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Circular Wonderings is an exploration of the role of digital, software and technology in the Circular Economy. Exploration is the key word here. I write regularly, reflecting on my current thoughts and research. Expect typos, incomplete thoughts, varied rambling topics and (hopefully) a journey towards clearer understanding and insight. Subscribe here to join my journey.

Righteous Anger

Yesterday I was asked a question that made me realise something.

I am angry.

Full on, red in the face enraged.

I mean, there is a good chance that to make the laptop I am using now, a child has been forced to spend 12 hours a day slaving in a mine[1]. That is something to be angry about. Imagine an 8 or 10 year old you know. Now imagine them working in incredibly dangerous and difficult conditions to carry sacks of metal ore on their shoulders. All day. Bare foot, in pain and scared.

Stories like those in this video from 2017 [2] fill me with rage. (Warning: video shows children as young as 8 forced to work in cobalt mines).

That's just one of the many things feeding my anger.

I am pissed off at the unbelievable rate of global bio-diversity loss. "The population sizes of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have seen an alarming average drop of 68% since 1970" [3]. This backs up my personal, anecdotal experiences of smaller bird flocks at dusk and increased bleached coral undersea desserts. It so maddening.

The arrogant, wasteful attitudes that result in a country sized "Great Pacific garbage patch" [4] is infuriating.

The fact that the unprecedented threat of the climate crisis [5] is only just beginning to be talked about is an outrage.

The worst thing is that this barely scratches the surface. I can feel the anger boiling. I am furious. It makes me want to scream "How dare you?", along with Greta [6].

Yet...

What am I angry at? Who am I blaming? Unlike Greta, I have spent more than 40 years contributing to the problem.

All these terrible things are caused by my own choices. My entire life and business is built around advances in technology. I can afford this laptop without thinking, because those outcomes are discounting the price I pay. That child's pain and labour (or worse, injury and death) makes my laptop cheaper. It drives the profits of my company and the companies I work with. It helps to fuel the unequal economy that pays my income. I notice the depressing reduction in the stunning visual display of birds at dusk, precisely because I can afford the luxury to look up. This evil is happening and I am benefitting.

Evil.

It's a strong word and I don't use it lightly.

I'm not solely to blame, and I am not directly deciding I want those outcomes. These are huge systemic problems that I did not start. But that explains, it doesn't excuse.

So, I am angry. I am fuming. I am scream at the world outraged.

But that's not what I want to write about. It's not what I want to talk or think about.

I do want to write about the amazingly wonderful things that can happen when we do something to reduce this evil.

“All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.”

I will not do nothing.

That flips the anger to excitement. Instead of frustrated I start to feel inspired by potential. These are massive problems, and that guy in the mirror is willing to stand up and be counted. That is a nice feeling.

The skills that I have are in software development, software projects and software teams. The approach that I choose is applying Circular Economy principles. I believe this is an incredibly powerful combination. Maybe even powerful enough to have an impact.

My apologies for sharing my anger. On it's own it is worse than useless. Yet, perhaps it can be fuel for action for you as well as me.

Hopefully, you will continue to accompany me on the journey exploring how software can (and does) do positive things in the real world. And that it is worth pushing to be involved in those positive things.

 


[1]: https://honestmediablog.com/2021/01/12/cobalt-child-labor/
[2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcJ8me22NVs&feature=emb_logo&ab_channel=SkyNews
[3]: https://livingplanet.panda.org/en-us/
[4]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_garbage_patch
[5]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_crisis
[6]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVlRompc1yE