At the technology dump in Ghana…

I can’t reproduce any of the images because they are protected (being artistry and all), but check out this gallery of photos by Pieter Hugo.

During 2009-2010 Hugo photographed the people and landscape of an expansive dump of obsolete technology in Ghana. The area, on the outskirts of a slum known as Agbogbloshie, is referred to by local inhabitants as Sodom and Gomorrah, a vivid acknowledgment of the profound inhumanity of the place. When Hugo asked the inhabitants what they called the pit where the burning takes place, they repeatedly responded: ‘For this place, we have no name’…

In reality, the inhabitants of dumps like Agbogbloshie survive largely by burning the electronic devices to extract copper and other metals out of the plastic used in their manufacture. The electronic waste contaminates rivers and lagoons with consequences that are easily imaginable. In 2008 Green Peace took samples of the burnt soil in Agbogbloshie and found high concentrations of lead, mercury, thallium, hydrogen cyanide and PVC.

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4 thoughts on “At the technology dump in Ghana…

  1. Peter Cowen January 13 2013 at 1:11 Reply

    Hi Francois,

    Long time reader as I always say and I wonder if you would take a request for an article or just a quick penning of your thoughts on the matter.

    It is fairly obvious to anyone who considers it that you can’t forever sustain constant growth and expansion of GDP (read consumption) at some stage the entire world is consuming 100 times what the previous generation was and there must be a generation where that becomes unsustainable. I’d argue that we are moving towards that stage now with each and every resource under HUGE strain.

    But here is the nub, the moment growth stops its absolute disaster. I mean quite frankly it does quite seem like someone pulled out the base of the UK’s house of cards and we’re all in freefall. Growth has stalled in Japan and it has been kinda disastrous but at the same time despite two decades of stagnation and almost zero growth they have a pretty good standard of living and some absolutely excellent infrastructure. Of course their debt economy is internally serviced so relatively immune to shocks from exterior pressure.

    I’m sure you get the gist of my query, growth and the seemingly cataclysmic consequences of its continuation or its discontinuation?

    • Francois Tremblay January 13 2013 at 1:19 Reply

      I’m not sure what you are asking me exactly. So far I agree with everything you’ve said.

  2. Peter Cowen January 14 2013 at 4:06 Reply

    Is there a way to organise economies differently so that growth isn’t so fundamental and the lack of it so disastrous, that is my question :)

    • Francois Tremblay January 14 2013 at 4:15 Reply

      Are you asking me if there is a way to organize the economy so that the Collapse is less of a disaster? Probably not, I think the issue is far beyond economic solutions at this point. I think only gradual antinatalism could have any effect at all. But obviously if I could have it my way we’d all be libertarian socialists and so on, I assume you already know about that from my blog…

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