasoline vehicles in most countries, given that future electricity generation is expected to be less carbon-intensive than today.

The study shows that by 2050, every second car on the streets could be electric. This would reduce global CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 gigatons per year, equivalent to Russia's current total CO2 emissions.

The research also analyzed the domestic electric heat pumps and found that these also produce lower emissions than fossil fuel alternatives in 95% of the World. Heat pumps could reduce global CO2 emissions by 2050 by up to 0.8 gigatons per year, roughly the same to Germany's current annual emissions.

Electric vehicles at the Charging Station.
 "To reduce carbon emissions, we should choose electric cars and 
domestic heat pumps instead of fossil fuel alternatives”.
"We started this work a few years ago, and policy makers in the UK and abroad have demonstrated great interest in the results", explains Dr Florian Knobloch of the Department of Environmental Sciences at Radboud University (Netherlands) and author of the study. 

The conclusion is clear: "To reduce carbon emissions, we should choose electric cars and domestic heat pumps instead of fossil fuel alternatives”.

In other words, the idea that electric vehicles or electric heat pumps could increase emissions is essentially a myth. We've heard a lot of discussion about this recently, with lack of information”, he acknowledges. Now there is a definitive study that can remove those myths. We have analyzed the numbers from all over the World, including a whole range of cars and heating systems.

“Even in the worst situation, there would be a reduction in emissions in almost all cases. This idea should be very useful for policy makers", says Knobloch. 

The research analyzed current and future emissions from different types of vehicles and home heating options worldwide. It divided the world into 59 regions to take into account differences in power generation and technology. 

In 53 of these regions, including Europe, the United States, and China, the results show that electric cars and heat pumps are less emission intensive than their fossil fuel alternatives.

These 53 regions represent 95% of global transport and heating demand and, with the decarbonization of energy production worldwide, Knobloch notes that "the last few debatable cases will soon disappear".

The researchers carried out a life cycle assessment in which they calculated not only greenhouse gas emissions generated by the use of cars and heating systems, but also in the production chain and waste processing. 

Taking into account emissions from manufacturing and continued use of energy, it is clear that we should encourage the switch to electric cars and domestic heat pumps without any regrets", concludes Knobloch. 

Torres del Paine National Park: Experts explain the reasons behind the increase in Puma sightings

According to specialists, one of them would be the familiarity of the species to visitors. In addition, they detailed the areas with the highest density of specimens and announced that are working on regulations to supervise this type of tourism.

Written by: Claudio Torres R.
Translated by: Raul Silva M.

  Feb, 2020.- Over the last few days, photographic and audiovisual material has been circulating on social networks, reporting the sighting of cougars in Torres del Paine National Park. An example is the video published by the photographer and tour guide Felipe Roman on his Facebook account, which shows a cougar waiting for its two cubs to cross one of the main routes in the Park. The scene was witnessed from very close by several people.

Has there been an increase in cougar sightings in the area? In conversation with Emol, the Technical Coordinator and Park Ranger of CONAF (National Forest Corporation), Michael Arcos, explained that it is true that more specimens have been seen lately, adding that this is mainly for two reasons:

As a result of the 2005 forest fire, tall vegetation was reduced, so there are fewer obstacles for the cougar to hide. And, on the other hand, there are more people in the park with more and better means to take records" added Arcos.

Couple of Pumas at Torres del Paine Park, Chile.
Couple of Pumas 
  For her part, the head of Conservacion y Diversidad Biologica of the "Departmento de Areas Silvestres Protegidas" of Magallanes Region, Alejandra Silva, added a third reason: a greater familiarity of these animals with people. "The Puma is more used to the human being because it does not feel threatened, so it lets itself be seen a little more and does not have the instinct to move away," said Silva.

Likewise, the Veterinarian and former General Coordinator of Fauna Invasora of the "Servicio Agricola y Ganadero de Magallanes", José Cabello, said that "tourism" in previous years made this new relationship between the wild felines and travelers possible.

"Cougars born in 2004, when tourism began, are the adults that we can see now, they are used to seeing people. It is a friendly human presence that does not hunt and kill them, so they respond as they respond to any element of the landscape", he said.

Unanimously, the experts point out that when faced with the presence of a cougar, one should not run away or turn one's back on it, and you should always travel the area in compact groups. 


Higher density areas


Cougars in Torres del Paine Park.
  Although experts did not provide data about the estimated number of Pumas that would currently inhabit the Nature Reserve, they do admit the existence of "a high density" of these felines in some areas, although sightings may occur throughout the park. 

Silva, who annually censuses the species in Torres del Paine, points out that "la peninsula" is the area with the highest density, and therefore, where it is possible to see Pumas more frequently. In general, "the peninsula "is the area between Lakes Sarmiento, Nordenskjold and Pehoe," said the regional authority. 

Arcos also added the "Sendero Aonikenk" (Aonikenk Trail) to the list, as the Pumas' residence, making it clear that they can be seen throughout the reserve, except in inhospitable places.

"The density in that place is higher, but the Puma's potential territory is almost the entire park, with the exception of high mountain areas, glaciers and lakes, of course", said the park ranger.

Cabello also added some private areas to the list, with a large number of pumas, which would be earmarked for tourism with these animals"Estancia Laguna Amarga, Cerro Paine, and Cerro Guido are hotspot areas for sightings of cougars," said the veterinary, specialist in the native species.

Upcoming Regulations 

Carlos Olave, coordinator of the Cequa Foundation, told Emol that they are working on the creation of a proposal to regulate the sighting of cougars as a tourist activity, a document that will be delivered to Conaf.

Although it has not yet been reviewed by the respective authority, the investigator anticipated to Emol some of the possible security lines that will be delivered to the entity, which could be integrated into the current security system of the reserve.

* Responsibility: People who visit the area where cougars live, must be informed that this is a potentially dangerous species. It carries an implicit risk that must be known by the visitor.
* Observation distance: A minimum distance of 50 meters is suggested. 
* Number of people per sighting: Tourist groups should not exceed seven or eight people, since the massiveness could affect the animal behaviour. 
* Maximum observation time: This should not exceed eight consecutive hours, divided between the groups that visit the areas for one day. 
* Equipment: Multicolour clothing should not be worn to avoid altering the landscape.