The United Nations has put out a warning that the surge in demand for electric vehicles (EVs) has caused human rights abuse and environmental damage in mining for rare earth metals used in batteries.
Rare Earth Metals
Making batteries efficient and power-dense requires rare earth metals and minerals like cobalt and lithium. While they can be found in a variety of places, much of the world’s production is done in a few developing nations with a long record of human rights offenses and lack of respect for the environment.
Congo and Chile
According to UNICEF, two-thirds of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and 20% of its output comes from artisanal mines, where up to 40,000 children work in dangerous and unhealthy conditions for almost no pay.
In Chile, lithium mining uses up to 65% of the fresh water in the Salar de Atamaca region and damages the local environment.
These human and environmental costs are usually ignored, by environmentalists, politicians, and the EV industry. By posting a warning about these abuses, the United Nations is trying to instigate a much-needed debate about the dark side of environmental pet projects.
One Drop of Oil
The rush to electric vehicles does not make sense from an economic, environmental, or human rights perspective. It is based on the extreme and irrational notion that even one drop of oil is evil. The alternative that makes the most sense is the plug-in hybrid. It combines all the advantages of the...