Monday, August 31, 2009

NEW 10:10 CAMPAIGN

The beauty of 10:10 is that it's both achievable and meaningful

The world's response to global warming is a classic case of all mouth and no trousers. This new initiative aims to show that we can all act now - and achieve something significant


*
o Ian Katz
o The Guardian, Tuesday 1 September 2009


Future generations writing the history of climate change may be struck by an apparent paradox: while millions of educated people – perhaps most of them – alive in the first decade of the 21st century acknowledged the threat posed by the buildup of greenhouse gasses and their part in creating it, only a tiny number did anything about it. Poll after poll underlines this disconnect; one extensive survey carried out by the Department for Transport last year found that 81% of adults were very or fairly concerned about climate change and three quarters said they were willing to change their behaviour to help combat it. But go looking for examples of that changed behaviour beyond putting out the recycling and you're likely to be disappointed. With the exception of a small, saintly portion of the population, our response to global warming is a classic case of all mouth and no trousers.

And seen from this end of the century it's not hard to see why. Even if most of us appreciate, as my colleague Leo Hickman describes it, that sawing away at the branch we are sitting on can't be a good idea, actually doing something about it requires us both to execute a leap of imagination and to stretch our ideas of self-interest and moral responsibility. We are asked to make real sacrifices now to protect future generations from a risk, the precise nature of which is still uncertain. Homo sapiens has never been terribly good at this kind of long-term thinking – some evolutionary biologists suggest the very wiring of our brains conspires against it – and the rise of liberal individualism has made it harder, if anything, to forge collective responses to problems that do not threaten our short-term self-interest.

Then there is the awkward reality, often glossed over by the those seeking to promote action on climate change, that the children and grandchildren of those of us in the rich north will not be among those worst hit by the effects of warming. In fact, how many Britons do not hear talk of a two- or three-degree increase in average temperatures and secretly wonder if a climate more like Seville than Stockholm might be rather pleasant?

Even those well-intentioned enough to want to do their bit, can quickly find themselves feeling powerless and paralysed in the face of an issue of this scale. What's the point of acting individually to reduce your emissions if most other people carry on just as they are? In fact what's the point of doing anything in Britain when it accounts for just 2% of world emissions? What about that new coal-fired power station the Chinese are building every week? Doesn't it make a mockery of anything I, or even Britain, might do?

Climate change is perhaps the most extreme example of what the American ecologist Garrett Hardin called a tragedy of the commons. Hardin considered the example of herders raising cattle on a shared field. It was in each herder's narrow interest to keep adding more cows, since each enjoyed all the benefits of an extra cow, while the effects of the extra cow on the pasture were shared by all. And so the herders moved ineluctably towards disaster.

At the same time, much of the discourse about climate change does little to convey a sense of urgency. Scientists and politicians talk about "stabilising" carbon dioxide levels some time later this century. Diplomats wrangle over targets for 2020 and 2050. It all sounds like something we can afford to put off worrying about until next month or next year. The penny that has not yet dropped with most of us is that we have arrived at a make-or-break moment: if we are to have any real chance of avoiding dangerous warming, the scientists now agree, global emissions must peak within the next five to 10 years and then begin to fall. And if we are to have any chance of achieving that goal, we need to start cutting now. Tomorrow, next week, next month.

The environmental thinker Tim Helweg-Larsen explains the urgency by likening climate change to a bath with the tap running. Since warming is caused by the total amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it is the volume of water in the bath, rather than simply how much water is flowing into it, that we must worry about. If the bath is close to overflowing and we are still running water into it quicker than it can flow out of the plughole, we need to begin closing the taps immediately, or our chances of stopping it overflowing will be far slimmer.

A gathering of some of the world's most eminent scientists in London in May was quite precise about how quickly we must begin turning the taps: unless world carbon emissions begin falling within just six years, they concluded, we have little chance of avoiding warming beyond the critical level of two degrees. Above that level, scientists fear so-called "feedbacks" could kick in, leading to runaway warming and extreme weather events such as droughts and floods that would leave millions homeless and starving.

The 10:10 campaign, which is launched today in partnership with the Guardian, is designed both to answer the call for immediate action, and to offer individuals and organisations a meaningful way of taking it. It is the brainchild of Franny Armstrong, the irrepressible film-maker behind The Age of Stupid, a powerful docudrama about our failure to tackle climate change. The idea is compellingly simple: by signing up, individuals and organisations from multinational companies to schools and hospitals commit to doing their best to cut their emissions by 10% by the end of 2010, precisely the sort of deep, quick cut the scientists say is needed.

A modest challenge

Central to the 10:10 campaign is an acknowledgement that the kind of action we are typically urged to take to combat climate change is all too often either footling or forbiddingly hair-shirted. As the environmental writer George Marshall has powerfully argued, focusing on easy, "achievable" targets such as recycling has both distorted public understanding of the impacts of our lifestyle and risks trivialising the issue. At the same time the kind of scorched-earth lifestyle transformation some environmentalists demand is more than most of us are willing to embrace. At least yet. "You are being asked not only to change your life but to make your life very different to the people around you," says the low-carbon expert Chris Goodall. "It's almost an aggressive act. All of a sudden you move outside the mainstream milieu."

At the risk of evoking Blair's third way, 10:10 aims to find a space between these poles by promoting action that is both achievable and meaningful. While collectively cutting 10% of emissions in the next year or so would represent a significant step on the road to a low carbon Britain, it is for each of us – and for most businesses – a relatively modest challenge. The first 10% is what the experts call the low-hanging fruit, the savings we can make through relatively small sacrifices such as changing lightbulbs, insulating our homes more effectively, turning down our central heating or swapping one or two flights a year for rail journeys. Even for those of us who have already taken these easy steps, the next 10%, as some of our case studies show, is within reach without wholesale renunciation of a western consumer lifestyle. A group of Oxford householders who recently embarked on a carbon diet managed to reduce their emissions by between 25% and 30% during the course of the last year.

Over the next 16 months we'll be offering plenty of advice on how to do it and following the progress of a number of families, businesses and other organisations as they try to hit the 10% target. We'll also create space online and in print for you to swap your own know-how, experiences and support. The emphasis will be on properly quantifying the changes you can make so you can decide what is meaningful and what is simply symbolic.

The campaign has already created a remarkable degree of buzz and excitement. Even before it is formally launched today, it has attracted a diverse and formidable legion of supporters ranging from the online grocer Ocado, three major energy companies, a Premiership football club, unions and NGOs to influential figures in the arts, showbusiness, religion, TV and politics.

One measure of the power of its central idea is the improbable alliances it has forged. CEOs of energy companies find themselves in bed with activists who a few months ago might have been chained to the fences outside their power stations. The Women's Institute marches to the rhythm of painfully cool indie bands Stornoway and Reverend and the Makers (who will play for free at this evening's launch event at Tate Modern).

