Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Coincidence in garbage handling

Another of those weird coinkydinks ...

There's been a documentary series running on TV here for three weeks, the last part of three was shown last week. It was called Connecting People (you can see some of it here), and it was about the life of the common cell phone ... you got to see where the metal in your phone comes from, coltan from Congo and so on. Then they showed how discarded phones and other electrical items are handled in this country (rather shoddily, it would appear) and finally how the phones end up as garbage in China where they pollute the ground water and poison the locals. OK, obviously it was more complicated, but you get my point. It was really interesting. And it made me feel slightly proud of myself for only having had four cell phones in my life, and never replacing them until they are well and truly broken. Anyway.

The town in China that they singled out as being the hellhole last destination of your beloved Nokia was Guiyu, a town I had never heard about before seeing the last part of this series last week. And that at least is no coincidence, apparently. Chinese authorities aren't exactly broadcasting the existence of this place ... a town where the groundwater has become so polluted in only a few years that they now have to bring in drinking water from neighboring towns. And they even have their own river. But it's dangerous to drink from that now. :-( Just by the very little we got to see of it in the documentary, it's pretty much a hellhole. Partly thanks to all of us.

One thought I had while watching the panel discussion after part three: one of the participants (the woman from the SFT) said that here in Norway, we're soo good about returning electrical items and not just discarding them with the rest of the trash ... we return our hazardous waste (which it's illegal to export from this country) ... more than 30 kilos per person. In the EU it's apparently only four kilos per person. And she made out like that means we're so good and all that shit. But doesn't it in a way make it even worse - because obviously it means that we do have those 30 kilos to return or discard? Doesn't it actually mean that we're overconsuming like crazy? :-(

And here comes the coincidence. I finished a book today, Gomorra by Roberto Saviano. I'm sure you've heard about it. It's all about the Camorra, the criminal clans that infest the city of Naples and its hinterlands. This book inspired me more than anything with a feeling of profound gratitude. Hallelujah, I'm not Italian!!! Not that I need anything more than the mere existence of Silvio Berlusconi to make me feel that, but still. The last section, which I read this afternoon, was about one of the main reasons for Italians to hate & despise the Camorra and its activities - the enormous amounts of money these mobsters make by illegal garbage handling, and how they poison southern Italy. I mean literally poison it. This part of the book was a real eye opener, I had no idea it was that bad. Read it and weep. :-( The coincidence was that when Saviano was talking about this network of trash that generates so much money and so much suffering, Guiyu came up again. As one of the places outside of Europe that the Camorra exploit for their own gain. Isn't that weird, how you go 33 years without ever hearing of a place, and then suddenly there it is twice in one week? Huh. I wish I had heard about this particular place under more pleasant circumstances, though. All of this was just so sad and messed up.

A lot of thoughts have been going through my head as I've been seeing and reading these things. As I'm sure you can imagine.

I can only conclude that humanity is screwed.


Paz said...

it was on CSI New York this week too, on a repeated episode on one of the channels on TV.
I recycle all my phones with charities, I hope they do something good with them

Leisha Camden said...

Well, supposedly they do. But supposedly it's illegal to export this type of waste from Norway too, yet it happens all the time apparently ... >:-(

Was Guiyu really mentioned on CSI?? Or just the issue generally?

Paz said...

they showed a you tube clip of Guiyu on CSI, Eco terrorists blew up the house of a recycling guy who sent all his recycling there.

Leisha Camden said...

Wow. Talk about coincidence. o_O

Paz said...

another was I was going to post about an ugly bunch of Semi divine Norwegians, but was waiting until I got a picture of Tory Island, I was sent there this week ;)