The Cost of Virtue Signaling

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People used to talk around the water cooler about being sent to the salt mines as punishment. It was a joke. Tesla sends kids to cobalt mines – so that virtue signaling rich people can drive around in high-performance electric cars.

It’s not funny.

Or even “environmentally friendly.”

Cobalt is a critical component of lithium-ion batteries – and the high-performance electric batteries used to power Teslas need a lot of it. About 1,000 times more of it than is used to make a smartphone battery, which is just a few grams vs. about 18 pounds of it for a high-performance electric car battery.

Most of this cobalt is dug out of open pit mines in Africa – with kids as young as six-years-old doing much of the digging. By hand.

For $1.50  . . . per day.

It’s toxic drudgery of almost unfathomable awfulness to people living in the West, especially people whisking along in their electric virtue-signaling mobiles.

Which aren’t very virtuous – even if you buy the business about electric cars being absolutely necessary to reduce carbon dioxide “emissions.”

Because they are high-performance electric cars.

How does a Tesla achieve “ludicrous speed”? By having the equivalent – in electric car terms – of a supercharged seven-liter V8 under its hood.

Or rather, under its floorpans.

A Tesla is more than twice as quick as the average non-electric car because it has a battery twice the size and twice as powerful as what’s necessary to get from A to B at normal speed. Just as a Dodge Challenger Hellcat has twice as many cylinders (and three times as  much power) as is necessary to get from A to B – as opposed to down the quarter mile in 10 seconds.

The Model 3 has a 1,054 pound battery pack – of which about half is gratuitously “wasteful” of hard-to-get materials such as cobalt.

A Dodge Challenger Hellcat does use a lot of gas. But it burns cleanly – and no six-year-olds were enslaved to procure it.

Plus, Hellcat drivers don’t pretend they’re saving the planet.

Or expect you to pay for their gas.

The cobalt – and the energy – used to make one high-performance electric car like the Model 3 – could be used to make two or even three Corolla-like electric cars.

Sensible electric cars.

Corolla-like electric cars wouldn’t deliver “ludicrous speed.” But they would be adequate for getting from A to B. Better, arguably . . . if the point of the exercise is to reduce energy consumption – and the resultant byproducts of consuming it.

A Corolla-like electric car that took 10 seconds to get to 60 instead of less than three would probably only need a 500 pound battery pack – and half the cobalt.

It would have a less powerful (and smaller/lighter) electric motor – which would use less electricity and so increase its range and reduce the amount of time waiting for it to recharge.

It would be much more practical – and it would cost a lot less.

But that would miss the unspoken point.

A sensible electric car would be a much harder sell to the virtue-signaling affluent who buy high-performance cars like the Tesla Model 3 and the just announced $185,000 to start Porsche Taycan.

They are not interested in driving around in electrified Corollas that don’t accelerate ludicrously any more than they are interested in hot-bunking cots in a communal hive apartment complex or eating Soylent Green rather than ribeyes.

Which is why electric cars tout high-performance.

The object isn’t to conserve resources. It’s to waste them . . . in politically correct ways.

It is just another con.

A way for affluent people who don’t intend to sacrifice anything for the sake of their politics to get others to pay the freight for their politics.

Including six-year-old kids clawing cobalt out of open pit mines in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo – where the “benefits” package includes being maimed for life or even killed for the sake of someone else’s virtue-signaling at ludicrous speed.

It’s of a piece with other toxic – and noxious – aspects of the electric car fraud. Most people don’t know about the cobalt – or the hundreds of pounds of graphite that goes into a high-performance electric car battery. A single Tesla battery contains about 200 pounds of the stuff, which is also dug out of mines –  using heavy equipment that isn’t powered by solar panels or windmill farms.

It is then processed by furnaces that consume immense quantities of fuel – and which “emit” plumes of carbon dioxide.

But most of this happens far away, in China. Just as most cobalt mining happens out of sight – and mind – in far-away Congo.

These are among the environmental and human costs of the electric car fraud.

The greatest cost, however, may prove to be the stillborn electric car.

The Corolla-like electric car.

The sensible, affordable electric car. Which doesn’t exist because of the subsidization of electric high-performance cars. These artificially created things have suppressed the natural development of sensible things – for the sake of the virtue-signaling affluent.

Who signal on our dime – and on the backs of six-year-olds in the Congo.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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27 COMMENTS

  1. Harold Hill has NOTHING on Elon Musk.

    Elon Musk is King of the Government Teat.

    Elon Musk is a lying, conniving piece of dog excrement.

