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A Toxic Mess!


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#1 roc

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 08:57 AM

 

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The Greening of The West Leaves Other Countries a Devastated, Toxic Mess

 

While the West receives shiny new products with the promise of saving the planet, places like Mongolia and Chile are suffering greatly.

baotou-lake1.jpg

I was driving yesterday and found myself amazed at how many hybrid cars there are now, remembering the “wait list” when the Prius first came out. It’s a booming business just getting started. Solar technology is everywhere. There are “solar farms” to enable entire cities to run off of solar panels. Wind turbines dot landscapes across the country. As climate change is a hot topic now (no pun intended), the West is doing its part by “greening” its energy usage and converting to alternative energy sources, like solar or wind power. Cars are traded in for the newest hybrid. It’s all being done because it’s “renewable” and “carbon neutral”.

As a culture, we are myopic. We only see what we want to see. We only see what the culture wants us to see and in this case, the culture wants us to see how amazing it is to buy a solar panel/hybrid car/wind turbine and do our part to curb global warming. We do it and feel great giving the culture our money, knowing, when we go to bed, we did this incredible, Earth-saving venture.

But what if we were really informed? What if we were given all the information on the creation of this “green” product? What if our “greening” was really, at the core, just more destruction?

 

Let’s visit a couple of places where minerals are mined for the production of our “alternative, save-the-Earth, green technology”.

Baotou, China, Inner Mongolia 275740fe-aa75-4631-8d12-7169abf45d92-206Baotou, China: A toxic lake of mine and refinery tailings stretches for over 3.5 miles from Baogang Iron and Steel Corporation. One ton of rare earth produces 75 ton of acidic waste water, a cocktail of acids, heavy metals, carcinogens and radioactive material at three times background radiation. Photo: Toby Smith/Unknown Fields

Most people have never heard of Baotou, China. The same people probably could not (or would not) want to imagine life without it.

Baotou is one of the world’s largest suppliers of “rare earth” minerals. These are elements that are used in the manufacturing of tech gadgets (smart phones) and also our “green alternative energy”: magnets for wind turbines and parts for electric car motors. China produced 95% of the entire world’s supply of rare earth elements. Minerals are mined at the Bayan Obo Mine, just north of Baotou and processed at Baogang Steel and Rare Earth Complex. The rare earth minerals which come from this plant, primarily neodymium and cerium, are actually not so rare and can be found dispersed all over the planet. The problem lies in the extraction. In an article from BBC Future reporter, Tim Maughan (led by the group, Unknown Fields) says so eloquently,

gty_baotou_rare_earth_discharge_pipe_jc_Rare earth discharge, Baotou, China

“The intriguing thing about both neodymium and cerium is that while they’re called rare earth minerals, they’re actually fairly common. Neodymium is no rarer than copper or nickel and quite evenly distributed throughout the world’s crust. While China produces 90% of the global market’s neodymium, only 30% of the world’s deposits are located there. Arguably, what makes it, and cerium, scarce enough to be profitable are the hugely hazardous and toxic process needed to extract them from ore and to refine them into usable products. For example, cerium is extracted by crushing mineral mixtures and dissolving them in sulphuric and nitric acid, and this has to be done on a huge industrial scale, resulting in a vast amount of poisonous waste as a byproduct. It could be argued that China’s dominance of the rare earth market is less about geology and far more about the country’s willingness to take an environmental hit that other nations shy away from.“

 

Google Earth shows us the size of this lake that supports no life.

