Do you know how many batteries are sold every year?
I do. About 12 billion. I’m talking about the dry-cell type, like the ones in torches; as opposed to what I presume are wet-cell types that go in cars and dissolve your shirt and your skin when they spill on you.
And I know how many dry-cell batteries are sold not because I’ve searched it on Google, but because I bought them all. Every single one.
It follows that if I bought 12 billion last year I’m going to have to buy another 12 billion this year because the last lot will have run out. Indeed, they already have. It’s one of the natural laws of the universe that batteries drain of power the moment you touch them.
If you don’t believe me go now, this minute, find the torch that you keep in a handy place for when the power shuts down, or you want to throw a shoe at next door’s cat. Does it work? Of course not?
My house is littered with the detritus of the modern age, most of it battery driven, which is the same as saying that most of it doesn’t work: torches of varying sizes, Thomas the Tank Engine, not to mention his mates James and Edward, clocks, toothbrushes, radios, video games… even the computer I’m writing this on has a battery that’s stuffed. I’m on mains power.
It’s a mystery.
There’s another mystery, too, although I may have the answer. It’s my belief that the electro-magnetic field from batteries scrambles the brains of human beings. That’s why we never throw them away. They may even be some kind of advanced life form that can manipulate our brain circuits to achieve self-preservation (for them, not for us).
In my house – and I’m not alone in this – there are drawers full of batteries. There are cupboards I daren’t open because I’m afraid I’ll be killed in the logjam of batteries that will suddenly unjam and crush me in an avalanche of batteries , though powerless, are not powerless, if you get my meaning.
Now, if these were ballpoint pens (which compete with batteries for the number one spot in household junk) and they didn’t work, I’d throw them out. But for some reason no one ever throws away dead batteries. What’s more, we throw them in the same drawer as live batteries (assuming there is such a thing) and when we need one we have no idea which is which!
When I was a lad we used to throw our old batteries on the fire where the heat would cause the innards to disgorge in a slimy, bubbling, grey mess. It kept them from cluttering up our drawers But what I didn’t know then is that dry-cell batteries contain all kinds of dodgy substances whose toxins are released into the air when heated; substances like, cadmium, mercury, nickel and lead. Lead, for example, damages the brain. My wife says a lot of things she never understood are now falling into place.
Whatever… people just don’t have open fireplaces any more, so burning them isn’t an option, which is probably a good thing. But getting rid of 12 billion batteries every year isn’t so easy. It’s a bit like trying to throw away London every year.
And the problem is growing! Everywhere I look I see small print that states: batteries not included. Which must mean they’re necessary.
What’s going to happen when the world runs out of batteries, or the means to make them? Toys everywhere are going to stop working, Buzz Lightyear will not longer be able to say “To infinity and beyond!”, torches will be extinguished forever, clocks will stop, Christmas cards will no longer be able to play Jingle Bells!
Well yes, I guess every cloud has a silver lining; possibly one that’s not battery powered, too.