ITGS Syllabus

Monday, January 02, 2006

Topic 2

Environmental issues related to the production of computer components and supplies by Joseph Toyoshima

What are environmental issues related to the production of computer components and supplies?
Technology is growing at a rapid rate everyday. What we thought as great and convenient are being quickly replaced. With this rapid rate of replacement, there is an accelerated huge quantity of disposal. Producing computers can be very hazardous; the usages of the computer raw materials have health risks and create certain pollution to the air.

When computers are recycled, the toxic materials in the computers are released. These materials include fossil fuels, chemical water, those that are used in production. The production hazards exceeds up to lawsuits filed by the workers. But those are the health hazards only within the population of the workers; when improperly recycled, these risks are released into the air our everyday air.

Solutions to this problem can be solved by the economical concept of internalizing the economy. When computers are produced, it releases a negative externality, the production hazards. But when sold, computer manufactures do not include the cost of the hazards; they only include the costs of production. So to resolve the problem, the government should step in and tax the computer production.

This would raise the price and therefore decreasing the quantity of computer production. The tax money can be used to help in the research to decrease the hazards released and/or to pay for those affected. They could also use tradable permits, a maximum amount of the hazard production allowed per company that can be traded. Since these permits can be traded, many companies would attempt to find ways to reduce the hazards when producing computers so that if they have leftover permits they can trade it to other companies. Both of these ways would reduce the hazards and can help find ways to decrease when producing.

Hazards can be prevented by “proper” computer recycling. This can be hard because there is no actual way to just make the computers disappear without affecting the atmosphere. Governments can put a high tax on computer disposal and then people would decide try to keep the computers for a maximized time until getting a newer one. With the tax, government can support groups that attempt to find good ways to efficiently and safely dispose computers. People can give away computers, those that they no longer want to use can be transferred to one another from a certain donation community. By using this method, since less people would buy computers now, computer production would be decreased. This would also severely reduce the amount of computers needed to be destroyed, therefore lessening the amount of hazards being released into the air.

All of these solutions can be successful in any amount in decreasing the hazards of computers, but they also decrease the production of them. Almost everyone in a first world country have a computer. Decreasing the speed of improvement and production can also halt our advancements as a country, and also better technology for our convenience. In order to most efficiently solve this problem, the computer production must remain while the hazards released our decreased. But this solution can only be long-term and in the short-term decision makers have to choose between the health and technology.

Tommy Chuang said...

I like how you have explained clearly the pros and cons of each solution, such as how difficult it would be to implement each one.

November 21, 2006 7:15 PM

kenth said...

This essay is very well thought out and your aplication of economical knowledge is impressive. It introduces many ways to deal with the problem.

November 21, 2006 7:24 PM

HeeJun Son said...

I think it is a good thing you actually applied economic concepts to explain environmental issues related to the production of computer components and supplies. It shows your ability to apply the problem to the real world. Overall good essay!!

November 21, 2006 7:26 PM

Sujit_George said...

Explain what is good and what is bad about this.

November 21, 2006 7:50 PM

Dhruv Rajashekaran said...

Good explanation, clarity about short-term and long-term nature of solutions. Easy to follow pros and cons of issues.

November 26, 2006 7:51 PM

Vaibhav said...

Well thought, I really find it amazing how you thought of this as in economic terms. I agree the government should tax the companies which produce computer components, as right now it is causing a market failure as the externality is not internalized (taken into account).

November 27, 2006 3:54 AM

Chun said...

Wow, I never knew computer create an air pollution if it is recycled. I never even thought computers were related to any kind of pollution. I think this essay is very well thought out, and it gives good explanation.

November 27, 2006 4:08 AM

Lanky Wanky said...

The report states that the health hazards only affect the population of the workers but big is that population?

November 27, 2006 7:17 PM

matwilder said...

The essay was well thought out, and I like your use of economic concepts, such as negative externalities and government solutions to it. There was one point that you seemed to miss though, which was how the actual usage of computers was in any way an environmental hazard. You brought this up in the introductory paragraph but failed to discuss it.

November 27, 2006 7:25 PM

Andrew said...

I like how you clearly showed and explained the pros and cons. Though there are parts that you had missed completley where you could have improved on a lot. You could have emphasized on more ways to deal with the problems and how big the population is.

November 27, 2006 7:27 PM

Alex Young said...

The essay has many good options of trying to fix the environmental issues but in reality it won't happen because it will cause the computer companies to lose too much money in terms of total revenue. Good idea though.

November 27, 2006 7:33 PM

kaerujin said...

This is a very important issue to write about since it causes alot of controversies because it concerns the environment. It is good you pointed out the effects of computer disposal but it would be good to include what measures are done by companies or groups to improve their efforts in their disposing of computer parts.

November 27, 2006 7:37 PM

Oli said...

What do you mean by halting production and improvement in technology as a solution? Slow down our technological evolution?

If the guys in suits didn't drag out the progress and make available the highest quality, most technologically advanced equipment, then people wouldn't need to upgrade as much and thus demand goes down and supply goes down. It hurts the economy, but the environment would be saved this way.

December 03, 2006 1:30 AM

Simon Ruiz said...

This essay is well written in terms of approaches to the problem arosing from rapid change in technology encountering ecological problems also. However, you could have also discussed about how environmental objectives can intrude to economical objectives and how technology would be involved.

December 03, 2006 7:21 PM

Joseph Toyoshima said...

When i wrote that those are the health hazards only within the popluation of the workers, I was referring to when computers are actually produced. I meant that when the computers are produced, only the workers are effected, so it is not too bad (still bad but not the worst). But the total effect of the production is not limited to the workers when they produce, but also to the public because when the computers are recycled, the same toxic materials are spread into our air. So basically what I wrote is that not only does the health hazards effect the workers, but it effects everyone who breathes the air. So your question doesn't make sense Wilanth :). If you want to know the popluation of the people effected from the health hazards, its everyone.

It is true that the computer manufactures would not limit their production, like in my solutions, by themselves. That is why the government have to step in and do so. So no matter the unwillingness of the computer manufactures, they would be forced to reduce if the goverment believes that it is neccessary. That is why the decisionmakers have to choose between health and technology.

December 11, 2006 6:46 AM

ron said...

Wonderful Essay!
I liked the way you explained solutions and pros/cons in short and long term.
However, I do not entirely agree with you on the part about the government taxing the computer components producing companies.
Ronald Chu

December 11, 2006 6:51 AM

aditya kumar said...

Good essay. "matwilder" commented saying that you haven't specified how the actual usage of computers contributes to pollution.. however, that is not the topic assigned.Made even more interesting because you related with economic concepts. however, it might be less meaningful to history students.
- Aditya Kumar

December 15, 2006 5:28 AM

moyer said...

Haha, I guess you were listening in economic class. I like how you used economic concepts that you learned in economics class. It made it much more interesting to read your essay. I also learned about computers affecting the environment

December 17, 2006 3:18 AM


Blogger Wonbae said...

I like the way you have provided reasonable solutions to minimize the production of harzards that significantly harm the environment. What you've said in the first paragraph about the increasing rate of improving technology is surely a modern day problem that we all must consider.
I may also add that the world could minimize hazards by upgrading computers at a certain price. However, that too like what you have suggested may have their pros and cons.

April 15, 2008 12:17 PM  

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