Adam Ruins Everything, Including His Reputation When He Attempts To Attack Electric Cars – (w/video)



Adam Ruins Everything

“Adam Ruins Everything” is a comedy show, somewhat like South Park, that pokes fun at obvious issues to get a rise out of viewers. However, this time the writers have neglected to do their homework, and perhaps ruined the show’s reputation among many “green-friendly” viewers.

Basically, the episode tries to convince us that electric cars are no better than gas cars because you are shifting your carbon emissions from your tailpipe, to your local “coal-burning” power plant. Meanwhile, the show pokes fun at EV buyers and their lack of understanding.

While this can be considered partly true, coal burning is down significantly. Solar and wind energy is growing at a fast rate, and what about hydro power? It isn’t the vehicle driver’s fault how the power plant generates its energy, and it doesn’t mean the the consumer is ignorant, or purposefully not being “green.”

As The Verge points out, the biggest fault of the episode is that it misrepresents and misquotes Will Oremus, Slate’s (magazine) senior technology writer. Oremus wrote a piece a few years back that deals with this very subject. However, his points and opinions play out in completely the opposite direction of what the “Adam” episode is trying to prove. Below are some excerpts from the Oremus piece, via The Verge:

Basically, the show tries to convince us that electric cars are no better than gas cars because you are shifting your carbon emissions from your tailpipe, to your local "coal-burning" powerplant.

The episode tries to convince us that electric cars are no better than gas cars because you are shifting your carbon emissions from your tailpipe, to your local “coal-burning” power plant.

For any given Model S, though, the emissions-per-mile depend heavily on the mix of energy sources that go into your local grid. According to Tesla’s own emissions calculator, if you’re driving your Model S in West Virginia—where the power mix is 96 percent coal—you’re spewing some 27 pounds of CO2 in a typical 40-mile day, which is comparable to the amount you’d emit in a conventional Honda Accord. Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio aren’t much better. On the other hand, if you’re charging your Tesla in California, where natural gas supplies more than half the electricity—or, better yet, Idaho or Washington, where hydroelectricity reigns—your per-mile emissions are a fraction of that amount. Congratulations: Your Model S is a clean machine after all.

To use the nation’s reliance on dirty coal as an argument against electric cars is to get things backward. Rather, the prospect of making cars far greener than they are today should count as yet another argument against the nation’s continued reliance on dirty coal.

The worst part is that these episodes are set up to go viral. Unfortunately, propaganda like this gets to the general, uninformed public, and many believe every word of it. It works to further reinforce misconceptions and fallacies.

Source: The Verge

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59 Comments on "Adam Ruins Everything, Including His Reputation When He Attempts To Attack Electric Cars – (w/video)"

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It’s OK. That show is funny, but it does tend to cherry pick and get some things wrong.

As with so many TV shows, the ones related to a subject area you know well always seem to get things wrong. The reality is that they got a _lot_ wrong, it’s just you don’t necessarily know it.

It’s also worth noting that from January to October 2016 coal power was responsible for only 30% of generation.

He picks on Tesla and talks about mining rare earth elements, never mind that Tesla uses induction motor that doesn’t use permanent magnets. I left him a comment about this and more when I saw this video some time ago, probably lost in comment jungle.

What I took from this video was that he’s so anti-corporation that he couldn’t see straight. Some of his videos are ok, but nowhere as entertaining as Penn & Teller’s Bullsh*t. I miss those guys, though the Vatican episode censorship still pissing me off.

I loved Penn & Teller’s show. We still watch it occasionally. Even when I disagreed with them on an issue, I still enjoyed their perspective.

I’ll try my best to watch this Adam Ruins Everything video later… but something tells me I won’t enjoy it based on the description…

I usually like Adam’s show, but in this case I think he’s just trying to stir the pot, and using old information to boot. The way it’s presented is also misleading.

Its NOT Okay. He is going to mislead a huge number of people.

