Coltan is used for the production of tantalum, a substance which is an essential component of communication electronics such as mobile phones, smart phones, tablet computers, navigation systems etc. (Due to the very rare recycling of tantalum capacitors fresh metal is needed for production of micro-electronics.)
TABOOS in MODERN, AFFLUENT SOCIETIES
Is it taboo to regard our comsumption habits as major reason for current and future global problems?
Is "the consumer's ethic responsibility" a taboo word in a free world?
Is it taboo in capitalist systems to question the unlimited economic growth?
Many of us, inhabitants of the first-world countries, are proud to have the newest smartphone, wide-screen TV set or digital camera. The old stuff might still be operational, but fortunately new consumer electronics doesn't cost much. We think driving a big car, buying piles of inexpensive clothing, eating tasty meat by the kilo and travelling by airplane are nice things, achievements of technical progress. Maybe for us, but not for others.
Problems related to electronic waste and environment pollution are being outsourced into developing countries. Energy-intensive production of raw materials and cheap everyday items takes place in countries with low labor costs, low social and ecological standards and dubious political systems. Tropical rain forests harboring rare species are being cleared for the production of soya cattle feed and low-cost palm tree oil. Until now, no place could be found to securely store radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. We leave that stuff, emitting lethal radiation for millenia, to our descendants.
Who really cares about his own ecological, more precisely, ethic footprint? Assuming the world population had ours, we would need three Earths. It still seems to be taboo to confess that our egoism is endangering next generations and the rest of the world. Reduction of overconsumption, buying less needless things is unacceptable. We prefer to keep the luxury living standard we have once got accustomed to.
The above shown image of an installation of three mobile phones – with blood trickling out of them – poses the critical question as to whether people, having such taboos in their heads, can be considered to be innocent. (The picture is part of the series "Paradoxes".)