Outlawing Diesel Trucks Makes No 'Green' Sense

No year in California would be complete without banning more stuff or pretending the world could run on pixie dust and unicorn farts, and 2022 was no exception. Among the latest targets California’s green czars have identified for elimination are diesel trucks, including the kinds that transport goods across long distances. These heavy-duty vehicles are known in the trucking industry as Class 7 trucks (gross vehicle weight between 26,001 and 33,000 pounds) and Class 8 trucks (gross vehicle weight greater than 33,000 pounds). Cal Matters has the details:

The California Air Resources Board held its first public hearing on rules that would ban manufacturers from selling any new fossil-fueled medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks by 2040. The new rules would also require large trucking companies to convert their fleets to electric models, buying more over time until all are zero-emission by 2042. The move is part of the state’s wider strategy to end its reliance on fossil fuels and cut planet-warming emissions.

The article notes that the weight of electric truck batteries could necessitate relinquishing thousands of pounds of cargo weight, requiring more trucks and drivers on the road. It also explains that California is ill-prepared for the transition to electric trucks because of the lack of charging infrastructure and generating capacity. Still, a number of manufacturers have already introduced Class 8 electric vehicles to the market, including Freightliner, Volvo, Kenworth, Nikola, Tesla, and Lion Electric. Undoubtedly, more will follow suit.

This ought to do it.

A serious question that should precede such a major decision is, does it make sense to deploy electrically powered trucks on a large scale over diesels, especially for long-haul use? Assuming the consequent increase in electric power demands are met and recharging infrastructure is built – hardly a small feat – there are still a number of other factors to consider, such as recharge time, range (on a full charge), economics (including battery replacement and cargo displacement due to battery size and weight), energy efficiency, and environmental impact. Proponents of electric vehicles concede that impact is sensitive to the way in which electricity is generated.

Big diesel trucks can carry 300-gallon fuel tanks and have an average range of over 2,100 miles. Refilling a diesel tank takes relatively little time compared to battery charging, which is prohibitively slow with standard electric charging. A fundamental problem with battery charging is the state of charge approaches full charge inverse exponentially. That means the battery achieves a partial charge quickly, but charging decreases proportionally to the state of charge, and a full charge can take many hours.

As a result, high-power fast direct current charging (DCFC) has been developed to mitigate the delay, but it is expensive and still not widely available. Recharge time is dependent on the truck range and charger power, but as an example, Kenworth states its T680E battery has a range of 150 miles and takes about 3 hours to recharge using DCFC. Bigger batteries with longer range and greater weight are available, but the charge time increases as well. Class 8 electric trucks currently fall short of the long-haul performance of diesels, both in range and delivery schedule.

The cost of achieving greater range in big trucks is heavy – literally. Here are typical range, power, and weight combinations:

A diesel day-cab may weigh about 15,600 pounds, while a comparable electric day-cab with approximately 200 miles of range weighs about 22,000 pounds. A cab with 350-mile range weighs about 29,000 pounds without a trailer. In other words, a Class 8 electric cab with a fraction of the range and significantly longer refueling/recharge time is almost twice as heavy as a comparable diesel cab.

1922: horsepower vs. electric. Which worked better?

Since the premise for electric vehicles rests on reducing CO2 emissions, the next question to answer is, how well do they perform in that regard? A good first step is to measure the fuel efficiency of the two competing end-to-end models, i.e., from the fuel to the vehicle powerplant. Diesel efficiency is easier to assess, since the fuel is in the tank, and there are no real losses from tank to engine.

That leaves measurement of the efficiency of the diesel engine itself. According to a 2014 article, the typical diesel is able convert 52 percent of fuel energy into motion, but a recent breakthrough at the University of Wisconsin demonstrated a combination diesel-gasoline engine that runs cooler, pollutes less, and increases efficiency to 59.5 percent. The Department of Energy has set a goal of 55 percent brake thermal efficiency for big diesels, and Cummins has reported that it has achieved that goal. (The term “brake” refers to the motor’s/engine’s net power output, after internal losses such as friction, and “brake-specific” means relative to the engine’s net power.)

