invirormentalists, Kodak: The choice for digital over film?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by gzinsel, May 22, 2015.

  1. gzinsel

    gzinsel Member

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    I have heard this numerous times from a lot of different (lay)people, while having casual conversation about photography over the years: "isn't Digital is better for the environment?" ,"Film photography is very bad for the environment" . . . . .. . . .. etc. so. . .. . So it got me thinking! and here are my questions.
    1. What, if any, decisions that were made at kodak, Ilford, fuji corp., Foma, Agfa, etc.. .to make available Digital to the masses, were "informed" by outside pressure? i.e. constituents from environmental groups, EPA, etc. . . I was kind of thinking sometime between late 80's and early nineties when there seemed to be a tipping point, or a point of no return.
    2. wether you are mining for the chemicals for film or mining for computers and DSLRS, Isn't still "raping" the land, as some put it. I mean computers and the like, still need special metals? correct?
    3. I am assuming people want to buy products as long as its NOT made "in their backyard"! with that said, Did most people quite film due to "guilty" feelings about films' environmental impact? or was based solely on speed, ease and convenience.
    4. Is Film photography ( in total, from mining raw materials, to machining, to packaging" ) any more hostile to human people then say . . . . The auto industry?
    5. Was Digital capture co-opted by environmental groups, thinking it was going to be a better choice than continuing film, and did that back fire on them?
     
  2. OptiKen

    OptiKen Subscriber

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    Money and convenience drive most purchasing and manufacturing decisions.
    Companies went to digital because that is what the public wanted and would buy.
    Drinking water had nothing to do with it
     
  3. momus

    momus Member

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    I'm sure their decisions were monetary/marketing based, not environmental.

    Actually, digital photography is much more of a pollutant. The toxic substances that are put into the earth, water and atmosphere are terrible. Computers, their monitors, the manufacture of chips, plastic digital camera bodies and lenses, etc are all part and parcel of digital manufacturing. They produce much more in the way of pollutants, never mind the huge issue of the products going into landfills after their very short life spans. Here are just a few of the toxins that workers in those industries are exposed to

    http://www.globalarcade.org/sv/chemical.html

    The next link gives you an idea of what happens to the planet due to the manufacture of these products

    http://www.nrdc.org/living/stuff/your-computers-lifetime-journey.asp

    It takes over 70 pounds of water just to produce ONE computer chip!!! Nearly 10 years ago, the US alone was putting over 100,000 computers a day into the landfills. Anyone that says that digital is cleaner than film is an idiot. But, these are probably digital shooters saying that :}

    I'm out of the loop on this myself. My monitor is a recycled Sony Trinitron, and the PC was built from old, thrown away PCs. I'm not real happy that film emulsions are made from the bones and hooves of murdered animals, but since those animals were slaughtered for their flesh, the gelatin is a by product. I'm hoping to remove myself from that on the printing end by going to prints made from Liquid Light on traditional rag paper. The only way I see to avoid the other end is by using paper negatives.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2015
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Digital is as harmful or more so than analog, due to the heavy use of toxic materials in making the sensors. Look up my previous detailed posts on this topic.

    PE
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    but PE

    please correct me if i am wrong ... plenty of nasty chemicals has been used since 1839 to make analog products.
    .. nasty enough that they were removed from film and papers completely ( cadmium i think if not others too ), and different processes were invented due to
    ease of use and toxicity ... and cumulatively since 1839 it is / was far worse than the making digital cameras &c ...

    granted, PERSONAL waste from toner cartridges is a lot, but that is fairly recent and ...
    i don't know anyone who buys new cameras, printers, scanners and computers like they change their pants ( something usually argued by filmies ( who usually have 40-100 cameras :wink: ) ...
    municipalities, schools, businesses and individuals who just poured chemiacals down the drain ...
    mercury, waste associated with making albumenized paper, not so nice toners, intensifiers, cyanide, selenium, uranium ... ( the list is long ) ..
    i have a hard time believing digital technology is much better ...

    ===
    OP the press might have had a lot to do with it ...
     
  6. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Is this question postulated as a "blue sky possibility" in which nothing can be ruled out or do you have any such groups in mind who were powerful enough to exert this kind of influence and able to do so in what I assume to be a secretive and covert way as I never noticed any overt influence being exercised then or now?

    pentaxuser
     
  7. blansky

    blansky Member

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    Not wanting to get into the usual digital vs analog bullshit, here is what I remember:

    In the 90s (roughly) the EPA was starting to put pressure on labs that were processing film and on companies like Kodak to do more expensive cleanup of the chemicals used.

