Run by the Sun

by Lindsay Maxoutopoulis 903 views0

Most people would speed off in the opposite direction if two young-adults came running towards their six-figure car, desperately waving their hands as if partakers in the Ferguson riots.

Despite her slight panic, Elaine Williams rolled down her window, and asked politely how she could offer her help.

My classmate and I had been in dire need of an interviewee who owned an electric car for our news story.

Williams, sitting in her sparkly new Tesla, kindly gave us her email so that we could set-up a date to interview her retired husband, Robert Williams, who bought her the no-gas-needed car.

A few days before this parking lot situation occurred, the U.N. led a climate change meeting in Lima, Peru which intended to lay the groundwork for an international agreement on the reduction of carbon emissions. Officials from over 200 countries came to discuss stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations to a level that would prevent dangerous weather threats.

According to the U.N’s panel assessment, “to have a chance of reversing the Earth’s warming trend before the planet hits the two degree mark, the world needs to slash emissions by 40 to 70 percent by the year 2050, and to near-zero by the end of the century.”

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday “science has not only spoken; it is shouting from the rooftop…Our planet has a fever, and it is getting hotter every day. We can no longer burn our way to prosperity. We must take climate action now. And the more we delay, the more we will have to pay.”

Evidence and studies over the past two decades show that 97 percent of scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is real, yet some scientists are still skeptical about the impact humans have on the climate.

Despite the opposition from some scientists, many agree with Mr. Ban’s statement that immediate action is necessary. In fact, the world’s two largest economies and largest carbon emitters, the United States and China ––have set ambitious emission reductions goals. President Obama said, “This is a major milestone in the U.S.-China relationship and it shows what’s possible when we work together on an urgent challenge.”

China is investing heavily in renewable and nuclear energy to lower their emissions. Obama has also made decisive efforts to increase the use of renewable energy and lower carbon emissions, but he has met some challenges along the way.

Both science-denying congress and media members create a false balance in their reporting which explains the divergence between public and scientific opinion regarding the climate because agreeing with the majority of scientists poses as a political liability for congress members, so many choose to play it safe.

The latest surveys, however show that 89 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of independents and 70 percent of Republicans all believe global warming is happening and that it is at least partly caused by human actions.

So it looks like the majority of the U.S .population does believe that humans have influence on the climate after all, but how do we go about cleaning up the mess we made?

On a large scale, Obama is working on limiting carbon pollution from its largest source—power plants. Also, the Clean Power Plan is giving an advantage to investors, inventors and entrepreneurs who see new opportunity in the move toward clean energy.

On an individual scale, Obama’s plan on reducing carbon emissions from motor vehicles has already reaped benefits. According to an article recently released by Politico Magazine, “New vehicles reached an all-time high in fuel economy, hitting 24.1 mpg… Average carbon dioxide emissions reached a new low…The EPA estimates that these standards will save American families more than $8,000 per vehicle in fuel costs by 2025.”

Not only are investments in new clean energy vehicles great for the environment, they can also be good to your wallet!


Santa Clarita resident and retired pilot Robert Williams, has taken authority to be a pioneer in the clean energy movement, while doing his best to lower his family’s carbon footprint through the lifestyle they live.

“We owned two Prius’ before I bought this Tesla for my wife, and after buying my wife’s car, I fell in love and I’m planning on getting another Tesla for myself.” Williams said.

A lot of people believe that electric cars are a hassle and the charging time is an utter inconvenience. With some cars taking up to eight hours to charge, many people would argue that there isn’t enough time in a day, and using gas as fuel is more time efficient. Williams looks at his glass half full however and says, “It’s always an adventure. With charging stations along the coast, they are always located near shopping centers or restaurants so you can get things done while your car gets recharged.” You can find charging stations all around the Santa Clarita Valley, plus engineers are currently working to get battery charging times faster than ever.

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Williams believes that Elon Musk, the creator of Tesla and founder of Space X, is a true visionary. “He’s opened up this source system to other manufacturers so that other companies can go and create the same thing he has.

“Musk has done this because he believes that we’re all on this Earth together. Musk used the analogy of a boat taking on water, he feels like he’s the only one bailing the water. He wants everyone to be able to contribute.” Williams said.

With each Tesla costing as much as $101,500, contributing is a far reach for the average family. Tesla, however, is building a partnership with Panasonic and making a multimillion dollar factory in Reno with plans to reduce cost.

“Prices are going to come down,” Williams explained, “ The reason the Tesla (or any electric car) is so expensive is primarily the batteries, but the cost of those will come down with this multimillion dollar plant they’re making. Once the production of batteries goes up, the prices will drop.”

In fact, Tesla announced that they will be releasing a third-generation model by December 2017 with the target price of $ 35,000 which isn’t very far off from the average transaction price for new vehicles which is currently $31,252, according to

Williams is optimistic that there will be a rapid increase in electric cars once the prices of the car drops, and more people become conscious of the impacts of climate change.

“Ever since the industrial revolution, we’ve been pumping carbon into the atmosphere creating a greenhouse effect. It reminds me of Willie Nelson when someone asked him how he became bankrupt, ‘first slow, and then fast,’.” Robert has seen the negative effects of climate change in his own life, and says that Earth is currently in the fast stage of what’s taken place in the climate.

“I’ve seen the changes that have taken place. I’m a boater, and years ago we used to travel to Catalina and there were blue sharks, fish, and tuna everywhere. You don’t see that anymore, it’s gone.”

Seeing the impacts that climate change has led to, was the force that pushed the Williams family to get energy saving appliances all throughout their house, while going completely solar.

“Since we bought that car, we put a solar system in our home,” Williams said.

With 28 panels in their backyard, the Williams household produces the exact amount of power that they consume, which can be defined as being “Net Zero.”

“We are completely independent. Our electricity bill each month is from 80- 96 cents. And that includes charging our car. Essentially that car runs on the sun… We don’t buy any gas.”

On top of that, the solar panel payback is calculated at five years. That includes both tax credits and gasoline savings.

Although passionate about the clean energy movement, Robert remains realistic.

“Electric vehicles and renewable energy have had tremendous headwind because of what has taken place in Washington. Our legislatures are being influenced by big companies who oppose the movement. I don’t want to get political, but there are corporations who are actually lobbying legislatures to put a tax on solar production. Luckily California, being so progressive, slammed the door on it. The clean energy movement continues to be an uphill battle.

“I’m really proud of the younger generations because they really understand the effects that carbon has on our planet. I’m very optimistic and hopeful that clean energy will prevail,” Williams says.

Although honorable, optimism and a few individuals’ shift to renewable energy is not enough to change the route of climate change. A wide scale shift is needed in order to become even carbon neutral.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry says that it is time to move past the politicization of climate science. “We can’t prevent a large scale disaster if we don’t heed this kind of hard science…The longer we are stuck in a debate over ideology and politics, the more the costs of inaction grow and grow. Those who choose to ignore or dispute the science so clearly laid out in this report do so at great risk for all of us and for our kids and grand kids.”


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