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The Lasso

The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

The Lasso

The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

The Lasso

Are Electric Cars Really The Answer?

A+cobalt+mining+operation+in+the+DRC%28Democratic+Republic+Of+Congo%29.+100%2C000+artisanal+miners+mine+for+cobalt%2C+40%2C000+of+which+are+children.
Photo Provided By: Africanews
A cobalt mining operation in the DRC(Democratic Republic Of Congo). 100,000 artisanal miners mine for cobalt, 40,000 of which are children.

130,000 tons of lithium are extracted per year from the Earth, these precious metals are then used to produce about 11.4 million electric vehicle batteries.

Lithium and Cobalt are both precious metals that are available in limited quantities, quite similar to fossil fuels. These precious metals are used in great amounts to produce the “green” electric vehicle batteries. Electric vehicles have been introduced as a “solution” to pollution, but the truth is that electric vehicles do an equivalent or more amount of damage compared to today’s combustion engine vehicles.

Electric vehicles are marketed to consumers as zero emission vehicles, this is simply a tactic used to convince the public that by making this purchase that they are saving the world. In fact, the pollution is still present, it is simply behind a facade that the consumer does not directly see, from production, to coal fueled plants for power.

There are two methods when it comes to mining lithium, hard rock mining and the brine pool method. Hard rock mining involves running large diesel machinery to mine for ore from the Earth, the largest hard rock mine is currently located in Australia. After mining the ore, it is then shipped all the way to China for refinement and production of batteries, large amounts of diesel are yet again burned to ship these ore to China.

The other method, using a brine pool is not exactly perfect either. The largest amounts of lithium are located in the Atacama desert, known for being about 50 times drier than California’s Death Valley, which is the hottest place on Earth during the summer. Brine pools require extremely large amounts of water to be pumped out to regions that are very scarce in terms of water, this causes many problems with the habitats of animals, more specifically the flamingo.

Many electric vehicle owners are unaware of the process that are required to produce these batteries, as the effects go beyond just environmental harm, child labor is used as well to mine for cobalt. This all occurs in the DRC, otherwise known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“In the DRC, there are at least 100,000 artisanal cobalt miners, and according to UNICEF, approximately 40,000 of those miners are children” according to the Human Trafficking Search.

The average life expectancy of a person who works under these conditions is only 41 years old. Lethal cobalt dust flies in the air as the miners continue to mine by hand, causing permanent damage to their bodies as they are not provided with any protective gear. The life expectancy is much shorter of the 40,000 children who mine in the cobalt mines.

“I agree completely because the impacts and the knowledge do not align, I am aware that electric vehicles are bad for the environment because of the harmful effects of lithium batteries” stated Senior, Samuel Torres.

People who look to purchase an electric vehicle for the idea of it being “green” are not aware of the impacts that it makes. Electric vehicles currently do not provide any benefit in terms of saving the environment, they instead demand much more resources.
“Electric vehicles are cool and realistically have zero emission but they don’t solve all the problems. People are still laboring to mine out these minerals, making unsafe environments for workers” said Junior Danika Ivancic.

Theoretically, if the use of child labor was eliminated, a question that would remain is, “Would the CO2 emitted during the production of the car not balance out from not constantly burning fossil fuels?” The answer to this question varies, because at the moment, no. The grid used in the United States is still heavily reliant on coal, so essentially, an electric vehicle in todays time emits large amounts of CO2 for production, and continues to emit these gasses for charging. A small electric car being charged off of a coal fueled grid will have more emissions compared to an economy hybrid car.

While electric vehicles do not have a positive impact on the environment, an alternative would be a hybrid vehicle. Hybrid vehicles combine the use of electric motors and combustion engines to create an efficient vehicle. While a hybrid vehicle still requires a battery, the battery on a hybrid vehicle is substantially smaller. For example, one Tesla Model 3 battery is the equivalent of more than 60 hybrid batteries for the hybrid Toyota Camry.

The truth is that until the technology is further developed to use less resources, electric cars currently are not making a positive impact. Electric cars require more time before they start moving towards the goal of helping the environment.

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About the Contributor
Daksh Bagga, Staff Writer
Daksh Bagga, a junior at Santa Rosa Academy and member of the football team, had never thought about journalism before getting enrolled in the class. Hoping to graduate from San Diego State University with a bachelors in mechanical engineering, Daksh would like to work for Lockheed Martin, focusing on global security and aerospace. Daksh’s interest in journalism stems from his interest in sports and learning about what’s happening in the world. Daksh has a passion for learning new things and writing. This has stuck with him and helped him grow throughout his life.
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