Carnage of Child Labor and Ecological Destruction “Elsewhere” acceptable to Wealthy Countries

Wealthy countries’ actions, to meet their emission goals, show little concern for the humanity atrocities and the environment degradation in “other” countries.

Published August 19, 2023, at the Heartland Institute

Ronald Stein  is an engineer, senior policy advisor on energy literacy for the Heartland Institute and CFACT, and co-author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated book “Clean Energy Exploitations.”

Global cobalt demand soared with the advent of cell phones and laptop computers. Cobalt improves battery performance, extends driving range and reduces fire risks. Now, cobalt, lithium, and other materials are exploding with the arrival of electric vehicles in tandem with government EV mandates and subsidies.

All that electrical transformation equipment will require billions of tons of cobalt, lithium, copper, nickel, graphite, iron, aluminum, rare earths, and other raw materials at scales unprecedented in human history. That will necessitate mining, ore processing, manufacturing, land disruption and pollution at equally unprecedented levels.

The Administration is laser-focused on ending the “climate crisis” by switching to “clean” electricity. It has few qualms about importing the critically needed materials from foreign countries, primarily China – regardless of economic, defense, national security, ecological or human rights implications. It just wants the dirty aspects of “clean” electricity far away and out of sight.

Cobalt mining involves unimaginable horrors that are never discussed by environmentalists nor by government leaders. However, the Biden Administration opposes mining in the United States even under stringent US pollution, workplace safety and mined-land reclamation regulations.

An educational and entertaining  45-minute discussion between Stu Turley of Sandstone Media’s Energy News Beat and Ronald Stein about “Clean Energy Exploitations” brings transparency to the humanity exploitations and environmental degradation in the developing countries that are mining for the exotic minerals and metals required to create the batteries needed to store “green electricity”.  Just a few minutes into the video I provide an explanation of the exploitations that should be considered in the buying process for an EV that should be viewed by all environmentalists and government leaders.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom has been vocal about his commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. However, some of his recent actions of “leaking” emissions to other countries violate many sections of the written legal framework of The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32).

We hear much about reparations for descendants of American slaves, but little about reparations for Native Americans, and zilch about compensating these modern-day slaves in developing countries like those in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa that holds 72 percent of the world’s known supplies of cobalt.

The silence is deafening from billionaires like Bill Gates, John Kerry, Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, and President Biden. Through the encouragement of tax incentives and subsidies to go to EV’s and electricity from wind and solar, they are providing financial incentives to China, who already controls the supply chain for the minerals and metals to go green, furthering our total dependence on China to achieve the green goals of America.

With demographics of EV owners predominantly middle-aged white men earning more than $100,000 per year, Social Security shows that the national average wage index for 2021 is only $60,575 ($40,000 less than the average EV owner). US News recently reported that more than 60 percent of adults are living from paycheck to paycheck and that 48 percent of Americans with annual incomes over $100,000 are also living paycheck to paycheck. As U.S. consumers struggle to afford their day-to-day lifestyle, many are relying on credit cards or dipping into savings, making them financially vulnerable.

Besides the affordability of ANY new car, ICE or EV, is it ethical and morally responsible to purchase an EV knowing where the supply chain of EV battery materials originates?

Those that are less fortunate in poorer developing countries are the ones mining for exotic minerals and metals to support the movement in wealthy countries to EV’s and intermittent electricity from wind and solar.

The wealthy country elites continue to demonstrate their lack of ethical, moral, and social responsibilities, by using subsidies that encourage the continued exploitations of people with yellow, brown, and black skin and the environmental degradation occurring “elsewhere”, out of view of those living in wealthy countries.

Ronald Stein, P.E.

Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure

Energy Literacy website           

Ronald Stein (energy consultant) Wikipedia page

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Tom Halla
August 21, 2023 6:31 pm

The current regime in Congo is using King Leopold as a guide, not a caution.
As it is Africans and Chinese doing the exploiting, Western intelligensia will be indifferent.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 22, 2023 4:16 am

“As it is Africans and Chinese doing the exploiting,”

Only this time round; it used to be …
Africans and Arabs, before that it was – Africans and Romans, Africans and Egyptians, Africans and Greeks, Africans and Byzantine Empire; Africans have always sold their people.

ALL ‘civilizations’ have been facilitated by slavery.

In Europe we had a feudal economy with serfs & peasants (~ slaves by another name), the remnants of that system still exists in 2023 with tenant farmers.

