I’ve been hesitating to write this post as it is only somewhat related to electric cars. But if your concerned about the environment, please continue to read.
I have been troubled with the location of the Tesla superchargers at Harris Ranch. For me it feels inconsistent with the environmental goals of many of its customers. I am simply not comfortable with factory farming from both an environmental and animal welfare perspective.
Harris Ranch for many Californians is the symbol of factory farming. Anyone with a nose does not miss the factory farm along I-5. This feedlot is California’s largest beef producer and the largest ranch on the west coast. In fact the conditions of the ranch inspired Michael Pollan to research and eventually write his book, The Ominivore’s Dilemma.
Ironically or perhaps because of the size, their menu does include a Portabella burger, a vegetarian chili, and a few dinner salad choices. And in fact, most of the eating establishments along Interstate 5 are participating in the same processes but the connection is at least one step removed.
I have been a vegetarian for the last two years. During the fifteen years before that point, I transitioned from a regular omnivore to first eliminating veal, then beef, then non-organic foods or non-pasture raised animals. I also had an exception that if I was far from home, I would eat whatever was available, or if I was dining at a friend’s home. Then I eliminated non-sustainably caught seafood and mainly ate either buffalo from a free range place in North Dakota or free range chicken. In the end it got all too complicated to try to treat both the animals and the environment well. I felt that every meal was a bit complicated and I became a vegetarian. One of the best decisions I ever made.
I lump our impact on the environment into three bundles: transportation (flying and driving), eating habits, and then a lot of indirect polluters. From data I have gathered over the years, these three are about equal carbon producers. With the electric cars I have owned now for four years that are powered exclusively by solar I have largely stopped polluting through personal transportation. I typically fly twice a year and do own a ICE vehicle, which is a hybrid with reasonable mileage.
The third bundle is the difficult one to quantify. Everything we buy gets shipped to us and was produced in some manner. I try to reduce unnecessary consumption, try to buy locally produced products, and choose green and organic products where possible.
The huge impact humans make that is somewhat underreported is the impact on eating animals. The data I am quoting is from Scientific American. Red meat such as beef and lamb is responsible for 10-40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions than common vegetables and grains. The animals are fed corn, soybean meal and other grains typically using fertilizer, fuel and pesticides. The growing of their feed and generates a lot of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, and the cows themselves produce methane.
What does this post have to do with Tesla? I am assuming that a healthy percentage of other owners are also very sensitive about the environment, and some of those are also vegetarians or sustainable eaters. I hope Tesla chooses supercharger locations in places where folks like myself can find sustainable, organic and vegetarian fare.
In regards to the location of the superchargers, they are very easy to locate as they are in the corner closest to the intersection off of I-5. There are four traditional superchargers, and two with the charging stations in the front, where an ICE car is allowed to park for 45 minutes. Two brand new Model Ss were there when I arrived, likely driving home from the factory in Fremont.