In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote a book called Silent Spring. This novel was a combination of fantasy and reality that depicted a world where pesticides were heavily used. Carson lived in a time where DDT was being used so scrub the household of "pests" and trucks would drive down the street spraying mists of DDT through neighborhoods. To everyone else, this was a safe way to ride the area of rats and insects that harmed their lawns and invaded their homes.
Carson saw through this and wrote a book that eventually led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Her books title, while at first sounds peaceful, is actually an illustration of what could happen if we continue to harm the environment. A spring that has no sound other than the running water. The sounds of the birds and insects are gone because of the pesticides that killed them.
Why would these people allow this to happen? There are many pictures, like the one above, on the internet. It is obvious to us that this is disturbing. Kids are seen running through the chemical fog, playing and having fun. Why would parents allow this?
There are many ideas as to why the people from that time believed DDT was harmless to humans (and the ecosystem). But my main point comes from an excerpt in Silent Spring that I currently cannot find. It illustrates a steady drip falling onto a rock. We are unable to see the water changing the rock because it is so gradual. To us, the rock is the same. It is only once we leave the rock and comeback to it years later that we can see the change the water has caused. To her, DDT was doing the same thing to the ecosystem. We found it harmless because we could not see the effects happening. When in reality, the DDT was harming the insects which lead to the animals that rely on insects for nourishment to ingest these chemicals as well. To Carson, if we continued, this would eventually lead to the end of many animals and even the human race.
I bring up this idea because it relates to our current problem with electronic waste and the chemicals that they release into the environment. The immediate effects of this are not apparent to us because they are so gradual. It is easy to write off recycling because we live in areas where the trash is piling up and it's harm is not affecting us.
It is important for us to realize that something shouldn't be considered harmless because they aren't causing immediate harm. Over time the chemicals leached into the environment could cause our soil to become barren or disrupt the ecosystem. It is important to acknowledge this blind-spot in our perception, because our world is at risk if we do not.
I would recommend everyone read this book. There are more parallels between our E-recycling ideas and Carson's book. Much more than what I have posted about.