  2. I am surprised you are offended by 6 year old kids working in the pits.
    The DRC has very little government so, this is the free market working.
    Shouldn’t every libertarian be shouting that every 6 year old should be
    working and not forced by the gubmint into going to school?Clover

    • Clover,

      Another example of your dishonest tactics. I point out that EV manufacture results in some pretty awful “environmental” consequences and you start blabbering about Libertarians and government schools – a topic completely unrelated to the question being discussed.

      You use such tactics because you have to, of course. Because you have no sound arguments. Each time one of your idiocies is dissected, you attempt to change the subject. This is characteristic of people like you. I think it may even be true that you’re not deliberately – consciously dishonest. I think it may be that your capacity to think has been crippled by… government schools.

  3. I think it’s time for the federal Government to create a Systematic Corporate Average Battery Standard (SCABS) to regulate this wasteful misallocation of electrons. With the electric grid in such a state of disrepair, and with the amount of electrons produced by Coal how is this not in place already? This system should also be on a sliding scale with ever higher MPE (miles Per Electron) mandates with each passing year, with a stiff fine imposed on electron zapping vehicles which don’t meet the standards.

  4. If anyone wants some very good evidence that Gretta is a clueless puppet, lost without prior rehearsal.

    https://youtu.be/sohBiFEHl7s

    Note the blonde beside her and the expression on her face. Crickets, “Ummm… What was first the question?” stumbling blather….. “anyone else want to answer that question?”

    Someone else would have to because clearly she is as ‘knowledgeable’ as a newscaster reading off a teleprompter. Off script and she is lost.

    I REALLY want to see this Muppet in an interview where she can tell us all she knows about the environment. It would be very short and Clover like and full of ‘ummm’ from what I have seen.

    I would put more value on what a Kardashian says that this little retard.

  5. I’m pretty sure VW will be introducing Corolla-like EVs very soon now. They’ll still be overpriced and overly complicated devices, but they’ll be out there. The Nissan Leaf is also a pretty good example of a Corolla-like EV. But the Leaf hasn’t proven the long term viability of the concept (note the horrible resale value -some of which is due to the 1st generation’s limitations), so remains to be seen if large numbers will ever see these things as a primary mode of transportation.

    • Hi Erie,

      That’s some funny shit!

      “When I learned about just how much of an emergency the climate emergency is, especially after reading Secretary General Ki-Moon’s statement, which mentions the word emergency a whopping three times, I immediately switched to only fair trade soy lattes, bought a cosy beanie and some thick woolly socks to wear instead of using central heating, and started eating my broccoli raw instead of cooking it in order to save electricity. But there’s one more thing I still do on occasion that just isn’t right”.

      “The commercials for the Google car show groups of trendy bearded progressives being silly, juggling colorful balls and playing on their iPad’s while the Google car does all the work. Just imagine how many more Facebook posts you could read if you didn’t have to drive? In addition, the Google car always follows the quickest route in order to save electricity and therefore the environment, and may even decide to take a slightly more dangerous route if it finds you on a database or hears you mumble any hate speech during your journey”.

      “The Renault Twizy is one of the coolest electric cars, and only burns electricity produced from coal elsewhere, as opposed to burning fossil fuels directly, which shifts the blame onto the fossil fuel companies”.

      “I sometimes get a little too frightened to wait at the bus stop where many people of color often roam the streets, looking for reparations from privileged white non-binaries like me, so I instead go for an Uber”.

      “Aside from the earlier mentioned caveat of occasionally getting mugged, assaulted or Apple-picked because of your white privilege, public transport is still one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel”.

      Cheers,
      Jeremy

  6. Really?! I always thought that EV’s were built out of rainbows and the energy produced by unicorn magic. Gee, who would’ve thought that they would actually be more detrimental than IC powered vehicles?

    *end sarcasm*

    • That’s unicorn farts! There is no magic, do you know nothing about science? Are you some kind of heretic (oops- I meant denier…)/s

  7. Eric, I take issue with the assertion that Tesla sources the Cobalt for it’s batteries in Africa. Tesla gets its batteries from Panasonic. Panasonic is a Japanese company and have to meet the conflict minerals rules of the Japanes and US governments for its battery plant in Nevada. The issue is so problematic that it has initiated mine re-openings in Canada (Cobalt, Ontario) and in Australia.
    Cobalt is mainly mined as a by-product of Nickel which is where one of the problems lay. The price of Nickel has plummeted since 2010, after the Chinese developed a new way to manufacture stainless steel from pig iron with Nickel already in it. Previously the manufacture of stainless steel relied on supplies of refined Nickel. Since 2010 the demand for refined Nickel dropped and so did the price. Consequently the Nickel inventories had to be depleted for an economical Nickel production to restart (See LME Nickel inventories http://www.kitcometals.com/charts/nickel_historical_large.html#lmestocks_5years). That situation is now resolved.
    Apple and Samsung have the same problem for their phone batteries, as phones use far more Cobalt than EV’s (http://www.investcom.com/industry_overview/cobalt/cobalt_industry_19Jun2018.htm)
    The auto manufacturers that use LG-Chem batteries are more likely to get the Cobalt in violation of the Conflict minerals agreements, as LG is Korean, and uses Chinese sources for refined Cobalt. China is the real bad actor here as they have placed Cobalt ore brokers in the Congo where it is transported to China for refining.
    Tesla have made a point of not sourcing the Cobalt from the Congo. However, Since they now have a factory in China, and will use a Chinese battery source, I can see that creating a problem for them going forward.

