Some years ago, Alex Crawford, the outstanding Sky journalist, exposed the appalling conditions that child labourers suffer in the DRC (Congo) as they ‘peck out’ from the ground the cobalt that is integral to our smart phones. Do watch her short, but extremely revealing reports.
It is disturbing to realise that the phones which provide us with such swift and precious means of connection are also the fruit of such horrendous exploitation – just as products such as rubber were long obtained from Africa at such great human cost. The wonderful resources the Lord has gifted us with have so often been the cause of ‘gold-fever’ and victimisation.
There is nothing new about there being injustices galore in the exploiting and development of Earth’s resources but especially in the light of the way the world’s new great superpower is proceeding in one country after another around the world. Pray for the children affected. Pray for the science and industry that makes more ever greater demands for such valuable resources. Ask that the Creator who planted such precious treasures as cobalt in His good Earth will also inspire the nations how best to mine and steward them.
These are prayers and issues that are going to become more and more relevant as nations scurry and scamper to find the resources they will need to feed the ever-growing demand for electric batteries (not to mention for vital food and water supplies). As always, international relatioships become tense and strained when self-interests are challenged. We have seen that over the Covid vaccine, as well as in the world-wide shortage of semiconductor microchips, which is causing big delay in electronic items for and the automobile industry.
Real damage is meanwhile being done to the environment in China and DRC in order to extract metals, to say nothing of the exploitation of workers. Two other potential sources for raw materials have emerged. First there is Greenland, where an Australian company, owned by China, had been hoping to be able to mine extremely precious uranium for flatscreens, phones, and electric car batteries – to say nothing of weapons. A local poll, however, has made it clear that Greenlander are not prepared to countenance this development.
That leaves just one other alternative – deep on the seabed where millions of uranium-rich nodules litter the ocean floor, just waiting to be reaped. Is this the answer to the world’s energy crises? Or would retrieving them actually produce more problems?
One thing is for sure: there is a new goldrush underway across the globe. The last few weeks have seen some shocking weather events, not least with temperatures in both Siberia and Canada reaching highs 5 degrees Celsius above previous highs. As if that were not alarming enough in itself, with the forest fires there having consumed 1.5 million hectares, and the smoke from them extending across almost the whole of the northern hemisphere, there are still greater challenges lying in wait as the Siberian permafrost melts and releases billions of additional tons of carbon into the atmosphere.
Developments such as these reminds us of how things will be when the fourth angel pours out his bowl on the sun, and the sun is allowed to scorch people with fire. Revelation 16:8-9 tells us that people will be seared by the intense heat and, so far from repenting and turning towards God, they curse the name of God, who has control over these plagues. There is so much to pray for in this regard as more and more countries experience the effect of ‘desertification’ and living conditions risk becoming ever more intolerable.