We Are Mining Our Environment to Extinction

We are mining our environment to extinction. If this isn’t a crime against nature, if this isn’t ecocide, what is?

We cannot have an environment that will last if we don’t design to last. We must design buildings to last hundreds of years. We must design smartphones to last at least 10 years. We must design laptops to last at least 20 years.

Big Tech profits from and is a key driver of the extinction of life on Earth. Greed and short-term thinking drive Big Tech decision-making. Big Tech spends tens of millions greenwashing about how it’s so clean and green, but nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the PR sheen, Big Tech is a dirty, toxic business, and there is nothing more toxic or dirty than the Big Tech business model: planned obsolescence.

Should Big Tech See Day in Court?

Planned obsolescence is a form of ecocide, and hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we will see Big Tech executives on trial for crimes against nature. Like a well-honed criminal enterprise, planned obsolescence is designed so that it leaves few fingerprints, but as clever as these people are, they cannot forever hide the mountains of e-waste that are piling up every year.

E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world and is by far the most deadly. E-waste will account for about 80% of the toxicity of a particular dump. Right now, we are producing over 50 million tons of e-waste every year — enough to build a Great Wall of China. At the pace it is growing, within 10-15 years we will be producing over 100 million tons.

“The electronics industry works through ‘planned obsolescence’ to encourage demand and novelty of products,” Graham Rihm, founder of Pennsylvania’s RoadRunner Recycling, replied in relation to a statement I made to him about how e-waste recycling should be a last resort. “Instead of offering completely new products that have been redesigned to work differently or better, electronics are made to only last a specific amount of time, regardless of new designs being available.”

“Take, for instance, smartphones,” Graham continues. “New designs are released every one to two years like clockwork. The changes in each model typically focus on only one area of efficiencies, such as improvements to the camera or battery life. A new phone rarely is completely redesigned to offer the very best features across the board. To get the full benefit of a redesign, a person has to wait for a few versions to pass before upgrading. Phones don’t need complete redesigns every year, but we as consumers should not feel pressured to get a piece of technology that is only marginally better.”

Related Article: Smartphones and Laptops Are Chemical Reactors


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