On November 15, 2022, the United Nations declared that the world population had reached 8 billion people. They also predicted that that India would surpass China as the world’s most populous country in the next couple of years. Too, global life expectancy reached 72.8 years, an improvement of 9 years since 1990. For reference, the life expectancy of the US is 77.3 years. No doubt a nod to the developed world and our access to best-in-class healthcare. But a 9-year gain for the globe over the span of the last 30 years is nothing to sneeze at.
With the world’s resources at risk, what should we make of all these people? I mean, we’re notorious scavengers of all things this fertile land offers. The nice part is, the way God designed it, many of our resources are renewable. But, some very important ones aren’t. Mainly fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. That’s why there’s been such a push toward Electric Vehicles (EVs) since they run on batteries instead of non-renewable resource such as gas. Which for me, at least, begs the question: Are batteries renewable?
Answer: not in their current form. You see, today’s batteries are made from Lithium. And lithium is not a renewable resource. It is a metal that occurs naturally in the Earth, but it’s formed over millions of years and cannot be easily or quickly replenished. According to some recent studies, based on the onslaught of EVs to the car market, we have about 70 years worth of lithium until the identified global reserves are depleted. Add to this that a portion of the globe’s lithium is being mined in undeveloped countries with insufficient labor laws. This means that in some places, 7 years old’s are being sold into forced labor to mine cobalt (a key ingredient in a lithium battery) so on the other side of the planet, we can drive our fancy EVs.
So, why the excitement over EVs? Why are we so enamored by these battery powered vehicles that we don’t see that we’re swapping one non-renewable resource for another? And, I haven’t even talked about the electric grids! These batteries get plugged in each time to recharge the battery. The plug is fueled by our aging infrastructure of electricity grids. Our nations electric grids are mostly fired by natural gas, coal and nuclear energy. Lest we forget, 2 of those on the list are non-renewable (nuclear energy is renewable). So, we plug our non-renewable Lithium powered EVs into the wall socket to charge the battery using non-renewable natural gas and coal. Aren’t we just exasperating the problem?
In a word: No. Lest you think I’m some eccentric tree hugger that wants to rant on protecting the environment, I’m not. I do think that stewardship of our environment is important, but I stop short of calling the whole thing a sham. Why not?
Because I believe in the power of human ingenuity. Truth be told, while there may be 8 billion people on the face of the planet currently, there’s been billions of past humans who have long since passed. In fact, the UN has also estimated that since the beginning of time, there have been over 100 billion people who have lived and died. Each one of them, in their own way, living off the resources of the Land. Yet, each one making their mark on this world in some way. Inventing this, trying that. Coming up with a way to earn money to provide for their families. Figuring out a way to do something easier, or cheaper, or better. Solving this puzzle, creating a formula to figure out that one. On and on throughout the millennia, trying…failing…getting back up…trying again.
My hunch is that EVs won’t rely on Lithium for very much longer. Some other inventor will come up with a better way. A better way that relies only on truly renewable resources so we don’t deplete this earth and leave it desolated for the next 8 billion people. For example, some companies are making headway into Hydrogen powered vehicles. Hydrogen is an infinitely available and renewable resource. Right now, it’s expensive, but someone will put their brains to figuring that out. Who will be the next Elon Musk to introduce this invention to the world? Will it be that 8 billionth baby born on November 15, 2022?
Perhaps. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. This is figureoutable. I believe in the power of human ingenuity. I believe that when there’s a problem that needs a solution, someone will rise to the occasion.
Which problem are you facing today? It may not be as crucial as non-renewable resources, but it’s important. Rise up. Figure it out. Solve it.
Collectively, our future is depending on it…