The Citizen (Gauteng)
Dishing dirt on clean energy
One of the most common “bangmaak stories” you’ll hear from the conservative business and political establishment in South Africa is that x action or y statement or z policy will have the terrible effect of scaring away precious “foreign investment”.
It’s a such an effective scare story because few people bother to interrogate it. The question which needs to be asked, when it comes to foreign investment, is: What is the real benefit?
A good example was the investment, around the time of our first democratic elections, by Irish businessman Tony O’Reilly into what is now known as Independent Newspapers. O’Reilly got the group for a fire sale price from its owners, the Argus company, and, in a matter of years, took far more out of South Africa, in terms of repatriated profits (R500 million a year at their peak) than he ever “invested” into the country. At the same time, he reduced the workforce by more than two-thirds before cutting and running and selling the company to Iqbal Surve in 2014.
As an employee of Independent Newspapers during those years, it saddened and angered me to realise that we, South African workers (treated way worse than our counterparts in the Independent’s Irish and British operations) were not a lot different from the slaves on plantations. We were exploited so that the people in Europe (mainly white) could have a comfortable life and quality media.
That’s how colonial exploitation (ie foreign investment) works…
I am increasingly getting disturbed by a similar, neo-colonial exploitation process which is happening across the globe so that the citizens of First World countries (again, mainly white) can feel good about themselves. This is the headlong frenetic move to “go green” by going electric.
While the cities of Europe and North America bleat about global warming (sorry, climate change is the current correct term) and how it is caused by hydrocarbon fuel sources, and while they aim to penalise anyone buying a terrible, dinosaur petrol- or diesel-engined vehicles; they blithely continue to leave billions of light bulbs burning in empty rooms in empty buildings every night. All while much of the Third World has no electricity at all.
The awful tale of the environmental impacts of “green energy” has remained largely untold as journalists in First World countries seldom question the narrative. I watched a disturbing documentary on Al Jazeera recently which went into some of the negative, and hidden, effects of the lemming run to green electricity.
Cobalt, a major component in batteries for electric cars, comes from mines in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where child labour is rife. Vast copper mines, needed to satisfy the huge thirst for the metal as a connection medium, are polluting environments across the world, from Chile to Zambia. In China, frenetic extraction of rare minerals (also essential in the new green products) has destroyed natural beauty and endangered the lives of millions.
In Germany, hundreds of blades of electric wind turbines lie abandoned, because they cannot be economically recycled. The same is true of many solar cell systems which, the sellers don’t tell you, only have a design life of around 25 years.
All of us in the developing world are suffering so that the rich in the global North can have a comfortable life and a clean conscience.
The awful tale of the environmental impacts of ‘green energy’ has remained largely untold and unquestioned.