by John Seabrook published in The New Yorker
Read original on The New Yorker's website
Although certainly not as commanding as an automob...Show description
Posted 682 days ago
I have constantly thought of electric scooters as this ridiculous fad that was going to fizzle out in a couple years. They reminded me of my childhood: riding skateboards and scooters down my neighborhood street. Seeing adults in suits ride them in the middle of the city made me laugh and shake my head. Seabrook's article definitely makes me take them more seriously.
Transportation is responsible for 24% of direct CO2 emissions from fuel combustion. It is one of the most harmful elements to the environment, but one of the largest factors of economic growth and prosperity. Electrification is trying to come to the rescue for direct emissions, but lithium batteries have their own problems. Seabrook comments that there "is still no comercially reliable way to recycle lithium-ion batteries," which leads many scooters to simply be thrown in a garbage pile. This was especially true in the early days of electric scooters:
In the Wild West days, reckless driving and cheaply made scooters reduced the life span of some scooters on the streets to just over twenty-eight days.
It's improved since then, but we cannot assume that simply because something checks off one box in fight against climate change, that it's completely good for the environment. The problem too is that people probably think that taking the scooter is environmentally friendly - it's not. It would be much better to walk or to ride a bike that lasts for decades. But it definitely is better than always driving a car, and can certainly help with direct air pollution in cities.
Also, what is staggering is the sheer money invested in this mode of transportation. If somebody were to tell me as a kid that the ridiculous-looking scooter I was messing around with would be a multi-billion (to trillion probably) dollar industry, I would have had no idea what to do with that information. I still don't, I guess.