Now let us compare that to the electric vehicle model, whose total fuel efficiency, ηTotal , can be computed in the following way:

ηTotal = ηGeneration ηTrans-Distrib ηCharge ηDischarge ηMotor

Charging and discharging efficiencies are dependent on temperature, state-of-charge, and current draw, but each can be approximated as 90 percent. Transmission and distribution efficiency is about 94 percent, and motor efficiency is around 95 percent. The combined result gives us a total fuel efficiency of electric truck motors from the power plant fuel source to the vehicle motor’s output as

ηTotal  = 0.72∙ηGeneration.

Natural gas combined cycle generators are the most efficient electric generators. General Electric has achieved an astounding 63.9 percent efficiency with its natural gas combined cycle plants. Coal and ordinary gas-fired generators are much less efficient, with numbers between 36 percent and 40 percent. As a result,

0.72∙0.36 ≤ ηTotal  ≤ 0.72∙0.64,
0.26 ≤ ηTotal  ≤ 0.46,

which means the end-to-end fuel efficiency of electric vehicles is between 26 percent and 46 percent with carbon-based power generation. This is significantly less than state-of-the-art diesel engine fuel efficiencies in the 52 percent+ range.

An alternative comparison would be to calculate brake-specific CO2 mass per unit energy for electric truck motors and compare it to the accepted corresponding values for diesel engines. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2021, carbon-based electrical generation produced about 1.338 pounds of CO2 per kWh, which is equivalent to 607 g CO2/kWh (relative to power at the generator output). Converting kWh at the generator to kWh at the motor output is equivalent to dividing 607 g CO2/kWh (generator) by 0.72, giving us a carbon-generated brake-specific 843 g CO2/kWh. Including carbon-free generation methods – currently about 38 percent of total generation – the average brake specific CO2 of electric trucks is diluted down to about 523 g CO2/kWh.

1926: still working on it...

According to 2017 standards cited here and here, heavy diesel trucks must achieve an average brake-specific CO2 of 617 g CO2/kWh, which suggests that, the current average brake-specific g CO2/kWh for electric trucks is only 15 percent less than it is for diesels. It should be recognized, however, that brake specific CO2 is only a part of the analysis. The complete life-cycle fleet-CO2 output is a more accurate picture.

That's because enormous amounts of CO2 are generated in the production of electric vehicle batteries, and the increased battery weight, as noted above, means electric trucks carry significantly more overhead weight. Consequently, cargo pounds per kWh expended is reduced, and more trucks are required to transport the same amount of goods. Considering these additional factors, the advantage of electric trucks over their diesel counterparts is essentially nonexistent. U.S electric power generation would have to get significantly more carbon-free for electric trucking to live up to its billing as “green.”

To make matters even worse, the safe design of lithium ion batteries relies on cobalt as a key component, and the electric vehicle industry is experiencing public relations heartburn because of the awful labor practices and environmental problems of cobalt mining in Africa. Considering the additional upfront costs of the trucks themselves, their relatively short range, and the expansion in power generation and charging infrastructure that would be needed to support electric trucking on a large-scale, the present case for major investment in heavy-duty electric trucks by the long-haul trucking industry is hollow. Whether or not California ultimately bans diesel trucks, the other 49 states would be wise not to follow its lead.

Note: The efficiency analysis to compute ηTotal was kindly provided by engineering Professor Sage Kokjohn of the University of Wisconsin.

Toyota President: Not So Fast with the EVs

Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda has long been a skeptic of the frenzied embrace of Electric Vehicles by the automotive industry. Indeed, two years ago we wrote about Toyoda's concerns that it was unrealistic to expect the entire industry to electrify in the timeframe that governments and activists (but we repeat ourselves) have demanded, not least because of the cost of updating infrastructure—in Japan alone he estimated that it would cost somewhere between $135 billion to $358 billion to build up the required infrastructure to support an fully EV fleet.

And then there's the fact that switching to EVs doesn't change how electricity is generated. As Toyoda said at the time, "most of the country’s electricity is generated by burning coal and natural gas, anyway." So the politicians mandating a change are ensuring that, ultimately, our vehicles will all be coal powered. Consequently, according to Toyoda, "The more EVs we build, the worse carbon dioxide gets."

