Monday, November 27, 2006

Infectious and Deadly Disease - The Litter Bug

My current night reading is a book called Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins. I received it a while ago as a gift and I have been slowly digging throught it. The book is very heavy on statistics and details of the sad and wonderful things going on in the world’s industrious zones. I want to share today with all my readers some insights from the book that made my eyes open wide.

The context of the text, I am canting, is from the chapter dedicated to the problem of waste. Selected industrial plants were used as examples of how waste was treated and the innovations that occur. This section though is about the problem of waste and the statistics.

“In 1990, the average American... moblized a flow of roughly 123... pounds of material a day - equivalent to (250 million) semitrailers loads per year. This amounts to 47 pounds of fuel, 46 of construction materials, 15 of farm and 6 of forest products, 6 of industrial minerals, and 3 of metals of which 90 percent is iron and steel.” “...daily activities emit(ted) 130 pounds of gaseous material into the air”. “In addition, the person’s daily activities required the consumption of about 2000 pounds of water that after use is sufficiently contaminated that it cannot be reintroduced into marine or riparian systems.” “Total annual wastes in the US, excluding wastewater, now exceed 50 trillion pounds a year.”

These numbers are kind of nuts, when you think, not what you are throwing out, but how everything around you has a waste value. It is a shocking realization. If you look below at my past blog postings I talked about seeing things through Emergy Glasses. Now shift your focus to see the Dark Waste.

Physical waste is not the only thing we should be concerned about. The authors go on to talk about a more sensitve issue, society wastes. Introducing a way to measure society is very important and the book uses a social health index developed by Fordham Universtiy. “The index, which tracks problems like child abuse, teen suicide, drug abuse, high school dropout rates, child poverty, the gap between rich and poor, infant mortality, unemployment, crime, and elder abuse and poverty...” is how society can be measured in the light of progress and over the past years the index is continuously low. Diving deeper, the authors explain how the penal system in USA has enormous costs to society (waste) that “there is no cost difference between incarceration and an Ivy League education; the main difference is curricuum.”

The major point of society wasting according to the book, is the current industrial system “clings to the outdated assumption...(that) use(s) more natural capital and fewer people.” “A society that wastes its resources wastes its people and vice versa. And both kinds of wastes are expensive.”

There is more about waste systems such as: labour overproductivity (exhausted people working too much overtime) to how money is wasted, like highway accidents costing society 150 billion dollars per year. Seeing it in this dark light, only gives me inspiration to find a little solution to help.

I encourage discussion on any of of my comments, since I left so much out from the book.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add to your list the waste throught the war in Iraq, Vietnam.. etc... I think in lives wasted; the wasted lives left with unhealed wounds in the physical and in the emotional realm...
From the book " Hyperspace" There is an account of young and promissing scientists wasted in the Vietnam war. They were forced to go to fight an irrational fight in Vietnam...
Adding the wasted energy that brings destruction and now cities lay wasted ... we see this everyday in our tv's sets... I will keep adding... and I will read your suggested book... By Random Thoughts

12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are entering here in the realm of prophesy. We should ask ourself, where are we going as a society. Can we keep this ship afloat or is not worth the effort. Is it going to sink anyway?.

Weather it sink or not, we should do our best to keep this earth as clean as we can, as long as we can. So whoever is left with it, can enjoy it as much as he can.
But the problem is that all of us think in micro cosmos, in our own world, in my petty problems. We and many with us do not see the big picture that the book mentioned is showing in stasts. and numbers. We have to think wider and deeper and farther in time to comprehend the problems the earth is facing. In the limits of our limited minds we can't see the earth in 100 years down in time.
When I was younger the magazine Popular Mechanics portray pictures of the futuristic year 2000, with flying cars, and building in the sky, etc. something like the "Jetson" cartoons. That was about 40 years away in that time. The year 2000 came and is gone now. The only thing we got is the Y2K bug, who was not much of a bug after all. Those prophets were totally wrong. We need leaders with vision, with long far vision that can point to the direction and lead in the path of a cleaner earth and better life. Who is willing to take the mantle of the prophets and leads us into a cleaner land? Who is going to make today's society understand the importance of a clear vision for a cleaner earth. the leaders ought to tough it out and lead.

the brighter light

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the answer is stephane dion

4:57 AM  

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