Posted by Melda Research on March 18th, 2019
As the technology advances, there is increased the need for people to connect with one another regardless of their geographical positions. The world has also become like a global village, such that one can have access to all types of information in their particular places of residence. Most of the benefits gained in the communications sector are due to the tremendous growth in the cell phone industry. Thus, the position held in the essay is that the benefits associated with the use of the cell phones are many and cannot be comparable to the environmental impacts it has on other ethical issues. It is no doubt that the use of cell phones has some environmental and health concerns, but the issues raised cannot outdo the many benefits brought by the use of the cell phones. The cell phone industry shows no sign of slowing down, and there is an estimate of 85% of the global population who have access to a cell phone (WHO, 2006). It, therefore, means that no impact of the cell phones to the environment cans slower the rate at which the industry is growing. The engineers behind the design of the cell phones have an ethical responsibility of maintaining and observing all the guidelines towards the safety of the users. However, as the objectors claim, there are few issues of concern as discussed in the paper.
The basic parts of a cell phone include; a circuit board, an antenna, LCD, keyboard, microphone, speaker, and a battery. The materials used in making the cell phones include plastics, liquid crystal material, fiberglass, and epoxy resins. Others are elements like copper elements, lead, mercury, beryllium, brominated flame retardants, nickel, silver, cadmium, antimony, and palladium among others. Several of the materials are in small quantities, and thus, their effects are not as adverse as critics would claim. However, they still have some environmental impacts upon disposal of the cell phones. The benefits of cell phones make the users continue to use them despite the negative impacts. However, there are also effective ways of handling the used and malfunctioned cell phones by having good disposal mechanisms.
Cell phones enable people to remain connected anytime and anywhere. The basic benefit of the cell phones is to enable people to connect with their friends and their relatives wherever they are. In the former days, communication models were not efficient such that people had to queue to make the STD or the ISD calls. It was not possible to communicate to others at any time of choice since the telephone facilities were not many. However, with the onset of the cell phones, many things have changed in the communications industry. There are different types of the cell phones available, and almost everyone can afford them for communication purposes. Apart from making calls, cell phones also have the short messaging services (SMS), email, and multimedia messaging services among others that make communication easy. The most surprising thing is that SMS are the most widely used services across the world. In many occurrences, consumers do not have the chance of attending to a call, and they simply reply or communicate through text messages. Thus, the cell phone has lot benefits in terms of connecting people right from the comfort of their homes, offices, or business, or when moving from one place to another (Vats, 2009).
Cell phones enable business owners to manage their businesses even when they are not physically present at the premises. The entrepreneurs can connect with their employees and get to understand the critical issues affecting their businesses. In addition, the use of cell phones enables the businesses owners connect with the clients, suppliers, and manufacturers of certain products. It is less costly to manage a business since all that they need; can be sorted out through the cell phones. Business owners can make orders to the suppliers other than going to the distribution stores for the same.
Cell phones have the navigation services since they are constantly upgraded with new technologies, and the recent handsets have the navigation and GPRS systems. It is easy to visit new places as long as the cell phone has the navigation system. It gives the exact direction and place at any given time to the user. The details given enable the use to navigate their way without fear of getting lost. Most of the cell phones used today have windows and internet facilities. Thus, they serve as minicomputers by offering all the services that a custom computer would offer. It is easy to access the internet and have the latest news updates, e-mails, movie shows and many other services. In addition, the services allow the user to be updated all the time about everything happening in the world (Vats, 2009). It’s less useful at present to rely on the hard copies of information passage since most of it can be transmitted electronically through the cell phones and internet.
In the security and legal matters, cell phones are very beneficial in apprehending criminals. When a criminal makes a call to another person, the security agencies can easily track their exact locations and in turn organize about the best ways of arresting them. The GPS services installed on the cell phones helps in easy tracking of the criminals’ details. In addition, checking a cell phone’s call logs gives important information to the security agencies about the criminals. They also know of the planned criminal activities and find ways of averting them.
