An environment is a place that needs to be cherished and protected. In the earlier ages, human beings were subordinate to the forceful laws of nature and were afraid of exploiting it. Imagining a time like that is near impossible.
With modernism and technology overturning the world to a massive burst of change, humans turned into authoritative figures taking control as the roles inter-changed. Thus, the environment was subjected to exploitation under the greedy hands of a human, fueling the desire to go up the ranks.
This puts the environment in a vulnerable position, constantly being extracted and exploited of its resources. To place a more dramatic emphasis, the “resources” being embezzled are the source of life that exists in the heart of the environment.
1. What are Lithium Deposits?
Generally, while we’re talking about environmental exploitation, what comes to mind is the issue of lithium deposits. Many researchers have reported that the use and extraction of lithium deposits have proven to be hazardous to the environment’s impeding health.
What comes to the human mind when we mention ‘lithium’? It is imperative our mind drifts to the element of the same name in the periodic table. To state facts, lithium is an alkali metal with an atomic number 3, represented as ‘Li’. Children in school will be able to remember this with ease because of its position higher up the order in the periodic table.
Lithium metal deposits are scattered across the world among different continents and countries, specifically. This includes Australia, China, and Chile are regarded as the exporters of this potent metal. Many have touted this metal to change the fate of the world and decide who gets to control it and bring about critical global changes.
1. Lithium and the Economy
Not all countries are in well-equipped condition and have access to all kinds of amenities and resources in society. According to Human Development Index (HDI), there are three indicators through which a country is measured. Usually, the development and economy of a nation go hand in hand. Less developed countries were considered to have low economies, but it is to note that there were discrepancies in this theory too.
Lithium is a global commodity that holds a lot of demand in the global competitive market and is regarded as the most dangerous and potent metal which holds a lot of importance in the world. To understand this, let’s look at its origin and why is it talked about with so much significance and is the world’s most sought-after mineral.
As mentioned above, lithium is the third element in the periodic table and is an alkali metal. It was first discovered in 1817 by Johan August Arfvedson, and its Greek word ‘lithos’ translates to ‘stone’.
Many studies have suggested that lithium did not naturally form on this planet. It was discovered that it was a product of stellar explosions called “Novac”. It is found that lithium was a product of big bang explosions which lead to its impeding formation which makes it part of the universe and all the more powerful.
2. Why does the world need Lithium?
Lithium is a revolutionary metal that has offered the world a lot of options. In hindsight, its usage was proven to be used for digitization because of its highly reactive ions. The research done by scientists earned each of them noble price awards and speaks a lot about its importance in advancing towards an economically rich country.
Lithium is regarded as a powerful tool in a materialistically driven society. Adding to its occurrences in Australia, Chile, and China, deposits of lithium were found to be in Jammu & Kashmir which is the northernmost tip of the country.
This becomes interesting when we consider the economy of India, it is not technically going downhill nor it is seated comfortably with all the access in the world. With the availability of lithium, India can trudge along to a society that is much more developed and engage in the global market to bring along more profit to the nation.
3. What about the Environment?
While it’s evident that lithium has a lot of positive effects in uplifting the economy of the nation, greed, and want shouldn’t drift our focus away from how they could hamper the environment. As mentioned earlier, lithium’s efficiency is not just limited to the enrichment of the economy and could help countries like India to reach equal heights to developed countries like the USA, China, etc.
Also, the demand for lithium can lead to an economic war between China and India. This could even affect the health of the environment more. With the greed to extract lithium comes the need to mine the resources for human usage, here are some of the hazardous and ill effects it could have on the environment: –
1. Pollution of Water Resources
Mining of such resources has a direct impact on the purity of water which is one of the necessities and important needs to survive. To describe an instance is the lithium mining that took place in South Africa. Many research and studies link lithium mining to South Africa from salt brines along with the salination of freshwater that the locals need to survive. Extraction of those salt brines along the surface is done which contains the mineral. Dangerous substances that coagulate inside of this mineral lead to the contamination of freshwater reserves in turn damaging the environment.
2. Increase of Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Mining a dangerous element like lithium does have lethal consequences. Carbon Dioxide emissions, in general, are hazardous to the environment. Being part of the greenhouse gas effect, mining minerals like lithium will let to dangerous missions that will wipe out life on earth.
The condition worsens with the cutting of trees. Trees intake the carbon dioxide present in the environment to give us oxygen which is the primary source of breathing for human beings, in literal terms, it can be said that mining cuts off the breathing supply required for humans, reiterating how lethal lithium can.
3. Produces Massive Mining Wastes
We have already established the severity of mining and what it means to the environment. Adding to the already existing chaos is the separation of valuable resources that occurs deep on the surface of the earth leaving out uneconomic remains.
This proves to be harmful to the environment as impure substances find their way into the local community which leads to a situation where they cannot dispose of wastes and remains easily with the toxic substances becoming more in quantity.
4. Occurrence in India
We had come across the recent phenomenon that lithium deposits occur in India. Lithium deposits have occurred in a lot of well-developed nations like Australia, Chile, and Austria with the supply increasing.
Previously, there was this debate on what could this opportunity mean for a country that is economically looking to develop for decades altogether. The economy will rise, for a very potently rich substance like lithium, however, nothing can be done to stop the subsequent environment from depleting.
While this discourse still exists, when there were occurrences that were found in Jammu & Kashmir. According to a news report, it was reported that about 5.6 million Tonnes of lithium deposits were found. What does this exactly mean for a country like India?
It is important to note that if India had available enough lithium resources, it could utilize them for building mechanisms in automobiles and electrical vehicles. It also helps in recharging batteries. Most importantly it helps solve the reliant dependency that India has in terms of importing items on the global market and becoming more self-sufficient.
As we economically further our steps as a country, the environment is getting eroded slowly, there is a dilemma of what is the right thing to do when it comes to lithium deposits being lethal and profound in destroying the environment.
5. Prevention Methods
It has been established that lithium deposits bring about a lot of harm to the environment and the world in general. To stop the world from being stripped and depleted by the existence of such hazardous materials, here are some of the prevention tactics that can be taken to avert a possible ecological crisis.
Scientists and researchers have come up with an alternative method, for reducing the level of harm that is caused by lithium deposits. One of the methods includes the extraction of lithium minerals with the filtration of lithium carbonate through the brine rather than social evaporation. This reduces the direct impact on the environment and at the same time satisfies the desires and wants of a human being.
2. Lilac Vision
This is one of the methods used to extract lithium without much damage being done to the environment leading to fatal destruction. It uses an ion exchange technology that helps absorb the lithium from the brine allowing successful extraction
In the end, lithium deposits’ relationship with the environment is fraught with destruction and very potent hazards. It is evident that if the mining of lithium continues, this will lead to a world where humankind will slowly get extinguished with no room for existence.
Therefore, one must keep in mind that over the greed to increase exports, we must understand the importance of living in a healthy and free environment with less frequent causalities. As citizens, we must choose health, hygiene, and prosperity over greed and money.