The karma of lithium ion batteries: how Tibet plays a role in green car technology

The recent Tibetan independence demonstrations and the Chinese response have, in this Olympic year, turned the eyes of the world towards the "roof of the world." There have been some who have called for the boycott of the Olympic games and Chinese products as a result of the harshness of the "crackdown". Our own president has even gotten involved and has asked the Chinese Premier, Hu-Jintao, to hold talks between the the Dali Lama's representatives and the Chinese government, though I suspect even the suggestion of such a rapproachment wasn't warmly received.
What does any of this have to do with more-environmentally-sensitive transportation? Well, I came across this article recently that informed me that the source of much of the lithium in the batteries that power our laptops, cell phones and soon, our hybrid and electric cars, is mined at the Chabyer Salt Lake in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. This is the largest source of known lithium reserves in the world, according to the China-Tibet Information Center, and it has helped China become the largest producer and user of lithium ion batteries. Yes, we mine a lot of lithium here in the U.S. but that is used mostly for a host of other products.

In the process of mulling all this over during the past week I have read about the history of Tibet and its entanglements with other countries and contemplated the stances of the various "sides" involved. I haven't reached anything approaching a firm conclusion but the process has been a beneficial learning experience.

In the end, I can only offer this information as an example of how our actions in this modern, tightly-connected world might affect people living in distant lands and how "treading lightly" might prevent that boomerang of karma from sneaking up behind us.

[Source: Green Energy News]

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