Climate Child Labor: Who Cares? – OpEd
By Ronald Stein
The ruling class, powerful elite, and the media lack some energy literacy which may be the reasons they avoid conversations about the ugly side of “green” mandates and subsidies. Before anyone in Washington decides to procure wind turbines, solar panels, or an EV, they should read the Pulitzer Prize nominated book “Clean Energy Exploitations”, and decide for themselves if they wish to financially support the humanity atrocities and environmental degradation among folks in developing countries with yellow, brown, and black skin, so that the wealthy countries can go green.
The few wealthy countries pursuing the generation of electricity from wind turbines and solar panels while simultaneously moving to rid the world of fossil fuels have short memories of petrochemical products and human ingenuity being the reasons for the world populating from 1 to 8 billion in less than two hundred years.
Wealth, with no ethical or moral standards for those of lesser means, can be dangerous and fatal to the cheap labor of disposable workforces. We have seen the effects on the disposable workforce when Qatar “needed” to build seven new stadiums in a decade to be ready for the 2022 World Cup. The World Cup in Qatar kicked off on Sunday November 20 at the Al Bayt Stadium, but the “acceptable” toll of more than 6,500 migrant laborers who died between 2011 and 2020, helping to build World Cup infrastructure with cheap disposable workforce will provide viewers and participants with many lingering questions about our ethical and moral beliefs resulting from the grim toll.
The transition to electricity generation from breezes and sunshine has proven to be ultra-expensive for the wealthy countries of Germany, Australia, Great Britain, and the USA representing 6 percent of the world’s population (508 million vs 8 billion). Those wealthy countries now have among the highest cost for their electricity, while the poorer developing countries, currently without the usage of the 20th century products manufactured from crude oil, are experiencing about 11,000,000 child deaths every year due to the unavailability of the fossil fuel products used in wealthy countries.
When we look outside the few wealthy countries, we see that at least 80 percent of humanity, or more than six billion in this world are living on less than $10 a day, and billions living with little to no access to electricity, politicians are pursuing the most expensive ways to generate intermittent electricity. Energy poverty is among the most crippling but least talked-about crises of the 21st century. We should not take energy for granted. Wealthy countries may be able to bear expensive electricity and fuels, but not by those that can least afford living in “energy poverty.”
Decades ago, it was sweat shops in the textile industry that grabbed everyone’s humanity interests, but today it is the “green” movement that is dominated by poorer developing countries mining for the exotic minerals and metals that support the wealthy countries that are going green at any cost to humanity, remains out of the spotlight.
Today, the wealthy countries understand developing countries have virtually no environmental laws nor labor laws, which allows those locations unlimited opportunities to exploit folks with yellow, brown, and black skin, and inflict environmental degradation to their local landscapes.
A recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) notes: “A typical electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car and an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired plant”.
- Lithium: Over half of the world’s Lithium reserves are found in three South American countries that border the Andes Mountains: Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. These countries are collectively known as the “Lithium Triangle”.
- Cobalt: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) produces 70 percent of the world’s Cobalt. While there is no shortage of environmental issues with its Cobalt mining, the overriding problem here is human rights: dangerous working conditions and the use of child labor. Cobalt is a toxic metal. Prolonged exposure and inhalation of Cobalt dust can lead to health issues of the eyes, skin, and lungs.
- Nickel: A major component of the EV batteries, is found just below the topsoil in the Rainforests of Indonesia and the Philippines. As a result, the nickel is extracted using horizontal surface mining that results in extensive environmental degradation: deforestation and removal of the top layer of soil.
- Copper: Chile is the leading producer of the world’s Copper. Most of the Chile’s Copper comes from open pit/strip mines. This type of mining negatively affects vegetation, topsoil, wildlife habitats, and groundwater. The next three largest producers of copper are Peru, China, and the infamous Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Showing no moral or ethical concerns for the disposable workforce, wealthy countries continue to encourage subsidies to procure EV’s and build more wind and solar. Those subsidies are providing financial incentives to the developing countries mining for those “green” materials to continue their exploitations of poor people, and environmental degradation to their local landscapes. Are those subsidies ethical, moral, and socially responsible to those being exploited?
Many of us had a chance to view the 2006 movie “Blood Diamonds” starring Leonardo DiCaprio that portrays many of the similar atrocities now occurring in pursuit of the “Blood Minerals” i.e., those exotic minerals and metals to support the “green” movement within wealthy countries that continue promoting environmental degradation to landscapes in developing countries, and imposes humanity atrocities to citizens with yellow, brown, and black skinned workers being exploited for the green movement of the few wealthy nations.
A few years ago in 2021, Ronald Stein co-authored the Pulitzer Prize nominated book “Clean Energy Exploitations – Helping Citizens Understand the Environmental and Humanity Abuses That Support Clean Energy. The book does an excellent job of discussing the lack of transparency to the world of the green movement’s impact upon humanity exploitations in the developing countries that are mining for the exotic minerals and metals required to create the batteries needed to store “green energy”. In these developing countries, these mining operations exploit child labor, and are responsible for the most egregious human rights’ violations of vulnerable minority populations. These operations are also directly destroying the planet through environmental degradation.
Every individual should enhance their energy literacy and know where and how the lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, etc. are being mined and the worldwide humanity atrocities and environmental degradation that is occurring in the developing countries with yellow, brown, and black skinned people. Then, with that knowledge in hand about the supply chain of those “blood minerals” required to support the wealthy countries mandates and subsidies toward green electricity, they can make their own decision to financially support, or not support, those exploitation atrocities.