Our way of life is a threat to the environment—with some turning to electric vehicles to slow the escalating environmental crisis. Yet, electric vehicle batteries may be adding to the problem.
Climates are growing increasingly unstable worldwide. Today’s production methods threaten our environment further, compounding catastrophic levels of climate change in ways which have already led to severe weather changes and melting ice caps. A need to make radical changes is undeniable. The evidence proves it.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration addressed the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans and ocean life by stating that roughly 30 percent of the carbon dioxide that gets pumped into the atmosphere winds up being absorbed by our oceans. Those pollutants make water more acidic, impacting aquatic life and threatening related ecosystems.
- Those changes impact mammals, as well, according to “National Geographic” staff reports. Rising temperatures contribute to gradual increases in ocean levels of 0.13 in. annually which hasten the elimination of freshwater sources and erode coastal lands.
- NASA, on the subject of global climate change, found that no area is safe. With an anticipated rise in temperature of 6 deg. C (42.8 deg. F) over the next century, we can expect to see: severe heatwaves and droughts; stronger storms and hurricanes; and, increased flooding in certain regions.
All of this will become more problematic over time. One of the biggest roadblocks to progress, NASA argued, is the fact that a number of technologies worsen the crisis. While the well-intentioned are making an effort to recycle and to use more sustainable products, these strategies only begin to chip away at the damage.
Some manufacturers, however, have heeded the call for change by developing solutions which—at the very least—begin to address the problem in concrete ways. One such development was the introduction of the electric vehicle battery. While the number of compact electric cars we see on streets and highways today seems to be multiplying, a 2009 timeline compiled by PBS showed that attempts at going electric can be traced back to the early 1800s, when American inventor Thomas Davenport rolled out the first electric vehicle.
Davenport’s invention was a far cry from the Tesla Model S, a high-end consumer car capable of traveling up to 373 miles on electricity it takes less than 45 min. to “fuel” up with. Powered solely by lithium-ion batteries, the U.S. Dept. of Energy noted that vehicles like the Model S have the same lifespans as traditional cars and can travel fair distances before needing a recharge. The most notable aspect of all-electric vehicles, however, is the fact that they release zero carbon emissions simply by eliminating gas from the equation.
This leads many to believe that switching to electric improves air quality and reduces the impact personally-owned vehicles have on the Earth’s environment. But is it a viable solution? The hidden impact of these eco-friendly alternatives is that, while they work well on the road, their production is not as clean as their operation. Jay Ramey, in a 2018 report for Autoweek, found that manufacturing an electric battery—which, in a sports vehicle, weighs roughly 1,000 lbs.—may produce nearly 74 percent more carbon emissions than it takes to produce a traditional car in a fossil-fuel-powered facility.
Then there’s the matter of how these batteries are charged. Despite producing no carbon emissions themselves, electric car batteries used in countries powered largely by coal still have a major impact on the natural world. So, the issue doesn’t end with making changes to transportation methods. Manufacturing and power supply issues also need to be addressed.
Some auto manufacturers have shifted their approach at every step, aiming for a smog-free future. Tesla began using solar energy for battery production in their Nevada Gigafactory in 2014 and now operates a similar facility in N.Y. Bridie Schmidt, for TheDriven.io, said Tesla’s new Shanghai-based operation is expected to churn out 150,000 cars annually. Others, like NorthVolt AB, are seeking to build battery plants in Sweden run by hydropower instead.
All in all, if we hope to save the world, change must be driven by similar innovations. Let us know if you agree, by commenting below.
DYLAN BUCKLEY joined the Digital Unicorn team in 2019. He is a freelance writer and editor based in California who has a passion for producing content in the self-development and blockchain industries. When he’s not busy writing, you’re certain to find him working on other creative projects.
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