Who Cares About Batteries? You Should.
Simple Question: What is the impact of batteries on humankind?
That’s not an easy of an answer as one may first think. There are many variables that must be linked together to view the overall “Big Picture.” Obviously there is both a negative and positive impact of batteries on humankind. The initial and basic positive impact is that life has been easier and filled with more options for humans. There are hundreds of activities that have been made possible for us through the creation of batteries, many of which we have grown so accustomed to we rarely think about them. For example:
Car Batteries: Without the invention of car batteries we would never be able to depend on a reliable form of transportation. The use of cranks to turn the engine over would not jell very well in today’s modern version of the automobile and I believe there is little argument the introduction of automobiles has made a hugely positive impact on human kind.
Monitors: Most people think of a computer monitor when they see the word, but there are hundreds of various types of monitors that are used today. For a lot of people the most important one is the standard hospital heart monitor. These monitors are an invaluable resource which are used to help keep people alive. They also provide a clear source for medical education, research and examination, which have developed into an incredibly vital part of the medical world.
Watches: What’s wrong with winding a watch by stem like our ancestors did for 100s of years? Nothing. But what about the round black clock hanging in the workplace or the library. Without batteries we would never have portable clocks that can be used to easily tell what time it is. Although not a compulsory essential, sundials were used for a long time, watches and the ability to access time is essential in today’s modern world. Time and space are part of Einsteins “Theory of Relativity”.
Without a doubt our tech savvy children could name another dozen toys & games that are made possible because of batteries. Actually there are probably hundreds of other manufactured electronic creations that have been made possible by the introduction of batteries.
There is a caveat associated with these creations, which have formed a vital part in humankind development over the last few decades. Without the establishment of batteries, the mechanical world could not have progressed and reached the critical level that it has achieved, enabling huge scientific breakthroughs and discoveries.
The Caveat. Although batteries have been a crucial component in facilitating a large range of discoveries and activities, they also have a negative impact on mankind.
One of the most prominent negative impacts is the dependency on electronic appliances. Beginning with a very rural society we have grown into a mechanical industrial world highly dependent of technology, of which one large element included is the battery. As one of the foundation blocks of society, communities have not only become largely dependent on batteries for necessities such as transportation and work, but also for less essential activities including entertainment and leisure.
What is the impact of batteries on the environment?
Unfortunately the effects of batteries on the environment are nearly entirely negative.
As batteries are used they actually burn, vaporizing and releasing toxins into the air. If you have ever seen an industrial bank of batteries being recharged there is always an exhaust ventilation hood to capture and disperse the toxins outside the work area.
When they are dumped into the ocean they pollute our seas, killing or contaminating sea life, the very fish we consume. Heard of fish too high in mercury to safely consume? Where do you think the mercury came from?
When batteries are thrown into “dumps,” their toxic ingredients seep into the soil causing massive and devastating damage to our natural Eco-system. The toxins in these batteries that are leached into the ground can contaminate plant and animal life, and have a devastating effect to ground water for up to 50 years.
The affects on humans when they consume these toxic chemicals, either through eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water are extremely detrimental. Children are highly affected by this process, and are most susceptible to damage. Often the results of this ingestion are upset central nervous systems, psychological deficiency and learning disabilities. The exposure to these dangerous chemicals has a prolonged effect on the environment.
This is the very reason the EPA was created in the United States. This agency is being dismantled by the Trump administration, but that’s an issue for another time.
Bottom line is: any chemical or metal is potentially dangerous and should never be deposited in the ground.
Only through the adequate and proper disposal of batteries, can we successfully build up on a healthy ecosystem. Some experts claim that every single battery that is disposed of in an incorrect fashion will end up in leaching into the ground effecting and entire chain of being – ultimately effecting yourself.
Batteries are designed for specific purposes; therefore each battery is different in their characteristics and is suited for a certain task, making no one “best battery.”
For example, a lead-acid accumulator in a car could not be used in a torch like a nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydroxide battery. Although some batteries may be more powerful in terms of current or resistance, it is only because the use of that battery requires those qualities.
In terms of environmental and human impact, it seems that all batteries are harmful if not disposed of properly and safely, although some may be more harmful than others depending on the toxicity of the metals involved in manufacturing it.