Some time ago, we had a moral conflict about “Conflict Diamonds” Sadly, it seems whenever we enjoy luxuries and “progress” in one form or another, there is always someone else paying the price. We’ve been sold in glowing terms, the “green revolution” which will save the planet from the excesses of fossil fuels, and while that is great marketing, it is far from reality.
In places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, people work long shifts in very unsafe conditions to mine dangerous minerals like Cobalt (which itself causes cancer), that are key to our “green revolution” as these minerals help to make batteries and other essential components.
People die doing this work and it is often the only type of work they can do, they are virtually forced into it, and even children play their part and are dying too. These mining activities affect the wider community, and even the mining dust affects children who live nearby the mines.
You would think that the companies that take the Cobalt from these miners would pay them a decent wage, so that perhaps they could invest in decent infrastructure to make mining safe, not only for those that mine, but for the wider community. But no, Glencore who claim their “responsibly [is to] source the commodities that advance everyday life”, pays very little for this material before it is processed and sold for a whole lot more. Middle men who act as brokers often make the situation worse by using rigged scales and undervaluing what has been mined.
So before the developed world starts to congratulate itself for it’s green revolution, we should make sure that our progress is not yet again on the backs of those who are already suffering from environmental damage and disadvantage as a result of our last revolution (the industrial), have been kicked in the teeth by developed nations not paying attention to the self evident effects of climate change, and are having yet another burden placed on them, which will further deepen their suffering and the inequity that exists between them and us.
See more on this: https://www.thewrap.com/apple-microsoft-child-labor-cobalt-accused/