About a decade ago , as I was reading Jared Diamond’s “Collapse,” the questions most prominent in my mind were: How did entire societies of human beings continue over-consuming until they died? Why did a change to a more moderate lifestyle never take hold?”
Of course these questions are the stuff that keeps thinking people up late into the wee hours, contemplating in the darkness how one turns an entire society around. As a life-long environmentalist, and one who comes by those values through inheritance going back to the Progressive Bull Moose Conservationism of Teddy Roosevelt, societal overconsumption and waste are a key component of my personal environmental ethos.
No better recent example of the kind of false prophet magical thinking – thinking that probably helped past societies ignore facing the realities needed to survive – exists then with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s edict to kill the internal combustion engine.
In that wasteland of virtue signaling and societal rot known as California, Gov. Newsom last month issued an edict in the form of an Executive Order that, as of Jan. 1, 2035, no new internal combustion engines of any type will be allowed to be sold powering any new product within the State of California. This will “Save the Planet,” “Create Green New Jobs of the Future” and “Make California a leader in exciting new Green Technologies and their manufacture,” according to the Green Mantra. It’s all MAGIC. And if enough people buy into the magical thinking of Messianic False Prophets, a society is doomed.
By the way, it’s not that I don’t like electric vehicles. They are cute, and the hum is quite pleasant. If I could afford one, I’d get a 1912 Baker for doing errands around town. I can’t afford one, and there is no reasonable alternative.
I’d NEVER buy a TESLA, a VOLT or a PRIUS, however. I’d buy a Baker mostly because the PLANET paid for its creation before I was born. All of the new electric vehicles have greater range and achieve higher speeds than a Baker. EVs also have titanic amounts of rare-earth minerals, copper, lithium and nickel. All of these have to be mined. EVs are heavily reliant on aluminum, a metal that takes eight times the energy input to mine and convert into a usable product as does steel. And the plastics are produced from crystallized petroleum. Factor in all the inputs, and the toll on the environment to produce an EV is several times greater than in the production of a gasoline-driven vehicle.
Still too, EVs do not have reliable range capabilities. I recently drove a highly fuel-efficient gasoline rental car from Los Angeles to Yellowstone National Park. I drove that distance within one day going out and back in a day also. That would have been impossible to do in an electric car and due to the laws of physics. Always will be. The faster an electric car goes, even at constant speed, the shorter its range. At constant high speed, gasoline cars have their highest range. So the first issue is that electric cars cannot be a universal vehicle and are not suitable for people who drive at high rates of speed long distances. We would really be much better off seeing EVS used for low speed around-town errands and not as a complete replacement for a standard gasoline car. These would tend to be much smaller than a modern Tesla and would therefore consume far less toxic materials and create less of a load on the planet.
The most troubling issue with electric cars is powering them. In most states the electric grid is powered by COAL. So, your EV is fueled by COAL.
But maybe you live in California where we are shutting down natural gas-fired power plants because they violate the Governor’s religion which doesn’t believe in burning fuel. The religion extends to other power sources too. We are removing hydropower because that’s bad for salmon. The religion says no coal, and no nuclear power either. Gov. Newsom displays the most magical thinking of all when he espouses the belief that we can get off fossil fuel by going to wind and solar power.
Solar cells are nifty little devices. Strip mine quartz using lots and lots and lots of diesel, gasoline and dynamite. Strip mine COAL. Purify them using toxic industrial processes that employ all kinds of icky chemicals at high temperatures gained through the use of lots of petroleum. Bake together using more coal mined with petroleum at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit under pressure for about a day, and Viola Easy Peasy, you have the start of a solar cell.
Cut these newly made coal/quartz crystals and stack them together with their grain structures running in opposite directions with conductive materials vapor deposited onto glass. Attach the cross-grained new solar cells using an epoxy loaded with special really toxic minerals to the glass with vapor deposited conductive material on it (lots of fossil fuel and BTUs used for that). Eventually, load all that into an extruded aluminum frame (remember, eight times the energy BTUs as a piece of steel the same size) and cover with a piece of UV/impact-resistant polycarbonate epoxied to the aluminum frame front and back.
