When computers were first invented in the 1970’s it had a big effect on people’s lives all around the world. “Stop and imagine life without computers”. Today living without a computer is almost impossible for most people in the world since they depend on it for their every day programs. People all around the world use the computer to connect with people thousands of miles away and computers has made the lives of today’s growing society a lot easier. The amount of computer users has doubled in the past decade with more people trying to get their hands on a computer to make things easier for them. With a click of button and in a matter of seconds you can transfer information from one place to the other side of the world right from the comfort of your room. Computers are the most modern and most important machines in the 20th century.
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Although computers have influenced people in a good way but there is a bad side to it too. Computers have a negative effect on the environment, society and people. First of all computers contain hazardous elements like lead and mercury which is very toxic and can damage the environment. When computers are not disposed properly or if not recycled then it can ruin the environment with its harmful chemicals. Computers consume a lot of energy which can pollute the environment (atmosphere).
Not only computers have a negative impact on the environment it also has a negative impact on humans too (as well). The computer can damage the human brain due to using the computer continuously and it can cause pain in the body like the hands, back legs etc. if not used properly and due to repetitive motion, computers make the society very inactive since people get addicted to it and using it too much leads them to miss out in their daily activities such as exercise.
The personal computer was invented by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak which was called apple I computer in 1976. Since the 1970’s computer designs and programs have changed a lot and new models and better designs were built in the coming years. Throughout the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s computers were developed for personal household use for personal productivity, programming and games. Some larger and expensive systems were for use in an office and small businesses. Later on business computers acquired graphics and sound system and home computers and game system users used the same processors and operating systems as office workers. After the apple I computer Steve Woniak and his friend Steve Jobs created the Apple II computer which was a complete computer. The Apple II computer had color graphics, a full QWERTY keyboard and internal slots for expansion. In the 1980’s many other computers were built with improved models such as the TRS-80.
Personal computers were not a threat to the environment in the 70’s and 80’s since only limited amount of them were produced. Computers were expensive back then that only rich individuals, some businesses, companies and corporations could afford them. As more companies came into the computer business competition between other companies caused most of the computer prices to go down. With computers cheaper people could not wait to get their hands on one of them.
Later in the 1990’s computers started to become a threat to the environment since there was a big demand for it and people were trying to get the brand new computer designs. In the 90’s old computers were being thrown away without proper disposal and the toxic chemicals in the computers which were mostly lead and mercury harmed the environment including safe drinking waters. This is still continuing today with more and more computers are being trashed away with landfills of them all around the world.
Computer disposal has had a big impact on the environment and the society. 75% of obsolete computers are just lying around. A study by the National Safety Council has found that nearly 75% of computers purchased by corporations, companies and individuals are lying around in some attic, garage or store room. Those computers are being disposed but not recycled. Many people are not aware of the hazards of computer disposal in land fills.
In the production of computers harmful chemicals are used such as lead and mercury. Materials like plastic are also used in the production of computers. Just like coal lead is also mined from the earth and for that habitats and trees has to be destroyed in order to dig the ground and mine lead. The result is deforestation and many animal habitats will be destroyed and companies would not bother to try to fix it back. Mercury is also consumed from the earth and is very hazardous. The plastics that are used in making computer monitors contain dangerous flame retardants that can be very toxic when released into the environment. When old computers are thrown away into landfills without proper disposal than the chemicals in the computers and the lead and mercury can enter the waters in the environment and make it very toxic, it does not only pollute water but also kills living creatures in the water.
When determining the problem of pollution caused by computers and their production it is evident that all computer hardware is responsible for the problem and causes of pollution during production. Pieces of hardware such as keyboards, monitors, mice are all made out of plastic which is usually not recyclable. Other chemicals found in these tools are also harmful and can damage the environment. As the result of the assembly of the pieces inside the computer such as chips and wafers a lot of toxic materials are given off causing more harm to the environment.
The creation of computers causes harm to the environment because old computers are often disposed only to be replaced by larger computers which consume more energy causing more pollution. As the demand for larger monitors and more memory chips grow due to the developments in media, the level of toxins and pollution will increase too and cause even more harm to the environment. These toxins and pollution is caused when more monitors and chips are being produced and manufactured.
