Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Russian skulduggery, riots, political coups – and the lithium rush is just getting started.
Russia allegedly meddled in Bolivia’s controversial election
By Max de Haldevang November 17, 2019
A Russian state company sent around 10 spin doctors to Bolivia beginning in mid-2019 to help the incumbent president Evo Morales win last month’s allegedly rigged election, according to an investigation by independent Russian publication Proekt.
Bolivia has been thrown into chaos in recent weeks amid allegations that Morales, who has been in office since 2006, fixed the election. After weeks of protests, the military “suggested” Morales step down on Nov. 10—he did so hours later. A conservative opposition senator declared herself president two days later, in what Morales and his allies around the world, including Russia, are calling a coup.
Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear energy company, and the Bolivian government have agreed to build a $300 million nuclear complex and are in talks about working to mine Bolivia’s enormous lithium reserves. The company intervened in the election due to fears that defeat for the socialist Morales to a candidate more closely aligned with the United States could damage the lucrative relationship, Proekt reported in the investigation published on Oct. 23.
…Read more: https://qz.com/1749788/russia-allegedly-helped-evo-morales-in-bolivian-election/
Renewables are not exactly covering themselves in glory on the geopolitical stage. Cobalt, a vital component of high capacity batteries, is extracted by teams of children working in dangerous mines operated by brutal Congolese warlords. Chinese peasants suffering toxic pollution released by their hideous rare earth mine (rare Earths are used to produce high strength magnets, vital for efficient wind turbines). Now we can add corruption and political instability in South America to the cost of renewables.
There are strenuous ongoing efforts to develop less socially damaging battery components. Scientists are working to find a way to replace lithium with sodium. Other scientists are working to replace cobalt with manganese and iron.
As far as I know, none of these alternatives are ready for mainstream use.
For now, the price of our renewable revolution is toxic waste, child exploitation, bloodshed, revolution and oppression.