Speaking to reporters in Thailand just recently, Toyoda made clear that his doubts haven't subsided. What was really notable, however, was his claim that he's not alone among industry big-wigs. Indeed, he stated that a "silent majority" are exactly where he is. From the Wall Street Journal:

President Akio Toyoda said he is among the auto industry’s silent majority in questioning whether electric vehicles should be pursued exclusively, comments that reflect a growing uneasiness about how quickly car companies can transition.... [Said Toyoda,] “That silent majority is wondering whether EVs are really OK to have as a single option. But they think it’s the trend so they can’t speak out loudly.”

Perhaps he describes this as a "trend" because he can't bring himself to say "mania," but it is clear that that is what he means.

Toyota, WSJ continues, has refused to follow other industry giants like Honda and General Motors in committing to the total electrification of their fleets by a set date. Instead, the company has insisted on investing in a diverse range of auto technologies, including E.V.s, yes, but also improved traditional vehicles as well as "hydrogen-powered cars and hybrids." For Toyoda, this is just common sense. He has said, “Because the right answer is still unclear, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just one option.”

Beep beep.

Of course, common sense isn't particularly common these days, and so this approach hasn't received universal praise. The report mentions that "Mr. Toyoda’s cautionary tone toward EVs has caused some concern from investors and consumers that the auto maker could be falling behind in the EV race." Why, one wonders, would "consumers" be concerned that a car company remains focused on offering them a variety of options, especially when their competitors seem intent on limiting those options? Investors, meanwhile, are herd animals, who worry when they're not following the pack. Still, in this instance both are likely stand-ins for the activist class who have an outsized influence on everything in our society and who have been using all of their influence to push EVs on us all.

Good on Akio Toyoda for pushing back. Hopefully the rest of the industry decides to man up and follow his lead before it's too late.

AGAINST THE GREAT RESET: 'Green Energy and the Future of Transportation'

For the next four weeks, The Pipeline is presenting the remaining excerpts from each of the essays contained in Against the Great Reset: 18 Theses Contra the New World Order, which was published on October 18 by Bombardier Books and distributed by Simon and Schuster, and available now at the links. 



Excerpt from "Green Energy and the Future of Transportation" by Salvatore Babones

At Railworld Wildlife Haven in Peterborough, a two-hour drive north of London, you can find the last remaining RTV 31 Tracked Hovercraft, Britain’s 1973 concept for the railroad of the future. The RTV 31 was supposed to revolutionize train travel by levitating trains on a frictionless cushion of air. Propulsion was to be supplied by a then-revolutionary linear induction motor. But Britain was not alone in the race to the future. Nipping at its heels, France proffered the hovering Aérotrain, powered by a giant rear propeller. The United States countered with its own hovertrain prototype driven by no fewer than three jet aircraft engines—American exceptionalism in a nutshell.

The British project was managed by the National Physical Laboratory, the French one by an aircraft engineering company, and the American entry (inevitably) by a defense contractor. That explains the three different propulsion systems. But only one thing explains the near-contemporaneous explosion of interest in hovertrain technology across all three countries: government funding. The German, Italian, and Brazilian governments also had plans to sponsor their own national champion hovertrains before the bubble burst. But burst it did, and by the mid-1970s, the hovertrain was history.

Not all government-backed technology projects turn into boondoggles, and certainly examples can be found where governments have made sound investments in new technologies that turned out to be transformative. The hovertrain craze may now sound as silly as the gravity-negating “cavorite,” that propels H. G. Wells’s astronauts to the moon, but there is a legitimate role for government to play in twenty-first century technology development. When multiple governments invest in different approaches to meeting the same social needs, the result can even be something like a competitive marketplace. And when democratic governments make full use of the myriad talents of their own citizens through openly competitive processes, innovation flourishes.

Against the Great Reset

Now on sale.

But the more distant technology planning is from the ground level of individual people dealing with the daily challenge of economic survival, the more likely it is that out-of-touch government bureaucrats (often working in collusion with self- interested corporate leaders) will deliver economically impractical solutions. When a single technological approach is imposed by government fiat, catastrophic failure is almost assured. We live in a world of profound uncertainty even about the present, never mind the future. Without a crystal ball to tell us which technologies ultimately will succeed and which will fail, diversity in experimentation is the key to discovering the technologies of the future.

As Charles Darwin recognized decades before Friedrich Hayek was born, natural selection is a much more powerful mechanism for adaptation to an uncertain world than intelligent design. At any point in time, the number of possible technological futures is infinite, and those infinite possibilities only compound as time moves forward. Even the most intelligent, dedicated, well-informed planner can only guess which future to plan for, and the probability that such a planner will hit on just the right future is essentially zero. The same is true for planning by private individuals, but when several billion private individuals plan for the same future, some of them are bound to get it right.

