Out of Africa comes the disturbing news of entire regions being toxified and polluted by the industry of recycling used computers. There are millions of discarded computers on this planet, and many of them are ending up in African villages as well as elsewhere, including China, India, Nigeria, the Philippines and Vietnam, replete with highly toxic chemicals and heavy metals.
Our modern technology is amazing, allowing for a vast global enlightenment on a scale never seen before. Just think about the wonders brought to us by our computers and the internet – ever see this video?
But, as is always the case with major human endeavors, the cost is great. The solution cannot be to become Luddites but to improve our technology, using less toxic substances wherever possible. In the meantime, children pay the price for our conveniences and comforts.
According to the Bible, God rained down fire and brimstone to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. “Sodom and Gomorrah” is also what officials in Accra, Ghana, have come to call a part of their city plagued by toxins of a sort the residents of the Biblical cities couldn’t even have imagined. No one sets foot in this place unless they absolutely have to.
Acrid, black smoke drifts over the huts of the slum. The river, too, is black and thick like used oil, as it carries empty computer cases toward the ocean. Fires are blazing on the bank across the way, fueled by foam and slivers of plastic. Their flames consume the plastic material from cables, plugs and motherboards, leaving behind only metal….
These children live amid the refuse of the Internet age, and many of them may die of it. They pull apart the computers, breaking the screens with rocks, then throw the internal electronics onto the fires. Computers contain large amounts of heavy metals, and as the plastic burns, the children also breathe in highly carcinogenic fumes. The computers of the rich are poisoning the children of the poor.
The United Nations estimates that up to 50 million tons of electronic waste are thrown away globally each year….