The world is jumping on the electric and hybris bandwagon. More people than ever are buying hybrid cars and electric vehicles. This is clear from the fact that in January 2017 toyota prius became the number one selling car in automotive history. Tesla is fast becoming the number one selling car in the States. More and more automanufacturers are spitting out hybrids and electric cars and shying away from diesel and gasoline engines and for the right reasons as well. Electric cars produce zero emmisions when they are runninng. Hybrid cars produce 60% less emmisions than gasoline engines of the same capacity. They average considerably more milage than their conventional counterparts.But the queestion is; are they as they as environmentally friendly as they claim to be or is it just a facade and an excuse to get with the times and be more fashionable?
The most important part of any hybrid or electric car is the batteries. The batteries are primarily made up of lithium, nickel and cadmium. These are one of the most poisonous metals found in mother nature. The biggest mines of these metals are located in Russia, Siberia , Cambodia, Africa and Austrailia. These mines are run by corporate giants and cartels. The most electric vehicles are made in USA, China and Japan. The distance of these mines from there end destinations is riduculous. They have to be shipped in huge ships and trucks which produce a lot of carbon footprint.
After a time or mostly 100,000 miles, the car batteries have to replaced. Now Toyota and Tesla say that 70% of their batteries are reusable and can be recycled. However in third world countries the depleted batteries are just thrown away without proper disposal, they end up in landfills and oceans and there exists no governmental body or legislation to make sure that these harmful materails do no end up in food chain. There exists another problem of the cost and time and carbon footprint of the 40% of the batteries that cannot be recycled.
The mines exploit the indegionous people, they enroach their land and employ them as labour and miners. The mines not only destroy the natural beauty of the area but leeching of chemicals and surface runoff finds its way into the soil and water tables and this unleashes a plethora of harm. Emissions from refininries where the metal is processed leads to tons of greenhouse gases bieng emmitted and many instances these emmisons lead to deaths and defomaties for geneartions in nearby villiages and localities. An example of this is Norlisk Nickel, Russian mining giant. The home city of Norilsk is rated one of the most polluted cities in the world, thanks largely to the 350,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide emitted annually by the city’s nickel factory, which was decommissioned in 2016. In 2016, Norilsk Nickel made headlines when an overflow of oxidised nickel waste turned the city’s Daldykan river red.
The hybrid and electric vehicles produce 60% less emmissions than their gasoline and diesel fired couterparts, but at what cost?