Do electric cars, hybrids and solar panels kill third world babies?

There is a lot of debate about the real world economics of electric cars, hybrids and other alternative power-trains relative to a conventional gas or diesel fueled car. Over at Electronic Design News, Paul Rako has taken a different approach to evaluating the value proposition. He hearkens back to the old TV commercials with Sally Struthers urging viewers to donate money to help feed starving children. Using that as the basis for a virtual currency unit he calls the Struther which is defined as the cost of keeping a child alive for five years he calculates the cost of various options.
Some of his calculations are a bit dubious however such as the assumption that the battery in a hybrid only last five years. The idea that spending nearly $100K on a Tesla roadster will sacrifice the lives of fifty children is also questionable. After all, any new technology usually comes in at a high initial price that is necessary to seed a market. Where Rako's calculations make perhaps a little more sense is the solar cell example. Here he does some present value calculations to determine the net cost of installing PV panels, the savings and how much that money could make if invested elsewhere. It's a thought provoking piece that makes some interesting, if flawed, points.

[Source: Electronic Design News, thanks to Domenick for the tip]

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