A moral obligation

Over the next few months, the 10:10 team hope tens – perhaps hundreds – of thousands more will don a 10:10 tag made from scrap metal salvaged from retired aircraft. (The hurried manufacture of large numbers of these over the summer produced one of the campaign's moments of black comedy when a rumour began circulating that they were tags which would be used to label the thousands of fatalities the government was expecting to be caused by swine flu.) The 10:10 team have no intention of stopping there; once they have amassed a significant number of pledges from individuals, companies and institutions, they plan to challenge the government to match their commitment.

Though the British government has recently taken some significant steps towards decarbonising the economy, the fact that we find ourselves in need of something close to a miracle to avert disaster reflects a profound failure of leadership by the political classes of all the world's major nations. Most governments and their electorates have been locked in a disastrous standoff, neither willing to take action till the other shows they are serious about the problem. 10:10 is partly about breaking that destructive impasse.

Sceptics will retort with the usual questions: why take any form of unilateral action when we are months away from what has been billed as a critical international climate conference? How can any campaign in marginal little Britain have an impact on the ultimate global problem?

Reflecting the pluralism of the 10:10 coalition, different answers emerge from different corners of the campaign. Talk to Goodall and he will answer unashamedly in terms of simple moral responsibility: "If there is a problem that has been caused by us and is being caused by us then we have a moral obligation to do something about it. As individuals we have to live our lives as we want other people to live their lives." The trouble, Goodall reflects a little sadly, is that the rise of aggressive materialism has made such a categorical position look quaint, if not outright lampoonable.

Ideas have power

Armstrong has a more pragmatic view of the role 10:10 could play in bringing about significant global action. Few who know anything about it believe the best deal on the cards in Copenhagen, the key conference in December at which world leaders will attempt to hammer out a global climate-change treaty, is anything like tough enough to avert dangerous warming. Armstrong believes forcing the British government to move faster could put it in a leadership position that would enable it to push for a tougher deal. It is an optimistic but not completely far-fetched vision. Developing nations – in particular China and India – have consistently argued that they won't submit to binding carbon limits until they see real evidence of the rich world tackling the problem it substantially created. I have heard Chinese diplomats talk about the importance of seeing meaningful action from Britain and Europe. Helweg-Larsen talks compellingly about the value of taking an inspirational lead: "We have to demonstrate progress and we have to be inspiring each other with action. Ideas have power."

More radical critics will argue that 10:10 is just "feelgood" window dressing designed to paper over the cracks in a broken economic model. Even the moving spirits of the campaign would not claim it was more than a useful first step towards the deeper transformation of our lifestyles that will be required. But it is significant that some of the most exacting experts in the field have endorsed the campaign as being in line with what the science demands – figures such as outspoken British climatologist Kevin Anderson who has criticised both politicians and his colleagues for failing to be honest about the perilousness of our position.

A while ago I had a dispiriting conversation with another eminent European scientist. He is a natural optimist but sounded unusually low. He had recently been asked to brief a leading European political figure on the latest scientific understanding of climate change. The leader listened then described the best deal he believed possible at Copenhagen: a 50% global cut in emissions against 2000 levels – by 2050. The scientist explained that such a deal would give us only a 50% chance of avoiding a temperature rise above the critical two-degree level that experts believe could trigger runaway warming, but the politician insisted that a tougher deal would never get off the drawing board. "I asked, who would fly on an airline that had a 50:50 chance of crashing?" the scientist told me.

10:10 is about declaring that we do not accept those odds. It is about grabbing the wheel from the bus driver who is steering us directly towards an oncoming juggernaut. It is about old-fashioned ideas of responsibility, but also about a more enlightened understanding of our collective self-interest. It is about an optimistic view of what ordinary people can achieve, and of human nature itself. Now over to you. •


* guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

RICK MAXWELL SENT ME THIS from daily finance

Are Kindles really so green?

08-24-2009

A report released last week by the Cleantech Group, a consultancy and analysis outfit, laid out a strong environmental case for the Amazon Kindle and, by extension, all e-readers. The study underscores the stunning positive impact that e-readers could have on our envir! onment should the technology become widely adopted and replace paper as the medium for books, magazines and newspapers.

The report found that "e-readers purchased from 2009 to 2012 could prevent 5.3 billion kg of carbon dioxide in 2012, or 9.9 billion kg during the four-year time period." In other words, treehuggers should be blowing Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos big kisses. But there's a catch, and it's a big one.
According to the Cleantech report, an Amazon Kindle must be used for a year before the carbon emissions required to make the electronic device are offset by a corresponding reduction in purchases of paper-based media products. That's important. If the e-reader market ! is anything like the iPod and handset market -- the close! st compa rable consumer electronics categories to date -- then e-readers might not be as green and carbon-busting as they first look.

Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs said that people would need to purchase a new iPod every year in order to keep up (hat tip to Engadget). In my own household, between iPods, and iPhones we've easily added a new device every year. With the Kindle, less than six months after I received my first one as a gift I already have my eye on a bigger Kindle released a few months later.

I don't have exact stats on how often users swap out devices but I'd say at a minimum the average is 24 months. This means the impact of a Kindle is probably not as profound as Cleantech Group says, given that it assumes a the four-year ownership cycle.

The Cleantech report also based its est! imates on the assumption that the average Kindle user would purchase 22.4 books per year. That sure sounds like a lot. I purchase perhaps five or six and most people I know do not purchase 22 books. I am not sure how they were accounting for newspaper and magazine purchases, or if they were just rolling the averages of all paper media buys into a more easily measured equivalent number of books. If so, this could be true.

On the other hand, the early adopters are most likely to have the biggest impact because they are probably the magazine and book junkies who care enough about reading to try out a Kindle or a Sony (SNE) e-reader product. So I imagine the positive environmental impact of each additional e-reader declines beyond a certain point. To date, only one million e-readers have been sold, according to VentureBeat's Camille Ricketts. So the longer-te! rm growt h rates of e-readers are at present hard to extrapolate.

The truth is, the most environmentally friendly e-reader to have is the Kindle app on an Apple iPhone, or any other smartphone device equipped with an e-reader. Reading books on a smartphone eliminates the need for yet another piece of silicon and plastic and also helps encourage us all to do more with fewer toys.

True, e-readers use e-ink that does not require backlighting and therefore consumes less power. Also, the production of an iPhone sucks up a whole lot more carbon. Then there's the issue with the iPhone batteries, which Apple designed not to be replaced. Amazon took the other tack, making it very easy to swap out a Kindle's batteries. But how many people are going to swap out their iPhone for a Kindlephone?
One point the report made is indisputable, however. The publishing industry is a horrible thing for the environment. Last year the material needs of the book and newspaper businesses in the U.S. resulted in the removal of 125 million trees. Production processes for books and newspapers created 153 billion gallons of waste water, and paper accounts for more than 25 percent of all landfill volume. The upshot? Dead trees must go, no doubt. Whether an e-reader is the most efficient pathway for environmentally enlightened readers, however, is more difficult to say.

