Our place on the Planet

Our modern world is producing some significant waste to ensure our historically comfortable lifestyle.

We are shitting in our own bed.

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Every Aspect of our Modern World Contributes to This

There is a lot of talk and attitude surrounding Greta Thunberg. She’s a presumptuous teenager speaking out, with a huge amount of emotion and theatrics designed to cause people to react. And react they do. Some applaud her efforts and delivery technique, and some cannot get past the tantrum style of some of her speeches.  In essence it’s about the waste being generated by, and the direction of, the modern world and the fact that the upcoming generations are going to have to deal with the results.

A lot of comments are directed at the girl herself for speaking out about her concerns, “Who the hell does she think she is, telling the world it’s making big mistakes!”  Some even seem offended by the fact that she is in fact a girl, some because she has Aspergers and some simply because she’s a teenager. A big one is the fact that when she is traveling she is using modern, expensive transport, calling it hypocritical in the face of the message she is delivering.

Never mind the reality described by her words, a lot of people are simply more interested in attacking the messenger. I’ve read quite a few comments about the fact that she is crying out about the problem and not providing any answers.

I agree in part, she is not providing any answers, then again she’s only a teenager and the only thing she can do is talk, much like the politicians. Though her talking is causing an uncomfortable shift in awareness and certainly an increase in general discussion. Whether it’s about her style of presentation, mode of transport or the topic itself, people are at least talking about the greatest threat our world is facing.

Personally, I think it’s way too late to shut the gate, the horses have bolted long, long ago.

The magnitude of the environmental impacts of our modern world are yet to be seen and personally, I believe it will be devastating. Every aspect of our current human world relies on the modern industrial machine with all of it’s excess and waste. The plastics, the power generation, the basics of our day to day life such as clothes, food, transport, shelter, all rely on that which is causing the problems we are witnessing.

And we, the human race, are not going to change that. Whether it’s our western culture or the asian and middle eastern cultures, the waste and pollution associated with our very existence is going to continue.

Every vehicle is made up of plastics, metals, paints and glass; every computer, every house, all of our convenient food supply, water and air-conditioning/heating, for those who have it; all of these things make up the world we live in and are contributing to the problem. Not just the end use, physical make up of these things, but the whole process of creating the individual component parts. We are continually creating and supporting the ongoing problem of pollution and waste. 

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Every Single Component has it’s own Processing Infrastructure

Look around your home, there is hardly anything in there that is not contributing to the problem. Nearly everything came wrapped in plastic, nearly everything is created from some basic raw material that required a lot of water and power to transform it into a ‘dohickymajig’. Not only get produced, but then delivered…from across oceans, along our railways and roads, and then finally into our homes. Even the little knobby piece of plastic that we press to make a writing pen work requires a lot of infrastructure just come into existence and when the pen runs out of ink?…It gets tossed away.

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It’s a Romantic Image

Humans used to use a quill dipped in ink which was very simple and renewable, if the quill got worn out just go a pluck another from a ducks butt and refill the ink pot. Now we use a disposable pen which is much more convenient…and wasteful, and very polluting in its production, but we are going to continue using the pen, that’s not going to change. Millions and millions of pens are being created and tossed away every day, all the fuel, all the water, all the raw material used to create that pen and all the pollution poured into the world to get it into our little hands is going to continue. We’’re not going back to using a quill and ink pot.

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Each Piece Created then Lost

This is just for a pen. Look around your home, office, workshop or backyard and imagine all of the steps required to get most of what you see into the position it’s sitting right now. The furniture and the kitchen wares, the tools, wall hangings, the paint on the walls hell even the walls themselves, all of it has contributed to our problem of pollution and that is not going to change.

Changing our individual, day to day habits may make each of us feel a little better but the problem of pollution stems from our modern existence and that is not going to change.

Even if we managed to clean up all the visible plastic trash that is wandering around right now, we would still be left with all the plastics and materials that are still in use today and are simply waiting for the time that they become obsolete and thrown away…which they eventually will. Even if recycled, at some point it will become unusable and then what? It has to go somewhere.

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The Conveniece of Plastic

It seems like a pretty bleak picture…because it is, this is the reality we live in. The plastics are already in our ecosystem at a micro level and the air is already tainted with nasty stuff that we can’t see, here in America most freshwater waterways are polluted to the point that there are signs up warning about eating the fish caught there. The Ganges River flowing out of India, the Mississippi flowing out of the American heartland, Hong Kong harbour, these are water systems that are dead and nothing is going to change that, it simply isn’t. Millions of people, if not billions, are so locked into their lives and world that the infrastructure wont allow it to change.

There are people, in positions of financial strength and influence, that are trying to find a way to change the direction of our modern wasteful ways, especially the plastics problem. I recently found this TED interview from Australia involving just such a person. Of course, it’s being financially driven, but that is another reality of our world, ‘if it doesn’t make money, it ain’t gonna happen’.

This is the link for that interview, https://youtu.be/I5g9-4fx60A 

If the link does not work, the title of the piece is, ‘A radical plan to end plastic waste ~ Andrew Forrest.

A significant point made by Andrew is the absence of waste metals laying around like we see with plastics. The big difference being recycling metal was made profitable. When big money can be made from the plastic excesses it will be swept up and back in to our manufacturing system, just like most metals.

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Profit Drives Motivation Creates Change

With the human ongoing population growth, at some point we will tip the scales against ourselves and it will very messy when that happens.

Eventually the global situation will change, I doubt humans will be around to see it, just like the dinosaurs couldn’t see what happened after they were ended, except for old mate the Crocodile, but the planet will adapt, and life will evolve to accommodate whatever is left behind. 

We can pick up trash when we see it and put it into the relevant bin, we can drive electric cars or ride bicycles, we can use biodegradable packaging and refuse to use plastic shopping bags and these actions make us feel good and that’s very important. But as for changing the huge structure of the modern world we live in, I don’t think we’ve left that option open, there’s simply too many of us.

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This is a Very Big Herd

And like any other species, as the conditions allow it we will continue to over populate, use all the resources we can until the system is overloaded, and like every other creature that has done the same thing, we will fall over and most will die out and the process will begin again.

So for the time being I for one will continue to be conscientious about what I use, what I waste, and what I can manage in my immediate environment, because it makes me feel good. And I will also continue to hope and dream that somehow the human race will change it’s way and stop destroying the very planet we exist on, but I seriously doubt it.

Time will tell.

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