    A lot of the film/paper manufacturing moved to Eastern Bloc countries and Mexico to bypass the new regulations.

    So film/paper/processing was an issue.

    That being said the computer industry and camera companies were pushing digital as it was a new cash cow. I was moving from two different cities at that time over a space of 3 years and worked in 2 different camera stores before settling back into photography (Portland and Palo Alto CA) On a weekly basis the stores were losing more and more square footage to digital cameras, printers and toys until analog stuff was almost moved out entirely.

    This was a massive cash cow for companies and the stores because every pro and amateur was starting fresh with everything and the technology was changing rapidly.

    As for who is more of a polluter, I would guess the new stuff is simply by the fact that it's tied to computers, millions more people have cameras, and the technology is rapidly changing.

    It's progress, things change.
     
  8. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    The digital revolution has spawned some of the greatest pollution issues in history. Staggering amounts of e-waste, literally shipload after shipload, much of it highly toxic are illegally sent to sweatshop recycling centers in places like Bangledash, where working conditions are worse than medieval. Here the mafia controls that kind of transaction, since they've lost most of the drug business to cartels. And as for conflict, ever hear about "blood diamonds" and Africa? Well, probably the bloodiest "secret" war of them all has been going on at least
    a couple decades over control of certain raw materials used in this industry, especially in the Congo. Millions of people died. And even around here in Silicon Valley there have been serious carginogens getting into the groundwater due to highly toxic chemicals used in the chip industry, just as bad as what the military or classic heavy industry left behind. They're doing a better job of containment now; but some of those pollutants could be in the water table hundreds of years. Just one more dirty little secret to keep in mind when you pick up that digital camera or smart phone or whatever. So NO - concern for the environment is not a driving factor in the consumer electronics
    industry. Money is. And the largest amount of that stuff in manufactured in China anyway, where pollution levels are appalling, both in the
    air and in the water.
     
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    John, you obviously didn't catch my previous and lengthy statements on this which echo what Drew says below, but I stated it in more detail. Here is a thumbnail sketch.

    OK, Camium, Mercury and Lead were eliminated from emulsions and much less toxic materials in lower quantities were added instead. In the processes, Dicrhomate and Ferricyanide were eliminated as well as Formalin (although this seems to be the last to go in E6). I do not favor Selenium toning or the use of Pyro because these are not very good for us or the environment.

    Digital manufacturing uses Lead, Selenium, Tellurium and a host of other heavy metal "Dopants" to prepare wafers. The dyes used in printing may or may not be a wash with the color developers and couplers in films. I've heard stories either way, but metal based dyes are probably not very good.

    The castoff digital devices are sent to Asia for reclamation and just lie in heaps there waiting for the "breaker". While just sitting there in the open, rain leaches out these chemicals to some extent and there are now cases of poisoning in the local population.

    PE
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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  11. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    +1 too.
     
  12. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    One giant problem with consumer electronics is that, due to the incredibly fast pace of the technology itself, along with the very aggressive
    marketing that goes with it, the rate at which things become obsolete is also very rapid. Everyone wants the latest and greatest, and they
    know that. For example, back in the days of Ma Bell rotary phones, those things might get replaced only every ten years at the most, on the average. Now you'll got plans where multiple cell phones automatically get replaced every year or even every six months on average. That mean, what once amounted to only one phone getting recycled every ten years (and they often rebuilt them), now you've got literally a hundred or so per subscriber. Now multiply that times all the other gadgets which get rapidly replaced, whether they are worn out or not.
    This includes digital cameras. The whole point of marketing is to make people think they just have to have the thing. But six months later,
    it's not cool anymore. Or lets take big screen TV's - they're never big enough. I got offered six free ones in one month, but only wanted something small anyway. All that becomes e-waste. The people who remove the lead and other usable materials from these generally have
    close to zero health protection. Likewise the people who mine many of the ingredients. It is not a clean industry at all, if you follow what
    is involved from start to finish. Vast ecosystems are sometimes destroyed by the related activities, including terrible pollution of major
    rivers, in addition to how human populations are at time horrendously impacted, in order to feed out insatiable cultural appetite for cute toys.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    so 160 years of toxic-stuff (analog) = 20 years of digital ??
    that doesn't seem right, but what do i know ...


