Environmental Malpractice: Old Fadama (Agbogbloshie) Still Shaken by Bullyboys

First the good news:   Three great articles came out making the same points that I've been trying to make for ten years, adding a great deal of intellectual value to the discussion of the E-Waste Export controversy.

Restart Project, Representations of Waste Matter

Lepawsky, Goldstein, Schulz:  Criminal Negligence?

Minter, Anatomy of a Myth

Ghana's Parliament is now involved, and is asking the same tough questions posed by the Twittersphere through the week.   If it's about flooding, why did they start in the rainy season?  Why did the AMA start on the populated side of the river, rather than dredge from the opposite (scrapyard and landfill) side of the water?  Why start on the first day of the holy Ramadan?

The bad news is that it's too little, too late to help the dispossessed refugees of the shantytown.   My friends and acquaintances there describe homeless children now sleeping on the floors of mosques, unable to purchase mandatory school uniforms and supplies burned or bulldozed.

But the worse news is the slum will be rebuilt much faster than the reputations of environmentalists and journalists.  Too many environmentalists are ignoring our role in the propaganda campaign.

We are living up to our label as "parasites of the poor".  We are losing a generation of influence, as the scrappers of Agbogbloshie grow to dislike us and distrust us, believing that the people repeating lies about them are raking in enormous sums of wealth.

Bullyboy environmentalist, Joe Benson called us.

Sadly, in proportion, it's more true what they say about us than what we are saying about them.  I'm sorry to be the bearer of that news, but don't kid yourselves, I'm not making it up, I have these conversations recorded on film.

My role as a blogger is to remind my fellow environmentalists, including the NGOs and EU-based bureaucrats who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars (or millions, in the case of one NGO) off of the #ewastehoax, that hyperbole harms.

PureEarth (formerly known as Blacksmith Institute) does not deserve the brunt of the anger coming from Agbogbloshie, but it was the misuse of their "Top Ten" list (see Weather.com) which fed the fire.   This may be a dispute about urban planning in Accra, but Environmentalists provided one of three terrible pieces of propaganda repeated on radio broadcasts across Accra.

The propaganda campaign to drum up public support of the forced evictions and home destruction was in three parts:
  1. That Old Fadama residents caused last month's floods, which killed 150 Accra residents (including those killed seeking higher ground during a gas station explosion)
  2. That Agbogbloshie scrappers are smuggling toxic Western E-Waste, polluting the city.
  3. That the non-Christian heathans of "Sodom and Gomorrah" were responsible for acts of crime, debauchery in Accra.
The second is a purely Western created fantasy.  Most of us in the business know Basel Action Network and Greenpeace roles behind it, but in May Jim Puckett of BAN, in a comment attacking me personally (very personally) attributed the false information to Blacksmith Institute... who did not respond.  Instead, they responded to my comment to an E-Scrap News story a week later stating that questions have been raised about the "Transforming Agbogbloshie" grant.

Now, I'm absolutely willing to print any response I get from Richard Fuller, Angela, or Jack Caravanos of CUNY.  I retweet and applaud their focus on the planets most polluting activity - metal mining, and Caravanos' contributions to awareness of Kabwe lead-zinc mine, and artisinal gold mining, has been referenced in several blogs over the decade.

But the PureEarth and GAHP's partner, Green Cross, right now, still has this on their website:

Millions of tons imported and scrapped in Agbogbloshie.  Millions of containers (which would make hundreds of millions of tons).   As we are trying to help the refugees we met and interviewed just a couple of months ago, I'm having to talk to Reuters and BBC reporters who are referencing this.

Attributing most of the pollution at Agbogbloshie not to autos or old appliances, but to "computers and computer monitors" (which don't even have leaded wire insulation), and to "millions of tons" sent from "countries around the globe". Seven million containers of e-waste...  And the footnotes are to press stories which are citing environmental groups, in what Lepawsky/Goldstein/Shulz identify as "circular" references with no attributable source.

I'm not perfect, and my African geek friends in the Tech Sector aren't perfect.  But this storyline is grossly unfair, and it's horrific that a TV Repairman, Joe Benson of BJ Electronics, is sitting in an English prison over this nonsense (see video interview below).

I have film of Jim Puckett claiming not to know who Joe Benson is, and film of him admitting he does know who Joe Benson is and saying he'd sign the petition to free him, and calling him "collateral damage".  I have film of Agbogbloshie scrap workers predicting they were going to be evicted from the land because of property values in Accra.  

The three articles at the top should send a message... Jim Puckett's organization repeated ad hominem attacks on yours truly is not a long term vision or plan for Africa or the Environmental Community.

The photo above is shot from the side of the flooded lagoon which is not populated.  If the AMA in Accra was really interested in giving Abogbloshie residents notice that the bulldozers were coming, they could have started to raze the side these photos were taken from.  There is plenty of evidence to support the "paranoid" suspicions of these workers.

The scrap workers told me this campaign was about their eviction, and tragically, they believe environmentalists and journalists are in on it... See my interview 2 years ago, the "Bullyboys" theory from Joe Benson.  It's the same I heard at Agbobloshie.  I don't believe so, but the "deniers" of evidence, if their credibility comes from caring for the poor, should follow the lead of the writers at top, and declare Africa's Tech Sector, and the scrappers who manage the material they import ten years later, innocent of all charges.

Environmental Malpractice.  We have met the enemy, and he is us.

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