Edward Katz
August 21, 2023 6:39 pm

The manufacturers of EVs have been pulling fast ones from the outset. They priced them deliberately high and depended on government subsidies to entice buyers, except a subsidy that lowers the price by only 10% is no great bargain to begin with. But they continued to keep the numbers high in the hope that government mandates banning the sale of gas/diesel types would force consumers to buy EVs anyway. Now they’re finding far more resistance by those buyers and we’ve already seen voters lobbying governments in Britain and Germany, among others, to withdraw those mandates. Chances are good we’ll be seeing such protests in North America as people refuse to be held hostage by a combination of green alarmists, greedy producers and unrealistic elected officials suspected of looking for kickbacks.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Edward Katz
August 21, 2023 7:32 pm

protests in North America
In NA such activities quickly become dangerous because the Green and ClimateCult™ have a history that shows violence associated with its direct-action stunts is acceptable. A specific example:  William Aslaksen drove his car into a group of people protesting coronavirus vaccine mandates in Southern California. How does a sane person arrive at the decision to do such a thing?
What sort of protests will we see?
Note that thousands of people are protesting the problems of New York, San Francisco, and similar cities by moving. They are not marching on City Hall or State Houses. Each move is a subtle protest, or for a major employer a not-so-subtle statement. The place they move from is depleted of the talent and taxes that could help resolve some of the issues.
This is the sort of protests I think we will see more of.

Reply to  John Hultquist
August 21, 2023 8:54 pm

Moving is what one does, when one has decided that protests don’t work.
With the left having control of the media and the courts, protesting against any of the current left wing hot button issues is not only a waste of time, it could get you fired, and or put in jail.
In Britain there have been several people arrested for praying silently within 100 feet of an abortion clinic.

John Oliver
Reply to  MarkW
August 21, 2023 9:24 pm

I was shocked to learn how weak civil liberty protections are in the UK

Izaak Walton
Reply to  John Oliver
August 21, 2023 11:10 pm

which is no doubt why people on the right in the UK want to abolish the Human Rights act.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
August 21, 2023 11:34 pm

WRONG, they want to replace it with something that allows human rights for everybody, not just for leftist agitators and disruptors and criminal illegal immigrants.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  bnice2000
August 21, 2023 11:37 pm

And can you point me to the part of the text where people are excluded from the UK’s Human Right’s Bill?

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Izaak Walton
August 22, 2023 2:22 am

A country with no written constitution, no bill of rights and a not very democratic electoral system (a single government elected with 50% of the votes since 1945), allows for referenda* to pass on less than 40% of the total electorate is a soft target for an extremist takeover by any group.

The UK fits that specification perfectly.

* Not talking about any specific referendum as there have been several.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
August 22, 2023 2:31 am

So you really don’t understand the problems at the moment…

Where leftist agitators and society disrupters have more rights than the normal everyday person going about their day..

Where illegal immigrants can duck criminal charges and remain in the country.

Where parents cannot protect their children against exposure to the degenerate immorality of the trans-gender movement.

Surely, even someone as morally depraved as you, must realise that current systems protected the scum-of-the-earth, far more than the rights of normal people.

Why do leftists hate normal society so much that they think that normal people’s rights should be over-run by activists, deviants and criminals ?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  bnice2000
August 22, 2023 3:42 am

“Why do leftists hate normal society so much that they think that normal people’s rights should be over-run by activists, deviants and criminals ?”

That’s the nature of the beast.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  bnice2000
August 22, 2023 5:14 am

They operate as La Cosa Nostra has done. Those at the top (elites) were isolated by telling the common thugs (activists) what to do. Anybody threatening the organization (common people) were canceled.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
August 22, 2023 3:36 am

What specious bollux. I am a UK citizen, 50 + years of paying UK taxes – how are my “rights” to the UK equivalent of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” protected by decades of unrestrained, now blatantly illegal immigration – how arrivals at Dover, actively assisted by corrupt French authorities who do NOT apply their beloved EU laws on asylum and facilitate the illegal trafficking of economic migrants ( in DIRECT contrast to their Belgian counterparts) are put up in plush hotels, and given money whilst a large part of the population struggles with household bills let alone being unable to afford anything approaching decent accommodation? Are you so incompetently illiterate NOT to have read/seen how the UK government, Civil Service, Police, Military and Intelligence Services have combined since ~ late 2019 to fetter the lives of UK residents, all based on a shamdemic, and effectively forced the mandate of “vaccination” by drugs that are dangerous on a scale never seen before – are you so blind to be oblivious to what has been and continues to be revealed about the massive medical fraud perpetuated by the pharmaceutical crime cabal – how does that stack up against my rights under the UKHRA?