RICK MAXWELL SENT ME THIS from daily finance

Are Kindles really so green?

08-24-2009

A report released last week by the Cleantech Group, a consultancy and analysis outfit, laid out a strong environmental case for the Amazon Kindle and, by extension, all e-readers. The study underscores the stunning positive impact that e-readers could have on our envir! onment should the technology become widely adopted and replace paper as the medium for books, magazines and newspapers.

The report found that "e-readers purchased from 2009 to 2012 could prevent 5.3 billion kg of carbon dioxide in 2012, or 9.9 billion kg during the four-year time period." In other words, treehuggers should be blowing Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos big kisses. But there's a catch, and it's a big one.
According to the Cleantech report, an Amazon Kindle must be used for a year before the carbon emissions required to make the electronic device are offset by a corresponding reduction in purchases of paper-based media products. That's important. If the e-reader market ! is anything like the iPod and handset market -- the close! st compa rable consumer electronics categories to date -- then e-readers might not be as green and carbon-busting as they first look.

Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs said that people would need to purchase a new iPod every year in order to keep up (hat tip to Engadget). In my own household, between iPods, and iPhones we've easily added a new device every year. With the Kindle, less than six months after I received my first one as a gift I already have my eye on a bigger Kindle released a few months later.

I don't have exact stats on how often users swap out devices but I'd say at a minimum the average is 24 months. This means the impact of a Kindle is probably not as profound as Cleantech Group says, given that it assumes a the four-year ownership cycle.

The Cleantech report also based its est! imates on the assumption that the average Kindle user would purchase 22.4 books per year. That sure sounds like a lot. I purchase perhaps five or six and most people I know do not purchase 22 books. I am not sure how they were accounting for newspaper and magazine purchases, or if they were just rolling the averages of all paper media buys into a more easily measured equivalent number of books. If so, this could be true.

On the other hand, the early adopters are most likely to have the biggest impact because they are probably the magazine and book junkies who care enough about reading to try out a Kindle or a Sony (SNE) e-reader product. So I imagine the positive environmental impact of each additional e-reader declines beyond a certain point. To date, only one million e-readers have been sold, according to VentureBeat's Camille Ricketts. So the longer-te! rm growt h rates of e-readers are at present hard to extrapolate.

The truth is, the most environmentally friendly e-reader to have is the Kindle app on an Apple iPhone, or any other smartphone device equipped with an e-reader. Reading books on a smartphone eliminates the need for yet another piece of silicon and plastic and also helps encourage us all to do more with fewer toys.

True, e-readers use e-ink that does not require backlighting and therefore consumes less power. Also, the production of an iPhone sucks up a whole lot more carbon. Then there's the issue with the iPhone batteries, which Apple designed not to be replaced. Amazon took the other tack, making it very easy to swap out a Kindle's batteries. But how many people are going to swap out their iPhone for a Kindlephone?
One point the report made is indisputable, however. The publishing industry is a horrible thing for the environment. Last year the material needs of the book and newspaper businesses in the U.S. resulted in the removal of 125 million trees. Production processes for books and newspapers created 153 billion gallons of waste water, and paper accounts for more than 25 percent of all landfill volume. The upshot? Dead trees must go, no doubt. Whether an e-reader is the most efficient pathway for environmentally enlightened readers, however, is more difficult to say.

RICK MAXWELL SENT ME THIS from daily finance

Are Kindles really so green?

08-24-2009

A report released last week by the Cleantech Group, a consultancy and analysis outfit, laid out a strong environmental case for the Amazon Kindle and, by extension, all e-readers. The study underscores the stunning positive impact that e-readers could have on our envir! onment should the technology become widely adopted and replace paper as the medium for books, magazines and newspapers.

The report found that "e-readers purchased from 2009 to 2012 could prevent 5.3 billion kg of carbon dioxide in 2012, or 9.9 billion kg during the four-year time period." In other words, treehuggers should be blowing Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos big kisses. But there's a catch, and it's a big one.
According to the Cleantech report, an Amazon Kindle must be used for a year before the carbon emissions required to make the electronic device are offset by a corresponding reduction in purchases of paper-based media products. That's important. If the e-reader market ! is anything like the iPod and handset market -- the close! st compa rable consumer electronics categories to date -- then e-readers might not be as green and carbon-busting as they first look.

Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs said that people would need to purchase a new iPod every year in order to keep up (hat tip to Engadget). In my own household, between iPods, and iPhones we've easily added a new device every year. With the Kindle, less than six months after I received my first one as a gift I already have my eye on a bigger Kindle released a few months later.

I don't have exact stats on how often users swap out devices but I'd say at a minimum the average is 24 months. This means the impact of a Kindle is probably not as profound as Cleantech Group says, given that it assumes a the four-year ownership cycle.

The Cleantech report also based its est! imates on the assumption that the average Kindle user would purchase 22.4 books per year. That sure sounds like a lot. I purchase perhaps five or six and most people I know do not purchase 22 books. I am not sure how they were accounting for newspaper and magazine purchases, or if they were just rolling the averages of all paper media buys into a more easily measured equivalent number of books. If so, this could be true.

On the other hand, the early adopters are most likely to have the biggest impact because they are probably the magazine and book junkies who care enough about reading to try out a Kindle or a Sony (SNE) e-reader product. So I imagine the positive environmental impact of each additional e-reader declines beyond a certain point. To date, only one million e-readers have been sold, according to VentureBeat's Camille Ricketts. So the longer-te! rm growt h rates of e-readers are at present hard to extrapolate.

The truth is, the most environmentally friendly e-reader to have is the Kindle app on an Apple iPhone, or any other smartphone device equipped with an e-reader. Reading books on a smartphone eliminates the need for yet another piece of silicon and plastic and also helps encourage us all to do more with fewer toys.

True, e-readers use e-ink that does not require backlighting and therefore consumes less power. Also, the production of an iPhone sucks up a whole lot more carbon. Then there's the issue with the iPhone batteries, which Apple designed not to be replaced. Amazon took the other tack, making it very easy to swap out a Kindle's batteries. But how many people are going to swap out their iPhone for a Kindlephone?
One point the report made is indisputable, however. The publishing industry is a horrible thing for the environment. Last year the material needs of the book and newspaper businesses in the U.S. resulted in the removal of 125 million trees. Production processes for books and newspapers created 153 billion gallons of waste water, and paper accounts for more than 25 percent of all landfill volume. The upshot? Dead trees must go, no doubt. Whether an e-reader is the most efficient pathway for environmentally enlightened readers, however, is more difficult to say.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

FOR ALL THE LATEST IN HOLLYWOOD GOSSIP

http://www.ecorazzi.com/

Aotearoa Gets It

New Zealand residents can dispose of their old PCs, computer peripherals, mobile phones and digital cameras at eDay on Saturday 12th September.

eDay, a free nationwide computer recycling event, is expected to divert over 1,000 tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste) from landfills and will enable the recovery of valuable materials such as gold, copper and aluminium so they can be reused. The drive-through event has extended from 32 regions last year to close to 40 regions in 2009.