They completely distorted the truth in order to be snarky. But if you have to lie to get your laughs then you have completely failed as a comedian.

You really thought that was funny?

We normally really like this show — but this episode was really off….

He repeats the long tail-pipe myth. Someone should send Adam the map showing how EVs compare to gas cars. A lot has changed in just 5 years.

Also he doesn’t account for the fact that the Prius the guy sells could go to a guy who upgrades from his 1996 Toyota Highlander (or whatever guzzler).

We need early adopters to buy the new EVs to get them on the roads to start replacing the gasser fleet, to expose others to the technology, to push the manufacturers to advance the technology, and to create a demand for public charging.

This is from the Union of Concerned Scientists). Basically dispels a lot of the old myths from the video.

Check out this map as well

While much better than Adam, UCS needs a 4th category since many of the “higher than 51mpg” states are well above 51mpg. MA, for instance is practically zero, and we’re 60% natural gas. It would take closer to 100mpg, to beat that:

NG=~1,000lb/MWh, or 1lb/KWh
EV= 3 miles per KWh
(60%)(1 pound)/3 = .2 pound/mile.

At 51mpg, a car’s tailpipe (we’re not well to wheels, here) isn’t any better than 20 pounds / an EPA fleet average of 28mpg. 20/28 = .71 pound/mile.

It’s no contest.

…practically zero coal.

This map is for “average EV” – page 9 in the report. Close to Nissan Leaf.
Go to page 21 and check Figure 7 for difference of manufacturing emissions between Tesla like EV and midsize like Leaf. Or you can go and check GHG emissions of specific models, including upstream emissions.
You will find the same as this cartoon is saying – if you want to pretend saving something when increasing your consumption of new sexy toys, you need small lightweight commuter battery car, overweight fully electric environment trashers with 1200 lb batteries may be worse than regular hybrids. Especially when you don’t cherry pick just GHG emissions, but account for NOx, sulfur dioxide, PM, that are much worse for electric.

Troll somewhere else please – you are obviously a hater and this is an enthusiast’s site. Go post on your Corvette site where you guys all talk the same gas guzzling, ev hating language.

As I often say, who died and left you King? Although I believe ZZZZZZZ has unfairly attacked me due to my skepticism of hydrogen cars being that viable, he is a necessary counter-punch to the stuff said here about how ‘perfect’ electric cars are, and I can say that since I’m a very big proponent of electric cars, and I’ve convinced many people around me to buy them, at least a used PHEV. I’m on my 4th electric (currently I have 2 PHEV’s which do on avg 80-90% of their driving annually on electricity generated (from an accountant’s point of view) from solar panels. The reality is my charging takes place from natural gas fired power plants (I would have preferred the Coal Plant in my town before they shut it down a year ago due to politics), but my solar panels displace other use in my neighborhood during the daytime. The things they say in the video are as true as anything the American Consumer is going to be exposed to – I’m not getting into the Greenhouse Gas stuff since that will offend Religious Sensibilities here. And, the supposed ‘high efficiency’ of electric cars is something they didn’t… Read more »
FFE 1, He makes a decent point. I’m confident the more we go to the mat, the more all of this becomes a silver lining for EVs. On NOx, for instance, things do tighten up. Roughly speaking, where a car averaging 28mpg using gas emits as much CO2 as an EV plugging in in WV (~all coal), that same EV will be emitting about 3X as much NOx as a compliant (Tier 2 bin 5) diesel. With an average coal mix (~33%) and ~0 NOx from other electric sources, EVs are about the same as today’s compliant diesels. They are worse than gas, for this pollutant. The US power plant average for NOx is down from around 4lbs/MWh, to 2lbs/MWh. NRDC keeps data on this and we can all gauge that against the miles/KWh of the cars. Anyone moving up to a Tesla knows it has the same effect as any bigger car, but we should then compare its footprint to a bigger gas car… NOx, pound for pound, is more dangerous than CO2 but doesn’t linger and tends to create problems local to its production (the coal plant). Trump voters picked the right guy, if they live near coal… Read more »

zzzzzzzzzz polluted our discussion with FUD:

“…if you want to pretend saving something when increasing your consumption of new sexy toys, you need small lightweight commuter battery car, overweight fully electric environment trashers with 1200 lb batteries may be worse than regular hybrids.”

