Why is it that greens want everyone to drive electric cars but don’t want people to have electricity? Or, it seems, the cars.
I noted last week in these pages how the people who want everyone to have an electric car in the garage have also been pursuing policies that, per the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s latest report, are likely to result in .
Fossil and nuclear plants are (bye, Indian Point!) while their replacement with “renewables” like wind and solar lags and often fails to produce power when it’s most needed.
Nothing has improved on that front. But the thing about electric cars is that they don’t just need electricity, they also need batteries to store it in. And electric motors.
That’s awkward because those cars and batteries require lots of copper and other metals, plus the extraction of “rare earth” minerals that come mostly from China and Africa, where they’re often produced by child or slave labor.
(We used to mine rare earths in America, but the . It’s easier for companies to get the stuff out of the ground in places where there aren’t sandal-wearing scolds everywhere.)
Well, now it looks like we have a solution to the problem.
Norway has found vast resources of metals and rare earths on the seabed off its coast and has started preparations to mine them across an underwater region roughly the size of Germany.
According to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, which manages seabed resources, the sea bottom hosts polymetallic nodules that include magnesium, cobalt, niobium and rare-earth minerals.
Just the thing for manufacturing batteries and motors for electric cars and windings for wind turbines too.
Naturally, environmentalists everywhere were ecstatic.
“This allows the production of wind turbines and electric cars without the environmental damage and human-rights injuries associated with today’s extraction efforts. Plus, it’s material sourced from a modern NATO country instead of a hostile nation like the People’s Republic of China,” said one spokesperson. “It’s a win for everyone.”
Haha, just kidding. They said no such thing.
Instead, environmentalists are calling for a (likely lengthy) pause in such mining efforts, for environmental reasons.
It sometimes seems as if the last invention these people approved of was the wet blanket.
The International Seabed Authority, an arm of the United Nations, is expected to issue new regulations governing seabed mining this summer.
The World Wildlife Foundation calls such mining an “avoidable environmental disaster,” saying “there are many unknowns and much to do in ocean science, policy and industry innovations before any deep seabed mining activities should be allowed to take place.”
Greenpeace hates it too.
These organizations are much quieter about the exploitation of minerals — and people — in places like China and Africa.
But the bottom line is: If you endorse the spread of electric cars, you by extension endorse the extraction of the resources it takes to build and charge them.
If you support a policy but oppose its prerequisites, then you’re either a fool or a fraud. Or maybe both.
A realistic and sensible electric-car policy would support reliable, safe, environmentally friendly power to charge them — which means plants fired by nuclear power and fracked gas.
And it would endorse the safe, clean and humane extraction of the necessary minerals, which probably means deep-seabed mining.
If you’re against those things, you’re not being realistic and sensible, and your policy proposals — or demands or mandates, which is what the calls for electric cars have become — should be ignored and even mocked.
Environmentalists are basically against those things, which means that they should be ignored and even mocked.
The planet has its needs, of course, and those deserve some respect.
But people have needs too, and when environmentalists seem reflexively against every new way of producing power or resources, it seems a bit suspicious.
Opposing every new venture is probably good for fundraising, as alarmist “Save the Sea!” emails probably get devoted contributors to open their (Venmo) wallets.
But if your positions are driven as much by fundraising as by science, there’s no reason for anyone else to take them seriously.
Honestly, when people start working to bring us cheap energy and metals from the Moon and the asteroids, environmentalists will probably complain about that too. And they’re entitled to complain if they want.
What they’re not entitled to is to be taken seriously.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the InstaPundit.com blog.