Should we think more about the consequences of our designs even if it's not directly our problem?
My brain's squash match moves into another dimension: This is a big
story, with big government influence and big conversation.
Meanwhile, we continue to make electronics products and consume them
ravenously. When we're done, they get dumped on a ship, sailed
across the Pacific and thrown onto mountainous piles of electronics
toxic waste, picked over for their precious metals by--what
else?--little children. They're not OUR little children of course,
they're China's and Vietnam's. But they're still children.
But that's not a big story, big conversation piece. Why not? There are
plenty of studies about the deleterious effects of that scavenging on
neurocognitive development. But it's not our problem.
It's China's or Vietnam's.
At a higher level, this isn't a new problem, and it's not just an electronics-industry problem. It's centuries old: We often don't understand at first--or choose to ignore or defer--the
consequences of what we extract, design, build and then discard. Take the
water craze. Gotta have that purified water in a zillion plastic
bottles. Yes, but we have recycling! Yes, but it requires enormous
amounts of energy to do so!
We're good at conceiving, creating and building amazing things.
Somehow, we need to think more about and design to the consequences
as the global economy gets more global.
Maybe this sustainability thing has legs.
Meanwhile, my cube mate Matthew muses on the demise of Buckyballs,
and dishes on my assumptions: