|4/19/2015 by mdc|
|Rowena Ryan tells us that Baotou is the biggest supplier of rare earth minerals, which are used to make new technologies, and she claims it to be like hell on Earth. This pastureland turned wasteland on the edge of the Gobi desert is said to be a toxic nightmare, evidence of the horrific effect the pursuit of consumerism has had on Earth. A trip was undertaken by designers Liam Young and Kate Davies from Unknown Fields, a nomadic design studio from London that travels around the world to explore the sacrifices made on our landscape to produce contemporary cities and technologies, aka Luddites?|
This piece is also an example of naive adversarialism, combined with pandering to the general public, of the extreme kind. The waste ponds and pits are large and do contain by-products of the rare-earth ore processing, and hence some of the tailings materials are likely dangerous if ingested. So are ash ponds after burning coal. However, they could be cleaned up and may even be a resource of the future, by containing lower grades of rare earth minerals.
And yes, the air quality in and around the town located near the mines complex is bad, but this could be be cleaned up as well. Maybe small nuclear reactors should replace burning of coal. The Chinese are correcting poor mining practices of the past and present. The chemical agents used in the processing are probably the main environmental issues to correct. Whether groundwater has been impacted is another issue, but this is unknown at present.
What the photographers do not know or care to admit is that the ore in the ground is of a dark color, and when tailings from the processing are transferred to the waste areas, they look bad because they are black, and hence do not make for pretty photos of the landscape.
Such anti-capitalism adversaries typically exaggerate as in this case by using such language such as - horrific effect the pursuit of consumerism has had on Earth - and the word toxic, to panic all readers.