For your information, it is the operation of laws such as the UK HRA by allegedly competent “authorities” that disenfranchises people who wish to go about their lawful business but are prevented by illegal demonstrations actively aided and abetted by the Police, demonstrations which often involve criminal defacement of property, in stark contrast to counter demonstrations you might characterise as by the “right”? But I suspect you know that from the optical acuity of your one eye – I am sick and tired of your implied Woke/left characterisation that anyone wishing for equality of treatment as should be the case with any law is of the “right” – but many thanks for exposing your bias in plain sight, very helpful.

Reply to  186no
August 22, 2023 7:16 am

To those on the left, human rights mean the right to force others to pay for what you want.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  186no
August 22, 2023 2:23 pm

Clearly I should have realised that “human rights” don’t apply to non-whites. And that the poorest in society shouldn’t get any protection at all.

Reply to  186no
August 22, 2023 2:56 pm

Excellent response!

Reply to  Izaak Walton
August 24, 2023 6:22 am

Many examples of selective interpretations and application to benefit the leftista.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
August 22, 2023 7:14 am

There are no human rights in the Human Rights Act.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  MarkW
August 22, 2023 2:29 pm

what nonsense. Here are just some of the rights set out in the Human Rights Act:

  1. Right to life
  2. Prohibition of torture
  3. Prohibition of slavery and forced labour
  4. Right to liberty and security
  5. Right to a fair trial
  6. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  7. Prohibition of discrimination

And there are plenty more. I would love to hear why the right to life for example is not a human right?

Reply to  Izaak Walton
August 22, 2023 2:54 pm

Do those rights only apply when they’re convenient? They certainly don’t see to apply to those who suffer without them in furtherance of the green agenda.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
August 23, 2023 7:32 pm

You didn’t provide the link thus I remain aloof.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  MarkW
August 22, 2023 3:45 am

“In Britain there have been several people arrested for praying silently within 100 feet of an abortion clinic.”

That is outrageous. A country’s People are in trouble when the authorities think it is a good thing to arrest someone for praying.

The radical Left turns the world upside down, and makes everything worse than it was.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 22, 2023 8:15 am

That is outrageous

How about tackling and cornering an autistic teenager for simply wondering out loud if a female cop was a lesbian?

There’s your “human rights” in UK.

August 21, 2023 8:50 pm

I wouldn’t say these things are acceptable to wealthy countries. There are plenty of us who get upset when we hear about them.

I would say that these things are acceptable to wealthy leftists and to wealthy greens.
I would also point out that wealthy leftists also control most news outlets so the chance of most people ever hearing about these things is slim.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  MarkW
August 22, 2023 3:55 am

I think that sums it up nicely.

The fault is with the radical Left, not ordinary people.

John Oliver
August 21, 2023 9:04 pm

I think we are witnessing a perfect storm developing. False narratives , fear mongering, blatantly corrupt politicians resulting in irrational mass movement psych/social phenomena. Even people that really should know better have fallen for it. Even Elon Musk . His flagship businesses are just gigantic tax payer subsidized money sinks.

Our economies as well as our personal liberty cannot sustain this indefinitely. Government is not even fulfilling their most basic obligations anymore- they are to busy chasing insane woke policies and trying to distract from their unprecedented malfeasance in office. Will enough people snap out of it or just go quietly into the woke hell.

Reply to  John Oliver
August 21, 2023 9:58 pm

Government is not even fulfilling their most basic obligations anymore- they are to busy chasing insane woke policies and trying to distract from their unprecedented malfeasance in office.

UK councils are staring into a financial black hole.

As an example, Thurrock council have a £500m black hole in their finances due in part to the purchase of 53 solar farms.

This year, councils are closing leisure centresreducing care packages and raising fees for services like waste collection and parking in order to break even.

Of course, it’s nothing to do with mismanagement, inflated salaries, and fat, index-linked pensions, is it?

Reply to  John Oliver
August 22, 2023 1:30 am

A question that is behind the official, government censorship activities (misinformation suppression) in so many western countries recently.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  John Oliver
August 22, 2023 3:56 am

“Will enough people snap out of it or just go quietly into the woke hell.”

