Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining more popularity as they become cheaper and more efficient. But with all the benefits of EVs, such as less noise and zero exhaust emissions, they also pose a new kind of threat to the environment: an increase in the demand for rare metals that environmentalists fear could come at the expense of forests worldwide.
Batteries essential to EVs contain a number of rare metals – including cobalt, copper, nickel and lithium – that can be difficult to extract from the earth. Extracting these metals has been linked to deforestation in countries like Bolivia and Brazil.
Mining companies are eager to meet the growing demand for EVs in China, India and Europe, causing them to expand their operations into more remote areas that are home to endangered orangutans, elephants and tigers. Mining also leaves behind toxic residues that pollute waterways when rain washes them into rivers and lakes.
This presents a difficult choice for policy-makers: The world needs more EVs, but we also need to protect the environment. It is imperative that the global transition toward electric vehicles be as environmentally efficient as possible.
The latest figures show that there are over 5.6 million electric vehicles worldwide — a staggering 64% increase (2.2 million EVs) in 2018 saw the total number of EVs rise from 3.4 million to 5.6 million. — https://policyadvice.net/insurance/insights/electric-car-statistics/
Nickel for EVs and More
In the video above, The Philippines’ stunning tropical island, Palawan, has been dubbed “one of the most beautiful places on the planet.” It is a diver’s paradise and an ecological wonder, but a large swath of the island’s rainforest was destroyed decades ago to make way for one of the world’s largest nickel mines, Rio Tuba. Now the current majority owner, Nickel Asia, has an ambitious plan to expand into more of the rain forest, adding the equivalent of nearly 4 million acres.
Nickel is increasingly being used in the devices that power our life, such as tablets and the phones we use on a daily basis. However, the batteries used in electric cars are now the most significant source of nickel demand.
Demand is expected to increase exponentially in the next decade, so it’s important to find a way to balance the need for EVs with the need for healthy rain forests.
And when it comes to the rain forest, every tree matters in the fight against climate change. Once something has been destroyed, it is difficult to restore it.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that we need to sacrifice our rain forests in order to make electric cars more popular? Or can we find a way to balance these two needs? Let us know in the comments.