Climate change is crucial to monitor because an increasingly hazardous environment has a tangible impact on public health. Lithium, a mineral used in the production of energy-related products, is an interesting new factor in humanity’s effect on the planet.
Lithium is used to make batteries for e-bikes and electric vehicles. Biking is a preferable alternative to driving (from an environmental standpoint), and e-bikes can help people who live far away from places they want to commute choose this alternative. Electric vehicles are also considered to be more environmentally friendly than traditional gasoline vehicles. The rapidly increasing awareness of the public with regard to the need to mitigate the effects of climate change are causing e-bikes and electric vehicles to be more highly in demand.
In order to achieve the goal of being carbon neutral (i.e., having a net emissions rate of zero) by the year 2050, we need 2 billion electric cars to be in circulation by then. This is achievable, based on the amount of lithium available worldwide. There are roughly 22 million tons of lithium on Earth, and this is enough to produce about 2.5 million batteries for electric vehicles. According to experts, about 95% of total demand for lithium will be attributable to batteries for electric vehicles by 2030.
The process of extracting particular aspects of lithium to be used to create certain products is somewhat eco-friendly in and of itself. This process does not require evaporation ponds, so there is no footprint in that regard. Furthermore, direct lithium extraction (DLE) requires less freshwater.
An additional environmental aspect of lithium to consider is the rate of recycling of lithium products. By the year 2030, roughly 6% of all products made with lithium will be created from recycled materials.
Another way lithium impacts climate change is through its contributions to alternative forms of energy. Nuclear fusion is another application of lithium.