That is the question.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 22, 2023 8:17 am

That is the question.

I expect option #2. Atlas Shrugged was a prophecy.

August 21, 2023 9:43 pm

Carnage of Child Labor and Ecological Destruction “Elsewhere” acceptable to Wealthy Countries

The UK receives a lot of stick for its part in the African slave trade all those centuries ago, despite the fact that the UK led the world in trying to abolish slavery.

The left fall over themselves to demand apologies and, of course, money for the descendants of the slaves, yet no one mentions the fact that Africans themselves played a big part in the slave trade.

I’m not condoning the slave trade by any means, it was wrong to exploit Africans, selling people is wrong, and their treatment was abhorrent.

It seems to me by forcing us down the “electrify everything” route, the same left-wingers are now actively campaigning for a return to slavery in countries like the Congo.

Eco-colonialism is rife amongst the left.

Writing Observer
Reply to  Redge
August 21, 2023 10:17 pm

Leopold II was considered by (most) Belgians to be a great guy. Known as “Leopold the Builder” for the multitude of public works that he financed.

History always rhymes…

Reply to  Redge
August 22, 2023 3:47 am

I’m not condoning the slave trade by any means, it was wrong to exploit Africans, selling people is wrong, and their treatment was abhorrent.”

I am waiting for the left to demonstrate in the capitals of those African countries whose indiginous populations established and profited from the trading of native africans long before any europeans got in on the act, demanding reparations, and exposing the trade in non african people – all documented as I read but strangely not mentioned by the Woke Left – but that would badly damage their narrative….

general custer
Reply to  Redge
August 22, 2023 6:07 am

I’m not condoning the slave trade by any means, it was wrong to exploit Africans, selling people is wrong,

It may have been “wrong” but it was also legal. Slavery in the US was just as legal in the North as in the South for many, many decades. The Stars and Stripes flew over slave cabins far longer than the now-banned Stars and Bars. And the African aristocracy at the time were major participants in the business.

As far as cobalt extraction is concerned, there are no statistics on its scale. Doesn’t it seem a little odd that if there were fortunes to be made in the mining and processing of cobalt ore it would be done by highly mechanized techniques achieving maximum efficiency instead of children? If you lived on a hill of high-grade cobalt ore would you gather together the neighbor’s kids to scoop it up with their hands? Of course not. Nobody, not even nasty primitive African blacks, currently owners of smart phones, automobiles, computers, refrigerators and washing machines, can ignore the economic realities of mineral exploitation. Viable ore bodies are developed with state of the art machinery, not child labor. This is not to say that children, how ever defined, don’t occupy a different place in a different culture. In the contemporary West childhood, and lack of personal responsibilities, extends into a person’s late 20s, Not everyone looks at it the same way as suburban Americans. There may be some hopelessly inefficient small scale efforts in manually producing cobalt ore but if indeed there’s a significant demand for the element it will be filled by advanced mining techniques, not child labor, no matter who is in charge.

Reply to  general custer
August 22, 2023 7:21 am

Deposits need to be large before highly mechanized mining becomes profitable.

John Oliver
Reply to  general custer
August 22, 2023 7:42 am

It is a good point you make. But I can find numerous examples of say gold or diamond mining done in a highly efficient mechanized modern industrial way; and at the same time find 1000s of examples of it done at a much more or less primitive level. Many examples to of primitive gold mining in south america by small scale entrepreneurs happy to take the risk. And as others have pointed out there can be a fine line between slavery, or indentured servitude or just opportunistic exploitation.

I think it is the the hypocrisy of the virtue signaling left that really irritates us so much, not the reality of the world.

general custer
Reply to  John Oliver
August 22, 2023 9:17 am

The masthead of the California Mining Journal read “Without Mining There Is No Civilization”, an obvious truth. Even today individuals are sniping gold nuggets from the northern California rivers and the beaches of Nome, Alaska. They are not commercial operations. Unlike coal and iron ore, no industries are dependent upon them at the moment. The same is true of African cobalt extraction. The need for the product already outpaces the supply that can be generated by manual labor. The primitive methods of cobalt extraction are a bogus excuse for opposing the insane hyper-electrification of the near future but if it works OK.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Redge
August 22, 2023 6:42 am

The Arab slavery of Africans began several centuries before the UK got involved but rarely seems to be mentioned and the Arab slavers were helped by African slavers just like the UK was.

