Unexpected Impacts of Electric Cars

Marian Winchell, Reporter

      Electric cars may seem amazing, but they are very flawed. Lately, electric cars have become increasingly popular due to the need to repair the environment and preserve natural resources. Although electric cars do succeed in reducing air pollution, they fail when it comes to causing other forms of pollution as well as being difficult to use. Electric cars are a short term solution that need serious work if they are going to become permanent.

      Electric cars have a lack of practicality due to their inability to meet the average user’s demands. To put it bluntly, electric cars have heating issues, where the battery power shortens and the car takes longer to heat during cold weather. As an electric based vehicle they rely on energy which during the winter would be used for heating the cabin, which causes the charge to shorten considerably. Author Kyle Duffy concurs when he notes, “At cold temperatures, the electrons are resistant…to the extent that they cannot meet the demands of the car. This can be as simple as using the heat, defrost, radio, and driving simultaneously. If you want to inject some spirited driving…into the mix, forget about it. At this time of year, asking the most basic of functions of the car will result in additional stress” (Duffy, 2020). It is difficult to enjoy most modern commodities in very cold weather while driving without the car calling it quits.   

      Another issue is the lack of charging stations that are readily available to the smaller user, with most being located in large cities. The possibilities of being stranded with nowhere to charge your car are sadly likely. According to authors Nives Dolsak and Aseem Prakash, “One might wonder, why can’t we…install EV chargers at gas stations? While repurposing gas stations can be a good idea….It has some issues…charging an EV can take a long time. Adding 100 driving range miles could take six minutes to 26 hours of charging…chargers have to be in places where people park their cars for extended periods. Homes, apartments, and workplaces are prime locations….This means that we must rethink the geography of refueling” (Dolsak and Prakash, 2021). Due to the lack of charging stations, the popularity drops in smaller communities, with the fear of being left stranded miles from the closest charging station becoming prevalent.

      Regrettably, EV’s have a different but still detrimental imprint on the environment. The materials needed to create the batteries used in electric cars require materials like cobalt and nickel, which can be found in vast veins in the deep sea, spurring deep sea mines to come into action. With new regulations over the ability to open vast deep sea mines under way the impacts are unknown. Scientists know incredibly little about the ocean with over 80% being undocumented, so the repricussions on the ecosystem could be catastropic. In her article “Will the Race for Electric Vehicles Endanger the Earth’s Most Sensitive Ecosystem?”  Tara Lohan concurs, “Mining the seafloor to extract minerals like cobalt and nickel that are widely used for EV batteries. Extraction of these materials has been…limited to land, but international regulations for mining the deep seabed…are in development…we know that these dark depths…are interconnected with other parts of the ocean ecosystem…Extracting minerals from the deep sea could put thousands of…species at risk from the…impacts of the mining operations, as well as the associated light and noise pollution” (Lohan, 2021). So much is at stake for something we know very little about, that could once again end up permanently damaging the environment. 

       Upsettingly, one of the main resources for Tesla batteries, cobalt is mainly mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has since coelected a large amount of human rights abuses complaints. Unfortunately, DRC has failed to complete any worksite inspections for four consecutive years as of 2019, and has continued to ignore its growing issue of child labor.  Author Michael Posner states that, “Though the estimates of children working in these mines vary widely, the DOL report cites one estimate that ‘as many as 35,000 of the DRC’s 255,000 artisanal cobalt miners are children.’ It concludes that these ‘informal or illegal ASM operations’ [are] leaving children uniquely exposed to hazardous working conditions and, in some instances, forced labor” (Posner, 2020). This horrifying truth continues to go on in mainly artisanal and small-scale mines with no limitations. 

      Although it is true that electric cars are the next best thing for greenhouse gasses, they have a multitude of shortcomings that without any restraint, could outweigh their good side. With refinement and patience these issues may be resolved before it is too late.

 

Works Cited

“3 Problems That Plague Electric Cars In The Winter.” EVGLOBE. 10 Feb 2020.  Web. 23 Feb 2022

 “How Tesla Should Combat Child Labor In The Democratic Republic Of The Congo.” Forbes. 7 Oct 2020. Web. 22 Feb 2022

“The Lack Of EV Charging Stations Could Limit EV Growth.” Forbes. 5 May 2021. Web. 22 Feb 2022.

“Will the Race for Electric Vehicles Endanger the Earth’s Most Sensitive Ecosystem” The Revelator.  10 March 2021. Web. 22 Feb 2022.