The rush to electric cars has all the hallmarks of the herd mentality let loose, all over again, just like the dotcom bubble, Y2K, and property crash. Battery-based, it provides a convenient solution to fossil fuels in the developed world and particularly, Europe, which is keen to show the way by embracing “green” technology.
It may be green but it is dirty, even at current low levels of deployment, and is already the cause of serious environmental damage in third world countries where the ores and minerals for battery production are sourced. As electric is scaled up, the destruction will become substantial, both in terms of toxins polluting soil and groundwater associated with mining, and carbon intensity in respect of the smelting and manufacturing processes of battery production.
Most of these activities are located in poor third world countries, well out of sight of Green advocates. The contrast between the Green attitude to fracking, for example, and these activities is puzzling.
There will also be a massive demand for batteries for both solar and wind energy generation. Will local communities put up with the siting of large storage stations in their midst, with all the risks of seepage of toxins into the soil and rivers which could cause serious contamination of the environment for miles downstream.
European Colonial countries plundered the third world in bygone days for their own enrichment. It now appears that in order to meet their green commitments, they are prepared to destroy the habitats of poor third world countries and let these people wallow in a toxic sludge. This is hardly the solution to decarbonisation.
Model Farm Road
This reader's opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 7 June 2019.