Electric vehicles: The green EV folly

Like so many other leftist dogmas, radical environmentalism has been adopted by the Democrat party, and now Joe Biden is determined to force electric cars on Americans despite their limitations.

Last week, Biden announced that the federal government will cut carbon dioxide emissions to half of 2005 levels in just the next nine years — a highly dubious proposition that would require the gutting of America's economy and standard of living.  Part of this effort would entail $175 billion in increased federal subsidies to convince Americans to trade their gas-powered cars for electric vehicles (EVs).

While EVs have been gaining in popularity in the last decade, they still account for a paltry 2% of vehicles on the road despite an already generous $7,500 federal tax credit incentive.  While Wall Street has absurdly made Elon Musk's Tesla worth more than GM, Ford, and Chrysler combined, the consumer market has spoken clearly that it prefers its internal combustion engines. 

The billions in state and federal subsidies for EVs are based on claims that they're better for the environment than gasoline vehicles or other alternative fuel sources, such as natural gas.  But what if, like so many other global warming claims, that belief is more conventional wisdom than fact?  Let's take a look at the true impact of electric vehicles on the environment.

A big part of the case for EVs depends on beginning to gauge their environmental impact after they're driven off the lot and ignore the impacts before it's delivered to the showroom and after it's delivered to the junkyard. 

EVs require double the amount of energy to manufacture due largely to the energy-intensive mining of lithium — the key component in their batteries.  Those batteries then become hazardous waste once they've exhausted their useful life.

Lithium is found mostly in salt-flat brines and is collected by drilling into the flats and pumping in water and chemicals to extract the lithium carbonate.  One metric ton of lithium requires approximately 500,000 gallons of water to produce.  Much of the current mining of lithium takes place in Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia, some of the driest places on the planet, where large-scale lithium production has resulted in degradation and depletion of local water supplies and barren lands from chemical leakage. 

The biggest new reserves of lithium have been found in that paragon of environmental stewardship: China.  So after finally achieving energy independence from the Middle East, Democrats are determined to make the U.S. dependent on China's Communist Party with its proven record of disdain for environmental standards.

It's estimated that in this decade, over 12 million tons of lithium ion batteries will go offline from EVs alone.  Lithium cathodes from degraded batteries cannot be used for new batteries so the current method of disposal involves shredding and burning the batteries to recover other minerals in the batteries including nickel, cobalt and manganese.  There has been little effort to quantify the amount of energy needed to reprocess these batteries or how many of them end up in landfills worldwide.  Somebody call Greenpeace. 

Environmentalists also seem to believe that an EV is "zero-emission" and somehow magically creates its energy.  In fact, the energy comes from the electric grid, which is powered by a mix of natural gas, coal, and hydroelectric — the very energy sources those same greenies work tirelessly to eliminate.  In their magical thinking, windmills and solar panels will power the grid, which will power their Priuses.  So the same groups who wrecked the logging industry in the Pacific Northwest to protect the spotted owl are now onboard with wind farms killing millions of birds, including endangered species, and solar panels that produce vast quantities of hazardous waste. 

All of this speculative disruption is based on the premise that carbon dioxide from auto emissions is a hazardous chemical that will literally destroy the environment — "OK, if not by global warming, then by climate change."  Of course, CO2 levels and the earth's temperatures fluctuated even more prior to the industrial age, and all indications are that sunspots actually determine the climate. 

What's clear is that climate change has become a religion on the left and like pagans of old, they're willing to offer up sacrifices to their new god.  Those sacrifices might be not just the environment, but also the unprecedented human advancements brought about by the age of fossil fuels.

Jim Daws hosts Right Now, a podcast on news, politics and culture from an America First perspective.

Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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