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Why Apple Deliberately Slowing Down iPhones Is Harming the Environment
If you ever felt like your iPhone is getting slower over time, Apple has admitted that it deliberately slows down the processing speeds of phones with older batteries to stop them shutting down without warning.
The tech giant is ultimately doing a good thing—even if it's in a sneaky, backhanded way. Smartphone batteries certainly have a limited lifespan.
As the company explained Wednesday: "Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, [when they] have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components."
But how many of us buy a completely new phone instead of simply replacing the battery? That's not to mention that Apple makes their phones very difficult to open and fix yourself.
Greenpeace estimates that 7.1 billion smartphones have been manufactured since 2007, or enough for just about every person on the planet.
And yet companies like Apple churn out new devices every year, selling 78.2 million iPhones in the months following the release of the iPhone 7.
Our phones don't even stay with us that long, as the average age of a smartphone traded in between April 2017 and June 2017 was 2.58 years, according to data collected by HYLA Mobile, a device trade-in company.
You could always recycle your old phones but not many of us do.
"Only 20 percent [of e-waste] is going in the official collection and recycling schemes," Ruediger Kuehr, head of the UN University's Sustainable Cycles Programme, told Reuters.
Last year, the amount of electronic waste around the world grew to a record 45 million tons in 2016—equivalent to about 4,500 Eiffel Towers. Most discarded gadgets go into landfills or get sent overseas.
So before you consider an iPhone upgrade, here are some things to keep in mind (via Greenpeace):
- More than 60 different elements are commonly used in the manufacturing of smartphones. While the amount of each element in a single device may seem small, the combined impacts of mining and processing these precious materials for 7 billion devices is significant.
- In 2014 alone, e-waste from small IT products like smartphones was estimated to be 3 million metric tons.
- Only two (Fairphone and LG G5) of 13 models reviewed had easily replaceable batteries. This means consumers are forced to replace their whole devices when the battery life starts to dwindle.
- Since 2007, roughly 968 terawatt hours (TWh) has been used to manufacture smartphones, which is nearly the same as one year's power supply for India (973 TWh in 2014).
- At end-of-life, current design makes disassembly difficult, including the use of proprietary screws and glued in batteries; therefore, smartphones are often shredded and sent for smelting when "recycled." Given the small amounts of a wide diversity of materials and substances in small devices, smelting is inefficient or ineffective at recovering many of the materials.
Apple has been recognized for its strong support of climate change action and its positive engagement with a number of climate change policy areas. However, its latest iPhone-kerfuffle certainly does not add to its environmentally friendly image.
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Tropical forests globally are being lost at a rate of 61,000 square miles a year. And despite conservation efforts, the global rate of loss is accelerating. In 2016 it reached a 15-year high, with 114,000 square miles cleared.
At the same time, many countries are pledging to restore large swaths of forests. The Bonn Challenge, a global initiative launched in 2011, calls for national commitments to restore 580,000 square miles of the world's deforested and degraded land by 2020. In 2014 the New York Declaration on Forests increased this goal to 1.35 million square miles, an area about twice the size of Alaska, by 2030.
By Cheryl Leahy
Do you think almond milk comes from a cow named Almond? Or that almonds lactate? The dairy industry thinks you do, and that's what it's telling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
For years, the dairy industry has been flexing its lobbying muscle, pressuring states and the federal government to restrict plant-based companies from using terms like "milk" on their labels, citing consumer confusion.
By Jeremy Deaton
A driver planning to make the trek from Denver to Salt Lake City can look forward to an eight-hour trip across some of the most beautiful parts of the country, long stretches with nary a town in sight. The fastest route would take her along I-80 through southern Wyoming. For 300 miles between Laramie and Evanston, she would see, according to a rough estimate, no fewer than 40 gas stations where she could fuel up her car. But if she were driving an electric vehicle, she would see just four charging stations where she could recharge her battery.
Fire Continues at Texas Petrochemical Plant as Company's History of Violations Gets Renewed Scrutiny
By Andrea Germanos
A petrochemical plant near Houston continued to burn for a second day on Monday, raising questions about the quality and safety of the air.
The Deer Park facility is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), which said the fire broke out at roughly 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Seven tanks are involved, the company said, and they contain naptha, xylene, "gas blend stocks" and "base oil."
"It's going to have to burn out at the tank," Ray Russell, communications officer for Channel Industries Mutual Aid, which is aiding the response effort, said at a news conference. It could take "probably two days" for that to happen, he added.
The hillsides dyed orange with poppies may look like something out of a dream, but for the Southern California town of Lake Elsinore, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare.
The town of 66,000 people was inundated with around 50,000 tourists coming to snap pictures of the golden poppies growing in Walker Canyon as part of a superbloom of wildfires caused by an unusually wet winter, BBC News reported. The visitors trampled flowers and caused hours of traffic, The Guardian reported.
A controversial pesticide test that would have resulted in the deaths of 36 beagles has been stopped, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the company behind the test announced Monday. The announcement comes less than a week after HSUS made the test public when it released the results of an investigation into animal testing at Charles River Laboratories in Michigan.
"We have immediately ended the study that was the subject of attention last week and will make every effort to rehome the animals that were part of the study," Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDupont, said in a statement announcing its decision.