Poison Apples 2: Profiting from Ewaste Cures

Things that seemed very important to write about 6 years ago (about things like desktop CRT monitor remanufacturing in Asia, and California SB20) now seem less vital.  But while public discussion of the topics in this blog has quieted, and some wins (like Mr. "Fishing as a Boy" Anane being actively edited out of certain documentaries) institutionalized, individual cases of racial profiling of the emerging market's tech sector continue. I receive a lot of thank yous "under the table".

What I have learned over the 11 years of writing this blog is that being passionate about environmentalism is like being passionate about cures for human sickness and disease. It is a hot topic until the disease is cured, but that different populations struggle with different levels of risk.

And the importance of being green is not passeĆ©.  The theme is to improve environmental health the way we improved human health. Sometimes, that means standing up to the liar wearing the doctor's white coat, promising to end suffering by selling a cure they've barely tested....


E-Waste Policy looks a great deal, through the lens of history, like 1960s infant formula sales.  My mom recently recalled that when she was breastfeeding me at the hospital in Harrison Arkansas in 1962, a nurse in the room asked her, "What are you trying to prove?"  Mom was only 19... but thank god she could see past the nurse's labcoat.

Poison Apples Blog: 18 Questions for Research on GPS Tracking of E-Waste

Poison Apples Blog #1 - Labor Day Weekend 2018

It's September, the beginning of a new Academic Year.  Environmental studies and public policy and geography and business majors are arriving on campus, ready to launch hundreds of term papers, thesis, class essays, etc. on lots of topics.

Usually, there are dozens of students researching the topics of the Basel Convention, EPA policy, exports, and externalization of pollution.  And there are quite a few papers that will be written on racial profiling, and environmental justice.

So far, I haven't seen many papers on the thesis that Geeks of Color, the Tech Sector in emerging markets, is being improperly profiled as "primitive", "informal", and "illegal". But if I were to write such a paper, for an A+, I might begin with another paper that had been published that reached a conclusion in its title...

"How does e-waste travel across the world after disposal?" was a hot publication in 2016, and was covered on PBS national evening news broadcast before many of us had a chance to peer-review it. The title of the report asks a question... and has a cover photo at top which clearly shows the plastic casings of CRT televisions.  This raised a question to me... why was there not even a single CRT television tracked among the sample of 205 devices, which MIT's partner claims are a representative sample of "ewaste".

The 30% or so of "stuff" in e-waste collections that does indeed "travel across the world" is the only stuff they tracked. But the paper claims to answers the question "How" without asking the question, "Why"?  And the answer to why would come from the buyers, the black, brown, Asian, African, Latino and Islanders who are never offered a chance to show what they CAN do with your "elective upgraded" so-called "waste"...

Because the NGO knows this, they had to take an extra step. No one is selling spoiled apples in the marketplace, if they tracked the spoiled ones, it would show little export. But if they tracked the statistically good ones, they'd likely find their GPS in a reuse shop (in fact, they did despite efforts to sabotage).

The method, I call "poisoning the Apples"... And its time some people publish some term papers on the obvious errors in scientific method that should have been vetted before PBS was sent the paper.




The Thorny Distraction of Environmental Police / Malaysia Rhino Horn

It has been a couple of years now since WR3A's last meeting with INTERPOL in Lyon, France. After our first and second visit to Agbogbloshie, laughingling labelled the "world's largest e-waste dump", INTERPOL officials let me know that "Project Eden" was a misfire. They would sunset it silently.  This is what grown up environmentalists do.

The #ewastehoax launched by Jim Puckett of Seattle almost two decades ago has distracted environmental regulators, and has diluted their enforcement, from much more important concerns.  Like this.


Fifty rhino horns, worth $12M, seized by Malaysian environmental officials in Kuala Lumpur. This is a big news story. Yet it's been distracted from and diluted by Basel Action Network, and there's been no country more so distracted by BAN's war on repair than Malaysia DOE.

Everyone Misunderstands China / Global Recycling Chains (#WSJ)

Wall Street Journal and others are running stories about the crash in recycling prices due to China's new import restrictions.  There is a grain of truth to the story, but there is so much more going on that I have to issue a quick explanation [US Recycling Companies Face Upheaval from China Scrap Ban].

It has little to do with the sentiment in China over "western garbage". That trite little meme is everywhere on Twitter.  It's something else entirely.

"IT'S THE MINING STUPID"


(AND FORESTRY, OCEAN BED EXTRACTION, AND CRUDE OIL REFINING)