Unsustainability

  • June 1, 2023

One of the interesting things about this hard-push to power everything – especially cars – electrically is that a critical material (lithium) isn’t renewable and for that reason there’s less incentive to recycle the box that contained it.

That is to say, the EV’s enormous battery pack.

People are used to recycling lead-acid batteries – the ones that are a fraction of the size of an EV’s battery pack and used to start the engine that propels a non-electric car. These can be recycled – or rather, there is incentive to recycle them because the lead isn’t used up and can be recycled. But the lithium in an electric car’s lithium-ion battery pack is gone once consumed. This means it will take getting more of it from the environment to make another EV lithium-ion battery pack.

Think about that.

We are told – we are lectured, endlessly – about the necessity of “sustainability.” But what is “sustainable” about using up scarce, hard-to-get materials that cannot be replaced except by extracting, refining and manufacturing more of the same stuff?

Of which there is by dint of that less stuff.

As well as more damage done to the “environment”?

Ever seen a lithium leaching field?

“Environmentalists” do not think about that, apparently. Or – rather – the people pushing “environmentalism” do not want you to. What they want is for you to feel that you are on-board with doing what they say is . . . “sustainable.”

But when the lithium runs out – or becomes unsustainably expensive, due to their not being enough of it to make 1,000-plus pounds each electric battery packs for all those electric  cars they say will replace our cars at a cost people of modest means can afford, there will be only a few electric cars – available for purchase by the handful of people who may still be able to afford the far-from-modest cost.

Perhaps that is what’s really meant by “sustainable.”

The trend toward unsustainability is becoming obvious. Most of the newest EVs have starting prices over $40,000 (viz, the $43,190 to start 2023 Nissan Ariya; the $59,290 2023 Genesis GV60; the $61,795 Cadillac Lyriq; the various $70k-plus Rivians) and that is why the average price paid for a new car last year rose to nearly $50,000. It is “electrification” that’s pushed the average price paid for a new car up by almost $15,000 over the course of about three years.

This trend will wax rather than wane precisely because there isn’t enough lithium to sustain the fiction of mass-affordable EVs.

Most obnoxious, however, is that most of this unsustainability is a consequence of the emphasis upon gratuitous performance – the much-touted (and very true) ability of these EVs to accelerate very quickly.

And “very” hardly covers it.

The ’23 GV60, for instance, can get to 60 in 3.7 seconds. This is extremely quick. Almost twice as quick as most of the “gas guzzling” V8 muscle car of the ’60s and ’70s. The difference being the EV guzzles power – and burns up the lithium necessary to store it.

This raises what ought to be an obvious objection – if  “sustainability” for the sake of “the environment” is truly the reasons for this EV push. If it is necessary to transition to battery-powered devices  for those reasons, how can such gratuitous wastefulness of resources and energy be tolerated? (To say nothing of the  gratuitous “emissions” – of the “pollutant” that does not foul the air or hurt “the environment.”) 

The Earth-rape that’s necessary to manufacture one extremely quick two-ton-plus EV such as the GV60 could have been used to make two or maybe even three not-so-speedy but far more sustainable A to B half-ton EVs that didn’t need to burn as much power and didn’t to burn through so much lithium to store it.

These wouldn’t be exciting, of course. But they would be a lot more . .  sustainable.

Much better for “the environment,” too.

The problem there, of course, is that the people who have $40,000-plus to spend on an electric car do not want to drive a slow, unexciting and modest car. It is also very hard to persuade most people to give up a non-electric car that’s more practical as well as less expensive for the sake of one that’s more expensive and less practical that’s also slower.

Hence all the gratuitous power and speed.

Which also serves to cover up the fact that “battery technology” has not “advanced” meaningfully in that it still takes a battery that weighs a third as much as most cars to store the energy equivalent (and deliver the range) of half a tank of gas.

Or less.

Elon Musk’s evil insight was that “electrification” could be sold – in the name of “sustainability” – to people who want to pretend they care about that so long as it doesn’t cramp their style. The Climate Change Cultists were soothed by assurances that they wouldn’t be driving around in electrified Chevettes that got them there, but not quickly and without any bragging rights . . . other than the fatuity of “sustainability.”

And never mind the eight-year-olds clawing (literally, as by hand) cobalt out of open pit mines in the – cough – “Democratic” Republic of Congo. The good news – such as it is – is that cobalt is at least recyclable.

The kids clawing it out of the ground will no doubt be pleased to hear about that.

. . .

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