It is very rare to read somebody in a mainstream outlet who doesn’t embrace eco-light bulbs, electric cars, and the whole shebang. So kudos to Charles Lane of the Washington Post, who like many commuters was forced to spend hours in his car this week:

Being car-bound in sub-freezing weather for six hours can make a guy think. I counted my blessings. The situation could have been worse, I realized: My fellow commuters and I could have been trying to make it home in electric cars, like the ones President Obama is constantly promoting, most recently in his State of the Union address.

It is a basic fact of physical science that batteries run down more quickly in cold weather than they do in warm weather, and the batteries employed by vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf or the Chevy Volt are no exception.

The exact loss of power these cars would suffer is a matter of debate, partly because no one has much real-world experience to draw on. But there would be some loss. Running the heater to stay warm, or the car radio to stay informed, would drain the battery further. …

An electric car may also require a degree of pampering:  

“If you live in an area where the winters get extremely cold an all-electric vehicle will have to be garaged and equipped with some kind of plug-in battery warmer for it to be effective in the coldest months of the year. Keep these thoughts in mind if you’re planning an electric car purchase; we don’t want you finding out the range of your car has been halved when it’s five below zero and you’re fifteen miles from home.”

I quote Mr. Lane not so much to mock electric cars, which may one day turn out to be just the ticket, but because, when government is making decisions about what kinds of food we eat and what kinds of cars we drive, it inevitably gets it wrong. Government doesn’t rely on real-world experience. which in the market determines the success or failure of a product.