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

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less