They’re not as green as you think.
Are you somebody who aspires to drive an electric vehicle? Like most people who do, you probably have your heart in the right place and you have good intentions.
You think about the environment. You think about your carbon footprint. You probably long for the day when fossil fuels are something used in the past. It’s about your children’s future, right?
The problem is you’re looking at your electric vehicle as a consumer. You see the end product. You see the shiny new body, the spotlessly clean wheels and the whisper quiet engine excites you.
Have you asked yourself how it came to be? How it’s components were sourced? Shouldn’t you be concerned that the making of the vehicle is as green as the reason you want one?
This is where our desire for a clean, green future enters the murky world of corruption and cruelty. It’s where wealthy western countries bask in the glory of a carbon neutral life. At the same time poor, mostly black nations help us get there while simultaneously wallowing in poverty and deadly health problems.
In 2017, a report exposed the use of children in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR). They discovered an ‘army of children’, as young as four years old forced to work in the dusty, dangerous and often poisonous cobalt mines.
It’s dangerous, dirty work where they risk disease and lung infections while checking rocks for streaks of cobalt. Cobalt is an essential element for batteries in electric vehicles.
The report is accompanied by pictures showing an adult overseer raising his hand over a cowering eight year old child, issuing a warning not to spill the rocks.
The child picks up a huge bag of rocks which he must carry up to 60 feet away.
The DRC has about 60 percent of the world’s cobalt, so it’s inevitable vehicle companies desperate to roll out electric vehicles purchase from there. At the time of the report, most major car companies did just that.
Mining cobalt is a health hazard. So much so that there is an accompanying disease to mining it when no safety equipment is issued — it’s called cobalt lung. It can lead to incapacity or death.
It’s not just children in these mines either. Adults are sent 600 feet below the surface to work. The children are often sent down dangerous, unstable chambers.
You can not eat food grown in the area and birds and fish don’t survive.
At the time of this report, the UN estimated about 80 children die each year in these mines. Up to 40,000 children are put to work daily. The UN International Labour Organisation described the cobalt mines in DRC as one of the worst forms of child labour.
Many will end up with chronic diseases and sex attacks on girls as young as ten are common. Children as young as four are put to work in the mines.
Tests indicated the area of the mines was one of the ten most polluted areas of the world. Nearby residents had cobalt urinary readings 43 times higher than normal. Lead, cadmium and uranium were four times higher.
Between November 2018 and February 2019, the bottom fell out of the cobalt market and the mines laid off thousands of workers. It’s a safe bet there were no redundancy payouts, health plans or any health monitoring whatsoever of the workers, both adult and children.
The downturn was for a number of reasons, but given the mining and processing of cobalt is dependent on two countries, it’s not a stable market. DRC mines 60 percent of the worlds cobalt and China is the main processor. Instability in DRC and economic impact in China slowed the cobalt market considerably.
China is now looking at mega factories to process cobalt. This will require a massive increase in cobalt mining, at least four times the amount previously mined.
In April 2019 a business report stated cobalt had doubled in price and was once again a hot commodity. A somewhat disturbing trend is the fact China purchased mines and owns eight of the 14 largest cobalt mines in DRC. By the time you read this, that number will have increased considerably.
It begs the question; will China improve the lot of the mine workers including children, or take advantage of the lack of human rights and workers rights in DRC?”
Many western governments and some states in the US have expressed their desire to eliminate gas vehicles in favor of electric ones. A CNN report from 2017 listed them and other nations have since been added to the list.
Britain wants to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and have a national fleet of zero emission vehicles by 2050.
France wants to end sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 and will allow only electric vehicle or hybrid vehicle sales.
India stated all vehicles sold after 2030 are to be electric.
Other countries include Norway, China, Denmark, Germany, Ireland. Japan, Portugal, Korea, Spain and New Zealand.
The United States has no national plan, but several states have laid out plans to move to electric vehicles.
While some people will celebrate the rise and rise of electric vehicles, I ask myself this question — What will become of the men, woman and children of places like the Democratic Republic of Congo? Are they expendable in wealthy nation’s drive for a clean environment for their citizens?
The CNN report states 95 percent of electric vehicles sold are in just 10 countries. China, the U.S., Japan, Canada, Norway, the U.K., France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The disturbing pattern I see here is the makeup of these nations. Other than Japan and China, these are all very wealthy white nations that push the green, climate change agenda.
Are we so impassioned with the idea of saving the world from climate change and embedding green policies, we think the ‘world’ is western nations and the poor black nations are there to facilitate this dogma?
Do the electric vehicle proponents ignore the plight of these people to push their agenda? Or do they see them as expendable to achieve their perfect, clean, carbon neutral world?
The cobalt industry is on the rise again and the sleeping giant of China is involved. It is only going to get bigger. The desire to have electric vehicles is growing. What becomes of the children and adults of the DRC?
All Rights Reserved for Craig “A1” Taylor