If you are ever in the mood to just sit and think about something profound, consider how many products in your daily life run on batteries. We take batteries for granted in the 21st century. Just imagine what life must have been like that the turn of the 20th century. Some 120 years ago, batteries were not nearly as commonplace as they are today.
It truly is a battery-operated world out there. Everything from kitchen appliances to the cars we drive can run on batteries. In theory, you could put a jetliner in the sky without needing an engine that burns fossil fuels. It is not practical with the current state of battery technology, but it still theoretically possible.
What would the world be like without batteries? It would be a lot different, that’s for sure. For purposes of illustration, let’s just look at some of the more common battery-operated devices we take for granted.
The Cell Phone
The cell phone is as ubiquitous as air these days. Just about everyone owns one. Moreover, most of us refuse to go anywhere without our phones. Some of us will not even put them down for more than two or three minutes at a time. The modern cell phone culture would be impossible without the robust lithium-ion batteries that keep our phones running.
The culture so cell phone-focused these days that commercial property owners have taken to installing USB recharging stations in public spaces. You can now recharge your phone at the library, your local restaurant, the airport, and so forth.
Hand tools represent a product category that relies on battery power more than ever before. In fairness, their batteries are slightly different from the consumer batteries sold by companies like Pale Blue Earth. Yet they are lithium-ion batteries, nonetheless.
You can walk into any hardware store and find battery-powered drills, saws, screwdrivers, rotary tools, etc. Battery-powered tools are a dime a dozen. For some of us, just the thought of using a manual screwdriver seems barbaric. Why put any stress on your wrist when you have a battery-powered screwdriver to do the job?
In the yard tool category, electrically-powered products are not all that new. Manufacturers were making electrically-powered lawnmowers and edge trimmers decades ago. It’s just that those tools plugged into a wall outlet with an extension cord. Today, the units are battery-powered.
You can mow your lawn with a battery-powered lawnmower. Just plug it into an outlet in your garage or shed when you’re done. It will be ready to go next week. The same goes for your hedge trimmer, leaf blower, and hedge trimmers. It is batteries all around.
Battery Power Isn’t Free
If there is a downside to all this battery-powered technology, it is the misconception that electricity is free. It is not. Obviously, you have to pay for the electricity that comes into your house. But there is another cost far too many don’t think about. It is the cost of producing electricity.
We burn fossil fuels to generate electricity. That is just the reality. Furthermore, history has proven time and again that sustainable power sources (e.g., solar, wind, etc.) cannot produce enough electricity to meet our needs. So switching to battery-powered devices doesn’t necessarily reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. It only shifts it.
It is a battery-operated world out there. That’s not a bad thing when you consider that batteries allow for portability. But nothing is without its downsides. There are disadvantages to battery-powered devices just as there are advantages. We have to consider both when making the choice for ourselves.