 

In a place that was once filled with farms as far as the eye could see, now lies a lake (which are called “tailing ponds), visible from Google Earth, filled with radioactive toxic sludge. The water is so contaminated that not even algae will grow. Maughan describes the chill he felt when he saw the lake: “It’s a truly alien environment, dystopian and horrifying”. Because the reservoir was not properly lined when it was built, waste leaked into the groundwater, killing off livestock, making residents sick and destroyed any chance of farming. In reality, though, farmers have long been displaced by factories. The people that remain are experiencing diabetes, osteoporosis and chest problems. Residents of what is now known as the “rare-earth capital of the world” are inhaling solvent vapors, particularly sulphuric acid (used for extraction), as well as coal dust. But hey, we need wind turbines to save the planet. And the electric car is definitely going to reduce carbon emissions.I’m sorry to say that there is no amount of “greening” that going to remove this toxic sludge from the lives of those who live in Baotou. We are stealing the Earth from others. Our logic that solar/wind/the electric car is going to save the planet, instead of the most logical action of using far less, is destroying faraway lands and lives. It’s easy for us to sweep it all under the rug since we are not the ones directly affected by this lust for more energy consumption. We are simply sold on the latest and greatest technology that will save the planet and make our insatiable energy consumption a little bit easier to digest.

The public must be made aware of this catastrophe.

We must be willing to change or face the fact that people and earth and animals are dying for our inability to change.

Salar de Atacama, Atacama Desert, Chile

The International Energy Agency forecasts that the number of electric vehicles on the road around the world will hit 125 million by 2030. Right now, the number sits around 3.1 million. In order to support this growth, a lot of lithium is needed for the batteries to run this fleet. It is this lithium extraction that is destroying northern Chile’s Atacama Desert.

10_1-4-2018_Process.pngLithium separation ponds, Atacama, Chile

Lithium is found in the brine of the salt flats, located in Chile. To extract the lithium from Salar de Atacama, holes are drilled into the flats to pump the brine to the surface. This allows lithium carbonate to be extracted through a chemical process. The whole process requires a lot of water. So much water in fact that the once life-supporting oasis is now a barren wasteland.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Sara Plaza tells the story heard time and time again: “No one comes here anymore, because there’s not enough grass for the animals,” Plaza says. “But when I was a kid, there was so much water you could mistake this whole area for the sea.” She recalls walking with her family’s sheep along an ancient Inca trail that flowed between wells and pastures. Now, an engine pumps fresh water from beneath the mostly dry Tilopozo meadow. “Now mining companies are taking the water,” she saysThe race for lithium extraction is viewed as a noble one. Electric cars are sold as a ticket to salvation from Climate Change. Electric auto makers want to make it easier and cheaper for drivers to convert to “clean”, battery-powered replacements for “dirty” combustion engines. Rather, they want more money and will sell us the “green” theory.

Extracting Atacama’s lithium means pumping large amounts of water and churning up salty mud known as brine. In Salar de Atacama, the heroic mission of saving the planet through electric cars is leaving another Indigenous community devastated.

 

If this was really about saving the planet, there would be regulations on single drivers in cars. Public transportation would be at the forefront, not affordable priced electric cars that EVERYBODY can own. Let’s be real here. The people that are poised to benefit the most from “green” energy are companies such as  Albemarle Corp. and Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA, who are responsible for mining most of Chile’s lithium.
1400x-1-1024x682.jpgSergio Cubillos, president of Atacama People’s Council, stands on an empty water tank at the village of Peine. Photo: Cristobal Olivares/Bloomberg

The locals, whose families have lived here for thousands of years, are not benefiting.

From Bloomberg: “The falling water levels are felt by local people. Peine, the village closest to the mining, has a license to pump 1.5 liters of water per second to supply 400 residents and a transient population of mine workers that can rise as high as 600. BHP’s Escondida copper mine has a license to pump 1,400 liters per second. Albemarle and SQM, the big lithium miners, have licenses to pump around 2,000 liters per second of brine.”

 
“We’re fooling ourselves if we call this sustainable and green mining,” says Cristina Dorador, a Chilean biologist who studies microbial life in the Atacama desert. 

Which begs the question: What is “green technology“?

The Earth is green technology. The blade of grass that grows towards the light is green technology. The breath of fresh air that is given to us by the plants on land and the plants in the ocean is green technology. The spring water that rises from the depths, mysteriously and miraculously, is green technology. This fragile environment that surrounds us, the unexplainable, intricately woven web of life that holds us, the environment that is degrading rapidly from our greedy lust for more and more, that is green technology. What we are being sold today from companies who are leading the rat-race of civilization is not green. This green technology that they speak of is actually dark red, almost black, stained with the radioactive, desecrated blood of people and earth.

