Salar vs. Lithium : so what's the problem ?

"In search of Lithium" article
"In search of Lithium" article

If you want to understand the issue at stake, we invite you to read Dan McDougall's excellent article in the DailyMail: In search of Lithium: The battle for the 3rd element.

Basically ...

Lithium ... a natural element that is used to generate electric power for all the green cars, cellphones, laptop computers, etc. is present under the Salar de Uyuni in high quantities : 50 to 70% of the world's lithium reserves.


The Salar de Uyuni is a very wide virgin place, the world's largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi), elevated 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above the sea level. Its breathtaking landscape attracts tourists from the whole world, all year round. Bolivians make a living out of its natural resource, consuming it's salt and making houses.


Even though lithium means "clean" power, digging and extracting it for the world will inevitably have a very high cost. The very first ones to suffer will be, of course, the local residents, while the firms in control will weigh very heavily on the economy of the world.


The ethical question is (abstract from Dan McDougall's article) : Is the world's need for a green solution to transport worth the destruction of this unique environment and the ancient way of life that lives on it?