My INTRO to geography class is crazy, but it’s one of the best classes I’ve ever had. My teacher knows a lot of cool shit.
So, apparently there’s a heavy metal called tantalum in each of our cell phones, laptops, gaming systems and other various electronics. It absorbs the heat our electronics emit from the buttons we push on them. Everytime you press a key, an electrical charge is sent out which generates heat. Without Tantalum, electronics would be extremely inefficient, hard to use, and need to be plugged in and charged constantly. Tantalum comes from the mineral Coltan which can only be found in Africa and Australia. The best and purest Coltan is in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo). It is worth over $500 a pound in the United States and the demand for it is extremely high, obviously. Our demand for Coltan affects Africa the following ways:
Because of the high value of Coltan, the typical salary of a Congolese farmer of $10 A YEAR, can be brought up to $50 a week. Many of the farmers have abandoned farming to mine Coltan. The farmers no longer produce food for their families so they have turned to the forests for food. This would not be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the best kill is a mountain gorilla. Since 2000, the world has gone from 130 to 80 mountain gorillas IN THE WORLD. They are still be slaughtered to this day.
Coltan comes from river beds, which are being dug up to get the mineral. This, in itself, is causing large environmental damage. When the dirt gets thrown around and ends up in the rivers, it ends up choking all of the life in the river. Also, in order to sift the dirt, the Congolese miners strip the bark from the Ecko tree (one of the 3 trees that make up the canopy of the forests) to make pans. This totally kills the trees.
The mining of Coltan has brought $250 million to the Rwandan rebel groups. RWANDA HAS NO COLTAN IN, ON, OR AROUND THEIR SOIL. They threaten, injure, kill and exploit their violence on the miners in order to procure the mineral AND FUND THEIR VIOLENT ACTIVITIES (aka wars). The war is not about diamonds. It is not about gold. It is about Coltan.
Because of all of these things, 5 MILLION AFRICANS have died since 2000. This number is higher than the deaths from WW2. The reason you see boy soldiers is because, in certain areas, there are no men left. They have all been killed.
Lastly, when we “recycle” our cells phones, they simply are not recycled. Recycling in the United States is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE and is not done. So, the used cell phones are shipped back to Africa. Africa does not have the means to recycle the cells phones safely, but do so anyway. The toxins released from the recycling of cell phones has caused birth defects, miscarriages, cancer, and many other horrific things.
He doesn’t have a cell phone, my teacher. That would be the only way to stop this madness: get rid of your electronics. It’s unbelievable. I know I am writing this on a stinking computer but I want to get rid of all my electronics right now. How did the world get so fucked up?