Reply to  Dave Andrews
August 22, 2023 7:22 am

Arab slavers were still involved centuries after the Europeans had ended the practice in their countries.

August 22, 2023 8:24 am

This is the much-needed reality TV series and investigative reporting that will not happen.

Walter Sobchak
August 22, 2023 8:34 am

“cobalt, lithium, and other materials are exploding with the arrival of electric vehicles”

Literally and figuratively.

rim shot.

Gunga Din
August 22, 2023 10:49 am

Where are all the people that, several years ago, were outraged that stores were selling clothes made in sweatshops?
Are they hiding with all the “Save the Whales” crowd?

Andy Pattullo
August 22, 2023 11:17 am

These are wise words but will the deciders bother to read them? Doing the “virtuous thing” is something people wear like costume jewelry with no thought to whether they are really making the world a better or worse place for the most vulnerable.

August 22, 2023 11:52 am

WHY is it so hard? We need to recycle, recycle, recycle in order to ethically address the ‘need a car again’ problem.

The Scientific American (and other journals both popular and professional) had a celebrated article years and years before the first ‘new technology’ e-cars came out, which promoted at the time the idea that the ‘sled’ underneath the car would be 100% recyclable. You know, car frame, motor, battery, all electronics associated with it, charging ports, etc. Only the upper part the ‘human occupancy bit’ could be changed out as fashion dictates.

Is this idea moot?

The electric motors hardly die from mechanical issues. Oh maybe the forever-bearings need periodic 250,000 mile / 400,000 km replacement. Not a biggie. Likewise, on the same rotation cycle, the battery packs certainly should be recycled. There’s a LOT of nice cobalt, lithium and other coppery bits in there. The upper part, the cabriolet on top also is eminently recyclable. Either chopped into bits, magnetically separated into heaps, or more exquisitely deconstructed into more useful not-mixed-up piles.

Seriously, is this all that hard of a proposition?

Lastly, I note that the same holds for cars that burn dinosaur farts as well. Just this last week, astounded by the stratospheric prices of new small SUVs, I decided to earnestly go looking for ‘reasonably used’ cars. Whaddya know. There are a LOT of them. (You cannot believe how many the US of A sends off in big ships to Central and South America, Africa and so forth.) Said cars, as readily as they’re sucked up by the foreign market, are also a resource for HERE. If we can get used to the idea that a good used car is a good proposition, and a better use of both one’s money, and our impact on the global climate disaster … anyway.

Yes the appeal of sparkly shiny new things is real.
But if we are really concerned per the attendant article, well … used is a good alternative.
Repurpose. Better than recycling.

Reply to  GoatGuy
August 22, 2023 1:24 pm

Most of the car can be easily recycled but the batteries are another issue. Very flammable and mixed with the case almost requires manual separation or some chemical process to separate the lithium components from the rest of the battery. So far it’s not economical to do so and we have piles of discarded batteries to prove it. Remember that EV batteries are composed of thousands of small cells. Look up the battery numbers 18650, 2170 and the newer 4680 and you will see EV batteries are almost designed not to be recycled.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  GoatGuy
August 23, 2023 3:42 am

There IS NO “global climate disaster,” so we have no “effect” on something that doesn’t exist.

August 22, 2023 3:45 pm

in the UK, the vast majority of battery car drivers are those with company cars, who do not pay BIK tax on it under current Government EV rules, which they do quite heavily on comparable ICE vehicles, and of course companies are gifted tax breaks by putting their employees in them – it’s all part of the nut zero nudge
If the Government ever manage to get 30%+ of motorists into battery vehicles, those tax breaks will of course end as the tax revenues from ICE vehicles falls
Most battery company car drivers I speak to would never buy one themselves – the poor range, range anxiety plus severe charging problems being the main concerns
They will never be taken up by the masses, they are dodos in the making

Reply to  Energywise
August 23, 2023 1:09 am

In the UK, I know several EV drivers going back to ICE, apparently great to drive BUT as you say the poor range, range anxiety plus severe charging problems & greater long distance journey times makes for a poor experience.
A friend just driven Anglesey to Newcastle needed 2 half hr charging stops to be sure of reasonable range on arrival.

In Wales we also have the increased journey times of a blanket speed limit of 20mph on most roads with street lighting, starting Sept 17th (1,000s of average speed cameras being installed to catch drivers, [ fine + 3 points, so 4 violations = lose licence ] ).

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