2006-11-08

Manufactured Landscapes

I watched Edward Burtynsky's documentary film, Manufactured Landscapes. Very powerful film with excellent photography. The film shows how the industrialized countries use the developing countries as overseas garbage dumps. I have always knew that most of the world's ships when they retire get shipped to India and Bangladesh to be ripped apart and it's scrap gets used over there. You may think oh great they are recycling the metal but what are these workers subjecting themselves too, toxic chemicals and oil leaking into the sea for years to come. The movie makes an interesting point that most used computers from industrialized countries end up in China somewhere to be disassembled and every bit of available metal taken out to be re-used. Again you may think oh great they are re-cycling the material. Think again, what are they doing to their health? Better put what are we doing to their health? What they are doing is taking a soldering iron and un-soldering the IC borders and anyone who has done this knows first hand of the stink of melting solder and plastics. Well if you have not tried this I suggest you try it first hand and then imagine what 1 person multiplied by a 100 or 1000 what the entire city must smell like. The film mentions that these fumes can be detected as you are approaching the city.
 
Most of the film is set in China with some footage taken in Bangladesh because as the director said he wanted to film and photograph an extreme example of environmental destruction although it is happening everywhere in the world. I found it amazing that people walking out of the movie theater maybe thinking well that is China. Maybe so but in reality it is their own junk that goes there and the Chinese are the ones who are trying to clean it up with whatever limited resources that they have available and then make more products from this junk to be sent back to the industrialized countries and so on the cycle continues. So who are the real victims? I believe the Chinese and other developing countries are the ones who are suffering at the expense of the rich industrialized countries whom are the criminals. There may be no argument now but in 50 years form now I am certain that this could be a case of  environmental destruction committed by industrialized countries leading to mass genocide more tragic than any war and the holocaust combined.
 
I wonder what would happen to the United States and other industrialized countries if the workers of all the factories and call-centers of China and other developing countries all of a sudden stopped work for a day. I would love to see it and the more I think about it the easier it would be to organize in a country like China because they have only one time zones - hey lets all call in sick on November the 9th! As for me I will be heading back to China to work later this year.
 

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