In all the mining, smelting, processing and gluing, guess what? We only consumed 110 percent of the energy/petroleum resources that the panel will be RATED to produce in its 250-year lifespan. That’s right. Each panel represents a net loss in energy produced, and, hey, we got there making more pollution than just burning the petroleum would have cost the planet.
But if Gov. Newsom knows that, he doesn’t care because most of the panels are made now in China in hyper-dirty conditions, but CALIFORNIA will be clean. It’s called environmental racism. It underlays almost all American “green” culture. I suspect Newsom does know. I suspect this because the Getty family, who he is close to, along with Newsom and the Brown family (as in former Gov. Brown’s family) own large stakes in rare earth mineral and lithium mines in Indonesia.
These are some of the filthiest-run mines in the world. Tailings swept by water into the ocean run visibly for more than 300 miles. Toxic dust plumes fill the sky. California is one of three places on Earth with significant rare earth mineral deposits. Afghanistan and Indonesia are the other two. California’s environmental laws, passed under Gov. Jerry Brown, make it financially infeasible to mine rare earths here. Afghanistan is still war torn, and none of those deposits has ever been exploited. This leaves the only large scale mining opportunities in Indonesia where the Brown, Getty and Newsom families have investments. These are mines where brown Indonesian children toil in 19th century working conditions, dying poisoned in either or both their lungs and kidneys by age 30.
This directly touches Newsom’s other false talking point: That California ever can be the leader again in any kind of industry or manufacturing. This will never happen. In fact, the world leader in quality electric cars, Tesla, chose not to expand in California, but in Nevada and China. What happened with Tesla will happen over and over again.
Car companies will come to California to take subsidies from our taxpayers, promise a bright future and then move production to China, India, Vietnam or anywhere else but California to escape our ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS that are endlessly illogical, cumbersome and punitive. And even where logical, they are hideously expensive to operate under. After taking advantage of California’s largesse, these “Green” companies will manufacture in locations where they don’t have to comply with environmental regulation and where they can operate more cheaply.
Newsom knows his promise of California as a “New Green” industrial giant is a false promise. Elon Musk has already made that clear. Why take three years and $4 million in studies, consultants, hearings and litigation to get through an EIR/CEQA approval for your Green Widget company in California, when for $50k you can just bribe a Chinese official and build out your operations in six months? No one who has shareholders would build a new factory in California.
And of course California is already experiencing summer brownouts from our reductions in burning non-green fuel to make electricity. In the real world, there is no way for California to generate enough green energy to run a large amount of its automotive fleet off electricity in 30 years, let alone 15.
Too many people live with one great false hope, one great delusion. Because of this, Flim-Flam men like Brown and Newsom have been able to run their cons for decades. It’s the Illusion that somehow we can CONSUME our way to a Green Planet – that it’s simply a matter of dumping our old non-green stuff in the landfill and buying new shiny Wunder Green sparkly things to “Save the Planet.” The fact is NOTHING is worse for the planet than planned obsolescence consumption.
The best things you can do for the planet are to keep your electronics forever. Keep your car for 30 years. Update it to get better mileage and pollute less with newer fuel injection systems every decade or so. Wear clothes that are never quite in or out of fashion, and wear them for years. Buy less stuff and buy less of it new; repair what you have. Make it last.
What is tearing the planet apart is the throwaway consumption culture. That old 12 mpg Camaro you own? Don’t junk it. Put electronic fuel injection on it, and drive it for the next couple of decades. Don’t buy new furniture all the time. Buy good stuff. Reupholster it every couple of decades. Wear a sweater around the house or office in the winter. Sweat some in the summer. Adopt a personal culture of frugality, of saving and up-cycling objects understanding that every object on Earth was made of the finite Earth and that you can do your part by not demanding new stuff be made.
I know that last paragraph is at odds with everything from our present corporate-controlled “Green Movement.” Stop listening to the liars who are telling you we can save the planet by consumption. We can’t. In your heart, you know that already.