Keelan: Let’s face it, we don’t care

Children mining cobalt. Carter Center photo

by Don Keelan

Some time ago, while talking with the late Senator Jim Jeffords (1934-2014) about what it took to develop legislation in Congress, he said I didn’t want to know. He compared it with making sausage: you would not eat it if you saw how it was done.

His comment can apply to other uncomfortable issues: homelessness, drug addiction, and the mental health crisis. If we don’t personally witness it, we don’t need to concern ourselves. For decades, Vermont has been in denial. Not anymore.

When it came to what was needed to make an Electric Vehicle, the car itself and its propulsion (batteries), I was also in denial. EVs require the precious metals of Cobalt, Lithium, Manganese, Nickel, and Bauxite that go into car manufacturing. The Washington Post recently stated, “The breathtaking demand for EVs…typically require six times the mineral input of weight of their fossil-fuel-burning counterparts…just to make them go.”

So where do all of these critical minerals come from? For starters, Bauxite comes from northwest Guinea. If you need to get up to date on international affairs, Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the Washington Post. As I write this column, Guinea and its 13 million residents are going through a nightmare: their country’s rivers, lakes, farmland, and villages are being devastated as tens of thousands of tons of Bauxite are mined daily, primarily by Chinese government-owned companies.

It is not much better for Cobalt extraction. 70% of the world’s Cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly from state and Chinese government companies. The Washington Post noted in its April 30 th report that over 200,000 folks work in the unregulated sector (15%), including 5,000 to 35,000 children, some as young as six.

I could go on, but it is depressing, especially when it is well-known in the EV industry that China processes (refines) over 50% of the minerals noted above and controls over 75% of the world’s battery production. And how are the smelting plants generated? By coal-fired furnaces?

But we don’t have to travel halfway around the world to maintain our denial status. All we need to do is look north to Canada, specifically the Province of Quebec and the province-owned company, Hydro-Quebec.

H-Q is a significant electricity supplier to Vermont and will continue until its contract ends in 2038. However, the company is running out of power and needs to create more hydro dams. To do so, it will again devastate lands owned by First Nation Canadians where the reservoirs for future dams will be made. Meanwhile, Vermont needs more renewable power.

Do we care what it takes to get us an EV or a kilowatt of electricity?

When I was a visiting history teacher at Arlington Memorial High School’s 11 th grade, I surveyed where the class of 22 students had their sneakers manufactured. Except for one student’s, all sneakers were made in Southeast Asia. A front-row student had a ghastly blue pair that he acquired at the local Walmart. The sneakers were made in Bangladesh and cost him $18.

When the class traced back the sneaker’s cost to sell and its 10,000-mile transportation, it was determined that the labor cost was only a few dollars and most likely paid to a youngster in a not-so-well-kept plant. The wearer didn’t care as long as he didn’t have to pay more than $20.

And so it is with the advent of transitioning to EV and all-electric. We don’t care what the cost is to the environment and to individuals as long as we can claim that we reduce the carbon footprint here in Vermont. If we don’t have to witness what it takes, we really don’t care.

The author is a U.S. Marine (retired), CPA, and columnist living in Arlington, VT.

Categories: Commentary, Environment

12 replies »

  1. Thank you for your service to our country and thank you for your opinion. It’s sad but true. Agenda’s and greed in this world will destroy it, not global warming! Evil and ignorance has seemed to control much of what our state, country and world has become. What may start, as good intentions soon turns into blind biased agendas, that unless it effects you personally, people turn their heads away and refuse to see. The Bible warned us of these evils but too many have turned away from the warnings and now even attack religion itself to justify their own selfishness. I pray for God’s mercy for us all!

  2. No, “we” don’t care, but not for the reason you state. But let me be clear – although your reason is quite valid, it’s just that it’s about #10 on the list.

    I feel safe in saying “we” don’t really want electric cars. First, where do you think the electricity for charging them comes from? Of course, it comes from power plants. The same power plants that supply the power needed to build the damn things in the first place. Second, cost. Cost of purchase, cost of a new battery every few years (tens of thousands), cost of repair (if you can even find a place that works on them), and cost of charging PLUS a special charging system if you want to do it at home. You are aware of course that the more power you use, the higher the rate you get charged? Third, range. Electric vehicles have none. In the winter or summer, they have even less. Heck, just sitting in your driveway the battery is always on.

