Scott Muirhead

Scott Muirhead

The Democrats must be so proud. Just look what they have done for America in only eight months. I could fill half a ream of paper with invective criticizing the demented old man they put in the White House; but his ineptitude is so obvious, there is little to add. Instead I prefer to write about another group of slow thinking people.

We have among us some quasi-militant members of what I call the Climate Change Brigade (CCB), a funny little cadre of narcissists who insist that if their dire predictions are ignored, the world will soon end. To be fair, some of the CCB’ers may be of average or even above average intelligence; but if so, they expertly conceal the fact. And if my fate consisted of listening in perpetuity to their incessant droning, I would place my hope in their hand-wringing nonsense about the coming extinction of the human race.

So let’s talk about battery-operated cars, shall we? The CCB insists that if we do not, right now, forsake our efficient cars and trucks that run on gasoline and diesel fuel, CO2 emissions from those vehicles will soon cause the oceans to boil. Of course if that happens the moisture will rise to the heavens and create rain clouds that will extinguish all those wildfires out west; but never mind unintended consequences. The CCB hates those things.

Foremost among those things is the tricky little problem of disposing of dead batteries. Those batteries, incidentally, are made of components better known as rare earth minerals that are this minute being dug out of the ground by little black slave children in Africa, and their little yellow counterparts in the hinterlands of China. It’s just another unintended consequence of do-goodism.

The CCB definitely does not want you to know that battery disposal is rapidly becoming a monumental and perhaps insurmountable problem. And what about the fact that there is a finite amount or rare earth minerals? The stuff in batteries is toxic. It will kill you. And in an article by journalist and economist Milton Ezrati, he explains just how bad the problem is. Quoting professor Wu Feng of the Beijing Institute of Technology, Ezrati offers this tidbit: “One 20-gram cellphone battery can pollute three standard swimming pools of water, and if abandoned on land it can pollute one square kilometer of land for 50-years.” My, my. All that from a battery that weighs less than one ounce. A Tesla Model-S runs on a battery pack that weighs — are you ready for this? — 1,200 pounds.

Ezrati tells us that in the past year China has disposed of at least 200,000 tons of batteries, somewhere, somehow. Should we be worried? Batteries contain lithium, and when they degrade they produce hydrogen fluoride, which is corrosive enough to dissolve glass. It’s probably not good for it to be in our air and drinking water. Battery recycling efforts are in their infancy. According to Chemical & Engineering News magazine, “Most of the batteries that do get recycled undergo a high-temperature melting-and-extraction, or smelting, process.” “Those operations ... are energy intensive.” Smelting? You mean like with iron ore? Hmm ... CO2, anyone?

“Batteries good,” preach the CCB, “nuclear energy bad.” Oh really. Today there are at least 150 nuclear powered ships on and beneath the high seas. In 60-years, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration, there has not been a single accident in disposing of the nuclear waste from U.S. Navy warships. And there is quite a substantial difference between byproducts from a couple of hundred ships today, and the waste from 31-million battery-powered cars that the CCB’ers hope to have on the world’s streets by 2030.

“Yeah but,” the CCB’ers shout in unison, “what about all those waste-producing nuclear power plants?” Well, the U.S. Office of Nuclear Energy tells us that since the 1950s this country has produced about “83,000 metric tons of used fuel, and all of it could fit on a single football field at a depth of less than 10 yards.” Remember, last year alone, the Chinese did away with 200,000 tons of dead batteries; and they don’t even play football.

Nuclear power plants produce no CO2. Okay, sure, mining uranium for the plants does involve CO2 emissions from bulldozers and big trucks. But everything in life is a tradeoff. Example: For every sensible person, there seems to also be a liberal/ progressive.

So why do the CCB’ers oppose nuclear energy? They don’t know. Liberal/progressive pedants are oblivious to irony. They just don’t get it. If they succeed in eliminating fossil fuel cars, they still fail to grasp that the best way to recharge electric car batteries will be with nuclear energy. They haven’t thought that far ahead. They are stranded atop windmills.

The CCB is perversely jubilant over the recent wildfires and hurricanes. “See?” they smirk. “We told you so. If you had bought an electric car five years ago, none of this would have happened.” So tiring.

The thing that gets me about American CCB’ers is their absolute self-absorption. They wander around in a hazy delusion, convinced that America is the world. Well, America is not the world. And if America ceased contributing to CO2 levels, that dubious sacrifice would make so small a difference in climate conditions that it could hardly be measured. The populations of China and India dwarf the U.S. population, by billions; and those people are not about to give up electricity made with the use of readily available fuels like coal and natural gas.

The amount of CO2 produced by CCB activists who never cease shouting at us might exceed that of all the fleets of SUV’s that thunder along our city streets. The CCB’ers could better spend their time campaigning for and electing people who actually care about America’s citizens and soldiers.

Scott Muirhead is a resident of Waynesville.

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