National Organiser and Chairperson of Computer Access New Zealand (CANZ), Laurence Zwimpfer, said e-waste is the fastest growing and one of the most challenging waste problems in the world and New Zealand is no exception; over 87,000 computer related items were diverted from local landfills at last year's eDay. "Computers contain many valuable resources which can be recovered and put to good use. Our aim with eDay is to educate New Zealanders about the benefits of recycling computers while providing convenient drop-off points for them to dispose of unwanted computer items in a safe way," said Mr Zwimpfer.

The annual eDay event is now in its third year and is the only national community-driven e-waste recycling event for dropping off computer items such as monitors, CPUs and printers, at no cost to the public. CANZ advises people to wipe all data from computer hard drives as well as removable media such as floppy disks and PC cards before handing them over for recycling.

Only computer equipment, mobile phones and digital cameras can be recycled in the eDay collection. Other electronic equipment including televisions and stereos will not be accepted. "We know that TVs and other electronic equipment pose similar threats to our environment, but because of the huge variety in size and weight of this equipment, we don't think it is fair to ask volunteers to handle TVs," said Mr Zwimpfer. "The best advice we can give is for the public to hold onto their old TVs until sustainable solutions are available."

The event is supported nationally by The Ministry for the Environment through their Sustainable Management Fund, the 2020 Communications Trust and the Ministry of Education which funds the Computer Access NZ Trust. National transport operator KiwiRail and international e-waste recyclers CRTNZ are national partners again in 2009. Corporate sponsors include Meridian Energy, More FM, Dell, Canon, Printlink, The Laptop Company, Invo, Trade Me and NZICT. Each eDay event is also being supported by numerous local partners, typically including local and regional authorities, as well as a wide range of other interested organisations. For details of eDay 2009 sites across the country, visit www.eday.org.nz. All equipment collected as part of eDay will be recycled by accredited international recyclers. Items in good condition can be donated to genuine charities through www.donatenz.com or sold on www.trademe.co.nz. Mr Zwimpfer said the very successful charity auction for antique and collectable computers organised in 2008 with the generous support of Trade Me means the auction will be held again this year. "There was a lot of nostalgia last year as many old-time computer users were able to get their hands on equipment that for many was their first computer," said Mr Zwimpfer. eDay 2009 is a drive-through community event and is open to cars only. Businesses and schools or organisations with large quantities of e-waste are advised to visit www.eday.org.nz for alternate disposal options and more information about recycling options.



The eDay 2009 logo is available for publication. High resolution photographs are available at www.eday.org.nz

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

EPA FINING COMPANY FOR E-WASTE EXPORT--HOORAY!

EPA Fines Lakewood, N.J. Company for Illegal Export of Electronic Waste to Hong Kong

Release date: 08/17/2009


(New York, N.Y.) As part of a national effort to crack down on the illegal export of electronic waste, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fined a Lakewood, N.J. company that unlawfully shipped thousands of computer monitors to Hong Kong. EPA fined Supreme Asset Management and Recovery of Lakewood, N.J. $199,900 for illegally exporting non-working computer monitors to Hong Kong in 2007 and 2008, and for failing to promptly respond to EPA’s requests for information.

“This case demonstrates that the illegal export of electronic waste will be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. “As our society becomes more dependent on electronics like computers and cell phones, we must become more vigilant in ensuring electronic waste is disposed of in a way that does not harm the environment.”

Computer monitors contain cathode ray tubes (CRTs), which are the video display components of televisions and computer monitors. The glass in CRTs typically contains enough toxic lead to require managing it as hazardous waste under certain circumstances. Color computer monitors contain an average of four pounds of lead. CRTs may also contain mercury, cadmium and arsenic, all of which can pose threats to human health.

EPA issued the fine under the federal Solid Waste Disposal Act, a part of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which forbids the export of certain CRTs unless the exporters notify and receive consent from EPA. The fine, part of a compliance order, will automatically become final unless Supreme Asset Management and Recovery requests a hearing on the matter within 30 days.

For more information on cathode ray tubes and electronic waste, visit http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/recycling/electron/crt-fs06.htm.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

GRAUNIAD CYNICISM

Miley Cyrus the environmentalist? Don't make me weep tears of despair

Jonas Brothers and fellow Disneyites have released a song apparently urging us to do our bit. But where's the message, exactly?


I hope its message resonates with its target audience. I really do. But why do I want to crawl up into a ball and weep tears of despair after listening to the new song for Disney's Project Green?

Admittedly, the "tween pop" genre is not one that I follow closely, but I know enough to recognise that Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers are about as big as it gets at the moment, particularly in the US. So when they come together with their fellow Disneyites, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato, to record a song urging us all to do our bit for the environment you could be forgiven for expecting their collective might to produce some much-needed magic (although not, perhaps, the sort that got Mickey Mouse into trouble in Fantasia).

Well, kazaam! Just a few days after its release, Send It On is already troubling the top spot on the iTunes download chart in the US. Therefore, the first hurdle of reaching hundreds of thousands of tweenagers has already been cleared effortlessly. You wouldn't really expect anything else with Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers onboard.

So now let's turn to the song's message. This is where the problems begin. Where is the message, exactly? Here's a (mercifully) quick snip of the lyrics…

Just smile and the world will smile along with you
That small acts of love
Then the one will become two
If we take the chances
To change circumstances
Imagine all that we could do
If we…

Send it on
On and on
Just one hand can heal another

It's all very "Yes, We Can", and Barack Obama's election more than proves that messages of positive empowerment do work. But I fail to see how anyone listening to this will join the dots and realise that these lyrics about the power of collectivism are meant to inspire us all to get up and tackle the many environmental challenges we now face. In fact, there are no references at all to the environment to be found within the song.

In the name of research, I steeled myself and sat down and watched the video from start to end in search of these elusive environmental references. Alas, all I could find was a sofa made of, what looks like, recycled denim that all the singers sit themselves down on towards the end of the video in what appears to be some kind of subliminal reference to the opening credits of Friends.

But maybe I've invested a little too much hope in the starlets created so skillfully by the house they call "The Mouse". For a little dose of the smelling salts, let's reverse up a year and recall Miley Cyrus's last lyrical expedition into environmentalism.

Here's a sample of "Wake up America", taken from her 2008 album Breakout …

Everything I read
Is 'global warming', 'going green'
I don't know what all this means
But it seems to be saying
Wake up America

That's a little bit more like it, but it hardly fills you with confidence that it will be the next generation – all those currently nodding their heads to Miley Cyrus on their iPods – who will be the ones to lift us all out of this giant hole we managed to dig for ourselves.

