Wicked Problems: Trade-offs of Electric Vehicles with Tony Pratte 


Wicked Problems: Trade-offs of electric vehicles with Tony Pratte 

The topic of wicked problems has been inspiring some interesting conversations lately! 

Driving electric vehicles rather than those powered by internal combustion engines is fascinating for Tony and me! Recently, Tony sent me an article explaining that what we need right now is an honest and comprehensive evaluation of the entire life cycle of clean energy- from raw materials through disposition. Up to now, we have only heard about the benefits of clean energy, so we need to understand the real cost of clean energy, including the negatives and the environmental impact.  

In reality, there is a trade-off for everything we do, and if we fail to look at both sides, we have no way of knowing whether or not we are making the right decision. 

I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! Today, my co-host, Tony the Green Guy, is joining me to talk about various aspects of electric vehicles and the vehicles we know. We will also dive into the decision-making processes and the life-cycle analysis.

Energy independence

During a recent special election for a new Senior Senator for Oklahoma, a previously conservative candidate sent out a flyer saying that we need to restore our energy independence. He was referring to fossil fuels because Oklahoma is an oil and gas state. But energy is not the fuel, and ironically, Oklahoma has made a big investment in alternative energy sources. 


There are certain things we need to transition away from, but they have to remain part of the process until we find an infrastructure that can handle the alternative. There are trade-offs for everything, so it is vital for us to know if the alternatives are better than what we currently have. 


Most of us think solar is a good idea. But nobody talks about how solar affects wildlife or where the materials used to make the solar panels come from.

Honest discussions

We need to be willing to have honest discussions about alternative energy sources. We need to listen and be open to hearing things that might make us uncomfortable. Those conversations can be challenging, so when we have them, we need to put the problem in front of us, not between us! 

Electric vehicles 

The number of electric vehicles in Oklahoma is increasing almost daily! Electric vehicles have many advantages. There is no waiting in line for gas, and they require less maintenance. On the flip side, motor mechanics will have to find new ways to use their skills, and fuel stations will have to diversify over time.

Internal combustion engines 

Internal combustion engines will still be around for quite some time because the infrastructure for EVs still has to be created. 

No one answer

It might help if we have more options to ease us into things as they change. A solution might be a combination of several ideas or possibly a hybrid approach.


Hybrid vehicles could be a good option because they will allow people to drive electric in the city or for short trips and use the internal combustion engine for longer trips.

BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement)

Many people use BATNA to look at everything they do because if something does not work out, it means they will already have the next best thing in mind. 

Budgets and affordability

Budgets can influence people’s decisions when choosing a vehicle. Apart from the budget, there are also many other things that can influence their choices. Creating a grid to compare the affordability, the various options, and the trade-offs can help a lot!


The manufacture of any electric item, batteries, in particular, requires a lot of rare earth minerals. Unfortunately, rare earth minerals are not a sustainable resource because they are mined. We need to understand that our natural resources are limited, and mining has a massive impact on the environment. In some countries, mining even infringes on human rights.

Life cycle analysis

As consumers, we should have transparency around the origin of everything we buy. That falls into the life cycle analysis of products, which has been a big push in sustainability reporting. Electric vehicles have big batteries, so the life cycle analysis of those batteries is important to consider.

ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) reporting

Much of the transparency we are seeing right now in various industries is a result of ESG reporting.

Asking questions

It is vital that we ask questions to ensure that the products we buy align with our values. We need to know the trade-offs, where the materials used to manufacture the products come from, and whether the materials were resourced in a responsible and sustainable way. 

Recycling and reusing

It is in our best interest to recycle and reuse electronic components because they are made of hazardous materials- often rare earth, and therefore cannot be placed in landfills. We will have to reuse those materials in the future because we are sure to run into a serious supply chain issue when no internal combustion engines and only EVs are manufactured within the next eight to thirteen years. In Oklahoma City, there is a place for recycling, reconditioning, and repurposing electric vehicle batteries.  

Better solutions

As a society, we need to look for better solutions for everyone! To get from a fossil fuel-based society to an alternative energy-based society, we will initially have to marry the two together. The percentages will change over time as fossil fuel gets phased out and the infrastructure for alternative energy grows and improves.

Mining is not sustainable

We will have to recycle electronic materials in the future because mine developments and the mining of many of the necessary minerals are not sustainable.

Wicked problems

Wicked problems are here to stay, so having these conversations is vital! We hope you will put some of your thoughts and energy into helping to solve some of these problems!

Have a great green day!



What Makes a Green Home Green – Audio Program


Environmental downside of EVs


Pros and cons of EVs (based on driving, fuel input, maintenance, etc)


EVs are not “zero emissions” 


Battery remanufacturing, reuse, and recycling – company here in OKC Spiers Technology https://www.velocityokc.com/blog/economy/okc-based-spiers-new-technologies-keeps-electric-vehicles-on-road-with-pioneering-battery-remanufacturing-services/ 

and https://www.spiersnewtechnologies.com/

EV myths https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/electric-vehicle-myths

Fuels Institute weighs in on life cycle analysis


A research overview of life-cycle assessments for gas-powered and electric vehicles