Lithium is powering the world’s electric vehicles, making it a critical component in the fight against carbon pollution. According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the conjunction of lithium mining and climate change in the Andes Mountains may be seriously impacting flamingo populations.
The research looked at the impacts of lithium mining and climate change on shallow, saltwater lakes in the Chilean Andes, where flamingos congregate for eating and mating. The findings demonstrate that two species of flamingos that exclusively breed in these mountains had lost 10 to 12% of their population in just 11 years, but only at the lake polluted through mining.
The “Lithium Triangle” of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina produces the majority of the world’s lithium. Meanwhile, the region is home to three flamingo lifeforms: Andean, James’ and Chilean, two of which breed nowhere else on the planet and are the backbone of the region’s tourist sector.
The research, which comprised scientists from Spain, Montana and Chile, concentrated on five lakes in the Chilean Andes, which are part of the Lithium Triangle, such as the Salar de Atacama, where most of Chile’s lithium mining takes place.
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