It’s impossible to ethically support Greta’s mission of sustainable energy without first liberating the child slaves in the Congo’s cobalt mines whose daily sacrifices make the envisaged widespread use of electric vehicles possible.
Greta Thunberg’s mission of supporting sustainable energy in order to avert what she’s convinced herself and her millions of followers is the impending climate apocalypse entails the widespread use of electric vehicles as a realistic alternative if the world the world cuts down on its fossil fuel consumption, but the massive problem with this campaign is that it conveniently ignores the fact that tens of thousands of children are being forced into slavery working in the Congo’s cobalt mines in order to extract the mineral that’s required to create the batteries for powering this technology. Even overlooking the issue of which methods would be used to generate the electricity that would charge those vehicles in the first place, this is a serious problem that must be addressed as soon as possible by the child activist otherwise there’s no ethical way to support what she stands for. The UK’s Guardian reported in October 2018 that at least 35,000 child slaves, some as young as the age of six, are working in this completely unregulated industry in one of the world’s most conflict-ridden and impoverished states which is still struggling to emerge from back-to-back wars that killed upwards of five million people over the past two decades mostly through starvation and disease that directly resulted from those conflicts.
It’s already a stain on the global consciousness that this child slave-extracted cobalt is used by billions of people in all sorts of modern-day gadgets such as smartphones and computers without barely anyone knowing or even caring once they find out about the atrocities that are committed on a daily basis in order to uphold their standard of living, but everything will only get worse if governments across the world begin to take Greta’s mission seriously and start prioritizing the purchase of electric vehicles without first ensuring that humanitarian safeguards are in place to prevent the use of child slaves in this industry. Not only that, but the moral argument can be made that the 35,000 child slaves currently forced to sacrifice their lives working in the Congo’s cobalt mines should first be liberated and given the life that they deserve, one in which their basic services are met such as the right to receive an education and live in safe conditions. Until that is achieved, Greta’s mission will only lead to more suffering for these innocent souls, whether she realizes it or not, which is why it’s incumbent on all of her supporters to make her aware of what’s happening there so that she can direct some of her activism towards dealing with this primary issue upon which her future plans for solving the climate crisis depend.
The failure to do so would inevitably lead to the indefinite institutionalization of a racial labor hierarchy whereby the “golden billion” and those below them have their modern-day living standards upheld through the sacrifices of the Congo’s 35,000 child slaves who toil daily in one of the world’s most dangerous working environments in order to extract the minerals that are a necessary component of contemporary civilization, which includes not only the gadgets connected to the information-communication technology industry which practically everyone interacts with in one way or another, but also the electric vehicle one that will surge upon the successful implementation of Greta’s plans. It is biggest shames of the international activist community that those who claim to care so much about the long-term collective good of the planet don’t care about relieving the suffering of the 35,000 child slaves in the Congo whose forced labor makes the envisaged environmentally sustainable future possible. While some might simply be ignorant of these facts, others are indeed aware but don’t believe that it’s a cause worth fighting for because they take this unethical use of Congolese child slave labor for granted and have therefore resigned themselves to believing that it’s the price to pay for a better world.
That attitude is absolutely unacceptable, as is the the one of apathetically refusing to share this insight with other fellow activists upon learning about it since Greta’s millions of followers have the collective power to focus their on-the-ground efforts to ensure that her solution of widespread electric vehicle use is carried out ethically in line with internationally established labor norms that prohibit the use of child slaves in any industry such as the cobalt extraction one. Furthermore, they could also raise the required funds to liberate those enslaved children and ensure that they and their families live dignified lives after being freed from the mines, or at the very least put pressure on their governments to do something tangible about this on their behalf. Therefore, it is of the highest importance that her supporters and others in the international activist community prioritize freeing the child slaves from the Congo’s cobalt mines as the first step to ensuring that any envisaged solution to the climate issue that involves electric vehicles and related technology is ethical, otherwise they and their efforts will actually end up inadvertently fueling this problem and contributing not only to these innocent children’s further suffering, but even the nightmare scenario of forever institutionalizing the racial labor hierarchy that they’re forced to waste the rest of their lives toiling in.
By Andrew Korybko
Source: One World