Environmental activists and climate change alarmists have a dirty secret. Achieving anything close to a fossil fuel-free society will heavily involve rare earth minerals—much more than now.
From lithium-powered batteries to uranium-fueled nuclear generators, these supposedly cleaner alternatives still require the exploration and cultivation of natural resources, particularly if the United States hopes to remain energy-independent.
But the same activists who oppose traditional forms of energy production—carbon-dioxide-emitting fuels that deliver cheap, reliable power to hundreds of millions of people—are also totally opposed to rare-earth mining in the U.S.
The effect of wanting a green future without trade-offs isn’t just nonsensical, according to energy advocate Power the Future.
It’s handing China vast leverage over the American economy and armed forces.
“By opposing greater U.S. production and development of REEs [rare earth minerals], green activists are fueling China’s dominance,” reads a new Power the Future study called, “The Fight For Rare Earths: How Green Extremists Ignore China’s Human Rights Record And Threaten U.S. National Security.”
The report is a clear warning that the hypocritical efforts of the American eco-left are actually aiding a hostile foreign adversary that has no intention of curbing its own environmental degradations.
“For them, China’s significant influence over REEs is irrelevant,” said the study.
“Their overarching concern is fomenting a green utopia, in the form of a ‘zero-carbon future,’ in which renewable technologies, e.g., wind, solar, electric vehicles, and electric batteries, will (they say) provide well-paying jobs, energy security, a cleaner environment, and protect the world from unchecked climate change,” it continued.
Despite their name, rare-earth minerals aren’t that rare. Rather, they are “constituent parts” of larger minerals and therefore difficult and expensive to mine.
Rare-earth minerals are vital components in more than 200 consumer products, including cell phones, flat-screen televisions, computer hard drives, car batteries and many common tech gadgets.
They’re also essential to creating solar panels, electric cars and other “green” items that the environmental-climate lobby insists on mandating to stop climate change.
Military tools and weapons crucial to U.S. national security further rely on rare earth minerals, including “significant defense applications” like electronic displays, guidance systems, lasers, and radar and sonar systems.
But with activists attacking mining and traditional energy at home, there’s nowhere to go but into the arms of the Chinese Communist Party.
The slide toward China has been gradually occurring for years with alarming results—and the increasing green-socialist radicalism of Green New Deal Democrats is making the problem worse.
“China controls the vast majority of both the mining and processing of these rare earths,” the report states, adding that China already provides 85-95 percent of the world’s REEs and that the U.S. imports 80 percent of its supply directly from China.
“China could cut off our supply of rare earths at any time… This dependence threatens our economy and national security, and if the eco-Left has their way, our energy supply,” the report continues.
According to the South China Morning Post, the CCP fired a warning shot last year.
“China’s rare earth producers, who control the lion’s share of the world’s output of the elements said they are ready to use their dominance of the industry as a weapon in the country’s year-long trade war with their customers in the United States,” the Post reported.
The “Fight For Rare Earths” study cited the radical activist group Earthworks as an example of the dangerous hypocrisy on the political left.
The group produced a dubious report that was promoted throughout an echo-chamber of friendly media organizations and allied Green New Deal politicians.
The authors claimed that a “transition to a 100% renewable energy system is urgently needed to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and increase the chance of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees.”
Not only was the science wrong, according to Power the Future, but the proposed renewable energy solution is a non-starter given the economic, national security and practical constraints.
“Green radicals have a big problem,” the “Fight For Rare Earths” study concludes.
“They can ignore China all they want, but their perfect renewable future depends on REEs—lots of them.”