But let's not give up on the kids quite yet. As part of Project Green, Disney executives have pledged to allow children decide how the company should spend $1m on environmental projects.
Leo Hickman Posted by Leo Hickman Friday 14 August 2009 16.18 BST guardian.co.uk

U2 MORALISM EXPOSED FOR HYPOCRISY?

U2 brand green criticism 'unfair'

U2 guitarist The Edge has defended the size and cost of their 360 world tour, as the band rocked Wembley Stadium on the first night of their UK leg.

Last month, protests delayed the removal of the custom-built set from Ireland, and it also came under fire from Talking Heads singer David Byrne.

The three steel structures cost between £15m and £20m each, offering a largely unobstructed view of the rock quartet.

The "claw" stage enabled an estimated 88,000 fans to watch U2 on Friday.

The huge green and orange structure in the centre of the stadium projected smoke and lights as the crowd looked on.

Before the concert, tour organisers claimed the crowd expected to attend would constitute the largest audience for a gig at Wembley Stadium.

Speaking to BBC 6 Music backstage, The Edge said: "We're spending the money on our fans, I don't think there's a better thing you could spend it on."

Despite it being the most ambitious stage set of any band's world tour, topping the likes of Madonna and The Rolling Stones, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne was not impressed.

He slammed the band on his blog and said their world tour costs were "excessive", considering their stance on world hunger.

“ I think it's probably unfair to single out rock 'n' roll. There's many other things that are in the same category ”
U2 guitarist, The Edge

While on tour in Europe he wrote: "$40 million to build the stage and, having done the math, we estimate 200 semi trucks crisscrossing Europe for the duration.

"It could be professional envy speaking here, but it sure looks like, well, overkill, and just a wee bit out of balance given all the starving people in Africa and all."

When asked whether the Irish rock veterans were stung by the criticism they received, The Edge told BBC 6 Music's Julie Cullen: "I think anybody that's touring is going to have a carbon footprint.

"I think it's probably unfair to single out rock 'n' roll. There's many other things that are in the same category but as it happens we have a programme to offset whatever carbon footprint we have."

London tribute

When the tour reached Croke Park stadium in Ireland's capital last month, residents were angry at Dublin City's Council for giving roadies permission to work through the night, with up to 100 trucks expected to drive through the narrow lanes around the venue.

"I think that's probably about as realistic as you can be right now," continued The Edge.

"We'd love to have some alternative to big trucks bringing the stuff around but there just isn't one."

U2 paid tribute to London as they played their massive gig on Friday night.

The capital, said Bono, was "a truly great city" that had been "very good" to the veteran foursome.

"It's just occurred to me - we're older than Wembley Stadium," joked lead singer Bono near the beginning of U2's two-hour set.

The concert was the band's first at the venue since its reopening in 2007.

The Edge paid further tribute to his surroundings by producing a small snow globe at one point filled with miniature London landmarks.

Bono paid brief tribute to the late Joe Strummer, of London band The Clash, by singing a few bars from Rock the Casbah.

The singer signed off with a dedication to record producer Brian Eno, whom he hoped would "get well soon".

U2 return to Wembley later, where they will be supported by the Glasgow-based band Glasvegas.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/entertainment/8202346.stm

Published: 2009/08/15 15:50:15 GMT

Friday, August 14, 2009

FROM TOWARD FREEDOM

The Globalization of Garbage: Following the Trail of Toxic Trash
Written by Michael Fox
Thursday, 13 August 2009

"English Trash Going Home" read the front page of Brazil’s Porto Alegre journal, Correio do Povo on Monday, August 3rd. The image showed the hefty MSC Oriane tanker piled with dozens of containers. The photo’s caption explained that 920 "tons of domestic and toxic trash, imported illegally and which were in Rio Grande, were embarked and will make the return trip home to England." On her way North, the tanker stopped by the Santos port in Sao Paulo and picked up another 41 containers. For Brazil, it was the welcomed resolution to what had become a small-scaled international scandal. But globally, it is not even a scratch on the surface.

From February through May of this year, roughly 1,600 tons of "domestic and toxic trash" was imported from the English Suffolk port of Felixstowe, under the guise of plastic material for recycling. But when the containers—which were delivered to two ports in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul and one in Sao Paulo—were opened, they were found to contain domestic and toxic waste including used diapers, condoms, syringes, batteries, leftover food, chemical toilet seats, computer fragments, and old medicine.

"It was really frustrating to think that someone would actually send this to us," said Luis Carlos De Oliveira, a federal police officer at the Santos Port in Sao Paulo who inspected the containers personally. De Oliveira told Toward Freedom that not only was there hospital waste and bags of blood, but chorume or leachate, a foul-smelling gooey black substance "and that is only produced when you have organic waste," he said.

The toxic trash shipment violated international law under the Basil Convention, and the discovery of the containers sparked uproar in Brazil.

"Brazil is not the world's dump," said Roberto Messias Franco, head of Brazil’s Environmental and Renewable Natural Resources Institute, IBAMA. Brazil fined five companies 408,000 Reais ($223,000 USD) each for importing the containers, including the multinational shipping companies Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Maersk Brasil Brasmar, which shipped the illegal trash. England’s Guardian newspaper reported that Britain’s Environmental Agency raided three properties and three men were arrested. Britain apologized and agreed to bring the trash back.

According to IBAMA, only eight containers remain, still in the Southern mountain town of Caxias do Sul, waiting to be transferred to the port at Rio Grande, near Brazil’s border with Uruguay. The other 81 containers carrying 1,477 tons of waste are now being shipped back to England and are scheduled to arrive later this month.

"For us at IBAMA, getting this trash out of here is the conclusion of our job. It’s a good sensation. We got the results we hoped for." said Ingrid Maria Furlan Oberg last week, regional head of IBAMA at the Santos Port in Sao Paulo, where 41 of the containers were shipped out in early August. "It is symbolic, because it shows that Brazil will not accept this type of behavior. Let it serve as an example for other countries."

This is perhaps precisely what others need. The English trash may have made headlines in both England and Brazil, but in much of the world, this is an all too common reality.

The Trail of Electronic Waste

Domestic, hospital waste, or even plastics aren’t of interest to most, but electronic waste is.

"Most of our e-waste is getting exported, and exported to developing nations," says Barbara Kyle, National Coordinator of the U.S. based- Electronics TakeBack Coalition. "I’m not talking to the refineries, the smelters in Sweden or something, I’m talking low road."

Despite a near universal international ban on exporting toxic or hazardous material, Kyle says that most of electronic waste from the United States ends up in China, India, Vietnam, or in up and coming African countries, like Ghana, and Nigeria.

"It’s very, very cheap to ship, and typically what’s getting sent is stuff that costs more money to take it apart here," says Kyle. "People don’t want to spend the money here, and over there—where people basically earn pennies an hour, essentially just bashing stuff open to reclaim the metals—they can still make the economics work for a TV or a monitor for a buck a piece maybe."

