I admit I ride an electric bike. In fact, I’ve done thousands of kms on it which has stopped me driving a car. So, that’s good. However, something stops me rushing to buy an electric car. I may end up with a petrol/electric car just to keep the price of our motoring down to manageable levels. However, the challenge for us all is to avoid using cars.
I’m a complete car nut. My life has centred around driving vintage motor cars. So, what I am now reflecting on is me challenging the way I, and my family, have lived. My father was a motor mechanic for 55 years and I grew up in his garage listening to him and his mates talking about their vehicles and their journeys over the years.
Where the doubt is in my mind is that private interests in the early 20th Century decided that motor vehicles would be powered by internal combustion engines. At the start of the vehicle revolution there were also electric and steam powered vehicles. The first Porsche was an electric vehicle in 1902. My Dad had a mate with a Doble steam car which was built in the 1920’s.
Why did petrol engines win the battle? Because enormous amounts of oil had been found around the world. In the 1930’s three big motor vehicle manufacturers bought public transport companies in USA and closed them down. That created a market for more customers for their vehicles.
Why am I suspicious of electric vehicles? Because the same commercial imperatives are now driving the car manufacturing companies. The fact that they are digging up their raw materials in countries crying out for assistance already, and paying as little as they can worries me. The people supplying the labour are being exploited, as are their lands.
The solution for transportation must be public transport. We simply, as a planet, cannot afford to continue living the way we are. In the past weeks the world has got to the hottest it has ever reached. Monday was hottest day for global average temperature on record, as climate crisis bites | Extreme weather | The Guardian. The planet is sending us signals and we must respond. Quickly.
Having exposed my personal doubts, and fears, I was ripe for the Guardian article below enticing me into feeling that my fears are justified. In the article about a new electric battery which has been invented by Toyota it was stated:
Rapid technological advances have historically been the norm in capitalism. Rich-world governments have rightly come to see electric cars as an essential way to reduce air pollution and crack down on climate-warming emissions, while satisfying an individual’s desire for personal transportation. Compared with combustion-engine cars, they have significant environmental benefits. But the climate crisis should be a chance to question whether the motorcar itself has become too embedded in our everyday lives. The future of “mobility” must involve much more than private cars.
However, the final paragraph spoke to my internal struggle about what we should be addressing:
The global north cannot just bet on a Toyota- or Tesla-style decarbonisation. The volume of critical minerals needed for decarbonising the rich world on its current growth path would leave nothing for poorer nations. Sunsetting undesirable technologies and infrastructures (such as carbon-intensive motoring) must be accompanied by a recognition that we all have to live within the world’s material constraints. In the richer world that must mean prioritising mass transportation and rethinking urban planning, not vesting so much hope in our current pattern of living continuing unchanged.
Here’s the article.: