Yesterday I mentioned Mr. Jim Puckett's Op Editorial in Resource Recycling - Exporting Deception: The Disturbing Trend of Waste Trade Denial. I will have a chance to respond in Resource Recycling next week, in simpler terms than I traditionally write by blog. The blog is directed at the best and brightest in our field.
The masthead photo of Agbogbloshie, by Amaia Benito, shows three young men, standing near the side of the Odaw River Lagoon, burning auto harness wire. A 1990s CRT monitor case, used to carry the wire after burning, implies that there is e-waste, too.
No doubt. When Wahab and Emmanuel and I interviewed the wire burners (27 at the site) last April, they estimated that 20-50 pieces of electronics arrived there each day.
That is in the largest slum of a city of more than 3 million people.
- The hard working, poor men are not a hoax.
- The "e-waste" is not a hoax.
- The toxics are not a hoax.
- The import of second-hand devices isn't a hoax.
- What is a hoax is that 400-600 sea containers full of western waste is dumped at the site each month.
- It is a hoax that the goods that Africans pay to import are quickly dumped 80-90% of the time.
- It is a hoax that the Basel Convention has been amended and the trade in repair is illegal.
- It is a hoax that Agbogbloshie's a very large dump, much less one of the largest in the world for "ewaste".
And it's a hoax that "e-waste" ruined a pristine, lush, Odaw River. The exaggerations of Agbogbloshie trump the reality. I objected to the exaggeration of African import crime in an interview with Jim Puckett in 2005, but no one had yet studied his claims of "75%-80% dumping" (and he had then as yet to later deny his claim). Finding something I didn't say and responding to that, instead of what I did say, will fool some of the people, some of the time.
Extensive peer-reviewed studies and World Bank reports on teledensity in Africa can't simply be labelled "denial" and "associated" with tobacco and climate change skepticism. And citing news sources that cited your own *claims* hardly matches wits with extensive research by Memorial U, ASU, MIT, and the UN.
In his editorial, Jim Puckett has repeatedly accused me of "ad hominem" attacks. The claims he makes about Josh Lepawsky of Memorial University, Reed Miller of MIT, and researchers from US International Trade Commission aside... Jim would have a legitimate complaint if I have, as he implies in the article, called him a racist.
If Jim has really misunderstood me, my apologies and condolences. But as likely he hasn't.