Although most individuals may underperform professional planners, the scattershot approach leaves society as a whole better prepared to engage with whatever future emerges. This is not so much the wisdom of crowds as the luck of the draw. To see it in action, open your bottom drawer or check your top shelves to count how many disused electronic devices you own. At every stage of technological development, many more prototypes are developed, many more products are discontinued, than the small number of successful models that continue to evolve past their first iterations. Like the fossil record, technology development is a scrap heap of evolutionary dead ends.

Transportation technology is no exception to this general rule. Bicycles, trains, automobiles, and airplanes all emerged out of cutthroat evolutionary competition. Look at early history of any of these transportation systems, and you see a wild cacophony of competing designs. The public infrastructure and regulatory environment for each of them lagged far behind product development. Cyclists called forth paved roads; railroad operators called forth rights of way; car owners called forth traffic rules; airlines called forth airports. To the planning mentality, it seems irrational to allow people to fly before building airports for them to fly from and to, but in reality, the flights came first and the airports followed.

It’s the same situation today with autonomous (self-driving) cars. In 2021, there are already a million of so autonomous vehicles (AVs) driving with some degree of self-driving capacity, whether the planners are ready for them or not. Nearly all of them are battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), so in effect there are a million high-capacity batteries capable of driving themselves, among roughly ten million BEVs total. Both figures are growing rapidly, well in advance of government programs to equip roads for automation or even provide charging points.

Like other transportation technologies before them, AVs and other BEVs are calling into existence a whole new technological ecosystem, or technosystem, to serve the needs of their users. Those needs can’t be known in advance with any degree of certainty, but some general features seem inevitable. The AV-BEV technosystem will be decentralized and distributed like the internet, not centrally administered and controlled like high-speed rail. It will be capital light, not capital intensive. It will reconfigure the electrical grid even more than it reshapes the road network. It will have profound environmental implications. It will be almost entirely unplanned. And we must ensure that it remains free from technocratic control.

If there’s one organization that wants to plan our collective future, it’s the WEF. The WEF describes itself as “the” (not “an”) “International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.” Founded in 1971 by the engineer turned economist Klaus Schwab, it has developed into a statist behemoth dedicated to the promotion of its own brand of “stakeholder capitalism,” and its reports are written from the viewpoint of a very narrow class of capitalist stakeholders: management consultants, investment bankers, professional directors, and the serving politicians who aspire to join them when they leave office. Notably absent from the WEF’s vision of stakeholder capitalism are entrepreneurs, small businesses, the self-employed, and ordinary consumers.

Famous for attracting some three thousand CEOs, heads of government, and celebrity intellectuals to its annual January conference in Davos, Switzerland, the WEF likes to think big. Schwab’s 2020 book COVID-19: The Great Reset (coauthored with WEF alumnus Thierry Malleret) describes even the “micro” level of stakeholder capitalism as consisting of industries and companies, rather than families and individuals. When Schwab does consider human beings, he focuses on their personal morality and mental health without so much as an inkling that individuals could actually possess economic initiative...

Next week: an excerpt from "The Anti-Industrial Revolution," by Martin Hutchinson

California's Electric Boogaloo to Nowheresville

No sooner does California move to ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars by 2035 and force everyone to buy electric cars than it announces, oh by the way, please don’t charge your electric cars last weekend because we’re going to be short of power as three-digit temperatures strain the grid. And turn your thermostats up to 78 while you’re at it.

Perhaps California will have figured out a way of expanding its carbon-free electricity sources and grid capacity in the next decade, and the recent week’s lopsided vote in the state legislature to keep open its Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, which supplies nearly 10 percent of California total electricity at present, is a sign that energy reality is starting to intrude. But even if the dreams of a “carbon-free” California somehow come true over the next two decades, the electric car diktat represents a stark new moment in our green madness.

Gavin Newsom: now hear this, peasants.

