RISING GLOBAL E-WASTE

“BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION, NOT PART OF THE POLLUTION”

Introduction

The rise of technology in recent decades has been a boon to mankind. Most of the jobs which were tedious before can now be completed in minutes or seconds. One of the best example would be the Smartphone, earlier people had to wait for days to get in touch of their loved ones or pass any emergency message but now it’s just two clicks away and you can be connected to anyone across the globe.

But the rising Smart devices and other E-devices have led to rise of E-waste at a very considerable rate, more than the world was prepared for and now this is going in the form of landfills thereby polluting the land and environment. E-waste contains harmful chemicals such as barium, arsenic, lead, mercury etc. When these chemicals are broken down in landfills, they tend to leak these hazardous chemicals into surrounding air and water bodies creating a toxic environment.

Amount of E-waste produced per year

The world produces as much as 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) a year, weighing more than all of the commercial airliners ever made. The e-waste produced annually is worth over $62.5 billion, more than the GDP of most countries. There is 100 times more gold in a tonne of e-waste than in a tonne of gold ore.

More than 44 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste was produced globally in 2017, over six kilograms for every person on the planet. Global e-waste production is on track to reach 120 million tonnes per year by 2050 if current trends continue, according to a report from the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) and the UN E-Waste Coalition.

The Rising Concerns

Less than 20% of e-waste is formally recycled, with 80% either ending up in landfill or being informally recycled – much of it by hand in developing countries, exposing workers to hazardous and carcinogenic substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium.

According to the report, in addition to health and pollution impacts, improper management of e-waste is resulting in a significant loss of scarce and valuable raw materials, such as gold, platinum, cobalt and rare earth elements. As much as 7% of the world’s gold may currently be contained in e-waste, with 100 times more gold in a tonne of e-waste than in a tonne of gold ore. The failure to recycle is also leading to shortages of rare-earth minerals to make future generations of electronic equipment.

Dumping of e-waste in 3rd World Countries

Millions of mobile phones, laptops, tablets, toys, digital cameras and other electronic devices bought in Christmas are destined to create a flood of dangerous “e-waste” that is being dumped illegally in developing countries, the UN has warned. Most of the e-waste from European countries and USA is dumped in African and Asian countries like Somalia, Ghana, India, Bangladesh etc. thereby damaging the environment and ecosystem in these poor and developing nations. An old-style CRT computer screen can contain up to three kilograms of lead, for example.

An indication of the level of e-waste being shipped to the developing world was revealed by Interpol. It said almost one in three containers leaving the EU that were checked by its agents contained illegal e-waste. Criminal investigations were launched against 40 companies. Although it is legal to export discarded goods to poor countries if they can be reused or refurbished, much is being sent to Africa or Asia under false pretenses, says Interpol.

Conclusion

It is not only the responsibility of the government to recycle the e-waste but also all the citizens must contribute in better and efficient management of  e-waste. The rising problem of e-waste and its management thereby polluting the local river bodies or land is also contributing in the factor for global warming.

Solutions include durable product design, buy-back and return systems for used electronics, ‘urban mining’ to extract metals and minerals from  e-waste, and the ‘de-materialisation’ of electronics by replacing outright device ownership with rental and leasing models in order to maximise product reuse and recycling opportunities.

IS CHINA AN EASY SCAPEGOAT AMIDST COVID-19 CRISIS?

Introduction

The spread of COVID-19 across the globe has affected lives of almost everyone in one way or another. Many have lost their loved ones; some are still battling for their lives and majority of humanity is caged within their own walls. The only question which looms in everyone’s mind is who is responsible for this tragedy? Could it have been averted?

Is the spread a deliberate attempt by Chinese govt. to take control of the word economy or all the governments have collectively failed in anticipating the disaster and China is just a scapegoat to clean their hands and hide the ineffectiveness of ministers, bureaucrats, researchers, scientists. Let’s sway through some ground breaking facts which will help us decide the real culprit.

Chronology of Events – Corona Virus

Some cases for unusual flu like symptoms were detected as early as 08 Dec 19 in Wuhan, China by Doctor Wenliang of the Wuhan Central Hospital who later reported it to Chinese authorities. The Chinese Officials bashed the Doctor for spreading rumours and creating city wide panic. The pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan was first reported to WHO(World Health Organization) country office in China on 31 Dec 19. Who in turn declared it as a Public Health Emergency of International concern on 30 Jan 20. On 11 Feb 20, WHO announced name for the new corona virus disease – COVID-19. It was declared as pandemic on 11 Mar 20 by WHO.