In closing, from Derrick Jensen:

“There is no free lunch. Actions have consequences, and when you steal from others, the others no longer have what you stole from them. This is as true when this theft is from nonhumans as it is when it’s from humans.

But, as Upton Sinclair said, “It’s hard to make a man understand something when his job depends on him not understanding it.” It’s even harder to make people understand something when their whole way of life depends on them not understanding it.”

 


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#2 Alder Logs

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 09:29 AM

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#3 Cuboid

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 11:21 AM

Fucking hell its depressing.
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#4 Juthro

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 01:30 PM

Capitalism at its finest.  Either they ignore the facts that there is an issue, or they figure out how to make a profit off of it while making it worse.

 

 

 

 


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#5 Moonless

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 06:04 PM

Thank you for sharing this roc. I see the situation of mining minerals for green energy not only a thing of climate destruction but also a sort of form of racism (or one of its many manifestations). It's no cowinceadince that these factories are located in poor agricultural areas of the world. I was quite saddened to see the pictures of Baotou Inner Mongolia, which is one of China's semi-autonomous regions. These five areas which include Xinjiang (muslim concentration camp place) and Tibet (the place that is having its religious culture destroyed) the Han Chinese ethnic majority has no right too. these places are often populated by an entirely different ethnic groups and will speak a different language than mandarin. It is these places which China will put their environmental burdens the highest and because these people are poor and live off the land, they will feel the burden the most there.

Ugg this stuff riles me up so much I get excited! I wanna make change! The people need to be free! But i'm still working on a plan to do it.

 

The Chinese government is one of the few places where big brother-is watching with a more careful eye than America. Their regime is so strict that its impossible to live fully, especially if you are not normal. The racism that appears in that country is compare-able and I would say worse than what we have here in American States. This is not to say that America's States do not have the racial complexes as the Chinese however China has gone full blown surveillance on their people, and have weaponized their population against themselves. Think of it like if Mexican Immigrants patrolled the US/Mexico border and sent illegal immigrants to prison.



#6 roc

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 07:52 PM

Capitalism at its finest.  Either they ignore the facts that there is an issue, or they figure out how to make a profit off of it while making it worse.

And it amazes me that they can market this shit and have the masses chanting a mantra about how all of us need to do the same.

 

The Nissan Leaf is one I laugh at when I get behind it and see the "Zero Emissions" logo.

 

The disposal of all these batteries, magnets, etc. is another thing not openly discussed and is a real issue ahead of us.


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#7 roc

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 07:55 PM

Thank you for sharing this roc. I see the situation of mining minerals for green energy not only a thing of climate destruction but also a sort of form of racism (or one of its many manifestations). It's no cowinceadince that these factories are located in poor agricultural areas of the world. I was quite saddened to see the pictures of Baotou Inner Mongolia, which is one of China's semi-autonomous regions. These five areas which include Xinjiang (muslim concentration camp place) and Tibet (the place that is having its religious culture destroyed) the Han Chinese ethnic majority has no right too. these places are often populated by an entirely different ethnic groups and will speak a different language than mandarin. It is these places which China will put their environmental burdens the highest and because these people are poor and live off the land, they will feel the burden the most there.

Ugg this stuff riles me up so much I get excited! I wanna make change! The people need to be free! But i'm still working on a plan to do it.

 

The Chinese government is one of the few places where big brother-is watching with a more careful eye than America. Their regime is so strict that its impossible to live fully, especially if you are not normal. The racism that appears in that country is compare-able and I would say worse than what we have here in American States. This is not to say that America's States do not have the racial complexes as the Chinese however China has gone full blown surveillance on their people, and have weaponized their population against themselves. Think of it like if Mexican Immigrants patrolled the US/Mexico border and sent illegal immigrants to prison.

What gets me is how Japan rapes it neighbors and pushes shit like the Nissan Leaf to their own people besides us.

Crazy shit that's almost like cannibalism!


