Inside the Lithium Mining War That Could Poison the Nevada Desert’s Water [Dispatches from Thacker Pass]

In this excerpt, Samir offers an outline of the rationale for the harmful development of lithium mines. In parallel we are also offered an outline of the development of the protest camp. While we are happy that a popular outlet like Vice News is writing about our campaign, we do not agree with all of the author’s statements. DGR is strongly opposed to any kind of industrial processes like mining because they are inherently destructive to life on planet earth. Hence we do not believe that there can be a “greener” kind of industrial resource extraction.

A mining giant wants to extract lithium from the Nevada desert to power electric cars. But a more sustainable future doesn’t come without costs.

One of the largest known lithium deposits in the world has sat undisturbed under the Nevada desert for centuries. Now, a mining giant wants to extract the resource to power electric cars using a potentially harmful method.

Before bringing in its equipment, however, the company will have to go through a blockade of environmental protesters that have been camped out at the site since December.

“Like the wildlife, we hunker down when the weather gets very bad and wait for the storm to break,”

said Max Wilbert, who started the Protect Thacker Pass, the grassroots organization leading the occupation.

“But we’re not backing down. What is at stake here is the soul of the entire environmental movement.”

Right now, Thacker Pass, a section of public land stretching hundreds of acres in northern Nevada, is several environmental permits—and lawsuits—away from becoming a massive open-pit mining project run by Canada-based Lithium Americas. The metal excavated from the planned 18,000-acre site will be used to manufacture rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for electric cars.

But a more sustainable future doesn’t come without its costs:

The proposed mining process at Thacker Pass uses sulfuric acid, which could seep into the water supply. The operation also requires tapping into groundwater, which could decrease its availability. Both would impact the ecosystems of several at-risk species, like golden eagles, pronghorn antelope, and Nevada’s state fish, the Lahontan cutthroat trout.

In an effort to protect the land, dozens of protestors from across the country have posted up at the site in freezing nighttime temperatures with heated tents and portable mini-toilets. Local ranchers, concerned about the welfare of their land and water supply, have also joined the cause.

The original article can be read in full on Vice News.

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2 thoughts on “Inside the Lithium Mining War That Could Poison the Nevada Desert’s Water [Dispatches from Thacker Pass]”

  1. This article ties in with what I’ve been saying for the last year — that mining and all the other industries were more or less tolerable until the inventions of electric power and motors, and the population explosion that came with them.

    The inherent problem of civilization is population growth, which has been going on since the beginning of agriculture and permanent settlements. We are the only species that has circumvented the natural processes that keep the populations of all other species relatively stable. And our “leaders” have somehow fed us the lie that growth is a good thing, instead of a metastatic cancer.

    Worse yet, we generally don’t believe that human reproduction can even be questioned. We’ve bought into the fiction that birth is automatically a “blessed event,” and that one- or two-child policies are an intolerable intrusion into personal freedom. Even those who recognize the population problem largely think of it only in a regional or global sense. They rarely admit that their children — OUR children — are an equal part of the problem.

    In fact, children in developed countries are 4x the problem that children on average pose, per child. The typical American, for instance, directly or indirectly requires about 35 tons of resources per year, versus a global average of 9 tons. And the number is constantly going up, as living standards rise.

    Having a child in America now has the environmental impact of putting another 18 gasoline-powered cars on the road, at just under 2 kids per family. A child in Africa, on the other hand (where the average is more than 4 children), brings that continent closer to a more direct kind of disaster — one that constantly decreases wildlife habitat, with a runaway increase in deforestation, pollution, water shortages, and climate change.

    Africa’s population is forecast to triple by 2100. That won’t happen, of course, because the tropics will become unbearable much sooner, and mass starvation will hold the numbers down. Humanity, in other words, hasn’t really circumvented the forces that stabilize populations in other species. We just traded periodic die-offs for a massive human die-off in the 21st century.

    The coronavirus pandemic is only a trivial forerunner to what’s coming. Covid-19 is nothing more than one of Nature’s little practice runs at thinning the human herd. (For all the media panic about a million virus deaths, world population INCREASED last year.)

    By Nature’s population control calculations, covid-19 was a total flop, and wasn’t even newsworthy. But Mama N. has bigger things in mind. A hundred million dead in a year would be a real story. And there are people living today who will read it, if the newspaper industry doesn’t crash first.

    1. There is no doubt that the way humans have been living since using agriculture is not sustainable, and the farther along they got from that point, the more unsustainable it got. But human lifetimes are very short geologically speaking, so what is unsustainable in the long term may seem sustainable in the short term.

      “Sustainability” should not be the measuring stick and is in fact a BS term used by people to excuse harming/destroying the natural environment and killing what lives there. “Sustainability” is figuring out how much harm we can do before it harms us; this is wrong both morally and ecologically.

      The goal should be to live in proper ecological balance with the Earth and our local ecosystems. That’s a far higher and better standard than sustainability. Striving for ecological balance is the right and moral thing to do; trying to figure out what is sustainable is immoral and destructive.

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