Mandating battery driven automobiles would be an enormous change to the world we live in. It would, in one fell swoop, destroy enormous corporations like Exxon and British Petroleum. It would require the extraction of tremendous quantities of minerals such as lithium and nickel from the ground with devastating impact on the environment that is allegedly the reason for the change. It would require us to sacrifice the almost limitless mobility we currently enjoy for a greatly diminished horizon. And it would require an enormous upgrade in the electrical generation and transmission infrastructure. And hidden in the switch is a higher level of control on your access to energy.
I posed this as a question. But what it boils down to is a simpler question. Are the Millennials and Generation Z so docile and bought into the Climate Change argument that they’ll just go along with this change. My personal experience with these people says the answer is yes. They are a completely different animal from their parents and grandparents. They are easily led into actions that are painted as socially virtuous. They do not possess any instincts to question authority. And they like to move with the herd they identify with. Put simply they’re domesticated animals, let’s say sheep. And this is a generalization that of course has millions of exceptions but as a reflection of the majority of this cohort it is accurate.
This being the case I’ve been thinking about whether there is some combination of actions or events that could change this result. The only thing I could think of is if some states band together and resist this mandate and because of this make owning battery driven cars unattractive. For instance, suppose that the west coast states mandate battery cars but the rest of the west refuses. That would mean that people in the gas vehicle areas would continue to have enormous freedom to travel where they wish but the coastal state people wouldn’t have that advantage. I guess they could rent gas vehicles at the borders of their state and use these cars to travel for business or vacation. And even this would reinforce for these people just how pathetic battery cars are in comparison. In the east, with the smaller size of the states, gas vehicles could quite often pass right through a battery only state without running out of gas. For instance, let’s say that Illinois was a battery state. Someone in Indiana could drive right through Illinois and reach Iowa or Missouri without running out of gas.
So, the west coast, the Great Lakes and the northeast would become dead zones for gas cars and enclaves for battery cars. And the enclaves would put up restrictive laws. They would restrict or forbid gas cars from entering their territory, much in the way they restrict gun transport. Maybe the gas car states would retaliate to punish the battery car states with similar bans. That might be an interesting way to start driving wedges between the red and blue states.
But the funny part of all this is that freight hauling trucks would probably still be running on fuel. Specifically, diesel fuel but probably there won’t be any battery-powered 18-wheelers. Will these battery car states dispense with trucks? Will they start building railway spurs everywhere and use only electrified tracks? I guess it’s possible. But what’s more likely is that they’ll leave diesel trucks as an anomaly, since private citizens won’t be able to have diesel powered cars. After all inconsistency isn’t a problem for them. It’s a feature of a quasi-religious approach to life.
Now, this is all spit-balling. But you can see that this push to eliminate gas powered cars could have unexpected results. And even if the whole country goes along with it, there could be strong reactions to the problems of mandating an inferior technology over an existing superior one. Eliminating gas cars might have the outcome of making hydrogen fueled cars suddenly attractive. These aren’t as convenient as gas cars but they eliminate the refueling time problem inherent in the battery cars. Trade-offs will be weighed and people will gravitate to what makes their lives easier. Even the sheep will choose between the bad options they’ve accepted to minimize the pain they have to endure.
I love the freedom that modern automobiles give us. Being able to pack my bags and drive five hundred miles and go camping or attend an event has become a feature of American life. The fact that the young would let this go to “save Gaia” is extremely depressing in my mind. But I think it’s accurate. Once again, we will witness soon whether the American dream will be sacrificed by our descendants or whether the will to resist still exists.