OPINION — Elon Musk has been the darling of the greenies for a long time, because he owns Tesla. The ecos really like the idea of the electric car, since it allows them to tell themselves they’re doing something good for the environment. Never mind that about seventy percent of U.S. electricity is still generated by burning oil, coal, and natural gas. I guess there’s something satisfying about stomping on that pedal and hearing the electric motor politely and quietly begin to hum. I don’t get it, but hey, whatever flips your breather.
But a lot of people seem to be upset at Elon lately, primarily because he bought Twitter, and plans to allow free speech there. This must be a horrible conundrum for the lefties. They want electric cars, but not freedom. They want to save the world, but only their version of it. They’re perfectly willing to listen to opposing points of view, until they find out there are opposing points of view.
Now, I’ve made fun of Elon in this column before, particularly when he came out with his special pickup, but I’ve got a lot of respect for the guy. Almost no one in the world is as innovative and forward-thinking. And I don’t have a problem with electric cars, as long as the gubmint doesn’t tell me I have to drive one. Everyone who enjoys hunting and fishing wants a cleaner environment, but we need to be honest about whether that’s really happening.
For example, in 2019 the U.S. was producing a surplus of oil, covering our own needs and even exporting oil to other countries. When Joe Biden took over the oval office he put a stop to a lot of our oil production, thereby making it appear as though we were doing less polluting. For the record, polluting is bad.
But we use just as much oil as before, only now we have to buy a lot of it from other countries. So not only are we still burning just as much fossil fuel, but we’re also causing a lot more pollution by transporting oil from out of town. Instead of polluting less, we’re polluting more. Remember, polluting is bad.
Electric cars, at present, serve pretty much the same purpose. The appearance of ecofriendliness is great, until you raise the hood and kick the tires. Since most of our electricity still comes from burning fossil fuels, the only difference between gasoline-powered cars and electric cars is where the CO comes out – the tailpipe or the generator plant a hundred miles away.
That’s not entirely true, of course, since some electricity comes from wind turbines and hydroelectric dams, like the one Hoover built. That one pretty much just runs Lost Wages, Nevada, but still. The wind turbines, on the other hand, are one of the worst environmental failures of the industrial age, right after the steam engine that lost the race to John Henry. I dropped a Jackson on that fiasco.
Wind turbines actually work OK, but they require a lot of fossil fuels to build, transport, assemble, and maintain, and sometimes they leak oil all over the place. Plus they’re so ugly no one wants them where they live. But one of the biggest problems with wind turbines is the birds they kill. They kill a lot of birds, including bald and golden eagles, which is another conundrum for the greenies. They want the wind turbines, but they don’t want the birds to die. Life is full of tough decisions.
Your crack fedrul gubmint recently prosecuted ESI Energy, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, for killing more than 150 eagles in eight states over the past decade with their wind turbines. And that was just part of one turbine company. ESI pled guilty last month and was fined $8 million, but, and this is the kicker, the eagles are still dead. Giving money to Uncle Sam doesn’t bring wildlife back to life, for some reason.
But while the wind turbines are bad for the environment, the batteries used in electric cars are far worse. Besides requiring a lot of fossil fuels to build, and being very expensive to replace, and taking forever to break down in landfills, the batteries use cobalt. Three quarters of the world’s supply of cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is not located in the U.S., is not democratic, and I don’t know what Congo means.
They dig the cobalt out of mines, and a lot of the mines use child slave labor, which may be why cobalt is known as the ‘blood diamond of batteries.’ The children are not American children, but farming out slave labor is the same as farming out oil well drilling, only worse. Just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t make it any less heinous.
The alternative to cobalt is nickel, but nickel mining and extracting creates far more pollution than refineries and generator plants. I guess until someone starts building nuclear car engines, fossil fuels are actually better for the environment than any of the alternatives.
We’ve got the oil, we just need to use it. Feelings will be damaged, but maybe that’s better than dead eagles and child slavery . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and minister who’s looking forward to your spittle-flecked letter telling him he’s wrong. Use the blue crayon and write to him at [email protected]