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The Price of Technology

May 9, 2010

Inspired by class presentation on technology effecting the environment

91 percent of the population who own a cell phone

The production of creating cell phones, computers, and other technology devices have cause great impact on the environment, such as climate change, water pollution, etc.  But the production of technology has not only put the environment in more harm, but it has caused death amongst a nation, Democratic Republican of Congo (DRC).

The DRC has a wealth of natural resources especially one material called Coltan, that is used in cell phones.

This material is being mined and people are getting killed over it.  Coltan to the DRC miners, is like gold.  Below you will see several stories from the BBC about this horrific issue.

Coltan, columbo-tantalite, is a mineral used to make resistors in our cellphones, video games, computers and home electronics.  Likened to blood diamonds, its mining has not only caused ecological damage, human rights abuses, but some say is also fueling the conflict in the Congo. (Global Voices in English)

By Karen Allen
BBC News, South Kivu

In the mining area of Nyabembe, rusting pieces of mining machinery poke out from a thick layer of grass.


They reflect a time in the mid-1970s, when commercial mining was carried out in this area – a two-and-a-half hour motorbike ride from the town of Lulingu.

Five years of civil war, followed by protracted skirmishes with the militia, saw those operations move out and freelance miners move in.

These men are now exposed to predatory militias and also the military who demand a cut from what they dig.

When they are not exacting local taxes, the gunmen move into the village and terrify the local population – stealing, killing and raping.

“They take what they want, even our women, and there is nothing we can do about it,” sighed Simon, a young teacher who has swapped his school books for a shovel, because it is the only way to make a living.

Global electronics and metals giants now face uncomfortable questions: Are they inadvertently fuelling the conflict in eastern DR Congo? Are they buttressing a market by sourcing supplies from militarized zones (a practice that is not illegal but ethically questionable)?

With mining being the only game in town, radical change is bound to be resisted.

And that is the argument that international purchasers of minerals use, to justify their trade: so many jobs depend on it.

There’s nothing in life for free, there is always a price to pay.  In this case, human lives are being destroyed at the expense of the rest of the world to be connected.

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