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.