- Get people to donate old cell phones to a recycling company
- Get recycling company to assign each phone a value
- Use value to trade for refurbished phones
- Donate refurbished phones to clinics in developing countries to use for sending health-related text messages
- Good begets good
Phone Riff: Hope Phones, Healthy Texting, Conflict Minerals, Ecological Intelligence, Blue Sweaters and Doing the Right Thing
Hope Phones is one of those “Gosh, yes!” ideas:
If cars and trucks could reproduce, they would surely rank as the planet’s dominant species. From the tiniest Tata Nano to the most massive of monster mega-trucks, guesstimates for the the global fleet now approach, if not exceed, one billion. By mass and weight, humans were left in the CO2-laced dust a long time ago. Nothing in the history of history, short of an asteroid, has ever had such a speedy and profound global impact. It is a car & truck world. And we have to live with it.
Or at least try to make the best of it.
Last week, the World Health Organization ratcheted up its pandemic rating for swine flu (aka H1N1) all the way to an unprecedented “pandemic imminent” level 5, with a top-of-the-chart 6 considered inevitable. Was it time to wear masks? Stock up on Tamiflu and canned goods? Update wills? Pull out old high school lit-class copies of The Decameron?
Well, no. At least not yet. Plenty of people got sick, but is was mostly run-of-the-mill seasonal flu-style misery. Fevers, aches, pains, head-aches, gastrointestinal woes. In the jargon of the public health set: “mild.” Yet swine flu remains an imminent pandemic and will likely be once all the cases are tallied up.
What’s wrong with this scale?
Quite a few things, it turns out. But the biggest complaint from doctors (including my neighbor, a hospital administrator at a major medical center in Chicago) has been its emphasis on viral spread rather than severity of illness.
A week has passed since the World Health Organization convened its first emergency meeting to deal with menacing new flu virus thought to have sickened thousands and killed dozens of young Mexican men. New cases continue to tally up around the world (15 countries so far) and the virus is spreading person-to-person. The outbreak has been ranked at an unprecedented level 5 (out of 6 ) on the WHO’s pandemic scale. But for now, at least, it appears the world has dodged a bullet. Most cases are non-lethal, if not exactly mild. This is not 1918 Spanish flu redux. Yet. And if it does mutate into something more dangerous, we now have viral “seed stock” and a battalion of scientists working around the clock on a vaccine.
So what has been learned by this apparent near-miss?
The most important take-away may just be what a near miss it has been. Factory farms – aka Confined Area Feeding Operations, aka CAFOs – have been royally “outed” as a major threat to global public health. And thanks to the web (Twitter in particular), it is not going to be easy for special interests to duck hard questions and discredit sources.
The TrackerNews Project was a demo aggregator I developed for InSTEDD, an independent spin-off of Google.org's humanitarian practice. It covered health issues, humanitarian work and technology.