Do people really consider their impact on the earth just by being a typical consumer? Why did I even ask that?
I don't get out much, but I'm pretty sure that they don't.
Everybody has a phone, right? Probably more than one; if you look around in the basement, closet, or drawer.
Manufacturing has to begin with raw materials. You have to dig this stuff out of the ground to start. So how much raw material is required for a typical phone? Well, one article from Vice discusses with David Michaud, a mining consultant:
Michaud crunched the numbers to generate an estimate of how much earth had to be mined to create a single iPhone. Based on data provided by mining operations around the world, he determined that approximately 34 kilograms (75 pounds) of ore would have to be mined to produce the metals that make up a 129-gram iPhone. The raw metals in the whole thing are worth about one dollar total, and 56 percent of that value is the tiny amount of gold inside. Meanwhile, 92 percent of the rock mined yields metals that make up just 5 percent of the device's weight. It takes a lot of mining—and refining—to get small amounts of the iPhone's rarer trace elements, in other words.
Seventy-five pounds for one phone. How many phones are in your household?
And of course, all this mining leaves the land inhospitable. But not just the land where the actual earth removal was done. No, the process also creates deadly by-products:
Most rare earth metals come from a single place: Inner Mongolia, a semi-autonomous zone in northern China. There, the by-products from mining have created a lake that's so gray, so drenched in toxic waste, that it's been dubbed "the worst place on earth" by the BBC. Vice
Pretty serious huh? But our economic system in this beginning process of our phones also has its traditional role to play.
If there is a demand a supply will be created. Right? Makes sense. Especially if a large quantity of people are the demanders. So as the wealth seeking despots, dictators, presidents, thieves, warlords, and other 'leaders' who control the demanded supply seek to increase their wealth, where do you think they employ the might of their authority in their pursuit? In what manner do they exercise this authority and power? (Let's talk about what kind of people are in these positions later.) What type of economic system is employed at their local level? Is exploitation common?
It should come as no surprise that:
So: metal mined by men and children wielding the most primitive of tools in one of the world's largest and oldest continuously running mines—the same mine that bankrolled the sixteenth century's richest empire—wound up inside some of today's most cutting-edge devices. Which bankroll one of the world's richest companies. Vice
Yes, children. They can't afford to NOT have the children work. That's how Civilization rolls.
Are you getting a picture yet of your personal impact on this planet (and everything in and on it)? This is just a phone. Do you have a tv? A computer? A refrigerator? A watch? And on and on. Hundreds of millions of people across the planet involved every minute of every day in this process of consumption.
Sad, bleak, and dreary. amiright?
This is just one major element of civilized humans' cognitive dissonance. One major element of why people don't stop and really think about things.
More to come.