Blood and Earth by Kevin Bales -

Blood and Earth by Kevin Bales

  • Published on
    March 13, 2016
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Blood and Earth, a new book by Kevin Bales, is about bringing modern slavery to an end and the impact it will have on the health of our planet…

His book contends that ending “modern slavery” could make a big difference in the ­health of our planet.  He says, “If slavery were a country, it would have the third-largest CO2 emissions on the planet.”

Bales is the leader of the Global Slavery Index.  It is a research project that estimates that 35 million people worldwide are suffering in some form of slavery.  In his book, he leans hard on the GSI statistics.  He talks about the victims of debt bondage.  They may not be considered “property” of the exploiter, but they are not free to leave work and are controlled by hard-handed tactics.  Some are kidnapped or are childhood indentured servants or live under domestic servitude.
Bales is the co-founder of Free the slaves, an advocacy group.  He also wrote seven books on similar topics of human trafficking, sometimes connecting slavery to ecocide.
Often, environmental destruction denies people traditional livelihoods, opening them to exploitation. And some of the most destructive industries on the planet use unfree labor: illegal tropical logging, wildcat mining for gold and other minerals, reckless fishing that destroys precious coastal mangrove forests and brickmaking with kilns that release powerful greenhouse gases. So, Bales argues, “It is precisely the role slaves play in this ecological catastrophe that opens a new solution”: Free the slaves and save the planet.
It might seem too simple…and actually, it is.  The ­Global Slavery Index includes information on construction workers and domestics in the Persian Gulf states--a  million Uzbeks drafted to pick cotton in a post-Communist ­corvée, child brides, trafficked sex workers, agrarian laborers in age-old ­Mauritanian servitude to other local families, and Haitian village children sent to live in city households for a mix of schooling and servitude.
The book doesn’t estimate how many slaves conform to his argument, but including miners, loggers, fishers, might be considerably smaller that his 35 million.  
With naked guesswork, Bales ascribes 40 percent of global deforestation to slave labor. He then assumes that if modern slavery disappeared, this deforestation and other environmental destruction now done by unfree workers would also end.
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