I write Green Rocks, a newsletter that doesn’t want dirty mining to ruin clean energy.
It’s about where we get our metals, but it’s also about the broad range of possibilities for making societies more sustainable. Energy can’t rely on fossil fuels if we’re to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, and most climate policies rely on new technologies – electric cars, wind turbines, solar panels, energy storage. Global institutions predict meeting climate goals will require expanding the production of these products.
That means more earth dug up around the world, possibly more material than has ever been mined. For many climate activists, policymakers, and scientists, this exposes a imbalance between those who design policy and those who confront the impacts of mining in their communities. It also exposes who holds power in policymaking, as the push to boost mining overlooks contradictions and meaningful alternatives. The project began (although I didn’t know it yet) in Indonesia, where my self-initiated investigation into the nickel industry provided a foundation to launch the metal into the same debates about lithium and cobalt.
The newsletter monitors the mining companies that have branded themselves as clean energy companies. It tracks grassroots movements that may have gotten more coverage if we weren’t facing a pandemic. It examines alternative technologies and policies that promote equitable futures. It’s as much about technology as it is about environmental justice.