CBS’s 60 Minutes reported in its November 2008 special Following the Trail of Toxic E-Waste, that the illegal recycling e-trade has wreaked environmental havoc in China’s Guiyu region.

"Women were heating circuit boards over a coal fire, pulling out chips and pouring off the lead solder," read part of the written report. "Pollution has ruined the town. Drinking water is trucked in. Scientists have studied the area and discovered that Guiyu has the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. They found pregnancies are six times more likely to end in miscarriage and that seven out of ten kids have too much lead in their blood."

The situation is just as bad in Ghana, where PBS’s recent Frontline expose, Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground, filmed an area known as Agbogbloshie, where millions of tons of e-waste each year is pulled apart and dumped into endless fields of trashed electronics parts.

There are international laws against the shipping of hazardous material. Under the Basil Ban—an agreement that went in to effect in 1998—the world’s 29 wealthiest most industrialized nations are banned from exporting all forms of hazardous waste to the less developed nations. However, the ban is difficult to enforce and the United States has fought against it tooth and nail. Although the U.S. signed on to the Basil Convention in 1989 (the precursor to the Ban), it is one of only three countries that has never ratified it into effect. The chances of the United States agreeing to adhere to the Basil Ban are even less likely.

"Our government believes that the fact that this stuff has commodity value is more important than the fact that it’s very hazardous, or the fact that its illegal from the importing country’s point of view," says Kyle.

She likens the electronics recycling industry in the United States to the "wild west" where there is little to no regulation, the business model of many recyclers is export, and where most of the recyclers export at least some of what they get.

In response, U.S. organizations like the Basil Action Network (BAN) and Kyle’s Electronics TakeBack Coalition have helped to create the e-Stewards Initiative, where member electronics recyclers must pledge not to ship their recycling abroad to developing countries. Thirty-three recyclers have so far joined the program.

According to a recent BAN press release, beginning next year, the initiative "will become the continent’s first ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) independently audited and accredited electronic waste recycler certification program that will forbid the dumping of toxic e-waste in developing countries, local landfills and incinerators; the use of prison labor to process e-waste; and the unauthorized release of private data contained in discarded computers."

They have also waged a campaign to convince electronics manufacturers and retailers to pledge not to ship their e-waste abroad. So far, Dell and Sony have jumped on board.

The steps offer important options for U.S. consumers looking to ensure that their old TV sets and leftover computers don’t end up polluting a dried up river bed halfway around the planet. According to the 2005 report, The Digital Dump, by the Basil Action Network (BAN), 75% of the exported e-waste is not easily recyclable or reusable, so it is dumped into landfills or burned. Much of this is the bulky plastic of old televisions, printers and other electronic devices.

Brazil Says No to Importing Garbage

But plastic also has varying degrees of quality. According to De Oliveira, the Brazilian companies that imported the British trash believed they were importing much higher quality plastic than is commonly found in most of Brazil. They were obviously mistaken.

Nor was it the first time that Brazil had unwillingly received a toxic shipment. IBAMA spokesperson Janete Portos says Brazilian prosecutors are still investigating the arrival of a hazardous international shipment of heavy metals that reached the Santos port in 2004, but "we had never seen anything like this," said De Oliveira.

"We only have one option and that is to return the containers to the country where they came from, because we want to import other things, not trash." said Brazilian President Luiz InĂ¡cio "Lula" da Silva at the International Organic Product and Agroecology Fair in Sao Paulo on July 23rd. "We don’t want to export our trash and we aren’t going to import the trash of others."

Brazil has been one of the most outspoken critics in Latin America against the import-export of electronic waste.

"We hear that Brazil doesn’t even want to take used equipment because they know that’s just how people cheat; that’s how they dump on countries, in sending their crap, supposedly for reuse," says Kyle.

Perhaps this is part of what Brazilian Environmental Minister Carlos Minc had in mind when he met with U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern on Tuesday, August 4th, to discuss the upcoming Climate convention in Copenhagen this December.

Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo reported that they also discussed possible measures to ensure that the British trash incident not be repeated.

Brazil is now considering possible modifications to federal legislation to more strictly punish such crimes, and of using X-ray equipment to identify material within the containers. But in much of the developing world, it’s business as usual with middle-men brokering the deal to get the toxic e-trash past customs.

With the United States looking to undermine the Basil Convention and Ban, there doesn’t appear to be any solution on the horizon.

"We are the absolute outlier from the rest of the developed nations of the world on this topic," says Kyle. "The rest of the world is covered by the Basil Convention, and the only other countries that haven’t ratified it other than us are Afghanistan and Haiti. So nobody should be taking our waste. It’s a violation even to accept our e-waste, so we’re violating all of those developing nation’s laws by sending the waste there."

***

Michael Fox is a South America-based freelance journalist, radio reporter and documentary filmmaker. He is co-director of the recently released documentary, Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas. For more articles, reports or videos, visit his blog. Photo from Manila.Indymedia.org

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

THE GUARDIAN'S HISTORY OF THE INTERNET

The internet at sort-of-40. How did we get here?

We're looking to compile a history of the internet, by the internet. Want to help?

* Simon Jeffery


Man holding up laptop displaying smiley face

Man holding up laptop displaying smiley face Photograph: Microzoa/Getty Images

The internet is sort-of-40 this year. Not in the sense of a Hollywood actor who is in reality much older but prefers to act vague, however. In the sense that if you set the October 1969 networking of US research universities through Arpanet as the start point then it is a significant birthday.

To mark this, we want to tell the internet's story. This is not the first time this has been done and will not be the last, but we want to tell the story of the internet using the internet – that is, the people who use it.

Below there is a list of 30 events from the past 40 years – encompassing the technological development of the internet and some of the impact it has had on culture, business, politics and society. Some of that makes for entertaining reading – reaction to the first piece of spam (a US army major gets involved) or the 1982 conversation that led to the first use of the :-) emoticon.

But these 30 events are not the only ones that mattered. There is no YouTube on here, nothing of Barack Obama's use of the web for fundraising – and that is intentional. We'd like to know what you think is significant.

At the bottom of this page is a form where we would like you to nominate events memorable to you, be they ones we may already know about or something more personal such as the first websites you used or emails you sent. Our list is, for example, light on social media moments or internet dating. Or the thrill of a first Geocities site.

Maybe you did some of this pioneering work in the early days of the internet and want to talk about it. Whatever your experiences, we'd like to hear from you.

