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Going green, but not with EVs

Maria Wortman ’24

Lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel and graphite. These are the five “critical minerals” required to produce the batteries that power Electric Vehicles according to CRS Report R47227. Of these batteries, about 77% are produced in China, furthering the US’ dependence on China for important resources.

Electric Vehicles have become the leading faces of the push for clean energy and the counteraction of climate change. The appeal of transportation that is advertised to produce virtually no gas emissions is incredibly appealing. However, the reality is heavily debated and far less “green”.

Renewable Energy only accounts for 18% of America’s energy consumption according to Meaning that the other 82% of energy used comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, primarily coal. However, the energy per mile equivalent between electric and gas powered vehicles still favors EVs. So where are the red flags between electric vehicles and energy consumption? To understand the impact electric vehicles have on the environment you must look further into the minerals required to produce them, specifically lithium.

Lithium is a rare Earth mineral in high demand as it not only powers EV batteries, but also the batteries within our cell phones, tablets and laptops. This battery is primarily outsourced to China, where the main source of energy in mining is the combustion of coal.

According to, the average lithium-ion battery within an electric vehicle causes between 2500 and 16000 kg of carbon dioxide emission in production. Which is the equivalent of a gas powered vehicle driving 2500 miles. This is not even taking into account the amount of emissions made to charge the electric vehicle.

Still, the net carbon dioxide emissions made by EVs come to be less than those made by gas powered vehicles. However, the stress put on the Earth through the harvesting of rare minerals could be argued to have just as bad of an impact on the climate. Therefore, widespread use of electric vehicles will not prevent global warming or other negative environmental changes by itself. Until we develop a new way to harvest minerals and other limited materials, we will continue to struggle with air pollution.

Electric vehicles have the capacity to reduce localized air pollution within heavily populated cities, but not nearly enough globally. Though the push for EVs is a swing in the right direction, it’s important that people understand the other factors at play within the effects that modern technology has on the world. The advertisements of electric vehicles as a clean method of transportation grossly misrepresents the reality of them.

As for the question as to whether or not the push for electric vehicles helps the environment, I would say yes, but not to the extent that most people think it does. The effects of energy consumed in producing and using EVs depends on how and where they are made and used. To create genuine change, we must start utilizing clean energy sources such as wind turbines and solar energy.

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About the Contributor
Maria Wortman ’24
Maria Wortman ’24, Supervising Copy Editor
Maria Wortman ’24 is a second year staffer and a supervising copy editor for The Tower. Outside of Tower, Wortman said she enjoys reading, traveling and urges people to join the newly-founded Club Latino. She is excited for the possibilities The Tower offers her this year and looks forward to a great year.“I love how free we are in Tower to really write the work we want to produce,” Wortman said. “Obviously, there are still expectations (for all) of us, but we can still choose to approach stories from an independent angle which allows us to grow as writers.”Also in her freetime, she enjoys playing guitar. “I enjoy playing the guitar in my free time,” Wortman said. “I love playing for people, although I am not great.”

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  • J

    JoeFeb 14, 2024 at 9:24 pm

    Well said Maria