Friday, December 11, 2009

A Divine Whodunnit

I know that life has been called a Divine Comedy, but I can't help feeling that it's every bit as much a Divine Whodunnit. A mystery story complete with enough twists and turns to satisfy Agatha Christie.

Have you a moment to hear about Rare Earth? I'd never heard of it before, and it's possible that you haven't either.
Let me tell you what I learned the other day on Channel 4, something that puts an unexpected, and unwelcome, twist into the green technology story.

When I went on the Climate Change march last week I thought, in my innocence, that all green technologies were wholly innocent and good. Would that the story of our planet were so simple!

It came as a revelation to learn that Rare Earth is a combination of mineral elements that are absolutely essential to green technology.
You want wind farms? You need Rare Earth. You want electric cars? You definitely need Rare Earth. You want computers? Yes, it's Rare Earth once again that makes the IT revolution possible.

And where do you find this Rare Earth? It appears that ninety-five per cent of the world's supply is mined in China and Mongolia, from where it is exported.
In Mongolia, where the main mines exist, mining for Rare Earth has ravaged the landscape, poisoned the rivers, rendered the land infertile, and caused the native inhabitants of the area to evacuate their villages as they can no longer produce food or continue to live in the poisonous atmosphere. In other words, it seems that green technology is starting to be detrimental to the environment in the way that we've already seen with fossil fuel-powered technology.

I'd no idea about this. Had you?

As China can no longer produce sufficient Rare Earth to satisfy global needs, it's now being suggested that the world will have to start mining elsewhere.
Perhaps it might also be wise to start looking for an environmentally friendly equivalent of Rare Earth . . . wait a minute now, am I getting forgetful or haven't we said something very similar before . . . ?

If the current story of life on our planet is a Divine Whodunnit, there's not the slight doubt who did it. It doesn't take a Miss Marple to uncover the clues of greed and thoughtlessness that
we've left scattered over every chapter.

Will our story have a happy ending . . . will we all 'live happily ever after' . . . ?

But, no . . . we can't cheat and skip to the last pages of the book. Instead, let's be positive. Our world is too wonderful, too precious, to lose . . . we want to stay here . . . how would you like a solar-powered torch for Christmas? Always provided we can find one that doesn't contain Rare Earth!