One of the resources that darkroom based photographers use a lot of is water. If you think fighting over oil and energy is bad, wait until we have poisoned our ground water to the extent that we can't drink it anymore. I'm not saying that photography is to blame for that, but it will be a more scarce resource in years to come.
It's also a fact that I use a lot of energy to heat the water that I use in the process. Safelight, enlarger light, dehumidifier for the darkroom in the summer, fan for ventilation, sometimes a heater to keep the temperature above freezing...
Another thing not mentioned here is all the waste. Each roll of film we shoot has a byproduct, a cassette full of plastic and metal, or backing paper and a plastic reel. We also cut off a bunch of film that doesn't get exposed, and the packaging the film rolls come in - where does it go?
What about all the photo paper that goes in the trash can? In my darkroom there's far more paper in the trash can than in my pile of finished prints.
As far as digital photography is concerned, it isn't just the manufacture of cameras that we should worry about. Memory cards, camera batteries need recharging AND replacing, you need a computer to view the pictures and to 'process' them, and backup hard drives to store them. Don't forget the energy spent by servers in cloud based storage (conservatively, 4% of our nation's energy goes to data centers), and the energy spent by those who look at the pictures, and transmit them from one storage point to another to do so. If you want prints you need a printer, with consumables such as ink and paper. All of those items (except the paper) are made from materials that constitute a danger to the environment, (although I'm sure it isn't friendly to make inkjet paper either).
What's worse is all of the nano technology involved with making digital equipment. It's one thing to use it to manufacture, along with all the nasty chemicals mentioned by others, but when those items are destroyed, the nano particles are released into the atmosphere, because there are no filters that are able to capture them. We breathe those particles, and our body's protective system cannot filter them, so they go straight into our lungs and into our blood stream. You cannot protect yourself, and the worst part is, nobody knows how it's going to affect the environment; there is no conclusive evidence. But it's called 'progress' and we must continue to feed those who can pay for the next greatest gadget, right? Keep that revenue stream alive and kicking, never mind what happens to the planet.
Bottom line: If you use the internet for anything, you are as guilty as anybody else. Most people in the modern world are severe polluters without even knowing it, because of the distance thing that PE is mentioning. It isn't easy to NOT have a big negative impact on the environment today.
Digital was a complete new technology with a built in ready made market which rarely happens. And digital didn't come in ready to fly. They had, and still have a ways to go technologically as new advances are made which fits their business model perfectly.
Millions converted and the ease of use made millions more jump on the wagon. And you're right, that it will hit a saturation point just like analog did. When that happens, you change your business model but certainly not now.
So I'm missing what your point is.
My point is that digital photography is based on a business model which provides only a single source of profit. That is the endless sale of digital cameras with their negative impact on the environment. The impact is from their manufacture and the discarding of obsolete models.
The model for analog photography was based on a consumables market. Before digital cameras the main source of profit was from consumables film, papers and chemicals not from the sale of cameras. For the average person a single camera was used for years without any need to upgrade. The cash cow was the consumables which were bought routinely for these cameras not the cameras themselves. Modern films and papers contribute very little to harm the environment in terms of heavy metals and other pollutants. The same cannot be said concerning the manufacture of digital cameras.
Camera manufacturers made cameras (just like today).
Consumables like chemical companies made chemicals then and today I guess you'd say ink manufacturers make ink.
Consumables like paper companies made paper then and paper companies make paper today.
I grant you that due to innovation, the digital camera progressed so fast that they quickly became obsolete, but Nikon and Canon were churning out new and improved cameras every year back in the analog days.
Back in the seventies when autofocus and automatic cameras came out millions of older cameras got left behind when a lot of people switched to the new auto everything cameras. So throw away is not altogether new.
But I get what you mean. My Hasselblads worked flawlessly for 30 years and would still be working if I hadn't switched to digital.
But to use words like "photographic business model" is too all encompassing, as if there were a vast conspiracy by photographic companies to create obsolescence. It just sort of evolved and it will probably begin to slow down considerably since for instance my Canon digital camera is now 4 years old and the new improvements are not substantial enough to upgrade.
Comparing digital and analog is sort of apples and oranges business-wise because in analog it was a sort of self contained industry. With digital it is spread out to include all things computers, computer programs and even telecommunications. And as there are improvements in different areas it bumps up the change in another.
But as for the throw away mentality, I don't really care as long as stuff is recycled and reused. Don't forget back in analog days, nobody recycled anything, they just hit landfills. Even back in the 70s people would pour crap into holes not even knowing or caring it came out in the groundwater.
Jerry, you are absolutely correct in your analysis of the two business models.
The failure of Kodak at present is due to the fact that they based their model on digital printers and digital printing which just did not take off.
Kodak was a non-entity in digital when they tried to break into digital and they did it the wrong way, failing to see such things as facebook taking away from their adamantine model that Perez insisted would work. Trying to force the issue didn't work in the face of bad software and support.
Yes, they made other mistakes as well. I hope someone here remembers the comments I made in an interview on Inside Analog Photography.