Friday, August 11, 2017

Well, that's an unwelcome connection to history

Some 15 million Africans were killed or worked to death in the Congo, and many more were maimed, all for the natural resource of rubber.

Fast forward to now.

Volvo has promised to go all electric or hybrid with their cars by 2019.

France and Britain are banning petroleum powered vehicles in 2040.

The demand for cobalt for electric and hybrid car batteries has resulted in the enslavement of countless children in heavy metal mines in … you guessed it… the Congo.  It is described as “hell on earth.”
"But we NEEEEEED electric cars!"  Usually said by people who don't seem to realize that they'll need generators running somewhere to produce the electricity to charge the batteries back up.

Oh, that's right; they'll demand the power stations be somewhere else.  So they can claim they're only using clean energy locally, and try to ignore the power plant somewhere else.


Anonymous said...

So riddle me this Batman (yes, I'm old enough to use that phrase):

We had to improve fuel economy on our automotive fleet as well as pursue massive upgrades in industry to reduce our exposure to the middle east countries and other unreliable "partners". Even with that, massive increases in fuels prices ensued. Between that and technological advances, it became practical to extract ever more oil from what were once massively expensive sources (tar sands, shale oil, fracking [and I believe studies have shown that panic over the ecological consequences of fracking is overblown]), to the point where we are more than self-sufficient, and are now starting to export oil.

Great! So now let's kill off gasoline engines and switch to electric (never mind that electricity still has to be generated SOMEHOW to recharge the cars). Except that:

A mass switch to electric would overload the grid from what I've read. The grid is designed to "cool off" at night when power consumption drops. Except that it won't if we recharge our cars all night every night. Great! Let's introduce more instability into an already fragile system!

The article points out the problem of "blood cobalt". No problem - those third world types die all the time anyway. What's a few more?

In addition to cobalt, these motors require lots of rare-earth metals to make ensure that the magnets used are still enough powerful enough at such compact sizes. China controls the vast majority of known rare-earth deposits. So: from one unstable set of middle east partners to an even more unstable partner who may one day want to nuke us. Way to go!

Lastly - lithium. Ummm - you know those batteries eventually wear out, right? You know that lithium is hell to recycle, right? But hey! A Prius is cool, so who cares?


Anonymous said...

Reminder: thirty years ago, during the Protracted Struggle, we were told that US industry was not allowed to buy cobalt or other rare metals from South Africa, despite the fact that they were desperately needed for production of things like high-performance jet engines for fighter aircraft, because the apartheid system that maintained a peaceful, prosperous nation and made civilization possible there was, we were solemnly told, "evil," and that this outweighed resisting Soviet aggression.

But now that a few little brown Third Worlders are between Elon Musk and a penny, literal slave labor--which was notably NOT a feature of South Africa under white rule--is perfectly A-OK with everybody whose opinion matters.

You can't make this stuff up, people. Are we living in The Onion now?