    • Tesla will not be concerned about the use of child labor in its batteries. They certainly have no concern about using taxpayers to fund their car purchases. And lying about the cleanliness and lack of CO2 put out by their cars. Tesla is run by a junkie hooked on drugs.

  8. I have mixed feelings- my 20 something apprentice is a ravening Tesla fan boy. He’s a very sharp kid, and we’ve had many discussions about all this. I’m exposing him to viewpoints and planting the seeds of reality and cynicism which will in the fullness of time make him a cohesive and critical thinking adult. He is challenging my long held biases and sharpening my steel.

    While electric cars will never “save the planet” (as if human beings could do such a thing- neither can we destroy it. But we surely change it).

    Having said all that- I kind of like the Tesla. A model S or roadster would make a better toy than a ICE supercar in my world- just like my hot rod electric motorcycle/trike is fun and works for me. And as far as (F)Elon marketing to the virtue signaling crowd- I wish I was doing the same thing- taking the suckers and rubes for a ride on their very own mental carnival ride.

    I can’t even really fault him for taking the subsidy cash printed up by the useful half wit politicians- it’s arguably less bad than letting them buy WMD’s with it. I know they shouldn’t be stealing it in the first place but that ship has sailed and we are many decades from sending her to the bottom with the tools available.

    As far as the kids digging out minerals for 1.50 per day- that may be very good money and a very desirable life there. I don’t want to live like that, but our ancestors almost certainly did.

    • Take a good look at that kid digging cobalt out from the mines. Or anyone involved in mining per se. I don’t see anyone living what most would consider a very desirable life. The fact that we are strip mining the earth for throwaway metals and plastic battery packs turns my stomach a bit. Right now, costs for mining these metals is low. As demand increases for electric batteries, the costs will rise and affect the price we pay for everything. There will come a time when battery costs double and triple again. Maybe not now, or even 10 years from now, but someday. Just like what happened with oil when demand caught up with world supply (until fracking came to fruition in the early 2010s.)

      As the demand for oil possibly falls off while lithium demand, there will be less incentive to drill and get that cheap oil. When that occurs, the price for extracting lithium and cobalt will invariably skyrocket as a result.

      • I dont disagree about third world open pit mining, but it is much more desirable than going hungry. It may well be the best job on offer. And if that industry continues conditions will improve.

      • Cobalt production is currently dirty and exploitative, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It used to be horribly polluting to get coal or oil, until people figure out how to do it right. No sense throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as the saying goes.

        IBM also just announced a cobalt-free lithium battery.

        Lastly, look at lead acid batteries in cars. We now have nearly 100% recycling of their components – namely lead and sulfuric acid.

        I am very much against subsidies and mandates for electric cars, let them lose and fail on their own merits, however, comparing the worst of one industry against the best of another isn’t really a great comparison.

        • Interstate aka Johnson Controls shipped all their battery production to Mexico a long time ago. We don’t even have any domestic lead foundries anymore, it’s too polluting. Out of sight out of mind. Mexicans making $2 per hour can deal with the lead and sulfuric acid, both highly toxic chemicals.

          This isn’t in support of doing it one way or another. Just playing Devil’s Advocate.

        • Opp, is that why mountaintop removal is so “green”? I mean, diverting streams, stopping rivers and creating huge reservoirs with no oversight that was away entire towns is “Green”? And the rates of cancer from the pollution of ground water in coal mining is horrendous with children having rates of cancer 5-6 times the normal of non-resident children near coal mining.

          The rate of cancer of adults is greatly increased compared to people not living where the water is polluted by coal mining.

          But let’s never mind the facts. Do some research on coal mining. It will make you glad not to be downwind or downstream from such mining.

  9. Why electric cars are seen as “green” is absolutely insane. If anything they are far more polluting then a gas car. Moving the pollution elsewhere is hardly green.

    Greenies hate poor people the most. Especially poor brown people, the ones they ironically lecture the rest of us about all the time. Now who is the racist?

    This electric car scam needs to be stopped.

    • Richb, greens hate all forms of life, microbes included. That is why they are in support of spraying sulfuric acid into the atmosphere, to eliminate all life and sterilise the planet.

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