Fight to Repair Weekly: Week of December 5, 2022

Climate change isn’t killing the planet. Runaway consumption is. Also: Sirrius XM flaw exposes vehicles to remote attacks. And: Subaru sued over collecting biometric data without permission.

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Growth, not climate change, hurting environment today

While we are seeing the impacts of climate change today, the chief cause of biodiversity loss (e.g. what will destroy the systems that humans rely on to survive) has been humanity’s production and consumption.

It isn’t climate change that caused a 69 percent loss in total wildlife populations between 1970 and 2018, according to a World Wildlife Fund study published this year. The cause is too many people demanding too much from ecosystems, or human overshoot of the biophysical carrying capacity of the Earth.

We are taught that with enough innovation (read: corporate profits) we will triumph over climate change. But what if there are bigger fish to fry?

While we are peppered with constant headlines about reducing carbon emissions (with solutions like renewable energy and carbon capture technology), looming destruction of our environment is being caused by something much more foundational – growth.

Humanity is consuming more than it ever has before. The material objects we rely on every day come from somewhere. Whether it be a pencil, a toothbrush, a building, or a car each of these objects requires “raw materials” and energy. All of that extraction and production comes at a cost: rising species extinction, rising C02, deforestation (see below).

The long and short of it is that in order to slow ecological collapse, production and consumption must be dramatically decreased. Most importantly, this needs to happen in the worlds richest countries.

Not only does this need to happen because it’s the moral thing to do, but very soon we might not have a choice. There is speculation that “modern lifestyles will end soon” due to the fact that even with green energy we won’t be able to sustain the amount of energy needed to keep up our current lifestyles.

So what does repair have to do with all of this? Repair is the practice of being mindful of the material objects in our lives. It fights against a growth-focused and consumption-driven future. Whether by interest or necessity, repair will rise to prominence when the cost of repairing a phone or car is up five-hundred percent because rising oil prices won’t allow parts to be shipped across the world.

One of my favorite publications that embodies this needing of less is Low Tech Magazine. It paints a world of less in beautiful terms, and promotes many of the same values as the repair community.

When we asked, Lily Baum Pollans, author of Resisting Garbage on the Fight to Repair Podcast about how she remains optimistic – she cited degrowth as a comforting concept.

A future of reduced consumption, while different, doesn’t have to be dystopian. Look no further than repair – the shining example of doing more with less.

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Other News

Sirrius XM flaw exposes cars to remote hacking: The long-running tale of cybersecurity flaws in connected vehicles got a new chapter this week, after a security researcher revealed a serious security flaw in telematics software made by Sirrius XM and licensed by leading automakers. Sam Curry (@samwcyo), a researcher who works at the firm Yuga Labs, said that he and a team of researchers accessed consumer information and executed commands on Honda, Acura, Nissan, and Infiniti vehicles using nothing more than the vehicle identification number (VIN) visible through the windshield of the vehicle to authenticate to the Sirrius XM telematics system.

Samsung’s new repair app: Samsung is reportedly creating a phone application to help users complete repairs without the help of companies and authorized repairers. The release date is unknown.

Plus: The company may be extending self repair to watches and ear buds.

Subaru sued over biometric data: A woman in Illinois is suing the car company over the fact that it scanned her face and eyes before she was able to agree to terms of service.

“Convenient” electronics replacements promote waste: Umar Shakir at the Verge tells about his experience with repairing a Nintendo Switch controller – and how a replacement was a worse option than repair.

Advocates push NY Governor on new bills: While the Digital Fair Repair Act sits at the feet of New York’s Kathy Hochul, advocates are pushing for other expansions of the responsibility of businesses to consumers:

Through extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation focused on carpet production, the state is trying to share the burden of fighting carbon pollution with the manufacturers of polluting products. The state generates 515 million pounds of carpet waste annually. Virtually no carpets are recycled in NYS and many contain unhealthy chemicals.

A bill to reduce landfill waste across the state through EPR on packaging. Like with the carpet EPR, the government is shifting the burden to manufacturers, in this case makers of paper and packaging.

New York City will debate a “Skip the Stuff” bill that would require restaurants, food couriers, and delivery apps from providing eating utensils, napkins, etc. unless a consumer asks for them. NYC has found 36 million pounds of single-use plastic food-ware in the city’s residential waste system.

EU repair advocates unimpressed with environmental proposals: Right to repair has been left off the latest round of circular economy proposals by the European Commission. Additionally, proposals to create laws holding businesses accountable on greenwashing (lying about being environmentally friendly) have been scrapped.

You can learn about how here about the European Union is influenced by corporate interests.

Resources, Events, and Opportunities

Podcast Episode: Why You Shouldn’t Leave Right to Repair on the Back Burner

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