Never mind that the electric car mandate was promulgated not by the elected state legislature, but by the eco-crats at the California Air Resources Board (CARB), representing yet another example of the administrative state in action. And never mind that the lifecycle environmental impacts (including carbon emissions) of the vast supply-chain for electric cars and their material-intensive batteries are nearly as large as conventional hydrocarbon vehicle. The strangest aspect of the scene is that the biggest enthusiasts for the electric car mandate are America’s auto manufacturers.

Barron’s magazine reported last month: The Biggest Fans of California’s No-Gas Policy? Ford and GM. “General Motors and California have a shared vision of an all-electric future,” said GM’s spokesperson Elizabeth Winter. “We’re proud of our partnership with California,” Ford’s “chief sustainability officer,” Bob Holycross, said in a statement. In Detroit-speak, “partnership” is today’s patois for “take orders from the government.” It was fashionable after the automakers were bailed out in 2009 to refer to GM as “Government Motors,” but today the label truly fits. The political takeover of the auto industry, long in the making, is now complete.

One way to perceive this slow-motion takeover more clearly is to ask why cars from every automaker now look the same. Most cars models now are squat, with teardrop-shaped bodies, nearly interchangeable with models from other manufacturers. Even high-end SUVs like the Ford Explorer or Range Rover are shorter and rounder than their predecessor models of just a few years ago. This is likely not a response to changing taste in car buyers, like tail fins in the late 1950s. A primary driver of current design are aerodynamic requirements to help meet the government-mandated fleet fuel-economy standards that have been slowly ratcheted up over the last decade.

Some years ago I met in Washington with senior executives from one of the big-three Detroit automakers to talk about energy and environmental policy, and how it affected their industry. They said that their single biggest problem in planning for the future was less the uncertainty of government regulation than wildly fluctuating gasoline prices. If car makers could predict what gasoline prices would be over the next decade, they’d know what kind of cars to build. When gas prices are low, consumers like SUVs; when gas prices are high, they shift on a dime to smaller, higher mileage cars. Car companies may see a shift to an all-electric car fleet as a means to ending the boom-and-bust cycle that has afflicted the industry for decades. Never mind that electricity rates are likely to become more volatile as we “green” the supply, as Europe is learning to its chagrin right now. And Californians already pay twice as much for electricity as the national average.

Pray it keeps working.

Beyond the final submission of the auto companies to our green commissars, there are a number of other ways California’s electric car mandate represents a step increase in the ambition of the climate crusaders. California has long enjoyed the privilege under federal law of setting its own tailpipe emissions standards for autos sold in the state that were tougher than national standards (a power the Trump Administration sought to curtail—and a lawsuit remains in process). Because auto makers didn’t want to manufacture two different kinds of cars (or surrender the California market), the California standard effectively became the national standard.

It’s one thing to impose a product performance standard; it’s another thing to ban a product that would be legal in the other 49 states. This may run afoul of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, especially if California prohibits bringing gasoline-powered cars into the state. One can imagine a market for gasoline-powered cars sold just over state lines, and delivered to California buyers by Carvana or some other enterprise. Will the state attempt to “retire” the existing gasoline-powered vehicles in the state and close down gas stations? Look for a flourishing black market for gas and diesel. And the next wave of demand for H1B visas will be for Cuban auto mechanics, who are skilled in keeping gasoline-powered cars running for decades.

As it did with emissions standards, California likely thinks it can strong-arm other states or Congress to adopt its electric-car mandate. Texas (among other states) might have something to say about that. And what if car companies and consumers don’t go along with this extravagant target? The New York Times reported a crucial caveat:

To enforce its rule . . . California would fine automakers up to $20,000 for every car that falls short of production targets. The state also could propose new amendments revising the sales targets if the market doesn’t react as state leaders hope, said Jennifer Gress, who leads the California air board’s sustainable transportation division. [Emphasis added.]

Cuban mechanics wanted.

That language about “amendments” is the Emily Litella “never mind” clause. It has happened before. In a prequel to the current madness, in the early 1990s California tried to mandate that 5 percent of all new cars sold by the year 2001 be emission-free, which meant electric cars in practice. GM publicized lots of happy talk about its EV-1, a crappy electric car that cost six-figures (though it was “leased” at an implied purchase price of about $35,000), had a pathetically short range (50 miles on a good day), and took several hours to recharge. Not long before the mandate was set to take effect, it was quietly abandoned.

