BOSTON (Jan. 1, 2037) – My New Year’s resolution is to remember the bright side of the efforts to reduce climate change over the past 15 years. It won’t be easy. I just got my electric vehicle (EV) back after 12 days. A big accident in a snowstorm had snarled traffic on I-95 and caused most of the cars to run out of charge. It took dozens of tow trucks working round the clock to get all the cars back to their owners. But I can’t drive all that much anyway because the frigid winter temperatures have reduced my EV’s range by 40%. And with the cost of electricity for charging so high, I pine for what it cost in the old days to fill up my car with gas.
The power outages last year were also trying. When my neighbors got their third EV, it blew our local transformer and with the equipment backlogs, it took almost a week to get power back. All my food spoiled, and, in order to preserve my car’s charge, I had to drastically limit my travel to the necessities. I couldn’t cook because gas is no longer permitted in our town, and I had to convert to all-electric at huge expense. Cold showers weren’t fun either.
I had wanted to get a battery backup for my home, but the price had risen tenfold because almost all the battery manufacturing capacity was diverted to EV’s to comply with state and federal mandates. I am really worried about how I will pay for new batteries for my EV, given the absurd prices nowadays. I will end up paying twice as much as I did seven years ago for the entire car! Even my electric utility could not get enough batteries to allow their wind and solar plants to store energy for nights and calm or overcast periods. I really hate those rolling blackouts. Also, I do feel a little guilty about the scarred landscapes out West where the mines to extract lithium and rare earth elements have proliferated like weeds. But I suppose that is their contribution to fighting climate change.
I wish I could follow my wealthier friends to the city to avoid all the driving, but I can’t afford a private parking space with a charging station for my EV. Last I checked, those spaces were renting for more than apartments. The city had planned to dig up the streets to install metered chargers everywhere, but the cash dried up from providing carbon compensation benefits for the poor and subsidies for replacing appliances. It would also have badly disrupted all the new bike lanes.
It should be better this summer. I plan to attend a July 4 barbecue on Long Island. Unfortunately, I will need to leave at dawn to be there at 4 p.m., because there will be lines at the charging stations along the way; given my need for air conditioning during the near-tropical summers in the Northeast, I’ll need to make two charging stops rather than just one. Our summers are hotter and our winters are colder now.
But I guess I should be happy as we begin a new year. I could be living in China or India, where gasoline-powered cars are still common and fuel is affordable. But then I would have to bear the guilt of being responsible for 75% of the carbon emissions of the world and continuing, unabated climate change. Also, the air pollution there really sucks, I hate crowds, and I don’t want to learn Hindi or Mandarin.
Andrew I. Fillat spent his career in technology venture capital and information technology companies. He is also the co-inventor of relational databases. Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute. They were undergraduates together at M.I.T.