    ===


    drew, while i know there are some folks who do buy new every 6 months
    i don't think many people upgrade all their electroncis every 6months or even every year ...
    i don't have marketing numbers, i don't work in an electronics store ( but know people who do )
    and they never see the same people spending $$ ever 6 months ...

    maybe the people you are talking about are related to the service consultant at the local dealership who scolded me for not replaceing things in my car
    that were working fine, she said " its like light bulbs at your house, when one blows, you change ALL of them" ...
    sorry, i don't buy that, not with light bulbs, not with tv's or camera gear ... maybe it is true for some, but i don't think many ...
     
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  15. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    It's not just the vastly greater amounts of waste in economies which have been relatively modern for quite awhile, like the US, but the incredible expansion worldwide elsewhere as previously undeveloped countries aspire to the same deep footprint lifestyles. Just like the industrial revolution two centuries ago, what has been intended as a major advance in the quality of life has delivered on this promise to
    some, but has horrendously penalized others and brought on some of the worst labor conditions in recorded history. The tax on the earth's finite resources has been staggering in both cases; and ironically, coal with its pollution has been the resource at the base of both episodes.
    Some of you guys are looking at just the retail scale of this. For every device on the shelf, there's a tyrannosaur somewhere in the background chewing the world up. Everything from weapons systems to cars are now becoming digitally integrated. All those raw materials
    and the energy to process them has to come from somewhere, and somewhere has to receive the staggering amounts of waste. Even if
    you don't buy my arguments, just look at the photojournalist shots taken of those waste piles themselves, which indeed contain a lot of
    toxics. There is no free ride. We pay dearly for all of this in the long run.
     
  16. Dali

    Dali Member

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    Well, knowing that does not prevent people on buying more and more electronic like knowing that natural resources are limited does not prevent people to use their car and burn oil to heat their house. It is difficult to draw a line and say who is right and who is wrong.
     
  17. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Go to the Google. Search for "electronic waste" and click on "Images".

    Enjoy yourself.
     
  18. Element 6

    Element 6 Member

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    Very startling imagery. I recommend everyone look.
     
  19. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Indeed, you have not compared volume. Lo those many years ago, there was little analog consumption and little use of toxic heavy metals. Analog did not take off until about 100 years ago or less and that with billions fewer people on the surface of the earth.

    Today, those new billions own digital for the most part. Actually, the real answer is 20 years of digital. You see, although analog polluted, IDK of a case of injury from Mercury or Cadmium or Lead that can be traced back to analog. Selenium or Pyro maybe. But they can see it from the digital camera industry.

    As others noted, it is a real problem in the digital industry.

    I might also mention that Kodak used Carbon filters and special scrubbers on all effluent including smoke, and this included scrubbers on individual coating machines to catch any airborne toxic material in the drying component.

    PE
     
  20. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Evidently not much. Relatively few people were active photographers for 160 years versus much more toxic release of rare earths for products purchased every few years cyclically by a large percentage of today's population results in much more toxic waste being released now.
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    wow ..

    thanks for schooling me ..
     
  22. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    Lets not forget that lead (and other metals) were use for MANY, MANY years as part of paint pigments. Lead paint is a major contaminant.

    ... and how about tetraethyl lead in gasoline.

    As noted above, I certainly would not limit the 'problems' to the digital industry - which really should be classified as the ELECTRONICS industry. For example: there is a lot of lead out there in the old CRT based TV tubes.
     
  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Lead from solder and [so called (badly named)] rare earths such as silicon, germanium, gallium, ...
     
  24. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Member

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    Get your brain out from green fundamentalists wash.
     
  25. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    All very good points Fred. I guess I was concentrating mostly on analog vs digital photography and left out all of the others which do count. Thanks for your comments straightening me out there. But then analog is just a small division of Chemistry in general. Should we make further comparisons?

    Lead paint is still a problem.

    PE
     
  26. OP
    OP
    gzinsel

    gzinsel Member

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    let me add, that a lot of photographers I know, . . . . when I ask them why they don't use analog. . . . . Oh! those chemicals!!!!!!! its ALLLLLL Nasty Stuff. Which of course I vehemently disagree with. BUT. . . . . I think that excuse is a real crowd pleaser, except when you dig more deeply, as everyone here has suggested: that digital is more harmful than analog.

    I think the selling point at Point of sale counters was always: no trouble, instantaneous results, and no chemicals. ALL selling points in favor for digital ( to name a few).

    which I guess got me to believe that "corporate" was behind it all. because they were having pressure placed on them ( by whom) i do not know???? But it's all too convenient that the top 5 reason why people shoot digital over film, somewhere in that top 5, chemicals come up.
     
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