By Justin McAffee for the Sierra Nevada Ally, July 9, 2021
What if I told you that Glenn Miller’s opinion piece about the Thacker Pass lithium project was a form of climate change denialism? He argues that lithium is necessary to convert our automobile transportation economy from fossil fuels to electric and we should move forward with the construction of the largest open-pit lithium mine in the nation’s history, indigenous people’s concerns aside, because America needs more cars. He claims this will limit global warming.
This perspective flat out denies the reality that the loss of biodiversity poses as great a risk to humanity as climate change. In fact, the loss of biodiversity contributes directly to the climate crisis. Instead of promoting the protection of biodiversity, Glenn Miller proposes we do the opposite, and destroy a large area of Nevada wilderness.
Let’s be clear: what will limit global warming is eliminating carbon pollution. He fails to mention that electric cars would draw their power from the electric grid, which is currently fueled by 70-80% fossil fuels. Maybe that will improve, but at what cost? If we listen to Glenn Miller, we must destroy vast areas of habitat, including some 9 million acres of public land in Nevada that is being opened to solar development, and many millions more in the American West. We must also engage in an explosion of mining for lithium, copper, cobalt and other rare-earth minerals. One begins to wonder whether this is a solution or a cause of climate change.
According to a study published in Science, one of the top peer-reviewed science publications in the world: “Current rates of extinction are about 1000 times the likely background rate of extinction. Future rates depend on many factors and are poised to increase. Although there has been rapid progress in developing protected areas, such efforts are not ecologically representative, nor do they optimally protect biodiversity.”
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