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#8 Moonless

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 08:35 PM

Wonder where Japan's sending their waste too? America aswell?


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#9 coorsmikey

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 09:30 PM

Wipe out all humans! No wait we will do that ourselves. The earth will still be be here after we are done with our destruction. The best way to consume and destroy our home is a loaded topic much like the other one that is so controversial right now. What is more sustainable than fossil fuels is subjectively significantly less damaging to our current situation. The solution would be to stop our consumption of resources and that's to bad we are not capable of doing that. If we were that smart we would have left well enough alone thousands of years ago.


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#10 August West

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 11:01 PM

Capitalism at its finest.  Either they ignore the facts that there is an issue, or they figure out how to make a profit off of it while making it worse.

Big industry, including car manufacturers and oil companies are some of the biggest beneficiaries of government (ie,. taxpayer) subsidies. But I guess...we all define words differently.

 

The most frightening thing here to me, is that roc's post may be the first time some people are even thinking about this paradigm.


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#11 Juthro

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 11:48 PM

 

Capitalism at its finest.  Either they ignore the facts that there is an issue, or they figure out how to make a profit off of it while making it worse.

Big industry, including car manufacturers and oil companies are some of the biggest beneficiaries of government (ie,. taxpayer) subsidies. But I guess...we all define words differently.

 

 

I agree, big industry, big farms, oil companies, large mines, and the like are all majorly funded by huge subsidies that come from our taxes. 

 

Doesn't them getting all that money from the central government, who gets it from us, sound a lot like some form of centrally funded socialism?   So why is it ok for them to give our money to the oil companies, but it's not ok to give it to people that can't feed themselves, or use it to provide health care, and education for all?



#12 August West

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 12:12 AM

The multi-trillion dollar rhetorical question, indeed.

 

I have no good answers - just think it's important to define our terms if we hope to find any.

 

In the meantime...just trying to be the picture of the way I'd like the world to be...which is always a struggle...


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#13 zenzen

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 07:08 AM

Until some cheap clean energy source is created and then at least 100 years of cultural evolution in developing nations takes place, i don’t see many positive outcomes for Mother Earth. If you look at how people in India chose to pollute their rivers they say are holy sites it will make you wonder if they will ever change. Iv seen lots of improvement here in the US over the last 40 years but do we have another 40 given the rate of population growth and increased disposable consumption of cheap crap. I try and get Stoic about it but it’s hard.


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Edited by zenzen, 09 July 2019 - 07:09 AM.

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#14 Alder Logs

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:46 AM

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#15 roc

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 11:22 AM

That was right on!

Even if we could limit red meat to one meal a week we could make one hell of an impact on this.

 

The mention Juthro make of big farms and the associated big business hits a nerve with me growing up in SW KS.
I saw the small family farms disappear and looking back it was clear what happened.

We had farmers converting from dry land to irrigation to increase yields because of market controlled prices.

The banks over valued land prices and loaned money according to those values.

When the economy took a dump and land prices fell a majority of small family farms were upside down and the fucking banks started calling loans in with the large corporate fucks that provided fertilizer, processing plants, rail ways, etc. waiting in the wings to come in and buy up those loans from the banks.

A large number of family farms disappeared and the corporate farms took control of it all.

The tractor protests in DC and efforts of Willy Nelson and formation of Farm Aid brought on a new movement but it was too late.

Everything changed and we had farm kids working in packing plants, elevators, processing plants, etc. instead of farming unless they worked for a corporate farm.

The only family farms left standing were dry land farmers that had banked money of their own and they bought neighbors out to grow and stay in business. After visiting there a couple of years ago those left standing have been forced into a lot of the same shit as corporate farms but their roots were family farms.

I could go on and on with this but I like many others got the fuck out when the water went bad (poisoned aquifer) and small elevator towns disappeared and the family farm was gone.