Where will it end? Well, this is a work in progress. But we will publish updates to the list and this autumn hope to produce an impressive told-by-the people version of the internet story

And here is the list of 30 ...
1969 Arpanet starts Computers at two academic departments in California are linked by Arpanet, the predecessor of the internet
1971 @ Ray Tomlinson devises electronic mail for arpanet. He settles on @ to separate the name of the user from the name of their computer
1971 Project Gutenberg Michael Hart begins a project to make copyright-free works electronically available. The first text is the US Declaration of Independence, now archived as gutenberg.org/etext/1
1971 Expansion The network is now connecting 23 hosts
1973 ARPAWOCKY Early network humour: Twas brillig, and the Protocols / Did USER-SERVER in the wabe./ All mimsey was the FTP, / And the RJE outgrabe
1973 To Europe Norway is connected to Arpanet via Norsar, a US-Norwegian network to relay information on earthquakes and nuclear explosions. From Norway, a connection goes to University College London
1974 TCP/IP Vint Cerf and others publish a proposal to link up Arpa-like networks. It has no central control and is built around a protocol (TCP/IP) for the exchange of data
1976 Royal email Queen Elizabeth sends her first email on a visit to the MoD’s scientific research hub
1978 Spam Gary Thuerk sends what is now considered the first unsolicited commercial email. Major Raymond Czahor of the US defence communications agency assures Arpanet users it will not happen again
1978 Bulletin boards The first bulletin board is developed during a particularly bad blizzard in Chicago. Ward Christensen's creation allows computer users with a modem to talk to each other and exchange software and data
1982 :-) Scott Fahlman proposes the use of :-) after a joke, beating off rivals including %, * and {#} - said to be 'like two lips with teeth showing between them'
1983 Internet begins? 1 January is the cut-off point for computers to use Cerf's transmission control protocol (TCP). Cerf estimates this involved between 200-400 hosts
1984 Lots more connections The number of hosts breaks 1,000, Japan establishes Junet, the UK begins Janet (the joint academic network) and the Soviet Union connects to Usenet.
1984 The Well It calls itself 'the primordial ooze where the online community movement was born'. A Guardian profile of The Well's co-founder Stewart Brand said it was 'where most of the discoveries of cyberspace were first made'
1985 .com The domain name that for many defines the web is created. The oldest .com registration still in existence belongs to Virginia-based Symbolics
1989 Start of the web Tim Berners-Lee proposes to his bosses at Cern a document retrieval system to run on the internet. His mechanism will use hypertext to make a file in one location appear as if it is in a window on another
1990 Archie Considered the first internet search engine, Archie is created by Canadian university student Alan Emtage. It allows users to match queries against file names (not the content of those files, that was still to come)
1990 Internet toaster A toaster becomes the first remotely-operated machine connected to the internet. A single control - power on or power off - is used to control grilling. It still requires a human to insert the bread
1991 First web page published The web goes public. Its first page explains it is a 'wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative'
1991 Webcam coffee A coffee pot in a Cambridge University computer lab is the inspiration for the world's first webcam. It allows people in other parts of the building to avoid pointless trips when it is empty
1992 L0pht The Boston-based hacker collective is founded
1994 Yahoo! Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web is launched. In time it is renamed Yahoo!
1995 Amazon.com The internet bookseller goes online. By the final quarter of 2001 it turns a profit - a little behind its plan for profitability within four to five years, but is still considered an exceptional dotcom performer
1996 Proto-Google Larry Page and Sergey Brin, PhD students at Stanford, begin work on BackRub, a search engine that ranks websites according to the number of links to them. It is incorporated as Google in 1998
1999 'Celestial jukebox' Shaun Fanning's Napster application launches. It allows users share music files on each others' computers
1999 MI6 names leaked The uncontrollable nature of the internet is brought to attention when the names of more than 100 MI6 agents are leaked to a US website. Despite being taken down, the names spread across other sites
2001 Wikipedia It proclaims itself a collaborative encyclopedia. Eight years after launch it is now the most popular reference work online
2001 SETI@Home A project to harness the distributed processing power of the internet gathers enough volunteers within four weeks to surpass the most powerful supercomputer of its time
2004 The war on spam Bill Gates tells the World Economic Forum at Davos that spam will be erradicated within two years. It isn't
2005 First spam conviction Jeremy Jaynes sentenced to nine years in prison and his sister, Jessica DeGroot, fined $7,500
2006 Twitter The 140 character service launches. Many who initially try it think it pointless. By 2009 it is credited with transmitting news of Iranian protests to the outside world

You may notice the launch of Twitter is the final item on this list. That is not to suggest that it is the final perfection of the internet (just to be clear).

THE BBC AND WATER USE

The Guardian
BBC accused of wasting £406,000 of public money a year on bottled water

Broadcaster is assessing 'health issues' of tap water after a freedom of information request revealed cost to licence fee payers


* Donnachadh McCarthy
* guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 11 August 2009 12.19 BST


Office employee gets water from drinking fountain or water cooler

The BBC spends nearly half a million pounds a year on bottled water for water coolers. Photograph: Getty Creative

The BBC has been accused of wasting public money and creating unnecessary environmental damage by spending nearly half a million pounds a year on bottled water. Responding to a freedom of information request from the Guardian, the public broadcaster said it spends £406,000 annually on large bottles of water for its water coolers.

In addition, BBC staff can order bottled water for the organisation's hospitality events. But the BBC refused to reveal how much it spent on bottled water at the 103,000 events it held last year, claiming that the cost of finding out was more than the Freedom of Information Act required.

Bottled water can also be ordered by staff for internal meetings, provided a meeting lasts more than two hours. The broadcaster said it was assessing the "health issues" of switching from bottled to mains-fed water.

A regional breakdown showed BBC London and Scotland were the biggest spenders at £365,368 combined, with the English regions on £23,690, Northern Ireland on £16,285 and Wales spending £1,489. The low figure for BBC Wales is because the majority of its drinking fountains are supplied by mains water.

Steve Bloomfield, senior national officer at Unison, which is campaigning for employers to provide staff with mains-fed water, said: "The BBC could save themselves a lot of money, aside from the urgent sustainability issues. Using the health and safety angle is ridiculous. You might as well say you are going to look at the health and safety issues of using plates. Naturally, normal hygiene issues need to be respected but that applies to all food and drink."

Dave Prentis, Unison's general secretary, added: "Workers work better if they are hydrated and have access to good clean drinking water. Bottled water is no better than mains water and the effect on the environment of all that water being transported around is enormous."

The BBC defended itself against accusations of wasting licence fee payers' money on an environmentally destructive practice. A spokesperson said: "The BBC is committed to reducing waste and promoting environmentally sound practices. We are also working to implement a policy of replacing bottled water with other options where they are used, for example, in meetings and hospitality functions. Current contractual commitments are being reviewed and the health issues related to replacing bottled water with jugs of tap-water are being assessed." The organisation's press office had initially refused to give the figures. They were only revealed after a freedom of information act request.

Employers have a legal duty to provide their staff with drinking water in the workplace, but bottled water has a far higher carbon footprint than mains-fed water. According to Thames Water, a litre of mains water creates around 0.0003kg of CO2, around 600 times less than the 0.185kg generated by a litre of Volvic or the 0.172kg produced by the same volume of Evian. The watercooler bottles used by the BBC are also made from a type of plastic derived from oil, which is not recyclable and takes up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

*

TMC STORY ON CELL PHONES

August 10, 2009
CashforiPhones Offering Premiums for Used 2G and 3G iPhones

By Vivek Naik, TMCnet Contributor

Hold your breath because it is actually true. Someone, rather some company, is willing to cough up nearly $300 for each used 2G and, or 3GiPhone ( News - Alert). CashforiPhones reportedly made this announcement recently.