As the cell phone industry grows, the economies of the respective nations also grow to a large extent. Many people have the need for cell phones that can easily meet their needs in terms of bringing services to their door steps. Thus, they seek to buy the latest models and thereby leading to economic growth. The communications industry is flourishing with market capital in billions. It makes the economy smooth and healthy, and also many people have the willingness to invest more in it. Cell phone technologies contribute immensely to the GDP growth. The cell phones enable new services and applications that provide opportunities for income generation.
The increased access to information and communication through the mobile technology facilitates coordination resulting in productivity gains. Mobile data also has an impact on the GDP growth. The increase in 3G connections supported by the data-enabled devices allows the mobile internet connectivity that result in massive growth in the use of mobile data. The study focusing on the relationship between the mobile penetration and the economic growth shows that; a doubling mobile data use leads to an increase in the GDP per capita growth rate by an approximate of 0.5 % points (Vats, 2009). As technology grows, mobile services have the potential of impacting economic growth through the provision of 3G and 4G data services accessed through smartphones, tablets, and dongles that offer mobile data services to businesses and consumers.
Despite the many benefits of the cell phones, there are critical environmental impacts that they have that cannot be ignored. Many consumers do not consider what happens to the old phones when they opt to move on to the latest and greater device. Cell phones are the leading contributors of the e-waste since users shift to new models at close intervals. For a manufacturer to make a cell phone there are several steps involved and each has an impact on the environment. All the processes from extraction and processing of the raw materials, manufacturing, installation, usage, and disposal have negative impacts on the environment. The average consumer in United States keeps the cell phones for less than a year before acquiring a new one. When they replace it, they have the decision of whether recycling them or sending them to the landfills and incinerators. The landfills and incinerators have the likelihood of allowing the toxic substances to penetrate into the soil, water, and air. The rate at which the cell phones get to the landfills is alarming. About 140, 000,000 cell phones find their way into the landfills every year (Milovantseva & Saphores, 2013). Collectively, they cause leaching of an approximate of 80, 000 pounds of lead into the ground and also the ground water supplies in the surrounding regions. The surprising fact is that only an approximate of 10 percent of the U.S cell phones gets recycled.
Mobile phones leak toxic chemicals and materials into the surroundings upon disposal. Thus, the failure of recycling the mobile phones makes the damaging chemicals and materials to end up in the already overloaded landfills (Ketchum, 2015). Lead, mercury, and arsenic are toxic chemicals to the body and might concentrate on the ground water supplies. The toxic chemicals may seep into the soil and thereby contaminating it after infiltrating the underground water. The soil is the main source of minerals to the crops. The toxic chemicals get into the crops through similar processes as the minerals and end up in the produce. When metals enter the food chain, they might concentrate to high levels and cause health problems. A single cell phone has tiny amounts of the listed chemicals, but the problem lies in the compounded effect of many of the cell phones kept in a landfill. The effect of millions of the cell phones thrown in one place is high and may lead to the environmental and health impacts.
Another issue is that cell phones are not exactly biodegradable. Most of the materials used in making the cell phones are electronic parts that take many years before they break down (Ketchum, 2015). It is similar to the plastics such that even after disposing of them in the landfills, they remain intact. Thus, the effects of the metals used in making the cell phones are still evident many years after the disposal.
Many people often keep the old cell phones in the stores for later use or give them to their relatives. However, many of them still end up in the waste bins, and it becomes the source of the problem. Consumers have little or no information at all concerning the impacts of throwing their cell phones to the waste bins. They find it as a good method of disposing of off their unwanted goods, having no knowledge of the impacts. The number of the unused and retired phones continues to increase year after year that poses the ever increasing problem to the environment. The cell phones mostly used require specialized treatment for minimizing their impacts on the environment. The content of the harmful materials vary from one model to another and more changes in the composition continue as the technology advances. The toxic compounds in the cell phones are persistent and bio-accumulative. Being persistent makes them not to degrade in the environment, and being bio-accumulative make them build up in the fatty tissue until they reach toxic levels over a particular time. Thus, it is necessary to have better ways of disposing of them other than throwing them in the waste bins as many consumers do.
