It turns out that some of the key ingredients in the "green" products like electric motors and efficient lights come from mines in China that destroy farmland, pollute the water supply, and are run by criminal gangs.
China also has a near-monopoly on these metals, which the world is becoming increasingly dependent on.
Keith Bradsher, NYT: There are 17 rare-earth elements — some of which, despite the name, are not particularly rare — but two heavy rare earths, dysprosium and terbium, are in especially short supply, mainly because they have emerged as the miracle ingredients of green energy products. Tiny quantities of dysprosium can make magnets in electric motors lighter by 90 percent, while terbium can help cut the electricity usage of lights by 80 percent. Dysprosium prices have climbed nearly sevenfold since 2003, to $53 a pound. Terbium prices quadrupled from 2003 to 2008, peaking at $407 a pound, before slumping in the global economic crisis to $205 a pound.
China mines more than 99 percent of the world’s dysprosium and terbium.Antiwar, "China’s Manifest Destiny" by Sascha Matuszak, December 26, 2009 :
Quote: "...China’s successes in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are attributed to "15 years of patient, painstaking diplomacy" that have finally reaped rewards in the form of increased energy security for an energy starved nation. The key here is that China’s energy security comes at the expense of Russia’s traditional dominance and America’s more recent foray into the Great Game. Most striking of all is the gross miscalculation by US strategists that Central Asian countries would be wary of China and feel safer striking deals with the US. Where they got this idea is beyond me: America and Russia have bombed Afghanistan into bits and pieces and the US is about to increase their troop presence to at least 30,000 and we are supposed to be a safer option than China?
What is more likely is the outbreak of a deeper, wider conflict in Central Asia as Obama’s War drags on into failure and China’s successes provoke a reactionary response from an embittered, partisan Congress.
For years Western thinkers have been predicting the coming collapse of China, and they can be forgiven such predictions given China’s domestic problems: shoddy products, massive corruption, life-threatening pollution, stifling oppression. But what they did not take into account is the power of nationalism. For the nationalist, all things are tolerable in the name of progress for the nation. This, above all things, is what has kept China’s drive for superpower status alive for so long: call it China’s Manifest Destiny..." Read all