Electric Cars Could Threaten the Philippines’ ‘Last Frontier’

The demand for
The demand for "eco-friendly" electric cars that use lithium batteries threatens Palawan's ecosystem - the Philippines' last frontier.

The Philippine archipelago consists of 7,640 islands dotted with beautiful, pristine rainforests and farmlands. However, with the rise of “eco-friendly” electric cars that use lithium batteries, the rest is history.

Palawan: Philippines’ Last Frontier Threatened by Electric Cars

Palawan serves as the Philippines’ “last frontier.” Most people live there by farming and fishing. It is also where you will find the Indigenous Palawan tribe. They acknowledge that the human soul endows the crop. Each day that passes, their livelihood starts to diminish, including the rainforest where they mostly depend.

This 270-mile-long gorgeous island is a part of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Reserve program. It is home to 105 endangered species of plants and animals.

It All Boils Down to the Rio Tuba Nickel Mine

It’s okay that people use what nature provides, but exploiting them is a different story. Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation lies in Barangay Rio Tuba in the municipality of Bataraza, hence, the name.

The mine plays a crucial role in supplying the world with nickel. It expands almost 4 square miles taking a portion of the ancient rainforest.

The mined nickel became lithium batteries to use in electric cars. With the rising demand for nickel, Rio Tuba is now on the verge of expanding. It means taking another chunk of the rainforest, about 10 miles more.

Local environmentalists worry that it will eradicate the rainforest’s delicate ecosystem, including its flora and fauna. Moreover, toxic wastewater can affect the crops below and every fresh and saltwater species.

Electric Cars: Friend or Foe?

Tesla is a giant technology company that gives rise to electric cars. They see it as an environment-friendly substitute for vehicles that use gas and diesel. Experts approve that these modern vehicles produce a lower carbon footprint than usual cars.

Electric cars may not emit gas or diesel that worsens air pollution or creates a greenhouse effect. However, its manufacturing process is always overlooked. They need lithium batteries to run, and it’s where nickel steps in.

Aside from cobalt, nickel is another major component in making cathodes for lithium-ion batteries. Both metals play an important in producing precursor materials needed for cathode active material conversion to use in batteries. With the considered expansion of the Tuba Mine, electric car manufacture can badly affect the environment – even when correctly done.

According to experts, the Rio Tuba mine will have no other option but to expand their mining site of the rise in nickel demand. It also means the destruction of the rainforest along with all of its inhabitants, including humans.

Transpiring Risks of Nickel Mining in Palawan

The Ancestral Land/Domain Watch and the Centre for Biocultural Diversity of the University of Kent in the United Kingdom issued a report to stop the mining operations in the region.

“The continuation of mining activities in Bulanjao will irremediably damage the best-conserved forest in the southern tip of Palawan, with predictable adverse consequences for the food production capacity of both indigenous and migrant farmers’ communities living at the foot of this mountain range,” it said.

Experts believe that no technology can solve the climate crisis. Electric cars can help the environment by lessening people’s dependency on gas and diesel to fuel their vehicles. It means fewer combustion and lesser air pollution but at the expense of other people and the ecosystem. Is there any difference?

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