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Mining the minerals for electronics causes huge environmental destruction

Paying attention to where this is happening will help us fight back on climate change.

It is not just the oil, automotive, and agriculture industries that are causing climate change. The electronics industry has a rising impact and creates more destruction than most people realise when they make a purchase. At the moment it is already contributing 1,4% of global emissions and with a growth in demand for these products that will rise in the years to come. But it’s not just the emissions – it is causing other types of environmental damage too. One of the most serious ones is that it contributes to deforestation in the Amazon. 

In Peru, illegal gold mining that is used for electronics, jewelry, and the financial sector is destroying the Amazon. At its peak, it became the second-largest cause of deforestation in the country. Despite crackdowns from the government, it is hard to stop. The deforestation caused by illegal gold mining is leaving behind treeless, lunar landscapes packed with toxic pools created by the chemicals used. This polluted water stretches far into the Amazon’s most treasured reserves and ends ups polluting the entire ecosystem and poisoning workers and all life around it.

This is not just happening in Peru but all over South America and Africa.

Treating electronics that use these minerals as if they are throw-away products is putting us on a downward spiral. It increases the demand for more gold mining and destabilises the countries in which this is happening, as it is enabling the criminal groups that drive deforestation.

This should be a wake-up call to everyone consuming electronics. But as consumers, we have the power to make a change and buy electronics that use Fairtrade or other alternatives that certify supply chains and their origin and design their products and supply chains with a focus on the environment and the people that make them.

 

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