It’s Better to Mine the World’s Rainforests Than Farm Them – by David Fickling (Washington Post/Bloomberg – October 31, 2022)

As if the world’s rainforests didn’t have enough problems to contend with, even the transition to zero-carbon power is threatening to level them. Industrial mining ate up 3,265 square kilometers (1,260 square miles) of tropical forest between 2002 and 2019, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Some 80% of that total happened in just four countries: Indonesia, Brazil, Ghana and Suriname.

With the COP27 climate conference in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh next week expected to increase the focus on the climate needs of developing countries, that’s raised concerns that there isn’t enough land to manage a shift away from fossil fuels.

Much of the world’s reserves of nickel, an essential metal for making electric-vehicle batteries, lie under the rainforests of Southeast Asia. Some 6,732 sq km of Indonesian forest has been granted to nickel mining concessions, a coalition of environmental groups wrote in a July letter to Tesla Inc.

An “honest and comprehensive evaluation of the entire life cycle of clean energy” cars would show a “negative societal and environmental impact” on land, Michael Heberling, an academic at Michigan’s Baker College, noted this year.

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