How long does it take.. to change a phone cable?
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How long does it take.. to change a phone cable?

I have long had a serious bone to pick with makers of mobile phones. It’s not that I’m getting too old to understand all the new applications or I can’t see the keypad, that’s all true.

No, it’s all those bloody chargers. I’ve been with Sony, LG and God knows which other company and your mobile phone charger never fits another manufacturers’ device. Nokia is even worse having two ‘standard’ charger fittings. I mean why should chargers be so different: they must be able to handle the electricity from whatever the national grid, but that’s about it.

In terms of common sense this was always a disgrace, certainly a two-fingered salute to the consumer. In green terms it is a staggering waste. Marco Caputo, an Italian member of the European parliament, recently quoted research pointing out that every 20 months, between 48 million and 51 million mobile phone chargers become obsolete. Now while I’m sceptical about figures from reports, I do know that we’ve all been using multiple chargers since the advent of mobile phones and no matter which way you cut it, that now means hundreds of millions of phone chargers, all using precious copper wire and polluting metals are lying around or buried in landfills.

It was probably one piece of green news that got lost in the usual politicking over carbon emissions or solar power deals. The International Telecommunications Union, not a collective of China’s phone operators, but the UN agency handling global information and technology communication issues announced it had adopted an energy-efficient one-charger-fits-all new mobile phone solution.

The standard it is aiming to use will be based on input from the GSM Association, the most common technology found in mobile phones even in Asia. It predicts a 50% reduction in energy consumption when the charger is just left plugged in (yes it uses power even then), and a subsequent reduction of 13.6 million tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Not to be sneezed at.

The ITU is currently lobbying to get into the draft agenda at the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen in December, but will first go to other climate talks in Barcelona, next month. Its announcement came after a June announcement that the EU had manufacturer agreement on it and it would become law.

Okay, June to October for the ITU to adopt it is pretty quick as far as lumbering UN institutions go. But it still has to get onto the agenda for Copenhagen and you can bet your bottom dollar that someone will object – those with manufacturing plants perhaps?

The question should be why has it taken so long for such an effective ‘green’ policy that helps consumers and is technically easy well over a decade to be introduced. I bitched about the problem in the mid-90s!

There are lots of answers to ‘why’, I have no doubt but the fact is that we should not be taking so long for such simple solutions with such huge impacts on the globe as highlighted in another small unnoticed story. The British Meterological Office has released a poster highlighting some of the impacts that may occur if the global average temperature rises by 4°C above the pre-industrial climate average. Developed using the latest peer-reviewed research, the poster (in PDF form) has some harsh warnings, including for Asia.

  • Wheat and maize yields reducing by 40% in China and India, among others.

  • Decrease in soybean yield in southeast Asia

  • A decrease of up to 30% of rice yield in Indonesia, China and India

  • By 2075 rising sea levels will flood over 150 million people per year, three quarters of whom would be in Asia

  • Half of the Himalayan glaciers would be reduced by 2050 affecting 23% of China’s population that depends on those waters for the dry season.

We really all have to speed up implementation of green ideas… it shouldn’t take over a decade to change a phone cable.