Several of the comments I received after writing about the Congressional resolutions for the US Green New Deal (GND) suggested that my concern over the GND’s metal requirements went too far, and that the column was “scaremongering”. On reflection and review, I have concluded that l did not really monger enough scare. I had focused my concern on the copper requirements for the electric vehicle production that is called for in the GND, as well as even greater shortfalls of other metals essential to meeting EV goals. A number of my critics dismissed these points, asserting this was “nonsense”, that “there is more than enough (metal) worldwide”. The GND’s language, however, insists that it will “stop the transfer of pollution and jobs overseas and [will] grow domestic manufacturing in the US”. That implies the GND metal supplies should come from the States, including, somehow, nickel and cobalt, which are not produced here. The GND proposal will evolve after hearings and debate but it will still be a crash programme for autarkic industrial development, based on wartime precedents. Those usually have bad consequences and leave behind vast, rusting facilities. GND proponents ought to consider the waste and industrial misdirection created by the Manhattan projects and moon shots they cite.
FT 29th March 2019 read more »