Firehose 8: Leyla Acaroglu and "Environmental Folklore"

"There's no denying..."  Below are tweets sent last night from Australia, where the New York Times opinion author wrote yesterday's column about how cell phones and electronics are exported for primitive burning.  I tried to reason (and am still trying)...

2h There is no denying that the US exports and in cases dumps waste on other countries. Just one example Details2h Even what is 'donated' eventually becomes a legacy that has to be dealt with. Read what the UN says 
Here's the fascinating part... While she appeared to deflect the studies showing that the E-Waste Myths had exaggerated the dumping by tenfold, and even sent links to the UN studies back to me (and Adam M), and sent links from the "dark year" of 2010 which is when the studies were commissioned... her TED talk is actually - fantastically - titled "Question what you think".  It's all about using science and lifecycle to define sustainability, and to beware "environmental myths".

Leyla Acaroglu's TED Talk is called "Environmental Folklore".  It's about using Lifecycle analysis to determine the real environmental costs of our decisions.   She talks about the scatalogical focus of "end of life", which is the same theme/mantra of this blog.  She should be open to the idea that the carbon, energy, and environmental cost of a display device are mostly embodied from before it's even sold or initially used, and therefore (like UNEP) agree that reusing it makes more sense than shredding it.  But she says "even what is donated eventually becomes a legacy..."

In the TED talk on youtube, I agree with her thinking about plastic vs. paper.  What we need to do is get her to apply the same "looking at the entire system" to assess CRT reuse vs. CRT shredding, the "green myths".

"Before you listen to this little guy in your head..., you should stop and question what you think you know". 

She and I completely agree on the Lifecycle.  The problem is, that when she writes about "e-waste" and cell phones, she's letting the Little Green Gal do all her talking.   Greenpeace and BAN are telling little green lies, and it's not turning out well for Technicians of Color.

Myths, Folklore, Hoaxes and little green lies

Leyla Acaroglu chose to write about cell phone recycling for the New York Times.  Does she know anything about it?  Or, as I blogged yesterday, is she the latest Birmingham Firefighter to show up with a firehose of disinformation, which results in the arrests of brown people?

Late last night, I engaged in a 3-way twitter-fest with Leyla and China Bloomberg correspondent Adam Minter concerning her NY Times allegations that most cell phones are exported so that African kids can beat the batteries up to remove cadmium (no kidding, that's how weird her column was).  She defended her position on e-Waste with claims "There's No Denying..."

Pardon me, sometimes "denying" is good.   Isn't this exactly what she describes in her TED Talk?  Except this is more sinister than "paper vs. plastic bags".  Geeks are getting arrested.  (See guiding quotes from Winston Churchill and Mark Twain, at bottom).

How do we, as journalists, researchers, agents of conscience, and good citizens, convince our eco-brethern (and sister-in) to turn off the firehose?   This was the type of thing my family had to digest in the south, where I grew up, during the Civil Rights marches.

I was way too young to call elder relatives "ignorant racists", or to refuse to eat dinner with them.  Doing so, one really sacrifices one's leverage you have as a family member at Thanksgiving.  But if they are repeating things, like "most interracial marriages end in divorce" (was it 80-90%, perchance?) in order to defend the state of Virginia laws vs. Lovings, you have to risk being less popular with your cousins.

Evidently no denying Indonesia is primitive
Leyla Acaroglu could be a valuable asset.  If she cannot face the "Environmental Folklore" around e-waste exports, who could?   The trick is to get people like Leyla to understand why I'm so uptight about this Environmental Malpractice (December 2012 Blog Series)... Hurricane Benson, Hurricane Hamdy, and she even sent a link to the 2010 article accusing Hurricane Chiu (of Semarang exports) to "bolster her case" that there's "no denying" (see second tweet from Leyla at top).   No denying??? Heck, I've spent the better part of the past 3 years "DENYING" the person she posted about was a primitive wire burner... and the story that started it all is forwarded back to me as "just one example" that there's "no denying", in a vicious story-recycling circle.

What our campaign for Fair Trade Recycling is ultimately about is best summed up in "To Kill a Mockingbird"... but replace the word "n***er" with the word "exporter".

Dont' bother searching for the twitter feed posted below, she has deleted it.  Hopefully, it's because Adam and I made her read the studies she was actually linking and forwarding to us.  I believe she has a conscience, and I believe that if she looks at how the Geeks of Color have been described, treated, and defamed, she can come to share my outrage over the Greenpeace and BAN campaigns.

Yesterday's reponse, with pictures from the TechTravels blog, showing lucidly how "Un-primitive" the cell phone recyclers in China are, is the better of these two blog responses.  But now having listened to her TED talk, I want to repost the job description for Atticus Finch of the 21st Century.

(ps. the twitter dialogue went a little bitter after I went to bed, and Leyla deleted her tweets below, plus a couple that basically accused Adam and I of ... um... Anti-Australianism?  I'm not quite sure.  I hope the deleted posts mean she's having a sit down with the Little Green Man in her head, and not that she's closed off the subject she opened with the NYTimes column).

No comments: