Why I do not support EVs: Reply to Tricia Clarkson

I was disappointed in your latest article pushing the city of Peterborough to include Electric Vehicles for their transit needs without considering its problems both technologically and economically. Never mind the overall environmental problems not being properly evaluated. If we were treating this as a true crisis or emergency, we would behave differently municipally and federally. 
Hopefully the city will do a proper assessment and ROI — Return On Investment — and include the externalities not usually included in their reports or your article. There is a slippery slope here. The article also defies the philosophy of buying products locally that I thought many saw as part of the thrust of dealing with the climate crises we are facing. 
Here is an article about hydrogen-fuelled buses but I also believe that there may be a better technology available (see below). Hydrogen, which I have long advocated, also may use large batteries albeit not as large as EVs and may be subject to similar criticisms as Evs. But both hydrogen and the technology I refer to below, allow for local production and local purchasing to a larger extent than EVs where we have to import some of the materials for batteries. 
I have additional concerns about the environmental impacts of mining lithium and cobalt used in vehicle batteries. To obtain the Lithium and Cobalt, increased amounts of carbon are released into the atmosphere because they are shipped in ever-growing quantities from South America and Africa to North American and other markets using the most polluting form of transit in the world — namely freighters burning bunker fuel. Promoting increased use of EVs means more shipping of Lithium and Cobalt that are also non-renewable and essentially non-recyclable.
There are also associated political concerns when Canada supports right-wing political interests in places like Venezuela and Guatemala at the expense of democracy. I suspect that the REAL reason we do not recognize the democratically elected governments in those places is that they are socialist. They want to ensure that their own people benefit from the products being mined there contrary to what the Canadian-based capitalist mining companies want — namely profits from the labour who do the mining in the mineral rich countries of South America. We have seen that movie before. And Elon Musk’s comments about Bolivia were particularly abhorrent about that. 
And then there are the labour issues of the mining in places like Africa and South America. Safety is only one of them.  
That said there may also be other technologies including Carbon Energy from Carbon Engineering which admittedly may need some independent evaluation and corroboration of its claims but may also mean not having to emit huge amounts of carbon by scrapping a bus fleet that works fine mechanically while AT THE SAME TIME, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. It seems reasonable that, at a minimum, carbon energy would release much less carbon back into the atmosphere than it has removed and then converted to energy and motion. 
EVs, while useful for decreasing some carbon emissions (depending on how the electricity is produced), do nothing for that whereas Carbon Engineering claims they use vast amounts of atmospheric carbon to produce their product — carbon energy — outstripping what is sequestered by forests of trees. 
It would be better to push Maryam Monsef to advocate for the evaluation of that technology using the NRC and the research facilities of universities. The NRC sent 4 engineers to assist NASA in developing its shuttle programme. They were asked to describe the known technologies and the ones needing to be developed. 
But I suspect that even if Maryam were interested, she is part of a Liberal government that would prefer to sell out Canada’s public wealth to BlackRock and Larry Fink using the CIB — Canada Infrastructure Bank — for P3s to be created so that profits can be made for BlackRock shareholders from Canada’s public wealth. 
 The CIB will want our hospital, water systems and other publicly provided services like garbage pickup and dumps. BTW Larry Fink is on record as opposing people knowing how sovereign currency-issuing governments like Canada’s fund or provision themselves and prefers to promote the mythology that taxes fund federal programmes.  Should the Carbon Engineering technology be feasible — the company has an operating plant in Squamish BC apparently — then we could establish a plant in Peterborough to produce the product here for local use in the existing fleet of vehicles. Furthermore, the plant could then provide the product to the local general public. It is hard for me to believe that any carbon released would add to atmospheric CO2 after having been converted to energy and motion.
Again, if Maryam Monsef were interested in putting the interests of Peterborough ahead of the interests of BlackRock, the funding could be done from the federal govt here and everywhere else in Canada. And the Fossil fuels industry could be replaced creating numerous new jobs for those displaced from those industries. 
The mayors of the cities around Ontario and Canada should be using the FOCM and AMO to advocate for federal financial assistance in these issues. But then that would also require vision and a rejection of the economic mythologies held by too many of them and too many in the voting public. 
We seem to have latched on to poorly thought-out solutions to the fossil fuel problems without considering the science and alternatives. The environmental movement and Greta Thunberg ask us to consider the science. The science says that EVs, just like internal Combustion Engines — ICE —, emit over 50% of their carbon footprint in their construction. 
Pushing for more EVs means adding to atmospheric carbon when we junk ICEs and then build more EVs. How much, if anything, are we gaining? And then how much more copper wiring is going to be needed to retrofit all the residences and businesses in Canada to charge electric vehicles. Do we have a cost for that? And what about the increased mining of copper and the associated environmental impacts? And are there increased costs of policing of our communities as the market price goes up and copper thieves get busier than they are already? 

