07 May 2021

I Forgot My Lithium Pill!

There have been a handful of missives in these endeavors over the last few years, going back to at least 2015, that ponder the use of battery electrics. So far, no one has created an element better at electrical energy density than lithium (creating such an element would make one rather rich), so that's what is used to make Tesla, et al batteries. Most of the metal is being mined outside the USofA, and for good reason: it is a filthy business, made manifest in today's NYT.

You would do well to read it up. It's, kind of, the repeat of my story from high school or junior high school. The teacher posed a question to the class: would increasing centrally electrified public transport, metros and trolley cars and the like, while decreasing personal autos reduce air pollution? This was long before the notion of climate change or global warming was a signficant part of public discourse. Humbly, I leaped into the breach and offered that it would depend on the efficiency and emissions of power plants vis-a-vis auto engines. I don't believe there was a strong answer to the question.

As the earlier missives in these endeavors have pointed out, all such comparisons can lead to intelligent decisions only if such comparisons calculate goods and bads on an end-to-end basis. Just because a Tesla emits no emissions while you drive doesn't mean that none were emitted from extraction of all the natural resources needed to make that Tesla as well as the processes undertaken to make that Tesla. The article spends a lot of ink delving into an answer to that question.

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