Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Electric Cars: Child Slave Labor, Market Manipulation, and Environmental Pollution

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As part of the liberal mantra that claims that “climate change” is the greatest threat to global survival (despite much scientific evidence to the contrary), there has been one push after another to alter the ways people do everyday things in an ostensible effort to protect “Mother Earth” from the damage caused by the status quo. A prime example is the push for a switch to electric — or at least hybrid — cars. In that push, several “inconvenient truths” (I’m looking at you, Al Gore) are deliberately ignored. Worst of those “inconvenient truths” is that human life — which liberals claim to care so much about — is treated as a low-cost commodity in the manufacturing of electric cars.

Climate alarmists in media and government have promised that electric cars will lower pollution and help save both the Earth and humanity. Left out of that promise is the salient fact that the manufacturing process for making the components (especially the battery packs) and building the electric cars is considerably more polluting than the process for building traditional internal combustion cars. In fact, one estimate is that the process for manufacturing “an electric car and its battery” creates “twice as much [pollution] as for making an average gasoline-only car. Since the process of manufacturing the battery makes up the lion’s share of that pollution, the overall impact will be even higher in those cars that stay on the road long enough to need the battery replaced.

How polluting is the process for manufacturing an electric car battery? It’s bad enough that even China — where the vast majority of the materials are mined and where no small number of batteries are manufactured — had, as early as 2014, “suspended or closed dozens of graphite mines in an effort to curb the pollution.” If China — a nation known for a broken give-a-darn where pollution is concerned — is sweating the polluting effects of mining the materials to make electric car batteries, the rest of the world, including (and especially) liberals in America, should sit up and take notice.

Then, of course, there is the fact that electric cars have to be charged. Setting aside the fact that the average distance one can travel on a charge is between 70 and 130 miles before having to spend anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours recharging — greatly restricting the ability to travel outside one's immediate area, the fact remains that the electricity to charge the batteries has to be produced. With the environmental lobby having successfully demononized nuclear power, that electricity is likely being produced by means that most — if not all — left-wing greens would consider harmful to the planet. In this regard, the actual day-to-day operation of an electric car comes with a pricetag of premium inconvenience without delivering on the promise of “sustainability.” In fact, one study shows that in all but a few large cities in Texas and California, “driving an EV [electric vehicle] may result in more damage from pollution than driving an equivalent conventional car,” according to a report by ARS Technica.

Speaking of pricetags, one of the main reasons people decide to buy an electric car is the “generous” tax credit they get from Uncle Sam for doing so. In some circumstances, people have received tax credits of up to $7,500 for buying an electric car. This is — of course — on top of the government subsidies to the manufacturers to “encourage” them to build more electric cars in the first place. Here’s a tip for those who are steadily working to manipulate the market with government subsidies: If the consumer isn’t interested in buying something, and therefore manufacturers aren’t interested in building it, and the only way to drive that is to prop it up with confiscated tax dollars, it probably isn’t worth building or buying. And once the overspending arm of government stops propping it up, it will probably fall under its own unwanted weight.

Worst of all, though, is the fact that the electric car industry is built on the backs of child slave laborers. In those pollution-producing mines where the raw materials are harvested, it is children — as young as four — who are paying the real price for “clean,” “green” cars. The Daily Mail reported earlier this month that in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 40,000 children work daily to harvest the materials used to produce electric car batteries. The conditions in which these children work can probably best be described as hell on Earth.

The work is not only grueling (the children work long hours hauling the rocks by hand), it is also dangerous. According to the Daily Mail article:

Adult miners dig up to 600 ft below the surface using basic tools, without protective clothing or modern machinery. Sometimes the children are sent down into the narrow makeshift chambers where there is constant danger of collapse.

And that danger, though immediate, is not the worst of it. The material itself, cobalt, is “such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it — cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death.” The area is so polluted, "Even simply eating vegetables grown in local soil can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, thyroid damage and fatal lung diseases, while birds and fish cannot survive in the area."

The children are not part of anything resembling a free-market labor force. The only “force” involved in this scheme is the force that is used to drive these poor children like rented mules. They labor for barely enough to keep them fed. Conditions are unimaginable. The article carries photographs of children cowering under the raised hands of overseers. If only that were as bad as it gets. The Daily Mail reports, “Girls as young as ten in the mines are subjected to sexual attacks and many become pregnant.”

It is estimated that at least 80 children die each year in the hell-hole of a mine in the DRC, “but many more deaths go unregistered, with the bodies buried in the rubble of collapsed tunnels.” Those numbers also overlook the many who die early deaths as a result of disease from working in the toxic mines.

The poor people of the Katanga region who pay the price for this are not sharing in the vast wealth created for major corporations that are profiting from the forced move to electric cars. The men, women, and children who give their labor and their lives to mine the materials are little more than expendable resources to be spent in the mad dash to make more and more electric car batteries and swell the coffers of those who profit from using government force (in the form of confiscatory taxes) to prop up an industry that couldn’t make it in a free market.

So in an effort to force a broken model on the world, liberals have run the very real risk of making the problem of pollution worse, manipulated the economy, and bolstered the child slave labor industry.

If — and that is a big if — the manipulation of the market and the damage to the environment (by people who claim to have the best interests of both at heart) could be forgiven, the death of children enslaved by circumstances created by government programs isn’t so easy to shrug off. Even if it does mean being able to drive past the gas pumps on silent mode in an all-electric Prius.

Photo of Tesla charging: Alexandre Prévot via wikipedia

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