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How Our Cell Phones Kill Gorillas

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WhiteTara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-10 09:32 AM
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How Our Cell Phones Kill Gorillas

Last week, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) announced that gorillas in the Congo may be extinct by the mid-2020s, a drastic change from its 2002 projection which had 10 percent of the original range surviving in 2030. The culprits behind the demise of one of the world's brightest primates: poaching, logging, mining, the Ebola virus, and...cell phones. Adam Hochschild's piece in the March/April issue of Mother Jones, describes how the Congo's vast natural resources are continuously pillaged to feed foreign interests to the detriment of locals, their environment, and now gorillas. CNN reports:

Militias have seized large chunks of gorilla land and logged and mined it. They have done so because the illegal trade in timber and in metals such as gold and coltan -- used in cell phones -- generates between $14 million and $50 million a year for them.

Said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UNEP:

This is a tragedy for the great apes and one also for countless other species being impacted by this intensifying and all too often illegal trade. Ultimately it is also a tragedy for the people living in the communities and countries concerned. These natural assets are their assets: ones underpinning lives and livelihoods for millions of people. In short it is environmental crime and theft by the few and the powerful at the expense of the poor and the vulnerable.

read the full report /
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Turbineguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-10 09:43 AM
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1. So it's us bad people who use cell phones
and not the actual perpetrators who are responsible for this?

I'm just not sure how much more guilt I can carry for the actions of others.
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ananda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-10 09:45 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. This is a global information age.
Everything we do here, and someone else does there, affects
everyone and all of nature.
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skids Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-10 04:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. Partially...
It should be a no-brainer that manufacture of cell phones has an environmental toll.

While most users are ignorant of exactly what that toll is, they know it exists.

Personally, if I had to guess without doing any research, I'd say cell phones
probably offer efficiencies that on balance prevent other harmful forms of "growth"
(they encourage some, and make other unnecessary.)

But the gadget junkies who perpetually upgrade and dispose of their phones before
they are broken or truly obselete (they should stay current 4-5 years) or treat
them carelessly and break them when they shouldn't do bear some moral blame. Some
amount of replacement is needed for the technology to evolve, but I've seen a lot
of people take things way, way, too far.

They know they impact the environment, but cannot be bothered to care. Nor find
something more productive to spend their money on than keeping up with the

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wtmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-10 09:48 AM
Response to Original message
3. The Congo provides about 1% of the world's tantalum (coltan)
which is a material used to make capacitors for not only cellphones but laptops, DVD players & video game systems. Actually, you'd be hard-pressed to find any consumer electronics worth more than $100 that doesn't have tantalum in it.

So switching to carrier pigeons won't save the gorillas.
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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-10 09:48 AM
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4. Industries need to become responsible
For who they purchase materials from.
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hlthe2b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-10 10:08 AM
Response to Original message
5. I find it devastating that we can not protect these gorillas
If I thought for one minute that tossing my cell phone would make the difference, I would do so. The answer lies with habitat protection and enforcing anti-poaching laws. Protected tourism could garner the country every bit the $$ that these other pursuits do and sustain the resources. But, the Congo needs sustainable, effective government, first. Will throwing away my cell phone lead to that?
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