Of course, conditions do apply. To get the full $300, the phones must not be broken in any way, and this includes no cracks on the casing and definitely no cracks or liquid spread on the touchscreen interface. If the phones are abused, inadvertently or otherwise, then the premium drops according to damages incurred.

Among consumer electronic devices, smartphones have a demand in the current down economy as evidenced by the following commentary: 1.21 billion mobile handsets, including 171 million Smartphones, were sold in the year 2008 resulting in a 5.4 percent increase in sales over the previous year, and with other handset sales struggling to grow substantially, companies are ramping up their marketing strategy for selling Smartphones. This, coupled with a reasonable consumer acceptance in Q408, augurs well for the future of Smartphones. Additionally, consumers feel that they are getting a lot of devices and utilities rolled into one carry-anywhere- access-anything-use-anytime advantage.

Among Smartphones, the iPhone is the most popular because it has captured nearly 50 percent of the U.S. and Canadian Smartphone market, and 33 percent of global Smartphone market.

CashforiPhones officials claim that customers could even consider buying a brand new iPhone from AT&T (News - Alert) for approximately $299, with the money that accrues from selling off their old iPhones. The company points out that AT&T does not encourage trade-ins or second sales with respect to iPhones, and no company provides the pre-paid, insured shipping box and packing materials the way it does. Furthermore, said officials, once the seller receives a quote at the company’s dedicated Web site, he or she can receive a check or even an instant PayPal deposit.

The company claims it refurbishes and recycles old phones of almost any brand, laptops, desktop computers and all types of monitors. These initiatives significantly help in reducing the annual average statistics that indicate more than 2 million tons of electronic waste clutters landfills every year, and only 11 percent of old electronics products or parts are recycled.

CashforiPhones says research has clearly indicated that old computers, cell phones and other electronic devices such as iPhones have toxic components that can actually cause fatal lung, kidney and liver problems. So what the company does on receipt of any device: All data is first wiped out without any backing up; the product is suitably serviced and appropriate parts are replaced; the restored product is re-sold mostly to low income groups and non profit orgs; and the irrecoverable parts are sold to wholesale recyclers.

Motorola and Verizon are other examples of mobile and telecommunication multiple service operators that are actively involved in green initiatives.

Motorola (News - Alert) recently launched world’s first mobile phone, called MOTO W233 Renew, which is made mostly out of recycled parts, is carbon-free certified, and manufacturing it translates to 20 percent less energy utilized per device than a cell phone manufactured from virgin materials. Hence, the company deems it an “environmentally responsible device” that contributes towards reducing the overall carbon footprint.

Motorola’s initiative to globally collect electronic and electrical equipment waste resulted in 2,560 tonnes of materials for possible recycling, and the effort was 256 tonnes more than in 2007. Phones, chargers and equipment that can be reused, either as is or after repair, are given to socially needy areas, via its ‘Phones for Health’ program, such as parts of Africa where mobile health workers use them to interconnect with each other and related organizations to expedite treatment and prevent medicine shortfall.

This is similar to the Verizon Wireless HopeLine e-saving scheme, which collects old mobiles, batteries and accessories including chargers and redistributes them to the public according to their condition. The report noted that this drive had saved 200 tons of electronic related waste from cluttering landfills.

Claiming green space with MOTO W233 Renew is iGo’s charger product line, which uses a single charger for multiple products by simply changing the connector tips, and thus reduces future clutter by the number of adaptors one would have otherwise bought.

Mobile purchasing trends augur well for the future in terms of reducing e-waste. A recent marketing research report titled, “Green Purchasing Trends for Mobile Phones and Services,” conducted in North America unearthed that close to 50 percent of respondents are partially, or very likely to be, or comprehensively influenced by the vendor’s green initiatives that are seen as significant differentiators at the time of selecting and purchasing services or devices.

The main question posed to the potential and established buying public was whether they would be more inclined to purchase mobile services or mobile handsets from an operator that makes use of, or actively supports, environmental initiatives by: giving money to an organization that seeks to help the environment; actively makes use and directs programs that telescope its carbon footprint; and, buys network equipment from ‘green’ certified equipment vendors.

The respondent stats showed that 41 percent replied they would be significantly or somewhat more likely to buy services, and 45 percent gave the same answers as a preferred pre-condition for buying devices. A revealing statistic was that younger age group consumers, some of whom represent tomorrow’s buying power, were more inclined to pursue “eco-groovy” mobile activities than older age groups, claims the research report.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

CIO IN GERMANY ON INDIAN IT

Indian IT industry wants environmental laws to cover e-waste
Datum:06.08.2009
URL: http://www.cio.de/894332
India's IT industry, together with Greenpeace and other organizations, are pushing for changes in the country's environmental laws to better reflect the complexities of managing and handling electronic waste.

Current rules regulating hazardous materials are focused on the handling and disposal of industrial waste generated in manufacturing. They do not take into account waste generated by products like computers at the end of their lifecycle, Ramapati Kumar, a campaign advisor at Greenpeace, said on Thursday.

The Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 and Hazardous Material (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules of 2008 govern how India handles its waste.

Greenpeace, Manufacturers Association of Information Technology (MAIT), a trade body of the IT industry, and other organizations hosted a seminar on Thursday in Delhi to discuss new proposed legislation on e-waste management and legislation.

The organizations are proposing specialized legislation, called "E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2008" under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986.

The new rules will enforce extended producer responsibility through a product's lifecycle, said Vinnie Mehta, executive director of MAIT.

MAIT became involved in drafting the new rules last April. Before that MAIT published in 2007 a report on India's e-waste problem.

"We couldn't refuse to face the facts about the problem of e-waste in India," Mehta said.

About five years ago, India's IT industry believed that it was a "clean industry" free of pollution since it mainly assembled products. That assessment omitted the problem of e-waste generated at the end of a product's life, Mehta said.

Some key IT companies in India have adopted environmental friendly production, eliminated hazardous substances and offer product recycling, Kumar said. But there is a need for formal rules, he added.

The new e-waste rules also propose to ban importing used electronic equipment for recycling or disposal.

A number of social organizations and environmentalists have expressed concern that India has become a dump for e-waste from developed countries. Some of this waste is recycled under hazardous conditions.

India may continue to import some e-waste that is being donated to local charities, Kumar said. Greenpeace is canvassing the Indian government to restrict the import of old computers that are unusable. "We don't want to block genuine charity," he added.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

THANKS TO JEFF BIGGAR FOR THIS

Excellent CBC story

http://www.cbc.ca/national/blog/video/environmentscience/ewaste_dumping_ground_1.html