Gee, could you make it any more obvious you’re a shill for Big Oil, zzzzzzzzzzz?

If you compare an average, 28 MPG gasmobile to pretty much any BEV, certainly including any car that Tesla makes, then the BEV is significantly less polluting when compared on a well-to-wheel basis. The B.S. comparisons made by Big Oil supporters, like you, deliberately ignore the pollution emitted by oil refineries. Add that to the gasmobile’s tailpipe emissions, and any Tesla car beats it hands down — and would even if you could find any place in the USA where an EV charged off the grid was powered 100% by coal! Of course, there isn’t actually such a place at all.

Now crawl back under the bridge where you live, troll.

Sorta reminds me of the fake “study” that made the rounds a few years ago that “proved” a Prius had a bigger carbon footprint than a Hummer.

When will people learn that 99% of this “contrarian” viral stuff is just flat out wrong or fake.

Funny! A toy Adam saying the Tesla’s a toy.
I suppose no matter how you look you can be a shill for the oil industry.
Perhaps he is just uninformed, and maybe he should spend more time researching his stories as the production values are fine, it’s just the accuracy of the argument is full of flaws.

Btw sighting a study from 2010, when a larger percentage of electricity was generated by fossil fuel, is just bad reporting.

Though I must admit that Adam has remained true to his motto, since with this show he has certainly ruined any credibility he may have had.
He ruins everything including his own show.

The thing is his main argument is basically don’t get an EV just for the sake of it, that is don’t get a new car if you don’t have to. Better to hold on to your old car even if it’s a gas car than put another new EV on the road.
It’s more of an anti consumerism video than anti EV.
Somewhere in it they admit if you have to get a new a new car, it may as well be electric. Also they admit this is only true if your current car is efficient.

I see there’s someone who watched the video.

Although some of his facts are dated, and they’re pretty important ones. Number one being the massive shift away from coal for power generation. If you have been driving an EV during this shift, your carbon footprint decreased.

I always find the wells-to-wheels thing a waste of time, because it’s mostly just a wash between an ICE-based car and an EV. There might be some differences, but it’s not the meaningful part of the equation.


Sigh, it also totally ignores that a great many EV owners also have solar at home to power their cars.

…including the character in the show! He didn’t (yet) drive a plug-in, but they showed solar panels on his roof. That made his answer about the source of electricity particularly annoying, because clearly he would have some awareness.

The funny thing is that even if you ignore that his grid data is out of date, and that it is based on worst case scenario, and that he pretends no Tesla owner has ever installed solar, it would STILL be worth it just to move the pollution.

Moving the emissions from being released in dense city centers at body level, to distant tall smoke stacks would alone save countless lives and billions of dollars in health care costs.

“More than 5.5 million people worldwide are dying prematurely every year as a result of air pollution,”

“In the US, we know that for every dollar spent on air pollution improvements, we can get between a $4-$30 benefit in terms of reduced health impacts.”

So even his worst case still has massive benefits over simply continuing with more of the same gas car pollution.

“…coal burning is down significantly. Solar and wind energy is growing at a fast rate, and what about hydro power? It isn’t the vehicle driver’s fault how the power plant generates its energy, and it doesn’t mean the the consumer is ignorant, or purposefully not being ‘green’.”

Seriously, the “long tailpipe” argument again? Just how old is that now? I think it could have grandkids.

This needs to be strongly refuted, not given the weak counter-argument in the article above. It needs to be refuted thus:

1. Less than half of the power of the electric grid comes from coal, and that fraction is dropping every year.

2. Electric cars are about three-and-a-half times as energy efficient as gasmobiles, so even if the electric car was powered 100% by coal, it would still be better for the environment than a gasmobile!

