Why some environmentalists are worried about the electric car revolution

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The batteries powering electric cars are made using lithium and cobalt that need to be extracted from the earth. Photo by Shutterstock.

California is aggressively pushing to get more people into electric cars. It’s planning to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035, which is part of the state’s push to limit the worst effects of climate change. But the electric car revolution could still come at a big cost to the environment. 

Electric cars are powered by batteries, which are built using precious metals like lithium and cobalt that need to be extracted from the earth. And as demand explodes for those metals, there’s a rush to find new sources for them, including in delicate areas like the seafloor and tribal lands. Some conservationists worry we’re ultimately trading one environmental disaster for another.  

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Michell Eloy