Karelia Martinez Carbonell
Martinez Carbonell is the president of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables
Every year on April 22, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Today, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency as the preservation and environmental issues have merged as important factors in the climate challenge conversation.
Contrary to popular trends, EVs may save on gas but fall short on saving the globe
As the world celebrates “Earth Day” new attention is being placed on additional players that are proven to cause harm to the environment, contrary to popular trends. One voice, Mr Carlos Tavares, chief executive at Stellantis, is quite loud. In a recent article, he mentions his attempt to discourage EV madness.. He is “waving huge red flags the industry and worldwide governments are ignoring in locking themselves into electric vehicles as the solution for saving the planet.” [For the sake of transparency, Stellantis is committed to spending $35 billion over the next two years to build electric cars despite Mr Tavares’ trepidations.]
World’s largest hard rock lithium mine. [Photo sourced from Internet].
Nevertheless, Tavares is on to something
The world can not afford to ignore the issues that adversely affect the planet, including the dire effects of lithium extraction in the production of electric vehicles and its high carbon footprint associated with manufacturing. Although global marketing paints a picture of EVs as a sustainable panacea, they are more of a pain on the planet’s side.
Studies show that electric vehicle production comes at a high cost to the environment and results in higher carbon emissions compared to gas cars. Yes. Higher emissions! According to experts, an electric car creates 10-20 tons of carbon before one drives the first mile. This is contrary to the narrative the “industry and worldwide governments” is pushing. In fact, the higher carbon emissions is due to the significant amount of energy required for the procurement of raw materials to build *ion-batteries.
Cobalt mine in the Congo. Half of the world’s cobalt originates from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
[Photo sourced from Internet].
The elephant in the room
The issue is not to question the energy-saving effect of electric cars. The issue is to understand and communicate the before-effect of mining for lithium [an indispensable ingredient in electric car batteries that is in short supply] and other materials such as cobalt. This is the elephant in the room. Research shows that mining for lithium [and others] is far from being environmentally-friendly. A report by “Friends of the Earth” states that lithium extraction inevitably harms the soil and causes air contamination. As demand rises, the mining impacts are “increasingly affecting communities where this is jeopardising their access to water” and contaminating nearby rivers. Lithium extraction hurts natural resources and ancestral territories all over the world.
Lithium extraction in progress. [Photo sourced from Internet].
A new poll
A new poll shows that 75% of U.S. adults cite saving money on gas as the main benefit of an EV, not environmental sustainability. Accordingly, EVs are more about economics and less about the environment.
One should heed Mr Tavares’ concerns: EVs are not the solution to saving the planet, they are a growing concern. Sadly, the EV industry is suppressing the real facts. This is a “huge red flag” and one that must not continue to be swept under the tires.
EVs may save us on gas but they won’t save the globe.
[*China was the leading lithium-ion battery maker in the first quarter of 2022 with a market share of 35%.]