Here is the transcript and summary of Emma Nehrenheim’s talk titled “The Powerful Possibilities of Recycling the World’s Batteries” at TED conference.
In this TED talk, Emma underscores the critical role of batteries in the global shift towards electrification and the importance of sustainable practices in their production and recycling.
Listen to the audio version here:
So the world is going electric. And batteries will do for electrification what the refrigerator did for food, because batteries will allow us to move clean energy through time and through space. And we don’t have a problem with the availability of energy on this planet. We have a problem with getting this energy to where we need it, and when we need it.
But if we approach battery manufacturing the wrong way, we will end up repeating mistakes from the past, mistakes that are at the heart of the climate environmental crisis that we see today. And that’s what I’m here to explain.
It’s all about the way we are using the Earth’s resources. So historically, and today, we have been mining oil from the Earth’s crust with little concern for the long-term effect.
And this example of how we’ve been approaching the fossil fuel industry and how we’ve been dependent on it, how we have been extracting oil where it’s economically possible, refined it, burned it, and it ends up in the atmosphere — that’s the perfect illustration of the fundamental, simple and linear model that we are working with: extract, use and discard.
When I was a professor in environmental engineering, I used to teach my students that mistakes are OK, as long as you learn from your mistakes, and as long as you take action. So now, when we are evolving, when we are changing, when we are building things from scratch, we should think twice, and we should do it right this time.