Home editor's blog on evs & phevs Multilingual kids or a solar-charged electric car?

Multilingual kids or a solar-charged electric car?

Share

evmultilingualismeditors-blog-entry3There are few things more frustrating to someone like me who believes that you need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk than not being able to walk the walk. Yet that’s exactly the position I’m in in terms of plug-in vehicles and solar-charged driving.

And, before I get into why I can’t walk the walk on solar-charged driving yet, let me add that my inability to walk the walk on solar-charged driving, or, really, do only half the walk – we’ve had a 5.59 kW solar system on our Aurora, Colo. rooftop for more than 1 ½ years – is made all the more maddening by all the negative, down-on-plug-ins, “nobody’s” buying EV talk out there right now.

Anti-EV quotes
Take this whopper of a quote from Republican U.S. Representative Darrell Issa on GM’s recent announcement that it’s temporarily stopping production of the GM Volt:

“Even as gas prices continue to climb, President Obama’s attempt to manipulate the free market and force consumers into purchasing electric vehicles like the GM Volt has failed despite the use of taxpayer dollars to prop up production.”

Of course, Issa doesn’t mention the billions Big Oil’s been getting from the U.S. government for decades and decades, does he?

I really wish we could go out and buy a Volt and a LEAF right now and do our small but also paradoxically big part to shut up folks like Issa.

dn

We've had a 5.59 kW solar system on our roof since June 2010 -- but still no electric car for us.

Only we can’t.

Okay, we could, but it would be a whopper of a financial mistake, at least in the short term. The long term is a different question I’ll address in a follow-up entry.

Why would it be a huge financial mistake even though we’re sitting on about $4,000 worth of banked solar gasoline thanks to our 5.59 kW solar system over-producing by 7,000 kWh in the past 18 months?

Mostly because of my deep commitment to walk the walk, not just talk the talk on something more important to me than solar-charged driving: Multilingualism, as in multilingualism for our two daughters, now 7, and 5 years old.

Now, what the heck does multilingualism have to do with your inability to solar-charge an EV, Christof?

Limited money
Five letters: M-O-N-E-Y.

I want my daughters to be able to have something I lost in childhood, or, really, wasn’t given in childhood and which I’ve fought all my life to regain: High level fluency in German (my father emigrated to the U.S. from Germany when in his early twenties, but did not pass German on to his three kids).

It’s insanely frustrating to me, even demoralizing, that, practically speaking, we can’t add an EV to our PV equation for three more years. Unless, of course, I’m willing to give up on investing in our two daughters becoming, and staying, at least through young adulthood, meaningful German-English bilinguals, something I’m simply not willing to do.

Thanks to the fact that the U.S. public doesn’t really give a damn about languages – most public school systems don’t even give students the option to learn a language as a subject until middle school, even high school – our only good choice in terms of ensuring that my daughters can speak and read and write German proficiently is a private language immersion school.

A language immersion school is a school at which a foreign language is not just a subject, but is actually a medium of instruction. This means my daughters learn history, math, science, etc. in German, and, yes, English, though, right now, it’s about 80 to 90% in German.

volt-black

It would be great to have a Chevy Volt to power with our home solar system right now, but we're going to have to wait.

How much language education is a Volt worth?
As you might guess, it’s not cheap to send two children to a private language immersion school. In fact, with the money we’ve spent on German au pairs, German nannies, and German language immersion education during the first seven years of my oldest daughter’s life, we could have easily bought a Chevy Volt and a Nissan LEAF.

Of course, both my daughters are fluent in German and English right now, something that I find priceless. In contrast to an electric car, which will last maybe 10 or 12 years, our investment in multilingual living and learning could potentially last a lifetime, and, if my kids choose to pass German on to their kids, even longer than that.

In fact, there’s another part of the story behind why we can’t walk the walk on EV part of the walk in terms of the solar-charged talk I’ve put forward for 2 ½ years here on SolarChargedDriving.Com.

I may be taking a sabbatical year to do research in Germany in 2013-14. I’ll be the first to concede that it’s really cool that , as a college prof, I even get something called a sabbatical – 99% of Americans don’t . On the other hand, if we do go to Germany, I’ll get just half of my not-exactly-whopping college journalism professor’s salary for 2013-14.

Income about to drop off a cliff?
Private school tuition for two daughters plus a possible 75% drop in income possibly on the horizon for 2013-14 (my wife works full time too) – clearly it’s not exactly the time to drop $30,000 on a new EV, even if it will save us lots of money in the long run, which it will.

It’s insanely frustrating to me, even demoralizing, that, practically speaking, we can’t add an EV to our PV equation for three more years. Unless, of course, I’m willing to give up on investing in our two daughters becoming, and staying, at least through young adulthood, meaningful German-English bilinguals, something I’m simply not willing to do.

The frustration is made all the worse every time I see yet another anti-EV commentary about how “no one” is buying EVs, much less solar-charging them.

All I can do is hope that there are enough other people out there able to walk the walk on plug-ins and, more specifically, power them with solar or other renewables, to drive the EV + renewable energy revolution – a revolution that must occur for the good and future of humanity and our planet – forward.

In fact, I believe there are enough such people. However, that’s only partial solace for someone like me who, for so long so badly has wanted to be one of those people and who must wait for what now feels like an eternity to become one of them.

Related articles-->

blog comments powered by Disqus
  Like this story? Consider subscribing to Solar Charged Driving's RSS Feed
Google web search
Run On Sun!

run-on-sun-145
Live in the LA area? Want to run your home -- and EV -- on sun?

Contact Run On Sun® today -- and tell them you were referred by us, SolarChargedDriving.Com!

Run On Sun® -->
questions@RunOnSun.com
(626) 793-6025