    And what happens when we have blackouts or “rolling” blackouts? What happens when a major hurricane comes and everyone is trying to leave at once? And tell me again how long it would take to make a 300 mile vacation trip when you add in time spent re-charging. Tell me how you like having screaming, crying kids on that trip.

    No, “we” don’t want electric cars. They fall under my 85-15 rule. Applied here, that means that 15% is the max free market number of people who actually want and can afford an electric vehicle. The rest of us 85% “deplorables” see this for what it is… yet another globalist elite scam.

    But… with electric vehicles, now the elites can, in effect, herd the population into smaller, more densely populated places like , oh, I don’t know… cities? And they’ve publicly stated this as a goal. If you can’t afford an EV? Well, I guess you’ll be reliant on mass transit then. Is that what you want? And if you don’t spout the DEI, 8-gender narrative? Well, they’ll just put a “hold” on your digital currency, or maybe even remote-disable your precious EV.

    All for what? “Climate change”? I’d be more likely to believe the folks who predict the planet will be three degrees warmer in 100 years if those same folks could actually get a 5-day forecast correct every once in a while.

    No, “we”… “We the People” have zero use for electric vehicles.

    • Robin, You should also forward your own retort (you’ll likely need to shorten & alter it slightly) to another VT news outlet & remain on top of them until they publish it. You bring up many good points & relay them succinctly.

    • I don’t want an ev. Count me as one of the 85 %.
      I don’t want something that it takes more pollution to build than a ice
      would ever make in its lifetime. A Great post, Thank You!

  3. Mental health and drug addiction issues often resulting in homelessness aren’t simply “uncomfortable” for Vermont officials – it is that these issues don’t fit the socio-political NARRATIVE that they wish to aggressively push: Climate change, implicit bias, racism, attempting to take away gun rights, and globalism. Their push for E.V.’s also advance their goal for socialism/Communism as E.V.’s provide profit to the C.C.P. and their insane goal of a “one world order” (headed up by provocateur China, but of course).

    Don’t anticipate them grappling with the REAL causes of the vast majority of homelessness in the future either. They never shall. This suits their needs just fine.

  4. We are constantly reminded of “the youths” who will inherit our wounded planet and that is why we must all conserve and not squander fossil fuels. Go to the typical mini-mart, big box store or other parking lot and observe the number of gas-burning vehicles idling, whilst the driver sits mesmerized, staring at the screen of their digital best friend. According to my observations, most are under the age of 25. There is no bigger waste of fossil fuel than in an idling piston engine, and every one of them has a single person making the decision to waste it. They dont care.

    • This is also occurring at every fast food drive through in the country. The scamdemic trained everyone to sit in a line of idling cars making their way to the payment window and then to their food. This happens every day in Vermont even though the state passed a law making it illegal to idle your car for more than 5 minutes. How’s the enforcement on that and how many violators have paid fines?

  5. Ditto for solar panels and all of the Vermont grifters who are employed at the feedbags of the solar companies.

  6. I agree with the comments indicating that human behavior is disturbing to say the least. As a collective species we are the most vile no need to explain again it goes without saying. We did arrive somewhat late on the scene and now the evidence strongly suggests we will be exiting early no surprise there. Maybe the earth and the life that remains will take a deep sigh of relief at that time.

  7. I am certain that the planet is warming. I don’t believe that any of us can know for certain if this is a normal cycle or the result of man’s activities. I do know that, those who claim to take this phenomenon most seriously, seem to be the biggest hypocrites on the subject and that makes me wary of their motivations. Why, if Vermont is in danger due to climate change, wouldn’t the state attempt to restructure away from dependency on tourism, skiing, and snowmobiling, all of which use enormous amounts of energy and generate many thousands of tons of carbon? Why wouldn’t you take sensible small steps like eliminating unnecessary stop signs and traffic lights that leave multiple cars idling for no good reason. So many things that could and should be done if this were a real crisis.

    • You bring up a valid logical point. Humans tend to be more hypocritical than logical this is the problem. An almost endless list supports this.

    • The earth is 4.5 billion years old. One billion is 1000 million, yet our current brainless legislative cult wants to scare people so they can be controlled. How many weather cycles do you think the earth has been through in over 4,000 million years? People are so gullible because they can’t rationalize anymore since the smart phone in their pocket tells them how to think. Critical thinking, once part of education is now nonexistent. We have a nation of zombies walking around, commonly known as useful idiots. The same people who wore masks all day even though they could hardly breathe breading bacteria to be drawn into their lungs and reduced oxygen to their brains.