Headline, September 13 2020/ ''' CRADLE -'' TRASH ''- CRAMPS '''

''' CRADLE -

'' TRASH ''- CRAMPS '''

A WORLD WITHOUT WASTE SOUNDS IMPOSSIBLE : But the vision of a 'circular economy' -where we use resources sparingly and recycle materials endlessly - is inspiring businesses and environmentalists alike. Can we make it happen? Can we afford not to?

Every year we transform more than 100 billion tons of raw materials into products. Less than a quarter becomes buildings, cars, or other long-lasting things. Less than 10 percent cycles back into the economy. The circular economy movement aims to increase that number and reduce the enormous amount of waste. 

A CENTURY AGO WHEN THE DUTCH WERE STILL EXTRACTING coffee, oil and rubber from their colony in Indonesia, they had erected a colonial research institute. Now it hoses assorted do-gooder organizations.

The one Marc de Wit works for is called Circle Economy, and it's part of a buzzing international movement that aims to reform how we've done just about everything for the past two centuries - since the rise of the steam engine, ''If you need to pinpoint a time,'' de Wit said.

An x-ray of our global economy :

Unlike natural ecosystems, which operate in cycles - plats grow in soil, animals eat plants, dung replenishes soils - the industrial economy is largely linear. 

On the diagram, fat, colored currents of four types of raw material - mineral, ores, fossil fuels, and bitmass - surged from left to right, splitting and braiding as they become products that met seven human needs.

Sand went into concrete apartment towers on six continents. Metal ore became ships, cars and also combine harvesters - in a single year we harvested 22.2 billion tons of biomass, just to feed us all.

Fossil fuels powered those vehicles, kept us warm, became plastic, became all kinds of things. The total flow into the economy in 2015 was 102.3 billion tons.

All good so far, amazing even, if you're the type to be amazed by human effort and ingenuity. It's what happens next, after our needs are met, that's the problem - the mother of all environmental problems, in fact. De Wit pointed to the gray fog in the right edge of the diagram. 'The gray fog is waste.'

In 2015, he explained, about two-thirds of the material we scratched from the planet slipped through our fingers. More than 67 billion tons of hard-won stuff was lost, most of it scattered irretrievably.

Plastic trash drifted into rivers and oceans; so did nitrates and phosphates leaching fertilized fields. A third of all food rotted, even as the Amazon was was deforested to produce more.

Think of an environmental problem, and chances are it's connected to waste. That includes climate change. It happens because we burn fossil fuels and scatter the waste - carbon dioxide - into the atmosphere.

This may sound ridiculous, but as de Wit walked me through the numbers that morning, it felt like an epiphany. There was a unifying, exhilarating clarity to that wonky diagram, to the way it defined the task. Sure, it said, the threats we face are multifarious and overwhelming.

Sure, they're planetary in scale. But really, to get along on this Earth, we must do just one thing : Stop wasting so much of it. De Wit pointed to a thin arrow that circled back, from right to left, along the bottom of the diagram, representing all the material we'd managed to capture through recycling, composing, and so on. It was only 9.3 billion tons : just 9 percent of the total.

The ''circulatory gap,'' as de Wit and his colleagues it when they presented their report at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2018, is relatively new in human history. It dates to our industrial use of fossil fuels in the 18th century.

Until then, most of what humans did was done with muscle power, whether human or animal. Growing things, shipping things took hard labor, which made them valuable. Our limited physical energy also restricted how big a dent we could put in the planet.

It kept most of us very poor, however.

Cheap fossil energy, concentrated by geologic time and pressure in seams of coal or pools of oil, changed all that. It made it easier to extract raw materials anywhere, ship them to factories, and send the merchandise everywhere.

Fossil fuels exploded our possibilities - and the process keeps intensifying. In the past half century, while the world's population has more than doubled, the amount of material flowing through the economy has more than tripled. 

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Global Economy and Trash, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Robert Kunzig.

With respectful dedication to the Leaders, Grandparents, Parents, Students, professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

''' Future - Feature '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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