Meme Verifying: “Lithium” Mine Vs. The Oilsands

The Meme
Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.50.46 PM

True Or Not?
Not true.

What’s The Story?
This meme has been floating around for awhile. It annoyed me when I initially saw it (that is not an oilsands site), a feeling that only grew when it came around a second time and I learned that first image isn’t a lithium mine. So when it popped back up in my Facebook feed yet again, I knew it was time to take a deeper look at this meme. 

The first image is of a copper mine in Chile, not a lithium mine. The mine pictured happens to be one of the largest open pit mines in the world and yes, it’s ugly looking. But again, it has nothing to do with lithium batteries. In case you’re wondering what an actual lithium mine looks like, and how lithium mining works, head over here.

OilsandsNow, I need to point out that electric cars do use copper, 64 pounds of it if the car is a Prius. Conventional cars require about 50 pounds so yes, electric cars do require more copper than non-electric. Thankfully, copper is highly recyclable, meaning more electric cars doesn’t equal the need for more massive copper mines like the one in Chile.

As for that second photo, it looks more like a natural gas well site. I can’t find any information on where it’s located but I can confidently say that it’s not the oilsands. To the right is a photo of the actual oilsands that I’m borrowing from Maclean’s. Just a slight difference.

The point of this meme is that conventional, gas-powered cars are better for the environment than electric cars. While the latter certainly aren’t without their impacts on the environment, science tells us that once all the numbers are crunched, electric cars still come out the winner in regards to environmental impact.



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