RESOURCES

Exploiting the Earth of its resources for short lifespan electronics has long term consequences.

RESOURCE INTENSIVE

COMPUTING IS

1.8 tons of raw resources are required for one desktop computer, or about

10X

its final weight.

Comparatively,

an automobile requires

2X

its final weight in raw resources.

60 of the 90 naturally occurring elements on Earth are used in computing devices. Many are extremely rare.

Extracting and refining ores into a usable form results in vast amounts of toxic waste and environmental degradation.

Computing devices are the most complex mass-produced consumer products ever created by mankind.

Each requires over 1000 different input substances including hundreds of chemicals, each with its own complex production process.

METALS

Modern technology is made possible by the metal elements.

There is not a single metal where there is a good substitute.

 

Every one has unique properties that make it ideal for certain applications. 

 

Each is optimally selected for the task, any substitute would result in greatly reduced performance. 

RAMPANT CONSUMPTION

As our consumption of metals is dramatically increasing every year, their routine future availability can not be assured.

Keep in mind the world population grew from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 6.7 billion in 2008.

COMPUTERS ARE 50% METALS

Short lifespans, high metal content, and rising demand - computing is a major driver of the rapid increase in the consumption of the metal elements.

All elements used in computing devices are highlighted.

SCARCITY

MINING

Extracting ores from the crust and turning them into a workable form of metal has a huge impact.

Partly driven by the demand for computing devices, since 1985 overall mining on the planet has doubled.

PAST 10 YEARS:

CHANGE IN MINING PRODUCTION

2000 - 2017

PRODUCTION

INCREASED

PRODUCTION

INCREASED

PRODUCTION

INCREASED

MINING IS DESTRUCTIVE

Well over half of world mining is done in unstable countries where there is little in the way of environmental regulations.

POLITICAL STABILITY

OF PRODUCER COUNTRIES

chart (5).png

2017

DEVELOPMENT STATUS

OF PRODUCER COUNTRIES

chart (4).png

2017

2017

In the USA, mining releases more toxic substances than any other industry.

During the extraction and refining process many impurities such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic are released into the air. 

Mining primarily depends on fossil fuels for its energy source, contributing to more air pollution.

Copper refining in Karabash, Russia.

Contaminated water is pervasive everywhere mining operations have occurred.

Toxic byproducts are deposited as solid waste in large earthwork dams - water leaches toxins into the watershed.

In many places the dumping of mine waste has rendered the surface and groundwater undrinkable.

Toxic mine waste entering the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil

Mining is an inherently invasive process, massive open pits and piles of waste rock cause physical destruction of the area.

The area must be cleared of all obstructions, usually an entire forest is cut down causing great stress on plant and animal life.

When a forest is cut down the soil becomes unstable and washes into local waterways, upsetting the aquatic ecosystem.

Deforestation from gold mining in the Amazon.

All elements used in computing devices are highlighted.

MINING POLLUTION

ELECTRONICS CONSUME

of world gold production.

of world silver production.

of world mercury production.

of world copper production.

of world tantalum production.

RARE EARTH ELEMENTS

Rare earth elements are considered rare because they are sprinkled across the planet in low concentrations and isolating them into a pure form is difficult.

 

They are used throughout computers in circuits, sensors, screens, and batteries.

DIFFICULT TO PROCESS

Refined Rare Earth Elements

GENERATES

Radioactive Waste

RADIOACTIVE WASTE

Toxic Waste Water

EXTREME POLLUTION

CHINESE MONOPOLY

Production in metric tons.

Rare earth refineries in Baotou, China.

MINIMAL REGULATION

With minimal regulation and cheap labor, China has been able to dominate the world rare earth market.

Waste water is released directly into rivers and streams, the surrounding environments have been completely destroyed.

Animal and plant life have mostly been wiped out, and local residents are developing serious health problems.

Toxic waste water is dumped in Baotou Lake.

COLTAN, COBALT, AND THE CONGO

Two resources critical to modern technology, tantalum and cobalt, are most abundant in one of the most unstable countries on Earth, the Congo.

Cobalt is used in batteries and tantalum in resistors and capacitors.

chart (6).png

COBALT PRODUCTION

2017

COBALT

TANTALUM PRODUCTION

COLTAN

Tantalum is acquired from mining coltan,

a combination of columbium and tantalum.

80% of the world's reserves are in the Congo.

chart (7).png

2018

The situation in the bordering country of Rwanda is very similar to the Congo.

A mining operation in the Congo.

MINING IN THE CONGO

SLAVE LABOR

Captured laborers are often forced to work at gunpoint, rebel groups in the Eastern Congo use the mines as a funding source. Children as young as 4 work in the mines, they are worked 12 hours a day and not paid enough to afford food.

PRIMITIVE TECHNIQUES

HEALTH ISSUES

Coltan mining in the Congo.

DEFORESTATION

CHAOTIC SUPPLY LINE

COMPUTERS ARE

RESOURCE INTENSIVE

EXTRACTING RESOURCES IS DAMAGING

THEY HAVE

SHORT LIFESPANS

AND THEIR

DEMAND IS INCREASING

THIS WILL CAUSE

MAJOR WASTE AND DESTRUCTION

THIS SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE REBOOTED -

The current computing model of take, make, and dispose needs to be reimagined.

This is critical if humanity is to survive and prosper into the future.

RESOURCES ARE ONLY ONE PART OF THE PROBLEM

MANUFACTURING

EXPAND

DISPOSAL

EXPAND

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