by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Many countries and regions are proposing the phasing out of fossil fuel cars in the next decade or even earlier with some cities beginning a ban on all but electric cars, especially in town centers, within the next couple of years. (We wrote about that not so long ago here).
But, and here comes the interesting part, electric cars are expensive and not, as yet, fully developed to replace cars and trucks. The fact that they are expensive beyond the means of most ordinary people will mean that many will no longer be able to own and use a car. But then again that may just be the idea.
While we will have to face the facts that, aside from not being very conducive to human, animal and plant health, due to the very nature of the combustion engine, oil-based fuels for the propelling of vehicles (and in general) will be getting more difficult to obtain in the future and thus the end of the motor car is nigh, the materials for electric vehicles, and especially the rare earth, and the word rare should be the big giveaway here, will also become more and more difficult to extract. The reason for this is the fact that without the large machinery, powered by, well, yes, you guessed it, oil-based fuels, required for the extraction such components just cannot be gotten out of the earth.
That means that the battery technology of today used for electric vehicles, and that, unfortunately, also includes electric bicycles, will no longer be feasible and, unless we develop another kind of battery that does not rely on materials that are hard to obtain, electric vehicles also will cease to be available. They will, anyway, not be available in the not so distant future to any but the rich “motorists” as, unlike predicted, the costs will go up and up and not down. Remember the rare earths and the ensuing difficulties of extracting them. That alone will make for rising rather than for falling costs and manufacture and shipping, when oil is starting to get harder and harder to come by, will also make for ever rising costs.
In addition to that there is the fact that the batteries used in EVs have a limited life, a great deal shorter than the old style lead acid batteries (and the latter are rather heavy, as we all know, I am sure), and after a couple of years you will need a new battery that often is half the cost of a new vehicle. I am referring here to the modern batteries for the electric cars and not the lead acid kind of batteries. So, for most average people electric vehicles and motoring after such a phase out and subsequent ban of cars with internal combustion engines will be but a dream.
Those that still believe that they can carry on driving a car, albeit an electric one, after such a time, or after when fossil fuels are no more, better wake up and get back into the real world quickly and make some serious adjustments to how they do things. The hydrogen fuel cell also is and will remain a pipe dream. Methane power could be utilized but you are still burning that fuel; then again you also burn the hydrogen.
Truth is, and I will keep saying this until it has finally sunk into the heads of people, that the age of personal motoring, just as one of the people in the documentary “The Power of Community”, about Cuba not so long ago, is history. Or as he said, the motorcar was a blip in the history of mankind and no more.
Therefore we will have to reconsider our ways and especially how we travel and by what means and commuting long distances to and from work will also come to an end unless there are rapid public transit systems that can cover this.
While the latter can operate in the suburban and urban areas many who nowadays commute long distances to work live in rural parts but work in the urban areas and that will have to change as they will not be able to commute by means other than the car (which will have ceased to exist or become too expensive to own and run). Some people in the UK live in in rural areas several sometime hundred or more miles away from London but nevertheless work in the capital. They travel for hours by car or overcrowded trains but they live in the country, of which they see nothing during the week and very little during the weekend.
The ones who should be living in the country are those that wish to live and work there, growing our food, working our woods, and doing other things there, while at the same time reanimating our moribund villages. The city workers who live in the villages just because they can do not – or very rarely – contribute to the village and also make it almost impossible for people who actually want to live and work in the countryside to live (and work) there.
However, I am almost certain that the change in transportation will also create a change in demographics in that those who work in the city but live in the countryside, no longer being able to commute easily will move back closer to where the work is and leave the countryside once again to the real country people and those who do want to be country people.
We need to once again live where we work and work where we live or at least as close as possible to both. And people need to wake up to the fact that that will be the new norm and that personal motoring, with a personal car, will no longer be the case. Human powered transportation – aside from public transport – will be once again be the case, and for most that will mean walking or cycling.