Efficiency and performance are environmentally destructive metrics

Efficiency nearly never leads to energy reduction. Performance nearly always involves the use of more materials. It started in the coal mines of England. They needed a way to more efficiently mine coal. The steam engine gave them efficiency and power and they mined a lot more coal because of it, and with each improvement in performance... Read More »

Waste and destruction is how we mine the world

Humans have this fantastic ability to lie to ourselves and others. We enthusiastically embrace the very opposite of the truth and call it the truth. Right now, as we face multiple environmental crises, we are enthusiastically trying to convince ourselves that doubling the behavior that caused the crises will solve the crises. If we doubl... Read More »

No such thing as “green” transition

Mining is devastating to the environment. The explosion in mining since the 1970s is one of the key reasons we have climate, water, air and multiple other crises. As a species we have begun to devour the Earth, and the environment simply can’t cope with our voracious appetites. We are now trying to convince ourselves that we will achieve... Read More »

No such thing as sustainable mining

When Pietro Jarre started working in mining in the early Nineties, the mines he was dealing with were producing 100,000 tons per year. Later in his career, mines he worked with were producing 100,000 tons per day. Pietro, who has a doctorate in geotechnical engineering, and is a specialist in geotechnical and environmental issues on wast... Read More »

Tips for more sustainable smartphone use

About 80% of the total environmental damage of a smartphone occurs during the manufacturing process, so the single most important thing you can do to mitigate that damage is to hold on to your phone for as long as possible. If it breaks, get it repaired. Over 60 years of life, if you keep your smartphone for an average of two years, th... Read More »

Toxic legacy of the smartphone

Sixteen billion smartphones have been sold since 2007. During the manufacturing process, each one of them caused an average of 60 kg of CO2, dirtied 14,000 liters of water and resulted in 90 kg of toxic mining waste. In total, that's 950 million tons of CO2, 1.4 billion tons of toxic mining waste, and 214 billion tons of dirty water. T... Read More »

Turning off, deleting: Tips for sustainable laptops, part 2

Shutting down your laptop is good for the environment and for your laptop (and for your mental health). Shut down as many digital devices as you can. In the US, up to 20% of electricity is "vampire power". It's wasted by devices that are always on but not being used. Your Wi-Fi, for example, is hugely inefficient. Once you switch it on, ... Read More »

Hold on to it! Tips for sustainable laptops

Hold on to it. That is by far the most important thing you can do. Fix it. Repair it. About 80% of the environmental damage that a laptop does happens during the mining, manufacturing and distribution stages. We’re talking about 300 kg of CO2, 1,200 kg of toxic mining waste, 190,000 liters of water. If a laptop lasts one year then every ... Read More »

Mining exploits rather than supports local communities

The argument given for mining is that while it may pollute the environment, it does bring jobs and prosperity to the communities where the mines are located. There is less and less truth to this story. A mine one hundred years ago might have lasted one hundred years. Therefore, it would often have invested in schools and other infrastr... Read More »

Mining is a neo-colonialist activity

They say that mining companies go to corrupt countries and therefore can’t help but play the corruption game. However, the reality is that mining companies corrupt countries. The modern mining industry is a neo-colonialist entity if ever there was one. The history of mining over the last five hundred years has been directly tied to col... Read More »