The chemicals found in the cell phones have a range of adverse human health effects that include damage to the nervous system, reproductive problems, and developmental disorders. Cadmium is a common metal in the cell phones, and it is a toxic heavy metal that causes harm to humans and animals upon exposure. The absorption of lead into the bloodstream to certain levels causes liver and kidney damage in both adults and children.
According to the objecting ideas identified the major issues when dealing with the cell phones is in their disposal mechanisms. There are many methods used in the disposal of the cell phones that do not have harmful effects on the environment. The position held in the essay remains that the benefits of the cell phones outweigh the negative impacts associated with its use. It is because, there are better methods developed for handling the used and old cell phones. It would be against the wishes of the consumers to do away with the cell phones only because of their impacts on the environment and human health upon their disposal. Thus, cell phones play a pivotal role in the communication systems of the present times, and it would be wrong to avoid using them due to their negative effects. The best way of dealing with the issue is having better ways of handling the old and used up cell phones in ways that do not have significant impacts on the environment.
The other claim regards the materials that make up a cell phone as having a level of toxicity. The materials used in making the cell phones pass the permissible limits and thus are not harmful to the consumer. The major challenge lies in the disposal mechanisms that are likely to cause adverse effects to the environment. The concentration of the toxic materials used in the cell phones is very low and thus, their effects are low to the environment. In addition, the materials are not used in their pure forms that limit the chances of breaking up into the constituent parts. The use the landfills is an effective way of handling the used cell phones since they undergo a special treatment that lowers the environment impact. The critics of the use of the landfills claim that the landfills are not sustainable and dumping the mobile phones creates a long-term risk to the environment. However, only a small percentage of the toxic materials end up in the water bodies and later in the soil. For the heavy metals to cause adverse effects on the environment and the human health, they must first accumulate to a certain level that is difficult for the quantities used in the cell phones.
The other alternative to the use of the landfills in disposing of the cell phones is through recycling since it does not have a negative impact on the environment. Recycling the cell phones preserves the valued resources like copper and other metals and prevents them from filling up the landfills. The recycling of the cell phones helps in mending or handing them on to new units for additional use. The recycling process ensures that most of the materials used in making the cell phone have other uses or used to make other devices. The method limits the disposal of the cell phones directly to the environment (Geyer & Blass, 2010).
The other method is extending the life cycle of the cell phones from the nominal one year to about four years. It helps in reducing the amount of resources wasted by throwing away the cell phones that are not in use. A good number of the mobile devices in the market have a short lifespan. The increasing technological demands make the manufacturers release products that will not last long. Some of the cell phones that have a longer lifespan have challenges in adapting to the changing technology. However, the used cell phones can have uses in the same manufacturing plants where their life spans can be extended through recycling (Geyer & Blass, 2010). It is an effective method of disposing of the cell phones other than dumping them through other methods.
The other method is donating the unused cell phones to charity organizations that can easily make them into good use. Most of the charity organizations have many dependants who can use the used up phones. Thus, instead of adding to the e-waste in the landfills, many consumers consider giving away their old phones to the organizations for better use.
Another method is breaking down the used up cell phones into the constituent parts for other uses. The method decreases the pollution effect to the environment. Other companies can use the segments in the production of other electrical devices other than allowing them into the environment.
Cell phones have many beneficial effects to humans. However, they also have some environmental impacts due to the disposal mechanisms used. In practice, an engineer has to consider the critical ethical aspects associated with the production of the cell phones. The environmental impact ethical issue has several ways of dealing with it as described in the essay. Thus, its effects are not as elaborate as the objectors may claim. Consumers use the cell phones in various ways ranging from communication, in business, and also for navigation and tracking services. The consumers consider the benefits associated with the use of the cell phones other than the environmental and health impacts. Thus, the best way of handling the issues raised by the critics is developing better methods of handling the used up cell phones. Recycling, damping in the landfills, and donating to the charity organizations are among the methods used in tackling the problem.
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