Kim Zippel who is my city councillor has responded with this quote from the 2021 Budget: “A study to consider the use of alternative fuel source(s) for the transit fleet is proposed to confirm an understanding of the full life cycle cost comparison to procure, operate, maintain, and provide the infrastructure and facilities to support a fleet of transit buses powered by electricity, hydrogen, compressed natural gas, or a hybrid power source.” She has also shared my comments about Carbon Energy with appropriate staff.

It is easy to advocate for EV transit and EVs in general but there are many unintended and, from where I sit, poorly thought-out consequences. We need to abandon the economic ideologies that prevent us from solving the problems we face. It would be a shame for the human race to die out and other life forms to become extinct because we believed — wrongly — that we couldn’t afford to save ourselves — or them. 

Herb Wiseman


Why Iconoclast? Why Antireifier? And Adults in the Room!

This blog is my place to express myself and attempt to show how I look at things in the world. Two themes will likely be evident and are captured by two concepts that are part of who I think that I am. One word is Iconoclast and the other is Reify or Reification. Because I am opposed to reifying theories, after all I am an iconoclast, I use a word that I coined called antireifier. I have since discovered that somebody else also coined it in relation to constitutional law. How I got to those places in my head are described below.

Several years ago, during the late 70s and early 80s, I was on the board of directors of L.A.M.P. — Lakeshore Area Multi-service Project — and a proposal had been made by the Government of Ontario to allow apartment buildings to be designated as “Adults Only.”

LAMP is a community agency with many services under one roof and the board included local politicians, business persons and representatives from some service sectors. I worked at a nearby pre-school treatment centre called Stothers as a Social Worker which was the reason for including me on the board.

The CEO, Joe Leonard, brought the “adults only” building proposal to the board for discussion and to take a public stand on the issue.

A straw vote was taken to start the conversation.

Then each person who wanted to speak on the matter was invited to do so. I spoke in opposition to it. As did Ruth Grier who at the time was a municipal councilor and later was elected as the NDP MPP for the Lakeshore riding.

As I recall almost everybody else was in favour of apartment buildings being designated under the law as “adults-only” should owners wish that except for Ruth and myself.

After discussion a vote was taken and, much to my surprise, it was resolved to oppose the legislation for adult-only buildings and to take a public stance against it.

As we were leaving the meeting, I was walking with Joe and commented to him that I liked being a part of the board because it seemed that people were willing to listen to each other and to hear their points of view. Joe then said, “I like you being on the board because you are such an iconoclast.”

I went home and looked up the word and discovered it literally meant “smasher of icons” or “destroyer of sacred cows.” That seemed a much better term than the one with which I had been designated in other places — namely — s**t-disturber!

But seriously, many years later it came back to me when I read an article by Yanis Varoufakis about the Adults in the Room in the discussions between Greece with the EU. Future articles may often be about political economics. But I digress.

Another lesson that I learned in the last part of the last class, Abnormal Psychology that I took to complete my undergrad degree. Don Morgenson, the late Professor Emeritus at Wilfrid Laurier University and frequent winner of best professor awards advised us to be careful NOT to reify theories as we went out into the working world.

I put up my hand and asked for an explanation. He went to the blackboard — dating myself here — and he wrote the word Deify on one panel and Reify on the other. He explained in detail that Deify meant to make an object into a god and Reify meant to make something real that was just theory.

I was working for the Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto at the time, 1969, and encountered doctors who had bought into the theory that autistic children were caused by “Refrigerator Mothers” and wanted children removed from the foster homes where they were growing up. I argued against this theory and that action. In the ensuing years the science showed it was a developmental disorder.

In 1978, I changed jobs and began to work at Stothers. Staff there working with the children described the mother of an autistic-like child as “mechanical” and “cold” in her interactions with her son. At the time I also obtained a book called Two Hugs For Survival by the late York University professor, Dr. Harold Minden who said similar things about the mothers of autistic children.

Fortunately, our consulting psychiatrist, Dr. Harvey Alderton, was able to point out to the staff that the child likely had “organized the mother to treat him that way” because of his discomfort with closeness. I also called Dr. Minden whose book is quite good in other respects and pointed out to him the problem with what he had described. To his credit he agreed with me and promised to alter the book if there was ever another edition. It looks like that ship has sailed.

In more recent times, a medical researcher linked autism to vaccines which has since been debunked and he has been discredited but now there are many examples of the harm that has been done to children who were not vaccinated and subsequently contracted a preventable childhood illness some of whom died as a result.

Today, of course, there will be people who will oppose the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available and I am already seeing articles and videos warning about it.

Vaccines are NOT sacred cows — especially the COVID vaccines — or icons that I wish to smash and my instincts about opposing the reification of theories has come into play so I will get the vaccine when it becomes available. Just as I have had other vaccines in recent times to protect my late elderly mother from my possibly infecting her with influenza when she was alive as well as protecting other vulnerable people such as my late former partner and my youngest son.

Future articles that I write here will likely be of a similar flavour where I will likely often take the path not well traveled and will present alternative takes on what may be called “conventional wisdom.”