Admittedly that last point there isn’t true in every case; some gasmobiles pollute less than others, and some EVs take more energy to run than others. But on average it certainly is true, which is good enough for the simplistic level of the “long tailpipe” argument.

“1. Less than half of the power of the electric grid comes from coal,”

Even that understates it now.

Coal is down to around 30% of the grid and continuing to drop. I wouldn’t be surprised if no new coal burning electricity plant ever gets built in the USA again. The biggest things being installed are wind, solar PV, and natural gas. Just about everything else is in the margin of error (which kinda sucks because we need more hydropower, geothermal, tidal power, etc.).

Might be regretably true in the USA, and most of Canada, but not in Europe.

France currently has 20 of their 58 Nukes out-of-service due rightly to inspection worries, and have recently broken a 20-30 year record in COAL usage, meanwhile, they are draining electricity from all over Europe to make up the shortages, including Germany, who while rightly is shutting down their Nuke plants, are therefore using more Lignite.

Germany shutting down its nuclear power plants has created an ongoing environmental disaster, probably the biggest disaster in first-world countries in many years. It’s literally insane to end the use of clean and safe (as compared to nearly every other source) nuclear power in favor of dirty coal!

Now more nukes!

“more coal than in 32 years” doesn’t really say anything on its own. How much is it in real terms? France has had a notoriously clean energy grid for a long time thanks to their nukes, if they happen to exceed a low set record for a short time it doesn’t really add up to much in the long run.

Yes, thanks to fracking, coal use has declined significantly.

That is a big part of it but solar PV and wind are the fastest growing new sources of electricity.

The natural gas prices have been near historic lows for past few years . . . they might start rising again giving wind & solar a bit more advantage. But hopefully they don’t rise so much that someone decides that building a coal plant would be a good idea.

There was a good article in the Wall Street Journal to the effect that even without Obama, investors don’t want to back coal power projects and consider it to be a losing effort.

The cost advantage is with natural gas now, and will be for the foreseeable future, largely because fracking makes the supply both local (domestic) and predictable.

Does solar replace that? Hopefully, but in the meantime the reduction in pollution from NG use is both welcome and also solves the “availability” issue. Modern NG power plants can be ramped up and down better than any other technology, including coal, which makes NG power generation a perfect complement to solar power (and wind) to keep the grid fed.

I *love* Adam’s stuff even though I disagree with him half the time. And he presents references to back up what he says.

The moral of the story is that you bake your opinion into whatever you talk about, and statistics are a well known way to lie to lazy people. Nothing will *ever* substitute for doing your own research and making up your own mind.

He’s A LIAR Liar Pants on Fire !

IEV: ” It isn’t the vehicle driver’s fault how the power plant generates its energy,”

It actually in many cases is. Not just talking about home solar, but whether in a deregulated state, where energy choice exists, or a regulated state where your monopoly utility may offer programs, or even if you plug in over night on a grid with nuclear power, you are taking responsibility for how your power is generated.

I had a eye-opener a few years back when I was arguing with a friend about Well-To-Wheel and dirty coal EVs. I contended to my easy comeback, that in our state, we’re over 83% clean hydropower – so in essence, I’m driving a water powered car. He countered by emailing me facts about our power company. I was shocked! Turns out, Puget Sound Energy, the largest power provider in Washington State buys cheap coal-fired electricity from a power plant in Montana! WHO KNEW?!! In fact, over 63% of my electricity was from coal after all! Two things, the state is forcing Puget Sound Energy to chop away at those figures and by percentage points, PSE is cutting down the amount of coal power they buy each and every year. Don’t quote me, but today I believe they’re down to 43% coal and falling – or thereabouts. They make more money selling our clean energy to other states, including California! Seattle City Light, the energy company that services the city of Seattle and some surrounding areas is about 80-90% hydro, and 100% clean energy as I understand it. So it’s not all doom and gloom for us Washingtonians. But the fact… Read more »

“Turns out, Puget Sound Energy, the largest power provider in Washington State buys cheap coal-fired electricity from a power plant in Montana! WHO KNEW?!! In fact, over 63% of my electricity was from coal after all!”

