Still Vaster Wasteland

tvpile Television, vehicle of the national hologram and central nervous system of corporate capitalist sales efforts, might be human history’s most deadly invention. Mostly, that’s due to its slyly corrosive effects on human analytical skills. But there’s also a physical side. Today’s New York Times reports that the pace of TV set replacement has doubled in recent years, as makers have pushed flat-panel monitors. Meanwhile, “recycling” of old TVs is mainly a scam, with mountains of old sets just lying around in various places. And the toxicity of the newfangled flat screens?

Most experts say that the larger solution to the growing electronic waste problem is for technology companies to design products that last longer, use fewer toxic components and are more easily recycled. Much of the industry, however, seems to be heading in the opposite direction.

Cathode ray tubes have been largely replaced by flat panels that use fluorescent lights with highly toxic mercury in them, said Jim Puckett, director of Basel Action Network, an environmental advocacy group.

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