Electric cars to save the world? Think again

The spiralling environmental cost of our lithium battery addiction

As the world scrambles to replace fossil fuels with clean energy, the environmental impact of finding all the lithium required could become a major issue in its own right.

Here’s a thoroughly modern riddle: what links the battery in your smartphone with a dead yak floating down a Tibetan river? The answer is lithium – the reactive alkali metal that powers our phones, tablets, laptops and electric cars.

In May 2016, hundreds of protestors threw dead fish onto the streets of Tagong, a town on the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau. They had plucked them from the waters of the Liqi river, where a toxic chemical leak from the Ganzizhou Rongda Lithium mine had wreaked havoc with the local ecosystem. … Continue Reading →

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Forget prosperity, we need the extra tree

Cost-benefit analysis, anyone?

The Green Party today revealed that the National Government is allowing mining companies to search for minerals on our most protected conservation land.

To reassure New Zealanders that our National Parks and most precious conservation land won’t ever be open for mining, the Government should stop allowing minerals prospecting and exploration there.

via Our most precious wilderness not safe from mining | Greenweek, the newsletter

They say 50,000 people wanted to tell 4 million what to do. Without even discussing whether to measure the value of having reserves against the cost of locking away their natural resources.

Actually, our wilderness is not so precious that we’d give up prosperity to keep a particular piece of it. That’s taking the principle too far. We can replace a piece of any old reserve with another piece somewhere else. There’s plenty of it. Look at a map. Continue Reading →

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