Perfection is the Enemy of Progress

by Little Guy @, Sunday, August 13, 2023, 13:17 (112 days ago) @ ZihuaRob

I personally believe the EVs are not the solution many people believe they are until solar- and wind-powered charging stations are the norm and plentiful, lithium can be mined without the use of toxic chemicals and excessive amounts of water, and spent lithium batteries can be safely and economically disposed of.

No doubt there are localized environmental impacts from the extraction and processing of the materials used in making electric vehicles. But I think there are two important considerations.

1. We cannot consider these adverse effects without considering the adverse local effects of the extraction and processing of petroleum resources. Look at the environmental distraction associated with the “ethical oil” of Canadian oil sands. Look at the extensive use of water resources in fracking operations. Consider the earthquakes associated with fracking. Consider the habitat destruction of petroleum extraction. Consider the damages of transporting petroleum products.

Prince William Sound is still recovering from the headline grabbing 1989 Exxon Valdez catastrophe. But every year there are multiple spills, pipeline leaks, etc. that go unreported in media. And let’s not forget the loss of 47 human lives as in Lac-Mégantic.

The deadliest rail accident since Canada's confederation in 1867

2. I think we have to consider localized adverse effects in the context of widespread adverse effects. The continued use of GHG-producing fossil fuels presents an existential threat to global civilization. Could Arizona remain a viable state if it weather this summer becomes its climate? Consider the effect of crop loss in the current food production areas of the world. Malnutrition and starvation can be powerful motivators to go to war.

Although we have “conflict refugees” now, we also have “climate refugees”. Imagine the effect on civilization of increases in both climate refuges and conflict refugees.

Electric vehicles are not the solution to global warming, but eliminating the billions of tonnes of CO2 emitted annually just by passenger cars will be a significant contribution.

Lithium batteries are already being effectively reused and recycled. Batteries from vehicles are reused, intact, for battery backup systems. Although those batteries are no longer optimal for instant, high drain applications, they continue to serve well for less demanding applications.

When they are no longer useful for that, they are recycled, sometimes more efficiently than when new.

Recycled Lithium-Ion Batteries Can Perform Better Than New Ones

Solar electricity is already a significant contributor to electrical grids… where governments support its development.

Thomas Edison knew of the importance of solar energy a hundred years ago.

“We are like tenant farmers, chopping down the fence around our house for fuel, when we should be using nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy—sun, wind, and tide.”

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left!”

I’d Put My Money on the Sun and Solar Energy

According to the International Energy Agency,

Solar PV’s installed power capacity is poised to surpass that of coal by 2027, becoming the largest in the world. Cumulative solar PV capacity almost triples in our forecast, growing by almost 1 500 GW over the period, exceeding natural gas by 2026 and coal by 2027. Annual solar PV capacity additions increase every year for the next five years.

Despite current higher investment costs due to elevated commodity prices, utility-scale solar PV is the least costly option for new electricity generation in a significant majority of countries worldwide. Distributed solar PV, such as rooftop solar on buildings, is also set for faster growth as a result of higher retail electricity prices and growing policy support to help consumers save money on their energy bills.

Why is solar PV important?

It seems to me that Mexico could be a leader in shifting its energy away from fossil fuels and toward an electric economy.

Upton Sinclair said,

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Something similar can be said of petroleum producing countries. It is difficult to convince a government to do something if it’s revenues depend on doing something else.

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