Remembering dates is quite boring, but here I want to take you the Roller Coaster of the events which unfolded in last few months and these dates are essentially critical in understanding the roles of the respective governments.

Global Events between Jan-Mar 2020

WHO already declared on 30 Jan 20 that corona virus is spreading and it is a Public Health Emergency, still no stringent steps were taken by governments to restrict any movement of large population or unusual large gatherings which generally occur during events like these:-

  • CTM Festival, which is a grand music festival was organized in Berlin, Germany between 24 Jan – 02 Feb 2020 in which people and performers across the globe participated. The present confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Germany stands at 153,393 with 5,575 reported deaths.
  • Rio Carnival, Brazil which is the world largest carnival was organized between 21-29 Feb 20 where the dance groups and people across the globe come for being part of this grand fest. The present confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Brazil stands at 50,230 with 3,343 reported deaths.
  • Mordi Gras, a city’s masked parade was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA on 25 Feb 20. Now Louisiana is experiencing the fastest growth in new cases. Medical experts said Mordi Gras have accelerated the crisis with more than 3000 cases in the region. The present confirmed cases of COVID-19 in America stands at 8,86,709 with 50,243 reported deaths.
  • “Kem Cho Trump”, a one of a kind Political stunt between US President and Indian Prime Minister where more than 1,00,000 were present at Motera Stadium, India to witness the speech of US President. The present confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India stands at 23,502 with 722 reported deaths.

This is just the Tip of the iceberg, I collected this data within 15 min, if one wants to dive deep thousands of big or small literary, dance, food fests/events happened across the globe when WHO has already warned the World about the spread of unknown virus and international media was filled with news of Wuhan lockdown and how its spreading in China, still no effective measures were taken by the governments.

We elect govt. to take right decisions at right times, as govt. is not just Donald Trump but a group of think tanks, scientists, ministers, bureaucrats and much more with pool of unlimited resources at their door steps. Still whole world kept a blind eye to the unfolding events and when the situation got out of control WHO and China has become easy scapegoats for all. Well enough said, not all governments were sleeping or have been ineffective in curbing this menace, a small country Taiwan has risen against all odds and is a role model for other countries and has successfully flattened the COVID-19 curve.

The TAIWAN Model

After breakout at Wuhan, China the experts declared next epicentre to be Taiwan due to its closeness(1,010 km) and various economic connections with the Wuhan. When the China informed WHO and whole world about the spread of unknown virus, Taiwan was the only country which springed into action as early as January when the whole world was busy detoxing themselves from the hangover of New Year’s and after parties. On 20 Jan 20, Taiwan established a Central Epidemic Command Centre(CECC) composed of medical and public health experts and spear headed by Vice President Dr. Chen Chien-Jen, himself a well-respected epidemiologist. Tighter surveillance norms were instituted along with contact tracing and preparation of quarantine facilities all across the country.

Taiwan started COVID-19 RT-PCR tests in Jan, initially it was only applied to people returning from foreign countries but eventually large chunk of population was also tested for the same. In March, there was a surge of cases mostly among people returning from abroad but was effectively countered with the combined efforts of citizens and government. Effective use of technology was done using GPS, if the GPS data from a quarantined person’s phone indicated movement outside of a certain range, a follow up call was placed to confirm the person’s location.

There has not been any lock down measures instituted in the state although large gatherings are discouraged by the govt. Thus Taiwan emerged victorious in the fight against COVID-19 with only 428 confirmed cases and 06 deaths. It has set an example for other governments and showed how this menace could have been curbed by directed and coordinated efforts of people and govt. and whatsoever no draconian measures are required.1

Conclusion

Instead of playing the blame game, governments should rather stress on taking right steps to stop the spread of the virus.

In this article, I am in no way denying any maleficent intent of Chinese govt. but pointing towards the unpreparedness and ineffective measures taken collectively by the world.

Not only governments are responsible, groups and peoples are also equally responsible as they equally share the burden in a democracy. Giving rise to “False Feminism” theories and propagandas not only nullifies the good work done by the Women Leaders but also shows the nihilistic approach towards our society.

In USA, Israel, Russia thousands are coming on streets to protest against the lockdown thereby increasing the chance of spread into the community. Groups related to formulate conspiracy theories are quite active now a days which made me remember an quite apt quote

Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory

BRUCE LEE

One should totally condemn such actions at time of this crisis and unite together to fight against the virus. 

References

  1. “How Taiwan battles the Corona Virus.” www.thediplomat.com . Retrieved on 21 Apr 20.
  2. Image credit – http://www.scmp.com