Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dump "a la vista"

Last night I received from my friend Jim Puckett an interesting statement about the adverse environmental and social consequences of the launch of the Microsoft Vista operating system.

Environmental consequences: millions of computers will become obsolete from one day to the next, and will end up in great numbers in unsafe dumpsites in developing countries, in Asia in particular.

Social consequences: one of them, says Jim, will be the increase of the digital divide, which separates people with the latest technology from those with an old one (not just from those with no technology at all).

Jim is a Toxic Dump Terminator who spends his life promoting environmental justice and equity.

Like Bill and Melinda Gates, Jim lives in Seattle. Bill and Melinda who are promoting all sorts of public health initiatives through their philantropic foundation probably don't know that their neighbour Jim co-ordinated for many years the worldwide campaign that led to the adoption, implementation and strengthening of the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes, the international treaty that prohibits the dumping in developing countries of hazardous wastes generated in rich countries (a treaty that the US Government hasn't ratified, but which is Law in 169 countries).

One of the loopholes in the treaty, which Jim's organization BAN is now actively addressing is electronic wastes, also known as e-wastes.

If I was Bill, I'd call Jim. And I'd start fixing the mess.

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