Electric cars have gotten much better in recent years, but in a state where lots of drivers travel well beyond the range of an electric vehicle every day, EVs still won’t meet the needs of a large number of Californians—never mind citizens of rural states that need vehicles that can run all day long. Look for history to repeat itself with the California EV mandate.

Piercing the Electric Car Fantasy

Electric cars are having a big moment right now, with the supercilious wonderboy of the Biden administration Pete Buttigieg proclaiming last week that we could escape the pain at the gas pump if more people could “access” electric cars (EVs). Very telling that he chose to say “access” rather than “afford” electric cars, because without the $7,500 tax credit, very few middle-class people can afford to buy an electric car. And very few middle-class people do: the lion’s share of “clean energy” subsidies are captured by high-income households.

But press beyond the typical economic illiteracy of leftists like Buttigieg who think having the government pay billions in subsidies makes something “cheaper,” and note that electrons aren’t printed out of thin air by the Federal Reserve like our fast-depreciating currency. With electricity rates rising fastest in those places that have overemphasized “renewable” energy such as California or Germany, it's not clear that consumers will save much by driving a more expensive electric car and paying higher utility rates. And that’s if you can still fill it up with electrons whenever you want to. During recent power crunches, which are threatening to become endemic in the U.S. under the current policies of the Biden apparatchiks, grid operators have asked EV owners not to charge their vehicles in the evening, when power demand is highest and the time of day when most working people will want to charge their cars.

The truth hurts.

Right now, electric vehicles make up about 1 percent of America’s car fleet. If they pose challenges for the electric grid already, what will the challenges look like if the EV fleet reaches 50 percent of the auto fleet as Biden proposes? No wonder Elon Musk says we’ll need to expand electric power generation by 30 percent or more to meet the demand of a larger EV fleet on the road. And yet it is supremely uncouth to point out that electrons for EV batteries are generated mostly from fossil fuels right now, and thus EVs may not deliver a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when a proper life-cycle analysis is done.

Economist Mark Perry notes that nearly two-thirds of current U.S. electricity is generated by coal and natural gas, and the figure rises to 86 percent if you include nuclear power, which environmentalists irrationally hate and are trying to eliminate. When you raise this problem, you are met with a hail of green indignation about how we’re starting on an “incredible transition” to a carbon-free energy future (a phrase Biden and energy secretary Jennifer Granholm have both used repeatedly with the unsettling grin of the chiliastic fanatic). “EVs are just an early step toward the carbon-free nirvana, which is just a few hundred thousand more windmills and square miles of solar power away!”

A recent little-noticed report from Volvo punctures this green myth, even though the very green Volvovians try very hard to obscure this conclusion. The report notes what a number of neutral analysts have pointed out for some time now: EVs are more material-intensive than old-fashioned gasoline-powered cars, requiring more steel, aluminum, copper, and other rare earth minerals and specialty products like magnets that must be mined (which environmentalists oppose) and require an energy-intensive process to manufacture into shiny EVs. And that’s before you get to the huge quantity of lithium needed for the batteries.

Where "clean energy" comes from: lithium mining in Zimbabwe.

Thus it is eye-popping when Volvo admits that the carbon footprint for the manufacturing of its C40 Recharge electric car is 70 percent higher than its comparable internal combustion version of the car (the XC40). But not to worry, says Volvo: you’ll make up the higher manufacturing emissions when you drive the emission-free EV far enough.

How far? Kudos to Volvo for calculating that: at the world’s average electricity sourcing today, a C40 driver would need to drive his car 68,000 miles to reach a break-even carbon footprint with a gasoline-powered model. The average American drives about 14,000 miles a year, and thus would need to drive his Volvo EV almost five years before reaching a lower carbon footprint. What if we had a grid that was 100 percent wind- or solar-powered? Volvo calculates that an EV driver would still need to drive 30,000 miles before reaching a carbon-footprint breakeven point with a gasoline car.

It is all a ruse anyway. If electric vehicles drop in price and effectiveness, which may be possible with enough brute-force engineering, you can expect environmentalists to turn against them, by noting the huge environmental footprint to make them and the human-rights problems of child labor in Africa mining all the cobalt EVs need. They did it before with natural gas, which environmentalists embraced back in the aughts (2000-2010) as a “bridge fuel” when they thought they could bash coal with gas, and turned on a dime when natural gas became cheap and plentiful. They’ll do the same with electric cars someday.