The lithium-ion batteries used to run electric cars create the largest problems for electric cars. The process of creating batteries causes harm to the environment because of the harmful and volatile chemicals (like sulfuric acid) necessary to create the product. Additionally, the performance of the batteries diminishes over time and can stop suddenly. Then, once the battery is dead, disposal of the battery, like any battery, is difficult and potentially environmentally destructive.
When batteries are improperly recycled, they can be sent, with other e-waste, to developing countries where the lead, nickel, and lithium wreak havoc on the environment as they enter and harm local ecosystems.
MSN has a nice editorial on this subject, and they give the top five concerns as battery life, lithium supply,environmental impact of the batteries, disposal of the batteries, and the legitimacy of the carbon-free claim.
An important point made in this article is that if electric cars are charged by electricity, there’s a good chance that that electricity is generated by coal, which doesn’t do as much as one might think to cure us of our fossil fuel addiction. However, the author also makes the point that acknowledging this and the rising popularity of EVs is a good step towards cleaner electricity as well.
I’m glad that people are talking about the downside to hybrid and electric vehicles. While I hope that the support for these vehicles continues, it is important to keep these things in mind as we move forwards so that we can avoid what has happened with fossil fuels by keeping an open mind about the drawbacks and other possibilities so that we do not become dependant on an energy source without the knowledge that we may soon have to find another source.
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