The Garbage Mines Of Ghana

In the 1998 movie Soldier, Kurt Russell is unceremoniously dropped with the rest of the garbage on a planet reserved for use as a dump. Huge spacecraft deposit vast quantities of junk on regular runs.


(Space disposal units from Soldier [1998])

Russell ultimately joins forces with the people who are unlucky enough to be forced to make a living out of the material cast off by others.

On our planet, we don't send high-tech garbage to other worlds. We pick parts of our own planet, and send it there. Places like the Agbogbloshie canal, just west of downtown Accra, the capital of Ghana.


(The Agbogbloshie canal)

...the young men who work the dump pull and recycle the metals, particularly copper, out of old electronics. [M]ost of them are from northern Ghana, and form something of "an outcast class by themselves." They break down electronics with hammers and hands, mostly to pull out the metals inside of them, which they sell to local businesses.

You have to admire the resilience of these kids, who've come up with a way to make a living on the margins of society. But it's a tough, nasty business. If they need to separate rubber from copper, they burn it, so they inhale the fumes day after day. Many live in Agbogbloshie, so they're exposed to all the chemicals in the e-waste that moves through the place.

In his excellent 1990 novel Earth, David Brin writes about garbage mines, which are TwenCen California dump sites that are covered over, and later prized for their rare materials.

...it was inevitable that those landfills should draw the eyes of innovators, looking for ways to get rich.

Iron, aluminum, silica ... nickel, copper, zinc...

Claims were filed, mining plans presented and analyzed.... Excavation began between the ancient hills.

Into a past generation's waste, their desperate grandchildren dug for treasure.

The garbage rush was on.

There are parts of the world where people aren't waiting to open garbage mines; they're going after those raw materials now, for survival.

Via The Atlantic.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/25/2011)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Prufrock The Newest Boring Machine
'It sounds to me as though you had invented a kind of metal earthworm...'

Stratuscent Electronic Nose
'It's picking up diphenyl compounds and tetra hydrocarbons.' - Michael Crichton, 1985.

Smart Contact Lenses Charges With 3D Printed Antenna
'He realized that it was not quite a clear lens.' - Vernor Vinge, 2001.

Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time
'Here is the chronoscope... Scansion depends upon a special curved field...'

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

A Passing Drone Has Covid-19 Advice
'Gold dots against blue, basketball-sized, twelve feet up.'

Prototype Robotic Masseur Has The Touch
'The automatic massager began to fumble gently...'

Trash Sorting AI Robot Presages Skynet, Thanks A Lot
Keep your head down, Kyle Reese.

Electric Unicycle Is A Tumblebug
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity, since it is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel.'

Another Soil Bacterium Eats Plastic
'...the plastic was dissolved before his eyes.'

reLive Memorial Come Back As A Tree
'It was time - time to go again. She touched the leaf. She was wanted.'

Engineered Living Building Materials
'... it was the cheapest building material known.'

Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink
'It's rewiring things... squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon along the printed circuitry.'

Arkangel: Automatic Visual Censoring
It's whatever the Party says it is, Winston.

NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining
'There was a heap of discarded ore where Grantline had carted and dumped it...'

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

No Autonomous Trucks? Wait, What?
'...it resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'

As Big As A Biltong - World's Largest 3D Printer
'Huge and old, it squatted in the center of the settlement park... On the concrete platform... lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'

Drones Used To Smuggle Contraband Into Prison
'And some mega chip inside so it never runs into anything and no cop ever sees it.'

Are You Ready For Commercial Space Travel?
'It wasn't a pleasant trip; it was a miserable trip on a miserable, undersized tourist rocket...'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.