Lithium: The Next Suicidal Solution To The Fossil Fuel Climate Crisis

What is Lithium Extraction and How Does It Work

At some point in the distant future, when alien lifeforms visit Planet Earth and find proof of its original race of humanoid inhabitants, who by then will have long since disappeared, the discovery will go some thing like this:

Whether the cosmic event of all the “OMG’s” and “WTF” will be a colossal meteor strike, some sudden thermonuclear holocaust or slow, gradual extinction it’s clear modern human civilization now is poised at a critical crossroad juncture between two roads leading towards either the ultimate survival or destruction of both the human civilization and natural world as they’ve existed and flourished for eons.

This is a “DUH!” no-brainer moment in time and space that is demanding of the human race some kind of radical reversal to everything that has thus far been or will continue to be the projected  direction of life on earth. The question and challenge that this moment raises is how cabable, how willing or even how possible is modern human civilization’s ability to fully comprehend the massive changes that must be made in a relatively very short period of time and then marshall the capacity to actually make the sweeping changes that are required.

The existential threat posed can be likened to the analogy of an eminent devastating collision with a huge asteroid or some unexpected disastrous thermonuclear conflagration. In either case, the Human Race will have virtually little or no time to procrastinate what to do or how to react to this threat to all of life as we know it.

For at least the past hundred thousand years indigenous human beings everywhere on the planet have lived out their lives in small numbers, utilizing whatever simple, natural, sustainable resources at hand to build their homes, communities and nations. Yet once both the Western and Eastern brains of humans began to evolve in much different ways, and seized hold of the direction and course that human civilization would take, everything since has been thrown out of balance.

How human populations have continued this new exponential expansion has since led to all manner of technological inventions and manipulations of the natural world – such as the proliferatiion of concrete homes, buildings and skyscrapers that continue to strip the earth of even its last remaining finite supplies of sand. What to do today to stop, retard or rechannel this explosion that continues to destroy or dominate in so many different ways every land, sea or air space on earth is one of the imponderables that no modern government or political body has yet shown the capacity to address.

Many would, at this point, simply say that there is no going back to some simpler state of being. The Human Race has simply already set its fateful course and where it will all end will be what it will be. If mankind blows itself up and Mother Earth to Kingdom Come, in the end it is just one tiny speck in the greater universal realm of the cosmos where the idea of life unfortunately didn’t ultimately work out. Maybe this is why so many of the more evolved beings from other places in the universe, who have been observing this earth scene for eons, have refrained from makng themselves known to the human race because they already know the fatal conclusion humans have created for themselves.

These higher-evolved alien beings passively watch as the modern Human Race continues to argue and quibble among itself as to whether or not it should continue to practice this or that mining and extraction of every last know mineral or substance while eliminating every last bit of its precious finite resources, like water, to feed all the constant expansion.

As one fossil fuel source after another runs out, the scramble to find yet the next precious mined substance, like Lithium, continues to intensity, unabated, this suicidal technological journey through time and space. In the end, it won’t make any appreciable difference to the negative consequences of it all whether it ends up being, a huge Tar Sand oil field in Alberta Canada, or a series of huge solar-evaporated brine pools in salt flats still to be found in ever-greater quantities on earth in already water-starved places like Australia, Chile or Argentina. The disastrous effects of Lithium mining on global warming, environmental pollution or human health still will continue to deprive local humans and other species of animals and plants from being able to sustain themselves, while the toxic chemicals required to leach the Lithium from the brine flats will require still more extensive waste treatment, as will the huge amounts of nickel and cobalt required to produce Lithium-ion batteries that represent, in themselves, huge environmental risks requiring even their own extensive waste treatment.

The absurd concept of modern human civilization’s attempt to shift from large, fossil-fuelled,SUV’s to smaller, so-called ‘Smart’ vehicles run by Lithium (Lion) propulsion is, in itself, another example that is incompatible with any notion of the so-called Green Car of the future, even though the resources already exist to cope with at least one billion such vehicles until the year 2100. Yet even given that fact, with unchecked population explosion, the demand already is growing at a rate 25% greater than even the current projected available supply, coupled with the reality that such Lithium-ion batteries and other lithium devices are essentially not recyclable and will only end up as unwanted landfill everywhere on earth. When that time comes then the race will be on to find yet the next and then the next and still the next mineable precious finite resource to replace whatever the last exhausted supply.

The world’s environmental scientists now contend that to try to clean up mankind’s already massive fossil-fueled ecological disasters that have thus far been created everywhere on earth, present a nigh-impossible challenge. In places like the Middle East or Tar Sands of Alberta, Canada, experts say the monies required to clean up the mess far exceeds the billions already allocated to start to undertake the clean-up. Not to mention how long such a clean up will take where, at the current slow rate of clean up in places like the Tar Sands and Middle East, some estimate may take several thousands of years; assuming, of course, that human civilization will even still be around and cabably of continuing the clean-up.

Yet everyone – the corporations, the politicians, the citizenry – all have a million things to bitch about. Some bitch we don’t need a Carbon Tax. Some bitch they can’t afford a Carbon Tax, while others bitch any proposed Carbon Tax isn’t near enough to pay for it all. As Canada attempts to ban all plastic straws and other plastic products over the hue and cry of many, the United States won’t even discuss a New Green Deal. While the youth of the world, sensing their future is in absolute dire jeopardy, continue to everywhere mount an Extinction Rebellion in the face of it, with the hope that their parents and elders will finally listen and respond to the sheer magnitude of the emergency that is at hand.

Each rebellion, in its own way, seeks to do something meaningful to prevent the earth from sliding ever-deeper into what some scientists refer to as the Anthropocene epoch on earth that is causing the sixth great extinction of all species of life.

Bio Note: Jerome Irwin is a freelance writer who, for decades, in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has sought to call attention to problems of sustainability caused by excessive mega-developments, the resulting horrors of traffic gridlock, loss of single family neighbourhoods and a host of related environmental-ecological-spiritual issues and concerns that exist between the conflicting philosophies of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.


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