General Motors’ announcement that it would invest $27 billion to bring 30 new electric vehicles to market over the next five years turned a lot of heads. Many wondered aloud if this heralds the long-awaited definitive shift away from fossil fuel-powered automobiles toward clean-energy electric vehicles. Don’t count on it.
“We are aggressively going after every aspect of what it takes to put everyone in an EV because we need millions of EVs on the road to make a meaningful impact toward building a zero-emissions future,” the company announced, unveiling its new strategy.
GM’s not alone. Ford’s shifting its focus to electrical vehicles, and also spending billions of dollars to do it. Honda, Toyota and VW, too.
We wish them all luck. But a huge unanswered question looms: Where will you get the electricity for these cars?
That’s not an idle question. Indeed, those at the highest pinnacles of the electric car industry are asking the very same question.
On Tuesday, Reuters reports, Tesla founder and e-car visionary Elon Musk told a German business group “that electricity consumption will double if the world’s car fleets are electrified, increasing the need to expand nuclear, solar, geothermal and wind energy generating sources.”
The problem is, current technology doesn’t put us on a path for a doubling of energy output. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, total electricity produced in the U.S. will grow just 18% over the next 20 years. That’s not a “doubling.”
Furthermore, even that meager growth is based on the idea that “renewables” – from wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric sources, but also filthy options such as burning municipal waste – will double as a share of total electricity output, from the current 17% to roughly 34% by 2040.
But even then, some 52% of all our energy will still be produced by the “dirty trinity” of fossil fuels: natural gas, coal and oil. (Another 13% will come from nuclear power.) That’s not the “zero-emissions future” that GM touts.
The point is this: Electric cars are only as clean as the electricity that runs them. With more than half of their anticipated electricity actually produced by fossil fuels, electric cars will likely not be any cleaner than today’s most-efficient gasoline models.
They will, however, be a lot more expensive. Electric cars may thus be the avatar of a new future of bitter class division in our society: Those with electric cars, and those without. Those without will be ostracized, ridiculed, ghettoized. Those who can afford electric cars, trucks and vans will be the avant-garde, meriting the best parking spaces and privileges, special lanes on public highways, freeways and roads, and possibly lower registration fees.
Hey, that’s how it already works now in some states. Will things be different in 20 years? We doubt it.
Moreover, just making electric cars is filthy business, as Bryan Preston of PJ Media reminds us:
There’s no free lunch when it comes to renewable energy sources, which may not even be all that renewable. Wind and sun are free, but the means of generating power from them are not.
They require batteries, which requires extensive mining and the use of toxic chemicals.
In fact, when a full accounting is made, electrical vehicles are even dirtier to make than conventional automobiles.
“Yes, EVs rely on fossil fuel to generate the electricity used to manufacture them and to charge their batteries,” writes Peter Skurkiss at The American Thinker. “Hence they are not the ‘green’ vehicles that the enviros tout. In fact, EVs are net polluters when you consider the tremendous environmental damage that is done to mine the lithium and rare earth elements needed in their manufacture and transport.”
He cites a recent study by the left-leaning Union of Concerned Scientists that shows assembling a “midsize EV would produce about 15% more emissions than the process of building a similar-sized gasoline powered vehicle.”
And the use of hard-to-find materials such as cobalt, lithium, rare earths and graphite in batteries and other components means lots of intensive, grubby mining in out-of-the-way places. And the extraction of many of these elements, in particular rare earths, is dominated by Chinese companies, not exactly known for their environmentally friendly practices.
Rather than being clean, electric vehicles turn out to be quite dirty. So dirty, in fact, that each new EV incurs what’s called a “carbon debt” even before it leaves the lot.
“From a climate policy standpoint, this means each new EV incurs a counterproductive carbon debt before it is driven its first mile,” according to a report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank.
“That debt is eventually paid off using presumably lower carbon electricity rather than gasoline, but EV supporters concede that it could take up to two years of driving. Others say it could be considerably longer. Either way, the climate benefits are not as clear cut as GM’s public relations team suggests.”
So if the crusade to fill our roads with electric vehicles isn’t about economics or environmental cleanliness, then what is it about?
The environment angle is really just a sales pitch, made to make you feel virtuous even as you make a bad decision. Big companies don’t mind getting in bed with big government on massive initiatives, such as the environment: The huge costs and burdensome regulations of entering such a market handicaps, and sometimes eliminates, small, innovative competitors.
In the end, it’s really all about controlling you through the Green New Deal and other big government initiatives that will lead to higher taxes, less wealth, lower incomes, massive new regulation across the economy and greater disparities among all Americans. It’s the green road to a socialist future.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board