Siddharth Kara (@siddharthkara) is a British Academy Global Professor, an Associate Professor of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery at Nottingham University, a Senior Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and the author of the New York Times bestseller Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives.
What We Discuss with Siddharth Kara:
- Cobalt is an essential component of every lithium-ion rechargeable battery made today — the batteries that power our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and electric vehicles.
- About 75 percent of the world’s supply of cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, often by peasants and children in subhuman conditions who suffer and often die for their trouble.
- The environmental impact of cobalt extraction, including deforestation and pollution, that leaves behind toxic pits and wasteland unfit for sustaining life.
- The complex web of actors involved in the exploitation of Congo’s mineral resources, including smugglers, traders, and corrupt government officials.
- As consumers, what can we do to raise awareness and jolt ourselves out of the apathy that allows these atrocities to continue in our names while holding the multinational interests that perpetrate them accountable?
- And much more…
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For possessing 75 percent of the world’s cobalt, a precious metal upon which we rely to run our smartphones, laptops, tablets, and electric cars, the Democratic Republic of the Congo should be one of the richest nations on Earth. In a just society, its people would be basking in the glow of international appreciation and enjoying the bountiful rewards of their labor for bringing this invaluable resource to market. Instead, the country is plagued by conflict, corruption, and exploitation, leaving its people desperately impoverished and forced to plunder and poison their own homeland for table scraps while the world’s wealthiest corporations profit from this proliferation of human suffering.
On this episode, we’re joined by Siddharth Kara, a British Academy Global Professor, an Associate Professor of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery at Nottingham University, a Senior Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and the author of the New York Times bestseller Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives. Here, Siddharth shares firsthand accounts from the Congolese people who have endured unimaginable hardships and even lost their lives in the pursuit of cobalt. He’s traveled to the toxic, militia-controlled pits where this crucial metal is mined, often finding children forced to unearth it in order to keep the global supply chains running smoothly and cheaply for the benefit of Western consumers — us. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Thanks, Siddharth Kara!
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Resources from This Episode:
- Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives by Siddharth Kara | Amazon
- Other Books by Siddharth Kara | Amazon
- Siddharth Kara | The Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard Kennedy School
- Siddharth Kara | University of Nottingham
- Siddharth Kara | The British Academy
- Siddharth Kara | Twitter
- Siddharth Kara | Instagram
- How Does a Lithium-Ion Battery Work? | Department of Energy
- Reducing Reliance on Cobalt for Lithium-Ion Batteries | Department of Energy
- The Democratic Republic of Congo | Human Rights Watch
- Cobalt Mining: The Dark Side of the Renewable Energy Transition | Earth.Org
- The Dark Side of Congo’s Cobalt Rush | The New Yorker
- Global Cobalt Reserves by Country 2022 | Statista
- Miki Mistrati | The Dark Side of the Chocolate Industry | Jordan Harbinger
- Chocolate | Skeptical Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- Human Trafficking and Forced Labor in Global Supply Chains | International Trade Administration
- How to Identify Forced Labor in Supply Chains | SHRM
- DR Congo’s Faltering Fight Against Illegal Cobalt Mines | AFP
- Baksheesh | Wikipedia
- Nury Turkel | A Witness to China’s Uyghur Genocide | Jordan Harbinger
- Child Labour, Toxic Leaks: The Price We Could Pay for a Greener Future | The Guardian
- Uranium Flows from Congo Mines — In Burlap Bags | The Spokesman-Review
- Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo | Wikipedia
- Congo Free State Rubber Regime Atrocities | ThoughtCo
- 5 of the Worst Atrocities Carried Out by the British Empire | The Independent
- The Barbaric History of Sugar in America | The New York Times
- The Abolition of Slavery In Britain | Historic UK
- To Meet Global Cobalt Demand, Companies Must Reform Mining Practices In The Congo | Forbes
- Modern Day Abolition | National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
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