I just ordered a new laptop from Lenovo. After a 2 weeks of agonizing over one laptop or another, it was a relief to finally enter my credit card info and press “order”. No more reading reviews online; no more googling for each and every component. It is done and I will just have to live with it for the next 3 years (or until someone in Bolivia steals it).
I thought that ordering the damn machine would be my cathartic denouement which would let me sleep tonight, but then I made the mistake of rereading a section of My Activist Guide to Reform the Computer Industry. That big mistake led to the bigger mistake of trying to calculate the greenhouse gasses I had just generated by ordering a new machine.
Here´s the ballpark damage:
Energy to fabricate a new laptop: 1250 kWh
Raw materials to fabricate a new laptop: 1.3 tons
CO2 generated from energy usage: 1930 lbs.
George Monbiot says that each person on the planet should be rationed only 667 lbs per annum by 2030. I just used 3 peoples’ annual quotas in one day! Sorry about that all you polar bears out there.
I don’t think I will ever be able to fully enjoy using my new Thinkpad SL300 with such a guilty conscience. I figured that at least I can feel good that I am using an EPEAT gold certified machine–until I decided to look up the details of that eco-standard and found out that it was a leaky raft of omissions and loopholes created by the industry to bamboozle people into believing that they had bought an environmental piece of equipment.
My SL300 still has all the brominated flame retardants and polivinyl chloride of a normal laptop and there is no guarantee that my screen glass doesn’t contain a toxic cocktail of chemicals which can’t be recycled. The circuit boards aren’t halogen-free and all the wires are probably chock full of PVC and phthalates. Even the supposedly environmental LED backlight probably took more energy and resources to produce than a conventional CCFL backlight.
And if that didn’t ruin my good mood, I happened to notice that people have been having trouble getting the x.org video drivers to run correctly for the Intel x4500MHD embedded graphics. I specifically ordered Intel because they produce open source 2d and 3d drivers which are supposed to “just work”. Looks like I will be running my SL300 with crappy Vesa drivers until they sort out the x4500 hiccups. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that Debian Lenny will install OK and I can wipe that value-minus Windows Vista off my machine. I might run Windows XP in virtualbox occasionally when someone sends me some proprietary crap that won’t run in lovely GNU/Linux, but I sure as hell won’t put up with Vista Bloatware. I can’t afford to waste 25GB of space on that Micro$oft dung heap of an operating system–not when I could install something truly beautiful in that space like an LTSP thin client server! I have to test out my new Spanish and Portuguese translations of Fl_TeacherTool. Of course I also have to test out whether the gettext functions which I added to the code really work.