How bauxite mining destroys Nature and communities

Aluminum is material that constitutes the largest proportion of many smartphones and laptops. often the most common material used in smartphones and laptops. It is also a key material for electric vehicles and wind turbines. If you were to believe the tech industry, aluminum is this almost magical “clean” and “green” material. Nothing co... Read More »

How to solve e-waste: ultimate producer responsibility

We need a radically new model that properly measures the true and total cost of materials, particularly their long-term cost to the environment and the life systems that depend on it. E-waste is particularly dangerous because of its high toxicity and because, right now, it is designed so that the materials in it cannot be easily reused... Read More »

Modern economies are based on waste

The secret to the “success” of modern economies has been the deliberate creation of the maximum quantity of waste. Waste is the business model. The more waste you can create, the more new products you can sell. The more you get people to think of what they have as old and uncool, the more you get them to throw away stuff, the more new pr... Read More »

Global North e-waste colonialism, genocide, ecocide

In the rich Global North, we like to boast about the dematerialization of our economies, about “green growth” and how we’re decoupling our material use from our energy and waste production. We’re so clever and sustainable. And yet. And yet. And yet the Global North is a mirage when it comes to being truly green or genuinely sustainable... Read More »

Be very careful what you feed AI

When I was younger, I met a respected computer scientist. He explained to me about how he had created a model for predicting the agricultural output of an island in the Pacific. As I listened I was in awe, thinking I was in the presence of a genius. He described a complexity that made my brain whirl. With his model he was predicting exac... Read More »

Increasing complexity increases waste

So much that digital touches turns to complexity and that, in shorter and shorter periods of time, turns to waste. The beating heart of digital is pumped with a toxic flow of waste. For years, as I worked in this digital industry, I had these nagging feelings that something wasn’t quite right, that there was some sort of a deep problem... Read More »

We think of information all wrong

As the world is flooded with information and data, many have given up on the idea of organizing, editing or making sense of it all. We have instead become creators and hoarders. Part of the problem lies with how the technology industry and much of science has traditionally viewed information. “Information theory does not distinguish be... Read More »

99% of data has been produced in the last ten years

“Assuming that information has indeed mass, it works out that in the not-so-distant future, half the mass of the planet will be made up of digital bits,” physicist Melvin Vopson states. “Okay? This is how scary it is.” Since 1970, humans have changed from being consumers of the Earth to being devourers of the Earth. We have entered into ... Read More »

Data growth is scary and unsustainable

“It’s quite scary,” physicist and information theorist, Melvin Vopson, replied to me when I asked him what he thought about the current growth of data. Data growth is out of control and leaping ahead at an annual rate of more than 25%. Based on my calculations, if we continue this growth rate, by 2053 we will be mining a Mount Everest wo... Read More »

The environmental weight of data

“Information is physical,” Melvin Vopson tells me. “The fact that information is physical goes back to much older studies. What I did in 2019, I asked myself a question: If a bit of information is physical, and you can detect that energy associated with the bit of information when you erase it, what happens to that energy when the inform... Read More »