Of all the crazy policies we see implemented around us, from decriminalizing theft to teaching children to change their “gender,” perhaps the craziest is government’s determination to force us to drive electric vehicles. EVs like the Tesla are perfectly fine cars, or would be if they weren’t subsidized or mandated. But they are terrible for the environment, and the conditions under which their materials are mined raise serious ethical questions.
Ronald Stein makes excellent points in his column titled “Is it ethical to purchase a lithium battery powered EV?”
The lower image is just one lithium supply mine where entire mountains are eliminated. Each mine usually consists of thirty-five to forty humongous 797 Caterpillar haul trucks along with hundreds of other large equipment. Each 797 uses around half a million gallons of diesel a year. So, with an inventory of just thirty-five the haul trucks alone are using 17.5 million gallons of fuel a year for just one lithium site.
Today, a typical EV battery weighs one thousand pounds. It contains twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminium, steel, and plastic. Inside are over 6,000 individual lithium-ion cells.
It should concern you that all those toxic components come from mining. For instance, to manufacture each EV auto battery, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of ore for the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just one battery.
Fossil fuels are vastly cleaner, in part because they are so efficient. And electric vehicles, once the mining and attendant environmental degradation are complete, run overwhelmingly on fossil fuels and nuclear power:
We should all know that an electric vehicle battery does not “make” electricity – it only stores electricity produced elsewhere, primarily by coal, uranium, natural gas-powered plants, and occasionally by intermittent breezes and sunshine. So, to say an EV is a zero-emission vehicle is not at all valid as 80 percent of the electricity generated to charge the batteries is from coal, natural gas, and nuclear.
Since twenty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S is from coal-fired plants, it follows that twenty percent of the EVs on the road are coal-powered.
Since forty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S is from natural gas, it follows that forty percent of the EVs on the road are natural gas-powered.
Since twenty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S is from nuclear, it follows that twenty percent of the EVs on the road are nuclear-powered.
The extraordinary amounts of mining needed to produce electric vehicles are not only environmentally disastrous, they also carry large human costs. The cobalt that is needed for every electric vehicle comes mostly from the Congo and is produced largely by child labor.
And, of course, to the extent that a tiny percentage of the electricity stored in EV batteries comes from solar panels, they are mostly produce by slave labor in China. And, for what it’s worth, Chinese solar panels are produced with coal-fired power plants.
“Green” energy is a catastrophically bad idea. I think many people understand that wind and solar power and electric vehicles are economically ruinous, but when we also take into account environmental degradation and child and slave labor, one can seriously question whether it is immoral to buy an electric car.