Biden should help clean up the developing world’s exotic mining tragedy – ‘Environmental degradation & humanity atrocities’ to support wind, solar, and EV batteries
The enormous amounts of money being allocated for solar and wind — and the never-ending extensions of the tax credits for them — shows that energy policies in Washington and California continues to support the environmental degradation and humanity atrocities in the foreign countries that are supplying the exotic minerals and metals to support wind turbines, solar panels, and EV batteries.
By Ronald Stein
Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure, Irvine, California
Reducing America’s emissions is a major goal of President-Elect Biden’s Platform, but it should not be implemented by “leaking” environmental degradation and humanity atrocities to foreign countries that are supplying the exotic minerals and metals to support green electricity. Biden has an opportunity to follow the lead of the United Nations and Amnesty International as the efforts to achieve net-zero emissions must not be built on human rights abuses or on non-existent environmental regulations in foreign countries.
Biden’s “war on pollution”, will require worldwide transparency of supply chains, and environmental and labor protection laws and standards to control the environmental degradation and humanity atrocities occurring around the world from the mining in the foreign countries that dominate the supply chain of the exotic minerals and metals to support wind turbines, solar panels and EV battery construction.
The dark side of renewable wind, solar, EV batteries, and biofuel energy is that they are not clean, green, renewable, or sustainable. They are horrifically destructive in foreign countries to their vital ecological values that will last for generations to come.
At the end-of-life cycles for wind turbines, solar panel, and EV batteries, Biden has the opportunity to seek decommissioning, restoration, and recycling standards in foreign countries down to the last dandelion, just like we have for a decommissioned mine, oil, or nuclear sites in America.
Climate change remains one of the most serious threats to the integrity of life on earth. But we still need the world to have compassion for the trade-off to eliminate fossil fuels too quickly as it will allow the continuation of 11 million children in the world dying every year. Those fatalities are from the preventable causes of diarrhea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth as many developing countries have no, or minimal, access to the thousands of products from oil derivatives enjoyed by the wealthy and healthy countries.
Biden can share with the world their need to comprehend that energy is more than intermittent electricity from wind and solar. Ever since the discovery of the versatility of products available from petroleum derivatives, and the beginning of manufacturing and assembly of cars, trucks, airplanes, and military equipment in the early 1900’s, the world has had almost 200 years to develop clones or generics to replace the crude oil derivatives that are the basis of more than 6,000 products that are the basis of lifestyles and economies around the world.
The social needs of our materialistic societies, both stateside and worldwide, are most likely going to remain for continuous, uninterruptable, and reliable electricity from coal, natural gas, or nuclear electricity generation backup to the intermittent renewables, and for all those chemicals derivatives that get manufactured out of crude oil, that makes everything that’s part of our daily lifestyles and economies.
The key to wealth and prosperity is continued access to the thousands of products made from oil derivatives, and reliable, continuous, uninterruptable, and affordable electricity. The ‘unreliable’, wind and solar threaten both wealth and prosperity.
America has only about four percent of the world’s population (330 million vs. 8 billion). Biden knows that oil and gas is not just an American business with its 135 refineries in the U.S. but an international industry with more than 700 refineries worldwide that service the demands of the 8 billion living on earth.
The unintended consequences of Biden’s goal of getting rid of fossil fuels in America by 2050 is that it would result in importing the fuels and products from foreign locations that have significantly less stringent environmental controls. That plan will work, but with higher costs to the American consumer, and may put America at a national security risk with increased dependance on foreign countries for the products and fuels for America’s economy.
Biden need not reinvent the wheel requiring transparency of worldwide environmental laws and labor laws as the U.N. trade body, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD,) has already issued a report breaking down some of the unintended negative consequences of the green shift, or emission “leakage”, to foreign countries, which include ecological degradation as well as human rights abuses.
Additionally, Amnesty International has documented children and adults mining cobalt in narrow man-made tunnels), and the exposure to the dangerous gases emitted during the procurement of these rare minerals, not to mention the destruction of the local ecosystems when the wastewater and other unusable ores are let loose onto the environments they have no choice but to live in because their wages are so infinitesimally small, it should cause us to take a step back and examine our moral obligations to humanity.
America could promote sustainable mining in those developing countries to restoring the land to a healthy ecosystem after the mine closes and by leaving surrounding communities with more wealth, education, health care, and infrastructure that they had before the mine went into production. Like the mining in America, the mining in developing countries must be the objective of corporate social responsibilities and the outcome of the successful ecological restoration of landscapes.
America’s passion for green electricity to reduce emissions must be ethical and should not thrive off human rights and environmental abuses in the foreign countries providing the exotic minerals and metals to support America’s green passion.
Ronald Stein, P.E.
Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure