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'Mr. Bean' actor creates controversy with confounding newspaper column: 'It's starting to become a pattern'

"This erroneous article … dupes the readers of The Guardian and that's starting to become a pattern."

Mr. Bean' actor sparks controversy

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mr. Bean and his hijinks are always a delight to watch on screen. But after his latest antic, in which he claimed electric vehicles aren't better for the environment than gasoline vehicles, we kind of wish he would have stuck to the jokes. 

Actor Rowan Atkinson (aka Mr. Bean) is the latest to fall prey to the misleading idea that EVs are more harmful to the environment than gasoline vehicles. He voiced these concerns in an opinion piece published in the Guardian, in which he argued that the pollution tied to mining and manufacturing behind EVs is more harmful than the pollution released by gasoline vehicles. 

"Electric vehicles may be a bit soulless, but they're wonderful mechanisms: fast, quiet and, until recently, very cheap to run," he wrote. "But increasingly, I feel a little duped. When you start to drill into the facts, electric motoring doesn't seem to be quite the environmental panacea it is claimed to be."

Unfortunately, the facts he is wanting to drill into are widely from pro-dirty energy groups that have a financial interest in gasoline vehicles sticking around. The argument is often the same: The production of electric vehicles produced almost 70% more pollution than the production of traditional vehicles (that's a fact from Volvo, by the way). It's not incorrect, but it is heavily biased. 

A 2020 study by Transport and Environment found that the life cycle pollution output — or the overall pollution produced by an EV across its entire lifespan — is, on average, almost three times less than that of a vehicle that runs on gasoline.

An analysis by Reuters, using a model from the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, found that once you drive about just 13,500 miles in a Tesla Model 3, the emissions savings of driving it instead of an ICE vehicle surpass the environmental costs of the Tesla's production. After that 13,500-mile milestone, Reuters says the pollution savings over gas-powered cars begins to take a major lead. In other words, an EV is an investment, but it doesn't take very much use before its environmental benefits outweigh the costs to produce it.

Aside from that, there is a lot of progress being made to mitigate the production pollution that Atkinson is so concerned about. Many EV companies are exploring solid and semi-solid state batteries. These batteries would significantly cut down on that pollution. 

Don't just take it from us, though. Auke Hoekstra, a program director at Eindhoven University of Technology and a passionate debunker of misinformation around EVs, took to Twitter to explain in a long thread just why Atkinson's article isn't very truthful. 

"I love Rowan Atkinson the comedian and I believe he learned electrical engineering once, but I feel this erroneous article on EVs dupes the readers of The Guardian and that's starting to become a pattern," he tweeted. "Electric vehicles really emit 3x less CO2."

Hoekstra said the points Atkinson made are often brought up in the EV world, and while things like the mining of materials, the heavy weight of batteries, and their high costs are all concerns of the EV industry, the industry is also advancing daily to address these. 

At the end of the day, Hoekstra summed up Mr. Bean's opinion piece rather matter-of-factly.

"Atkinson is a great comedian but doesn't understand the environmental impacts of EVs," he wrote. "The Guardian quality control should have picked this up. EVs emit 3x less CO2 over their lifetime currently. EVs sold in 2050 will emit 10x less."

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