As someone who is retired and on a fixed income, I am often chided by my progressive friends for driving a truck that is twenty-five years old with close to 300,000 miles on the odometer. The typical refrain is why are you not driving an electric vehicle (EV) that is environmentally friendly vice your clunker that contributes to global warming? After all, it “is the right and responsible thing to do.”
Yes, I believe the future of private transportation lies in both electric and other alternative (perhaps hydrogen) powered vehicles but for a number of reasons the timing is not yet right to have the government mandate that I and others own an EV.
I offer the following rationale:
First, from a national security standpoint, China made a conscious decision years ago to dominate the market in EV battery production and technology. This is the same country that makes no bones about surpassing the United States as the world superpower. In addition, China has an abysmal human rights record – what other country harvests the organs from its political opposition? Why would we as a nation want to put our own national security at risk in the hands of a nation that is determined to impose communism around the globe?
Second, currently the materials used to manufacture EV batteries are typically mined in Africa by child labor under the harshest conditions imaginable. Children are typically forced to sift through piles of material in an effort to secure the scarce materials (cobalt, lithium, and nickel) required for battery production. Children as young as two years transport, wash, and crush minerals to earn half a dollar a day. The problem of child labor used to source EV battery materials has been known for several years but yet we look the other way. In addition, the mining process is not environmentally friendly and in itself contributes to global warming.
Third, all EV batteries have a limited-service life and in the end, they must be disposed of in our landfills as the recycling options unlike my petroleum powered vehicle are extremely limited. Millions of electric car batteries will retire in the next decade. What happens to them? How do batteries not end up in a mountain of waste and further contaminate the environment?
Fourth, even with government subsidies, EVs are expensive. In the valley, and elsewhere in rural America the typical income is at or below the poverty level. How can the masses afford an EV when they can hardly afford to eat? Purchasing an EV or for that matter, a newer gasoline vehicle is beyond the reach of most who live in “fly-over country.”
So, are we ready to fully embrace EVs and put our conventional vehicles out to pasture? For me the answer is NO – please convince me I am off base, and I will be the first in line to purchase my new “socially responsible” and “environment-friendly” EV. For me the answer is NO – please convince me I am off base, and I will be the first in line to purchase my new “socially responsible” and “environment-friendly” EV.