Wednesday, September 19, 2012

eDump Calculator


When I took the quiz based upon my lifestyle, it calculated that I would use 3.8 earths. I don't eat a lot of meat, I recycle the vast majority of recyclable items, and since I'm allergic to certain preservatives, I can't eat a lot of processed foods. However, I do travel a fair bit and not a lot of the food I eat is grown locally, so that hurt my calculation.

I legitimately cannot get the calculation to equal one earth. I set everything to the most ecologically-friendly value possible and it calculated that to do so would use 2.9 earths. A lifestyle that excludes eating meat, traveling by car or bus, and even electricity still uses 2.9 earths.
I find this really disturbing. It says a lot about what is really wrong with our planet. There's a lot of e-waste that is unaccounted for, and it is harming our planet. Even by living the "greenest" lifestyle possible, we can't change that.

 We were then asked to compare the documentary "eDump" to "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" in the following ways:

Technology Users in the United States = Citizens of Omelas
Guiyu, China   = The child in the closet
Watching the 20 minute documentary, e Dump = Seeing the child in the closet in Omelas

I believe all of these are fair comparisons. Every person in our class was instructed to watch the eDump documentary, thus we are the people seeing the child in the closet. Despite the fact that it was not a "first-hand" sight because we were seeing it through a video, I don't believe it is any different than the citizens of Omelas seeing the child in the closet. The images provided for us were clear. The testimonies of the people in Guiyu, China, were clear. Thick golden fumes rising up from burning circuit boards is a clear enough image of how toxic the eWaste is. As technology users in the United States, I would definitely agree that we are a mirrored image of the citizens of Omelas. We buy technology and dispose of it within a few years. Apple comes out with a new iPhone within a year of the last one that was produced. We totally ignore the consequences of this: our eWaste gets shipped over to Guiyu to be de-manufactured in a hazardous manner. Guiyu is the child in the closet, obviously, because it is the city that suffers due to our eWaste. The citizens have to breathe in toxic air and have years cut off of their life.

I don't believe I "walk away" from digital technology entirely, but I do have my faults. I did not own a cell phone until the Summer of 2012, thus I cannot say that I have tossed out a phone just to get an upgrade. When it comes to computers, I acquired my first personal computer when I was 13 years old, and it died a slow death where it emitted carbon monoxide and burst into flames. Thus, there was really nothing I could do about it. I had to dispose of it, and I bought a new laptop for college, which is the one I use now. My faults lie in that I've remained ignorant to the consequences of the irresponsible disposal of eWaste. I suppose my action today in the story would be to spread awareness of "the child" that is the harm done to developing countries due to the exportation of American eWaste. Promoting green recycling plants and green technology companies on social media sites would definitely be my method. I would also spread the eDump documentary on Facebook and Tumblr as well to spread awareness. I would not want to be one of the two options given in the Omelas story. I would neither want to move on with my life as per normal, or remove myself from the situation. I would want to be a third option: someone who takes action.

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