Euro Agbo Porno Photo Journos 2: Dr. Jack Caravanos Back on Duty - Let's Flog The Mining

Since I've been quite the heckler of Blacksmith Institute / PureEarth for allowing themselves to be cited as a source of many, many incorrect and false reports on Agbogbloshie e-waste, it's refreshing to be able to give them a kudos.  I was just going after "data journalists log, photojournalists flog" on Africa in the previous blog.

Now what? I'm back so soon?

Blacksmith's main researcher on toxic sites across the globe is NYU's Dr. Jack Caravanos. Dr. Jack's research on soil and processes at Agbogbloshie was actually very good... too bad no one citing the report as saying things it doesn't say has ever read it.    The Guardian and other press who cited it as evidence that Agbogbloshie was some kind of significant world dumping ground would have done well to interview Jack rather than Mike Anane.  Jack's twitter account should be followed, because he's the first place I saw this story.

But here's where we are in total agreement - it's the mining.

And the Kabwe Lead Ore Mining in Zambia, to be more precise.

Jack Caravanos and Blacksmith Institute first put Kabwe lead ore mines on the map.  The worst recycling on earth is better for the environment than the very best mining.  And Kabwe, in Zambia, is one of the worst mines.

Compare the Guardian photojournalism of Kabwe to the Stephano Stranges photography of Agbogbloshie.  They meet in the middle, with StephanoStranges Coltan mine...  Is this where grisly photojournalism redeems itself?  Or is this where Robin tries to salvage relationships without being hypocritical?

I told the Guardian in 2014, "It's the Mining, Stupid".  Can we finally take on the toxic legacy of the General Mining Act of 1872, and the precedent it set for mining across the earth?

The Guadian has now done to Kabwe what they did to Agbogbloshie - sent photojournalists to film grisly polluting African spectacle.

This is a real challenge for me.  I've turned very bitterly against "poverty porn", "charitable industrial complex", "circular economy", "environmental malpractice", "white savior complex", etc., in my defense of Africa's Tech Sector.  Just a day ago, I coined the phrase "data journalists log, and photojournalists flog" to describe the treatment of Africans.

But here I'm seeing those photojournalism tools directed at an actual culprit, in my book.  I started in recycling to protest metal mining.  I flogged it, verbally, for decades.  And here are cringeworthy photos of why the "circular economy" is really necessary.

This is where I started, in my early 20s (and before).  I was out protesting mining, and the General Mining Act of 1872 in particular.  I gave Garden Club speeches across my home state of Arkansas asking for the reform of the 1872 Mining Law, and eventually, our Senator Dale Bumpers became the most outspoken critic.

The USA no-royalties standard set by the GMA was adapted in other countries - pushed along, in fact, by international banking.  And that's what funded Recycling's Nemesis - unregulated, unmonitored, open source mining.  Like the lead ore mine in Kabwe.

I'm still going to give Blacksmith/PureEarth a hard time for allowing the collateral damage to Africa's Tech Sector, for staying silent when their own report (by Caravanos) completely contradicted the absurdist portrayals of the site by Jim Puckett and Mike Anane.  The Oxbow Incident of Lord Chris Smith's posse, the high tech lynching of Joe "Hurricane" Benson, is still a sin environmentalists have yet to admit to.  "Collateral damage" (Jim Puckett's excuse) doesn't cut it when you only say it in private, and don't give permission to release your recorded admission.

Anane, whom Dagomba scrappers accuse of being a agent of the AMA (an urban land development association trying to evict people from the Old Fadama slum) is toxic.  Jack's numbers on people employed in Agbogbloshie looked accurate, and I have no doubt that his soil tests were accurate.  I just wish he'd been more vocal about the collateral damage to Africa's Tech Sector, and to Joseph "Hurricane" Benson in particular.

But this at least makes one thing right.  Even if the Guardian won't answer me on their Agbogbloshie napalm job of African Geeks of Color, they are reminding everyone now of where the REAL killers are, the most toxic places on earth.... mines like OK Tedi and Kabwe.

And I can stop turning in my grave.

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