OPINION — ‘I was educated once. It took me years to get over it.’ ~ Mark Twain
A friend recently told me his millennial son came for a visit and wanted to rent a car. When they went to the rental place, he wouldn’t even begin to think about considering a car that ran on gasoline. Had to be electric. The young man owns an electric car, and consistency is key when you’re pretending to save the world from an imaginary problem. (Cue the theme from ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’)
America faces a crisis of epic proportions in the coming years, and I’m not talking about next year’s presidential election. No, this crisis is bigger than that, because there’s a limit to how much a president can do, good or bad. Our crisis is one of education, and if I’d paid more attention in Mrs. Talent’s civics class when I was a junior in high school I could probably come up with a solution. Unfortunately Mrs. T was far too lenient, and I slept a lot.
I don’t like to blast millennials, since I know some who are quite impressive, but a lot of them are somewhat disappointing. Many have fallen prey to our current woke educational system, which substitutes indoctrination for learning, and mistakes conformity for cognizance. Higher education these days is less an exercise in critical thinking than a boot camp for political correctness.
But millennials really aren’t to blame for their plight. We are. The boomers who raised them, sending them to public schools that gradually morphed into hotbeds of leftism in the interest of uniformity, while we paid attention to other stuff, like our careers and Johnny Carson. We should’ve taught them to think for themselves when they were in kindergarten, instead of allowing the state to co-opt their education in a fuddled miasma of feelings and participation trophies. Our mistake is coming back to bite us where we sit.
As a result, many millennials now believe climate change is anthropogenic, and if we trust the gubmint, stop using plastic straws, and care real hard we can fix it. Don’t laugh at that. We were the ones who told our kids they could be anything they wanted when they grew up. What a joke that was. And not the good kind, where milk comes out your nose when you hear it.
The often over-educated, over-intelligent, and under-paddled generation that now stands on the brink of being in charge of everything has been led, by high schools and universities full of faulty faculty, to believe their electric cars will save the planet, without the slightest clue that the watts they’re pumping into their Teslas were first pumped out of the ground in the form of Texas Tea. And those batteries they never see, wrapped in steel (smelted using fossil fuels) and plastic (made from petroleum products), the batteries that are supposed to turn the city dump into a city park? Well.
Most electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries these days. The lithium and cobalt used in lithium batteries is extracted and transported using fossil fuels, and far too often the grunt work is done by child slave labor. But never mind all that. If you can. It gets worse.
Lithium batteries exposed to salt water, which happened when Hurricane Ian flooded parts of Florida in September 2022, for instance, can catch fire days or even weeks later. That happened to at least a dozen cars after Ian. Overheating can also cause lithium battery fires, and those things are a booger to put out. The International Assn. of Fire and Rescue Services says it can take 30-40 thousand gallons of water to put out an EV fire. My advice to Tesla and Prius owners is to drive near lakes and rivers. Very few fire truck carry more than a thousand gallons of water. But it gets worse.
Because of the failure of ERCOT and other energy providers during times of crisis, like the historic blizzard of early 2021, many towns are hiring companies to install Battery Energy Storage Systems, which are basically just a bunch of deep cell lithium-ion batteries. The idea is to store power in the batteries during times when usage is low, and have it available during peak use times, when the grid is severely stressed.
Great idea. As long as you don’t live near a BESS. Because the batteries have not yet been tested, no one knows if there’s any danger from long-term toxic emissions. And if it takes 30k gallons of water to put out a Prius fire, imagine how much water it will take to put out a fire in a BESS containing a thousand lithium-ion batteries. Or ten thousand. I understand a BESS is being installed in my hometown of Mason, where I was a firefighter for seventeen years. I’m pretty sure the town doesn’t have the water to fight such a fire, should it occur.
I honestly appreciate the next generation’s desire to save the world. I just hope there’s a world left to save, once they get done fixing it . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and minister who was once educated. Write to him at [email protected]