Clean cars drive some very dirty businesses and grubby regimes. That’s the main takeaway from Henry Sanderson’s fine new book Volt Rush: The Winners and Losers in the Race to Go Green.
Among the winners he describes are copper miners exploiting child labor, nickel miners dumping tons of waste into the sea, corrupt businesspeople paying off venomous African politicians, and a host of Chinese billionaires. It’s a far cry from the sanitized vision sold to Tesla owners.
Volt Rush is a useful corrective to the utopian rhetoric that portrays electric vehicles as cost-free environmental saviors. Sure, they help limit the greenhouse gas emissions pouring into the atmosphere and heating the planet.
But the shift to Teslas and their competitors, financed by tens of billions of dollars of government subsidies worldwide, also involves significant environmental and geopolitical damage.