February 19, 2022
What is a
Nikola Tesla said it best when he called it an
Energy Storage System.
That's an important
They do not make electricity:
electricity produced elsewhere, primarily by coal, uranium,
natural gas-powered plants, or diesel-fueled generators.
So, to say an EV is a
zero-emission vehicle is not at all valid.
Also, since forty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S.
is from coal-fired plants, it follows that forty percent of the EVs
on the road are coal-powered, do you see?
Einstein's formula, E=MC2, tells us it takes the same
amount of energy to move a five-thousand-pound gasoline-driven
automobile a mile as it does an electric one.
The only question again
what produces the
To reiterate, it does not
come from the battery; the battery is only the storage device,
like a gas tank in a car.
There are two orders of batteries,
The most common
single-use batteries are A, AA, AAA, C, D. 9V, and lantern types.
Those dry-cell species
use zinc, manganese, lithium, silver oxide, or zinc and carbon to
store electricity chemically. Please note they all contain toxic,
Rechargeable batteries only differ in their internal materials,
usually lithium-ion, nickel-metal oxide, and nickel-cadmium.
The United States uses
three billion of these two battery types a year, and most are not
recycled; they end up in landfills. California is the only state
which requires all batteries be recycled.
If you throw your small,
used batteries in the trash, here is what happens to them.
All batteries are
That means even when
not in use, they leak tiny amounts of energy.
You have likely
ruined a flashlight or two from an old, ruptured battery.
When a battery runs down
and can no longer power a toy or light, you think of it as dead;
well, it is not.
It continues to leak
small amounts of electricity...
As the chemicals inside
it run out, pressure builds inside the battery's metal casing, and
eventually, it cracks.
The metals left inside
then ooze out. The ooze in your ruined flashlight is toxic, and so
is the ooze that will inevitably leak from every battery in a
landfill. All batteries eventually rupture; it just takes
rechargeable batteries longer to end up in the landfill.
In addition to dry cell batteries, there are also wet cell ones used
in automobiles, boats, and motorcycles.
The good thing about
those is, ninety percent of them are recycled. Unfortunately, we do
not yet know how to recycle single-use ones properly.
But that is not half of it.
For those of you excited
about electric cars and a green revolution, I want you to take a
closer look at batteries and also windmills and solar panels.
technologies share what we call environmentally destructive
has two costs associated with it,
I will explain embedded
costs using a can of baked beans as my subject.
In this scenario, baked beans are on sale, so you jump in your car
and head for the grocery store. Sure enough, there they are on the
shelf for $1.75 a can.
As you head to the
checkout, you begin to think about the embedded costs in the can of
The first cost is the
diesel fuel the farmer used to plow the field, till the ground,
harvest the beans, and transport them to the food processor.
Not only is his
diesel fuel an embedded cost, so are the costs to build the
tractors, combines, and trucks.
In addition, the
farmer might use a nitrogen fertilizer made from natural gas.
Next is the energy costs of cooking the beans, heating the
building, transporting the workers, and paying for the vast
amounts of electricity used to run the plant.
The steel can holding the
beans is also an embedded cost.
Making the steel can
requires mining taconite, shipping it by boat, extracting the
iron, placing it in a coal-fired blast furnace, and adding
Then it's back on
another truck to take the beans to the grocery store.
Finally, add in the
cost of the gasoline for your car.
A typical EV battery
weighs one thousand pounds, about the size of a travel trunk.
twenty-five pounds of
lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30
pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum,
steel, and plastic.
Inside are over 6,000
individual lithium-ion cells.
It should concern you
that all those toxic components come from mining.
For instance, to
manufacture each EV auto battery, you must process,
25,000 pounds of
brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of ore for the cobalt,
5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for
All told, you dig up
500,000 pounds of the earth's crust for just one battery.
of the world's cobalt, a significant part of a battery, comes
from the Congo.
Their mines have no
pollution controls, and they employ children who die from
handling this toxic material. Should we factor in these diseased
kids as part of the cost of driving an electric car?
I'd like to leave you
with these thoughts.
building the largest battery in the world near San Francisco,
and they intend to power it from solar panels and windmills.
They claim this is
the ultimate in being 'green,' but it is not!
project is creating an environmental disaster.
Let me tell you why.
The main problem with
solar arrays is the chemicals
needed to process silicate into the silicon used in the panels.
To make pure enough
silicon requires processing it with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric
acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, trichloroethane, and
In addition, they also need gallium, arsenide,
copper-indium-gallium-diselenide, and cadmium-telluride, which
also are highly toxic.
Silicone dust is a
hazard to the workers, and the panels cannot be recycled.
Windmills are the ultimate in
embedded costs and environmental destruction.
Each weighs 1688 tons
(the equivalent of 23 houses) and contains 1300 tons of
concrete, 295 tons of steel, 48 tons of iron, 24 tons of
fiberglass, and the hard to extract rare earths neodymium,
praseodymium, and dysprosium.
Each blade weighs 81,000 pounds and will last 15 to 20 years, at
which time it must be replaced.
We cannot recycle
Sadly, both solar arrays
and windmills kill birds, bats, sea life, and migratory insects.
There may be a place for these technologies, but you must look
beyond the myth of zero emissions. I predict EVs and windmills will
be abandoned once the embedded environmental costs of making and
replacing them become apparent.
"Going Green" may sound like the Utopian ideal and are easily
espoused, catchy buzzwords, but when you look at the hidden and
embedded costs realistically with an open mind, you can see that,
Going Green is
more destructive to the Earth's environment than meets the eye,