I came across an article that basically said the same thing about California (especially southern). Not great, but we will replace that with NG generation eventually, and in the meantime shipping our pollution to Nevada makes me smile….

“I also think that, “thanks to fracking, we’re getting off coal”, is a pretty pathetic stance too!

I’m such a libertarian that I feel the only way to energy bliss is for us all to produce most or all of our own energy and not to rely on “the man” to supply our power.”

Try reading what you just said. %90 of fracking’s advantage is that it moves the NG supply from foreign to domestic. How is that not “producing our own energy”?

If you talk to the leftists, we have to generate our power all from solar panels produced by socially aware, unionized small companies from renewable materials (hey, silicon is renewable right?).

I think we might be better suited sending Adam tweets than in the comment section of his Youtube. He has two accounts: @adamconover @adamruins We SHOULD TWEET HIM, AND SEE IF WE CAN FORCE HIM TO ADMIT HE GOT IT ALL WRONG!!

I follow him on Twitter, and it appears he’s already gotten a lot more pushback on this segment than he usually does, judging by his followup tweets.

I have a friend who up until recently ( we both got to fist-fighting mad level…Well, almost – so we agreed to ban the subject ) would email battle me with facts, figures, scientists and videos proving that us clean energy EVers were nuts and stupid as a rock. Daily I would get the pictures of strip mining and scientific reports ( mainly ones funded by oil and gas companies, naturally ) where we EV fans were derided as fools. I’d counter with videos and descriptions of lithium mining/production and as many well-to-wheel and foreign oil import information I could. It was exhasperating and oh-so-tiresome! These guys don’t care about how much oil we still import. They don’t care about diesel fuming tankers plying dangerous waters and the sheer amounts of energy that is used in the fracking and deep water energy discovery and retrieval and refining and transportation. All they go by are these studies that are largely funded by the oil and gas industry. Yes, scientists and “experts” can be bought. It’s as if, when you supply them with good, solid facts and data they plug their ears and say “NYAHHH NYAHHH I CAN’T HEARRR YOUUU!”… It’s just… Read more »

+100 – thank you

In these arguments, people often talk past each other, each firmly believing in their own biases. Gun control comes to mind where one side believes black guns should be banned regardless of “deadliness”.

When it comes to EV and pollution, people automatically assume GHG as the only benefit for EV. I present a different argument; forget GHG, just look at emissions near roads. While average pollution in a city is within EPA specs, near roads (especially highways) where people live is far above. Then EVs bring immediate and tangible benefits. Even if electricity generation produce pollution, they are far away from where most people live.

Amen! The global climate change issue is what they see daily on CNN and Fox. This is what they want to harp on. When my friend sees “Zero Emission” on a Tesla license plate or the sticker on the side of an EV, he goes ballistic! I never take the GHG approach – instead I take the breathing clean air approach. Not that it’s about winning – a pride thing – But it’s about getting more information and doing the right thing. Megacities are having a clean breathing air crisis. Talk heart disease, lung disease, air crisis alert days in some cities where governments ask residents to stay indoors, etc. Then ask them if they remember how the air smells when they’re sitting by a river in the woods vs. the air in their suburb next to the busy highway – or how they feel sucking in when that diesel truck passes by and you’re stuck on the sidewalk gulping the insanely toxic diesel particulates. Than ask them about their wife and children. Do they think the air is getting cleaner? Of course not. No argument there. I’ll also share some ironies of politics when I scan Congressperson’s facebook pages.… Read more »

Example: I once saw on TV news that an up and coming Republican Congressman had sat in on a renewable energy consortium.

