The Environmental Cost of EV Cars


Sylvain Liechti

Luwowo Coltan mine near Rubaya, North Kivu the 18th of March 2014. © MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti..Luwowo is one of several validated mining site that respect CIRGL-RDC norms and guaranties conflict free minerals. …..

Everyone knows that all of their technology like smartphones, laptops, watches and headphones have rechargeable batteries, but this abundance of batteries has real-world consequences.

Then with the new wave of electric vehicles promising to save our environment, many car manufacturers besides Tesla are now producing more EV versions of existing cars including Ford’s new F-150 Lightning EV truck.

The batteries powering our modern world are sourced from deep in the Democratic Republic of Congo, among other places like Indonesia. Many big tech companies promise that their products are made by adults with great wages and perfect work conditions, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Karra Siddharth, a Harvard student studying public health, says how the Congo has more cobalt reserves than the rest of the planet combined. In an NPR article, he spoke about how he continues to research how this has lead to a rush of “modern-day slavery, human trafficking and child labor,” the extreme conditions in these mines, and how it would be impossible for there to be a “clean” supply of cobalt from Congo.

“People are working in subhuman, grinding, degrading conditions. They use pickaxes, shovels, stretches of rebar to hack and scrounge at the earth in trenches and pits and tunnels to gather cobalt and fee it up the formal supply chain,” Siddharth also stated in the NPR article. “Cobalt is toxic to touch and breathe and there are hundreds of thousands of poor Congolese people touching and breathing it day in day out.”

Aside from the human rights issues, there are other problems that come with purchasing and owning an electric vehicle.

Jack Coscia is a Williston senior, who has extensive knowledge of cars.

“Electric cars are not better than normal cars, especially in today’s market, because you have to pay a huge premium for electric cars vs normal cars and the more expensive electric cars do have more performance,” Jack said. “But comparing electric vs. normal cars at the same price, the electric car has very low build quality and 1/6th of the driving range of the gas car.”

“On top of having range issues, they tend to have difficulties in bad conditions and no one knows how to work on them,” Jack added. “The fact that the government is kind of forcing people into electric cars saying that they will save the environment is a joke because electric cars don’t do enough, because making them so bad for the environment.”

Jack drives a 2005 Chevy Silverado.

Jack also talked about how an electric car isn’t as practical as a gas car for road trips — because of the time needed to stop and recharge the battery — but it can be good as a daily car if you have to go shorter distances. Jack said it is much more difficult to find and buy parts for electric cars as well.

The Ford F-150 Lightning has a range of 320 miles on a single charge, and costs between $55,000 – $96,000.

Another senior, Eli Goldburg-Cook agrees with Jack, and believes electric cars are a pain to recharge, but noted that more places have special parking for electric vehicles.