+
Heroes

For less than $8K, France's new electric car could revolutionize clean transportation.

True
Natural Resources Defense Council

Cars are an expensive — but often necessary — part of life. And electric cars? Forget it.

That tends to be a problem with a lot of sustainable products: the overhead is just too high, even if it does ultimately pay for itself in the long run.

Unfortunately, this still leaves proponents of clean living in a a pickle. The only reason that fossil fuels seem more affordable is because of the infrastructure that's already in place.


How do you get people to make a large-scale shift toward greener transportation (which would bring prices down for everyone) when most of them don't have the cash for that initial investment?

The obvious answer is to just make them cheaper — and that's exactly what France is doing.

At the COP21 Climate Conference in December 2015, French Minister of Economy Ségolène Royal announced a global competition to create a small electric car that will sell for less than $7,500 (about 7,000 euros).


Ségolène Royal. Photo by France Ecologie Energie/Flickr.

According to Gizmodo and speaking through a translator, Royal explained that her goal is to "create an electric car for the people" — something light, small, and fast-charging that "may not look like traditional electric cars."

To help keep costs down, the French government is encouraging the use of replaceable batteries (not unlike the innovative Gogoro Smart Scooter), which can be easily swapped out and replaced at designated charging stations throughout the country.

Presently, the next-best option in electric transportation (for those of us who can't afford a $45,000 Tesla) is India's e20, which costs around $15,000. The Renault ZOE is also available in France for around the same cost, plus 49 euros a month for battery rentals.

The Gogoro Smart Scooter. Photo by Maurizio Pesce/Flickr.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to incentivize the development of affordable, sustainable transportation all across the world.

"The problem arises for other countries: they worry that if we stop the exploitation of fossil fuels, it hinders development," Royal explained in an interview with 20 Minutes (roughly translated in-browser by Google).

"It is therefore imperative to drive down the price of renewable energy to provide these countries the same level of development as the industrialized countries that have reached the using in the past, fossil fuels."

There will inevitably be cynics who question the lack of specifics available thus far in France's cheap electric car plan. But what matters more right now is the country's willingness to take these kinds of risks.

Photo by Jeremy Keith/Flickr.

And considering the tremendous strides that France has already made in sustainable development, there's no reason not to take them at their word.

The affordable electric car initiative was only one piece of a four-part plan that will double France's already considerable investments in clean energy.

That new plan also includes:

  • A commitment to bring the country to at least 20% electric vehicles by 2030 (part of the Paris Declaration on Electro-Mobility and Climate Change and the Zero Emission Vehicles Alliance). As noted in the official statement, “The higher volume of orders will help reduce production and marketing prices."
  • An additional 2-million-euro investment in MobiliseYourCity, which aims to facilitate transport planning projects in 20 cities in developing and emerging countries (and is only one part of an even larger global initiative).
  • Solar. Freakin'. Roadways!(OK not exactly this, but close enough.) Over the next five years, the government plans to deploy at least 1,000 kilometers of "energy roads" that incorporate photovoltaic cells to generate electricity.

Photo by Steve Jurvetson/Flickr.

Clean and affordable transportation is just one step toward a brighter future. But it still makes a difference.

Like I said, the only reason that fossil fuels are cheaper is simply because that's the infrastructure that's already in place. But if that same infrastructure had been established with a renewable, non-carbon-based fuel source, it would cost us even less — without the added bonus of environmental damage.

But because of that infrastructure that's currently in place, the only way to enact wide-scale change is to go all-in and make it happen — and that's exactly what France is doing.

Together, we can create a new global infrastructure that works for the people and the planet, instead of just the pockets of a few corporations.

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less

Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson in 2006.

A startling number of professional athletes face financial hardships after they retire. The big reason is that even though they make a lot of money, the average sports career is relatively short: 3.3 years in the NFL; 4.6 years in the NBA; and 5.6 years in MLB. During that time, athletes often dole out money to friends and family members who helped them along the way and can fall victim to living lavish, unsustainable lifestyles.

After the athlete retires they are likely to earn a lot less money, and if they don’t adjust their spending, they’re in for some serious trouble.

In a candid interview with NFL Hall of Famer and TV personality Shannon Sharpe, Chad Ochocinco (legally Chad Johnson) revealed that he saved 80 to 83% of the $48 million he made in the NFL by faking his lavish lifestyle because it made no sense to him.

Keep ReadingShow less
Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

American mom living in Germany lists postpartum support and women are gobsmacked

“Every video you make gets me closer to actually moving to Germany.”

U.S. mom living in Germany shares postpartum support she received.

Having a baby is not an easy feat no matter which way they come out. The pregnant person is either laboring for hours and then pushing for what feels like even more hours, or they're getting cut from hip to hip to bring about their bundle of joy. (Unless you're one of those lucky—or rather not-so-lucky—folks who get to labor for hours only to still end up in surgery.)

Giving birth is hard and healing afterward can feel dang near impossible, especially given that most states in the U.S. only offer six weeks of maternity leave and it's typically unpaid. But did you know that not everyone has that experience?

A mom who had her first child in the U.S. before meeting her current husband and relocating to Germany is shedding light on postpartum care in her new country. The stark contrast is beyond shocking to women living in the U.S. and she's got a few considering crossing the ocean for a better quality of life.

Keep ReadingShow less

Meghan Elinor chimes in on the Starbucks tipping debate.

Tipping culture is rapidly changing in America, so understandably a lot of people aren’t sure what to do when they buy a coffee and the debit card reader asks for a tip. It used to be that people only tipped bartenders, drivers, servers and hairdressers.

Now people are being asked to tip just about any time they encounter a point-of-sale system. There is a big difference between tipping a server who lugged around hot plates of food for an hour-long meal and someone who simply handed you an ice cream cone.

"We're living in an era of inflation, but on top of that, we've got tipping everywhere—tipflation. I take it a step further and call it a tipping invasion. Because that's really what I think it is," etiquette expert Thomas Farley (aka Mister Manners) told CBS 8.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

Keep ReadingShow less