I wrote the guy and told him as an independent voter I noticed many Republicans like himself are not only open to suggestions to increase renewables, but active in the fight to get things done…

He writes me back and says he is glad I noticed, in fact he was thinking about a new proposal to help fund new orders of electric buses for a couple of our largest cities!

I wrote back and told him I’ll be eagerly following the progress and am glad I speak to so many independent-minded voters! 🙂

James said:

“It’s just pointless to argue for the sake of arguing.”

Yes, but the most persistent EV bashers, both here and elsewhere on the Internet, aren’t arguing from what they actually believe, wrongly or not. They do know better, but they persist in FUD because they believe their disinformation campaign, their campaign of repeated Big Lies, will have an economic effect. The FUDsters think it will help support the income they get from Big Oil, or support their “short” investment in a certain EV maker in Fremont, or whatever.

Lots of people arg biased FUD all day long because they believe it to be true. Sometimes they work towards your beliefs and sometime they are against you believes. I think gun control is an excellent example their is so much FUD being spouted everyday on the topic and people rarely change sides.

Sad that these guys could be putting their talents into doing something useful, rather than needlessly corrosive.

This video has an interesting take on charging electric vehicles using the electrical grid. When considering ‘spinning reserve’ for power plants during off-peak periods, one could make the case that charging an EV – if done at night – is a zero (net) GHG generator. Start at 2:45 mark.

The video makes a ‘layman’s ‘ simplification of the issue. But charging cars over the midnight hour is a very low marginal cost, even though the fuel used will increase (it can’t be a ZERO increase as the video implies – even the Nuke plant will have its control rods removed a bit to increase the reaction rate) – the big advantage here is that smoothing out the load curve increases the longevity of the power plant itself, mainly due to the rather unique Joule-Thompson coefficient of Steam itself. But all this can happen without a Smart Grid – which are trying to be implemented as fast as utility customers don’t realize that doing so makes their rates go up – Just look at Ontario, Canada, where the general populace is getting up in arms about the high and soon to be astronomic electricity rates (Smart Grids are only one of their comedy of errors) – the big problem is that over 10% of their industry (think JOBS) is MOVING to places that are affordable. This over 100 year old issue, has been successfully dealt with in the past with proper time-of-day metering pricing. The amount of money the video… Read more »

since when do people buy cars because they are good for the environment?

Many of us also just start to detest paying so much at the pump.

I used to “interview” Prius drivers at the gas pump when I’d see one. It was easy to start a conversation, because back in the earlier 2000s, hybrid drivers considered themselves….well, kind of “special”. I’d assumed many would start talking about the green movement and the environment. Most just wanted to save on gas! As time went on, the most interesting profile of the average hybrid buyer emerged – Conclusion: There is no “average” hybrid buyer!

Like those hybrid buyers, the spectrum of say, LEAF owners is now something I concentrate some interest in. Young ladies, retirees, lefties, righties and independents!

We can stereotype – but we really should not.

It’s not so much that cars are good for the environment, but particular purchases can be because some are worse.

We’ve bought progressively more electrified vehicles over the past 10 years and each one was simply replacing an old car.

And they’re not looking at the future in that odds the grid will only get cleaner, not dirtier…Even “clean coal” is betting on carbon capture…

sorry what, this is supposed to be a comedy show? I really don’t understand American comedy at times. Only Americans seem to understand it because the rest of us don’t recognise the joke. When are we meant to laugh?

Aw c’mon. I didn’t care for the misleading information in the show, but even I laughed at the opening line of this segment. BTW – I still own a Prius, so I sort of viewed it as laughing at myself. Perhaps you can share your views on which countries have the best comedy.

People take this crap er.. “show” seriously?

Check out our Now You Know rebuttal video here:

We could make the argument that water boilers don’t have carbon emission to justify ZEV status. Since we’re aren’t worried about the emissions or other wastes it takes to make a tire or mine the minerals to make a thousand pounds of batteries. I mean, who would ever seriously worry about our enviormental impact… Long live consumption, all hail technology.