Electric Vehicles have the potential to be very beneficial to our environment. However, at this point they also bring a lot of overlooked environmental issues with them. The mining practices behind retrieving the minerals which are essential for EV batteries and the charging of EVs both have significant environmental impacts which many do not consider when considering how beneficial Electric Vehicles truly are to society at this time.
The mining of lithium is detrimental to the environment. According to Marković, “lithium mining leaves a significant ecological footprint on soil, water, and air. Also, it leads to increased carbon emission” (Marković, 2). The whole point of electric vehicles is to help the environment by getting rid of fossil fuel use in vehicles. Although there are less fossils used in EV’s than your standard gasoline vehicle including the process of lithium mining, the other consequences of this mining such as habitat destruction and chemical damage to the environment, it raises the question are EV’s really worth it?
Solar Energy and Charging
When thinking about the electricity of which electric vehicles run on, we must consider where this electricity comes from. Depending on the location of where the vehicle is charged, the power plants may be using coal or other fossil fuels in order to generate electricity. If so, then one is still using fossil fuels to power one’s vehicle while also using more power, which in summer months could be detrimental to the power grid. We are already seeing a major effect on power grids due to EV’s particularly in California. According to Patrick, “California had asked residents not to charge their electric vehicles due to strain on the power grid” (Patrick, 2). California is having power grid issues due to many factors such as population and heat putting a large burden. However, these power issues are only bound to get worse as California plans to ban the sale of gasoline powered vehicles in the coming future.
A potential solution to overloading the power grid which California is trying to introduce is solar energy. However, solar power has environmental impacts which are often overlooked as well. When solar panels have come to the end of their lifetime, a lot of them end up in the trash rather than recycling. The chemicals in these solar panels could pollute the environment. According to Kisela, “Vanderhoof, a solar industry expert and chief executive of Recycle PV Solar, says that only 1 in 10 panels are actually recycled” (Kiesela, 4). This shows how few solar panels are actually recycled while the majority of them are simply thrown away. Throwing away mass amounts of solar panels will only increase pollution of toxic chemicals into landfills and could potentially leak into water supplies or endanger animal habitats.
Electric vehicles have the potential to genuinely impact the environment in a good way. With that being said, the way they are made and charged currently also have negative impacts on the environment that many people tend to disregard.
Kisela, Rachel. “California Went Big on Rooftop Solar. Now That’s a Problem for Landfills.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2022, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-07-14/california-rooftop-solar-pv-panels-recycling-danger.
Marković, Ana. “Lithium Mining: The Environmental Cost Is Toxic and Clear.” Unsustainable, 16 July 2022, https://www.unsustainablemagazine.com/lithium-mining-environmental-cost/#:~:text=Lithium%20mining%20leaves%20a%20significant%20ecological%20footprint%20on,during%20summer%20months%20and%20floods%20during%20rainy%20seasons.
Patrick, Jim. “Did California Ask Electric Vehicle Owners Not to Charge Their Cars during Peak Hours? Here’s the Truth.” Law Enforcement Today, 2 July 2021, https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/did-california-ask-electric-vehicle-owners-not-to-charge-their-cars-during-peak-hours-heres-the-truth/.
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