Neil Oliver: The battery for the turbines at Eaglesham will be made of lithium, the element required for the power supply in smartphones and electric cars. Apparently, the battery in an electric car needs 10,000 times the amount of lithium required by a phone. As elements go, lithium is rare – and as finite as all the rest. For a long time, its only use was in tiny amounts as an antidepressant. Happy or sad, a rich new source has been found in the Andes in Bolivia. Depending on whose opinion you trust, Bolivia may hold as much as 70% of the world’s lithium reserves. The metal deposits lie beneath salt flats high in the mountains, a vast expanse of blinding, snowy-white that has long been favoured by all manner of birdlife – and plans are afoot to find ways of exploiting the wealth promised by such buried treasure. The consequences for the environment hardly bear thinking about; another way to wound the world. We took the coal, the oil and the gas and burned them , then decided that was wrong. We made enough plastic from the oil to swaddle the whole planet and it is choking the ocean, thickening it and slowly poisoning the living things. Now we have found something else to burrow into the bowels of the earth for, to take away without giving back. Some childish part of me wishes we could just give it all back, all that we have taken.
Times 16th June 2019 read more »