Greentech hurts poor people, pollutes land.

Business as usual, in other words. Remember, it doesn’t count if it’s not impacting the First World:

Some of the greenest technologies of the age, from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to very large wind turbines, are made possible by an unusual group of elements called rare earths. The world’s dependence on these substances is rising fast.

Just one problem: These elements come almost entirely from China, from some of the most environmentally damaging mines in the country, in an industry dominated by criminal gangs.

That’s actually three problems, all of which are more or less independent of each other. Fixing any one of the three wouldn’t solve the other two, although fixing at least one probably certainly wouldn’t hurt; but, for example, the mines will still be ecological menaces even absent the criminal elements and single-source production.  All in all, chalk up another win for the Law of Unintended Consequences, although Law of Unconsidered Consequences may be more accurate here.  After all, a little bit of research beforehand would have easily warned would-be innovators that there would be road bumps on this particular road to Shangri-La.

Whether they would have cared is another question, of course…

Moe Lane

PS: This may be the best bit from the article:

“This industry wants to save the world,” said Nicholas Curtis, the executive chairman of the Lynas Corporation of Australia, in a speech to an industry gathering in Hong Kong in late November. “We can’t do it and leave a product that is glowing in the dark somewhere else, killing people.”

Actually, it’s much more accurate to say that’s what they’re doing now, only without the ‘saving the world’ part; they’re just being uncomfortable at being caught at it.

Crossposted to Moe Lane.