The average 24 kg desktop computer with a monitor requires at least 10 times its weight in fossil fuels and chemicals to manufacture. Researchers found that manufacturing one computer and 17- inch CRT monitor uses at least 240 kg of fossil fuels, 22 kg of chemicals and 1,500 kg of water which is a total of 1.8 tonnes of material.
A variety of environmental impacts associated with computer production processes are huge amount of energy used in the production and operation of computers. Long-term health effects on workers, families and neighboring communities due to chemical exposure and emissions from production stages such as microchip fabrication. Health impacts due to exposure to hazardous materials contained in computer products, such as brominated flame retardants and lead. The main risk of exposure comes from computers that have been dumped in landfills or from environmentally unsafe recycling processes in developing countries.
The process of safely getting rid of your old computer is recycling. Recycling of computer parts are done in systematic order by recyclers. After the extrusion of elements such as copper, tin, aluminum, and zinc, precious elements like gold and silver are also taken out of the computer parts. The remaining computer and electronic components are then shredded into small parts and is thrown away safely. Individual components such as glass from cathode ray tubes are sold to foundries to be used as flexing agents. The harmful gases generated through this process is mostly trapped and contained. Many manufacturers of computer parts also offer programs to buy obsolete computers for recycling.
It is the safest way to always recycle your obsolete computer by giving it to a computer recycling program. This way these old computers are not left in land fills and will not harm or damage the environment.
Future trends and Environmental/ social Impacts:
Sales of personal computers have skyrocketed in the past two decades. The 300,000 computer sales in the U.S in the 1980’s increased by 500% the next year and doubled again in the year after that. Today, despite the high-tech meltdown of the late 1990’s, computer sales grow about 10 percent a year and more than 130 million computers are being sold each year around the world. By the end of 2002, one billion PCs had been sold worldwide.
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In 2001 125 million personal computers were shipped compared to 48,000 thousand in 1977. According to iSuppli the global personal computer shipments were 264 million units in 2007 which was 11.3 percent more than 2006. As of June 2008, the number of personal computers used worldwide hit the one billion mark while another billion is expected to be reached by 2014. About 180 million computers which are 16 percent of the existing installed base were expected to be replaced and 35 million obsolete computers to be dumped into landfills in 2008. Nearly 80% of the personal computers used today are mostly in developed countries with the U.S being one of them.
With the computer sales increasing each year, the number of obsolete computers increase too, this causes more environmental damage. Most of the obsolete computers are dumped in landfills in developing countries and most of those computers come from developed countries. This increase of computers in landfills contributes to pollution in our environment and destroys habitats.
The number of people worldwide owning a personal computer has been doubled since 2002 and that has a bad impact on humans. Most people try to make their job easier just by using a computer, that’s a good thing but that also makes many individuals lazy. The continuous use of computers by individuals increases their chances of pain in the muscles and will have many pain problems in their adulthood. Most people are addicted to computers that they will likely miss their daily exercise and daily routines.
As more new technologies are about to come in the near future, more and more computers will be replaced by them and therefore causing a massive destruction in the environment.
Overall, a computer is one of the famous and great inventions in human history. This technology is likely to cause more harm to humans and the environment, it does not only make humans lazy but it also damages them mentally and physically. The way computers are being programmed to do a job, due to too much use of technology humans are being programmed as well without being aware of it.
The harmful chemicals in the computers cause pollution in the environment and destroys it, third world countries are filled with trash that the western world has produced but can not keep them in their own country instead pays other poor countries to dispose it for them.
There are positive impacts as well, such as saving time, increase in knowledge and multi tasking gets jobs done at once and make life easier. Living without a computer is nearly impossible for many people around the world. Today if the use of computers stopped than basically the earth stops. Almost everything today to communication to designing a new model of some sort is done by a computer. Life without a computer is nothing; people are too depended on them now, its time that they should start using their brains as well not just the computers and take action against unsafe disposals of obsolete computers.
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