Electric Cars Aren’t ‘Green.’ They’re Black as the Coal They Run on, and Brown as the African Kids Who Mine Toxic Chemicals for Their Batteries

Electric Cars Aren’t ‘Green.’ They’re Black as the Coal They Run on, and Brown as the African Kids Who Mine Toxic Chemicals for Their Batteries By JASON SCOTT JONES for The Stream

One of the most popular environmental writers, who appeals to both Right and Left, is Wendell Berry. He explains in his writing why it’s a worthy practice to try to buy local — to consume food, products, and services that derive from your nearby community. It’s not some form of micro-nationalism or nano-protectionism that moves him. No, Berry explains that there’s a solid, practical, moral reason for opting to go local whenever possible.

You can see the side-effects of the production process. You might even have to deal with them. If the meat you buy comes from animals raised right down the road, you could easily drive by and see how humanely they’re treated. If the pig farm that makes your bacon is dumping waste illegally, you might be able to smell it. You can take some responsibility for what economists call the “externalities” your buying choices impose on innocent third parties, because they’re your neighbors.

What’s more, because these consequences are accruing to people near you, whom you might even know, you’re more likely to care about them than you would about total strangers on the other side of the world — who might even live in a hostile country with a religion that you’re not too fond of.

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Martha’s Vineyard Nationalists

The “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) principle can sometimes turn ugly, of course. The people who live in the gilded cage that is Martha’s Vineyard illustrated that truth. They’re happy to vote for open, lawless borders when the consequences accrue to blue-collar “rednecks” and even Latinos who live in Texas. When those chickens fly north to roost in Massachusetts, though … the locals act like people who heard about the Martians attacking from Orson Welles on the radio.

That “sanctuary city” status which Martha’s Vineyard voted to claim? Yeah, we weren’t serious about that. What’s wrong with you people? Call the National Guard.

NIMBYism Can Be Virtuous

But “Not In My Backyard” isn’t a bad thing in itself, so long as it’s seasoned with justice and harnessed to virtuous purposes. If you commit yourself to consuming things whose production directly affects you, you’ve created a motivation for yourself to buy responsibly. One way of doing that is to buy a gasoline-powered car. You know the risks of oil production. You support responsible energy production in your own country — instead of outsourcing it all to foreign tyrannies. So you know that reckless production producing spills would affect you too — if only in higher taxes to pay for cleanups.

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