Green Warriors: Coal in the Lungs and The Cost of Cobalt | Global Health Film

A special double-bill on environmental pollution and the price we pay to fuel the planet

Green Warriors: Coal in the Lungs (2021)

Directed by Martin Boudot, 52 mins

Every year, 500,000 Europeans die prematurely due to air pollution. One of the main causes of this pollution is coal, still used in many countries. And this air pollution has no borders. It contaminates the entire continent.

Everywhere, citizens are fighting for the right to air that is safe to breathe. Lacking tangible evidence, their calls for regulation are easily dismissed - a team of scientists and journalists sets out to search for evidence of air pollution.

In Poland, 75% of electricity is produced from coal. Rybnik, Poland, is one of the most polluted cities in Europe. Here, even pre-Covid, children wore masks to play outside and were advised to spend most of their time indoors to avoid breathing the toxic air. 

A shocking study conducted for this investigation revealed that children here have 425% more black carbon in their bodies than children in Strasbourg. This made the headlines across Europe and even attracted the attention of the Polish government.

The study also showed that children in Strasbourg - a city with average levels of air pollution for a European metropolitan city - have nearly a million particles of black carbon per millilitre in their urine. 

Will the powerful coal lobby resist these revelations?

The Cost of Cobalt (2021)

Directed by Fiona Lloyd-Davies and Robert Flummerfelt, 25 mins

In the cobalt mining areas of Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), babies are being born with horrific birth defects. Scientists and doctors are finding increasing evidence of environmental pollution from industrial mining which, they believe, may be the cause of a range of malformations from cleft palate to some so serious the baby is stillborn.

More than 60% of the world’s reserves of cobalt are in the DRC and this mineral is essential for the production of electric car batteries, which may be the key to reducing carbon emissions and to slowing climate change.

In The Cost of Cobalt we meet the doctors treating the children affected and the scientists who are measuring the pollution. Cobalt may be part of the global solution to climate change, but is it right that Congo’s next generation pay the price with their health? Many are hoping that the more the world understands their plight, the more pressure will be put on the industry here to clean up its act.

Panel discussion

The panel discussion after this special double-bill was moderated by Dr Rob Hughes, Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in conversation with Manon de Couët, journalist at the Green Warriors series, and Fiona Lloyd-Davies, Executive Producer, The Cost of Cobalt.

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