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#16 Alder Logs

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 11:54 AM

After my falling ill with flu-like symptoms, four years ago this August 29th, and losing 19 pounds over the next eleven days, following a gradual weight loss over the previous years, from 150-155 to 139 when I took sick, then that precipitous crash to 120, all leading to a diagnoses of Lyme disease.   I am now at 127 and feeling better than I did at 65, now 72.   I went to a Chinese medicine specialist who put me on to a solid plant based diet for the most part.   I have now pretty much taken myself off of eggs, only eating them very occasionally, and the same for a tiny bit of fish, and am looking to do zero Pacific Ocean fish (think Fukushima).  

 

It's fruit and soaked nuts for breakfast now.  Starch and beans for lunch (rice and hummus), and greens and rice or quinoa and veg juice for dinner.   I am not 100% plant based, but am drawn to getting there, as the changes are too obvious, and I sort of like feeling good, even if the world out there is crashing and burning (one can only do so much as just one 7.5 billionth of the equation). 

 

BTW, I do 588 reps by way of 49 each of 12 Qi Gong forms, two or three times a day, which my doc says stimulates all the organs through their acupuncture meridians.   I will miss the midday reps when the weather is good and I am doing work outdoors, as today, it's getting next winter's firewood made.  I seem to be becoming addicted to hard physical work (a complete shock to me), that I used to avoid.  Strength and stamina continue to improve. 

 

So, when we kick the agribusiness foods, we do more than just about anything else we might try.  When I make free clean energy and free mobility a practical reality, maybe it will make a dent in those other, harder to affect fields of destruction.  But, as some of you have seen here, I am working on it.   :tinfoil:


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#17 roc

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 01:48 PM

This some crazy shit!

 

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Siberian lake loved by Instagrammers is toxic, power plant says

10 July 2019

_107819245_65388070_337477513830330_7751Image copyrightSUP_NOVOSIBIRSKImage captionThe area has been nicknamed the "Novosibirsk Maldives"

 

A turquoise lake in Siberia where people have been taking selfies is actually a power plant's ash dump.

The lake, nicknamed the "Novosibirsk Maldives" because of how tropical it looks, has provided the perfect backdrop to people's Instagram posts.

But the reason for its colour is less appealing - calcium salts and other metal oxides from the plant.

Responding to the selfies, the Russian power company that runs the plant urged people not to go near the water.

But its stern warning seems to have only made people even more determined to visit.

Joking about the water being toxic, one user posted a photo of herself reclining on the banks of the CHP-5 ash dump with the caption: "It's not Chernobyl, of course, but it's still dangerous!"

Another, tagging the power plant, posted a photo of himself relaxing in a unicorn inflatable while wearing a balaclava.

He wrote, tongue firmly in cheek: "It's not dangerous to swim here. The next morning, my legs turned slightly red and itched for two days, but then everything went. But what wouldn't you do for the sake of such pictures?"

Leo Alexey, who has set up an Instagram page dedicated to the ash dump selfies, told BBC News that he has already visited the lake four times.

But - naturally - he didn't go in the water, he just "stood next to" it and "watched", adding: "It is not advisable to touch the water. It may cause allergies."

Siberian Generating Company (SGK), which runs the coal plant, wrote on the Russian social network VKontakte in June: "DO NOT swim in the ash dump."

"The water is highly alkaline," the company said. "This is because calcium salts and other metal oxides are dissolved in it. Skin contact with such water may cause an allergic reaction!"

 

_107820029_daf40d51-3525-4461-b051-c860fImage copyrightELENMILDImage caption

 

People haven't been put off by the power plant's warnings

It also said that people could get stuck in the ash at the bottom of the water and not be able to get themselves out.

"THEREFORE, WE ARE ASKING - DON'T GET INTO THE ASH DUMP IN THE PURSUIT OF A SELFIE!" SGK added, in all-caps.

 

The plant also insisted the ash dump was "NOT poisonous", and that its radioactivity levels had been checked by independent investigators.

 


Edited by roc, 11 July 2019 - 01:53 PM.


#18 Alder Logs

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 10:59 AM

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#19 Alder Logs

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 11:26 AM

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#20 deemesis

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 11:30 AM

https://www.youtube....h?v=bYOIhmZ0Osg






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