Why I had to write Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World
For years I traveled the world meeting people in slavery trying to understand the depth and truth of their lives. What I saw, heard, and learned changed me, and led me deeper into the work of ending slavery, but I was missing something important. Where there are slaves, the environment is under assault, forests are being destroyed, endangered species are dying, and climate change is worsening – and all of this destruction is driven by profits from products we buy.
Children, especially, are suffering: in the fish camps of Bangladesh, in the mines of Eastern Congo feeding the electronics industry, in mercury-saturated gold pits in Ghana, and when brutally used and disposed of by criminals decimating the Amazon forest. And beside the children, endangered species are being wiped out, or pressed to fight back - like the ‘protected' Bengal tigers that prey on child slaves in fishing camps.
After seven years of research and travel we now know that if slavery were a country it would be the third largest producer of CO2 in the world after China and the USA, though its population is only the size of Canada’s. The scale of this joint disaster has been too big to see, until now. Yet, it is precisely the role that slaves play in this ecological catastrophe that opens a new solution, one that unleashes the power of abolition to save and preserve the natural world.