Siddharth Kara, guest of Joe Rogan, reveals the dark side of cobalt

TECHNOLOGY
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A visiting Harvard professor and modern slavery activist exposed the “terrible” cobalt mining industry in the Congo in a recent episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” that went viral. The video has already amassed over a million views and counting.

Siddharth Kara, author of “Cobalt Red: How The Blood of The Congo Powers Our Lives,” told podcast host Joe Rogan that there is no such thing as “clean cobalt.”

“That’s all marketing,” said Kara.

Kara told Rogan that the level of “suffering” of Congolese people working in the cobalt mines was staggering.

When asked by Rogan if there were any cobalt mines in the Congo that didn’t rely on “child labor” or “slavery,” the Harvard visiting professor said there weren’t.

“I’ve never seen one and I’ve been to almost every major industrial cobalt mine” in the country, Kara said.

One reason for this is that demand for cobalt is exceptionally high: “Cobalt is in every rechargeable lithium battery manufactured in the world today,” he explained.

Joe Rogan
A guest at Joe Rogan’s experience revealed the dark side of cobalt mining.
The Joe Rogan Experience

As a result, it’s hard to think of a technology that doesn’t rely on cobalt to work, Kara said. “Every smartphone, every tablet, every laptop and, mainly, every electric vehicle” needs the mineral.

“We cannot function on a day-to-day basis without cobalt, and three-quarters of the supply comes from Congo,” he added. “And it’s being mined in appalling, heartbreaking and dangerous conditions.”

But “in general, the world doesn’t know what’s going on” in Congo, Kara said.

“I don’t think people are aware of how awful that is,” Rogan agreed.

Siddharth Kara
Harvard visiting professor Siddharth Kara said there was not a single cobalt mine in the Congo that did not rely on child labor or slavery.
The Joe Rogan Experience

The Biden administration recently entered into an agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia to bolster the green energy supply chain, despite the DRC’s documented problems with child labor.

Cobalt initially “took off because it was used in lithium-ion batteries to maximize their charge and stability,” explained Kara. “And it turns out that Congo is sitting on more cobalt than the rest of the planet combined,” she added.

As a result, Congo, a country of around 90 million people, has become the center of a geopolitical conflict over valuable minerals. “Before anyone knew what was going on, [the] chinese government [and] Chinese miners have taken control of almost all major mines and the local population has been displaced,” said Kara. Subsequently, the Congolese are “under duress”.

congo gold mine
Siddharth Kara said miners work in “subhuman” conditions for less than a dollar a day.
AFP via Getty Images

He continued: “They dig in absolutely subhuman and harrowing conditions for a dollar a day, feeding cobalt into the supply chain in every phone, tablet and especially electric car.”

British rapper Zuby recommended that his nearly one million followers watch the interview.

“This latest Joe Rogan Experience podcast is heavy,” he wrote. “If you have a smartphone or electric vehicle (that’s 100% you), I strongly recommend you listen to it.”

Some, if not all, of the world’s famous technology and energy companies are involved in the humanitarian crisis, Kara said.

“This is the backbone of the supply chain for your iPhone, your Tesla, your Samsung,” he said.

Thomas Catenacci of Fox News contributed to this report.

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