Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weighing the Benefits and Adverse Effects of Technology on the Environment

One of the advantages of technology is that it allows communication without (or at east with minimal reliance on) paper to carry our ideas. A 'paperless world' is often advocated by the use of computers and the Internet to relay information, on the premise that instead of using paper on which to write something and facilitate the exchange, a computer may be used at more efficient and speedy results. Yahoo for the trees saved!

However, while the exchange occurs on some intangible plane, we still utilize objects such as computers, microchips, monitors, and of course, energy. These things STILL affect the environment adversely in two ways. First, we need resources and minerals to manufacture these objects. Second, waste is produced during the manufacturing process AND as soon as the technology becomes obsolete. It's not really surprising that at the rate technology is growing, more and more waste is being produced.

Pakistan has been the dumping ground of 'e-waste' for quite some time now, with electronics from the US, Europe, Japan and Singapore making their way to the said country. It may be receiving compensation for accommodating the waste, but it's possible and very likely that it's being shortchanged in the deal. Just like any other form of trash, e-waste contains toxic and hazardous materials, which if not handled properly, would deal damage to the surrounding areas. Think about how we're instructed to dispose of batteries properly; multiply that by a factor of continents, and you'll see the grave danger Pakistan is right now.

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