Happy New Year to all! For some strange reason, I am quite optimistic about this New Year — 2019.
My idea for #takethepower has solidified into supporting young new Politicians like Beto O’Rourke and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and nurture them with seasoned female politicians to create a more matriarchal society here in America.
Frankly, the two primary U.S. political parties: Democratic and Republican seem antiquated and our current situation mandates a more radical way of looking at our society, e.g., there is a massive south to north human and animal migration that is already underway and walls will not contain it, in my not so humble opinion.
Our ideas for Planned Relocation Communities can range from small scale to millions of people (existing communities as well as new ones) as long as they are located out of flood and drought areas and can be self-sufficient without relying on monolithic corporate entities.
Our Clear Springs Communities (CSC) venture in Kathleen, Georgia (New Atlanta) was not successful because the municipality was adamant about maintaining primarily single family home development and that is not the objective of CSC. At this point, a municipality would have to really want a truly sustainable and resilient community for us to get involved. My own focus has been writing novels about the future with the novella 2079 in its final editing stages. I am working on the covers now and hope to have it published sometime later this year.
This blog post summarizes some of the ideas I have had related to standardizing recycling practices worldwide through an international regulatory body that starts to manage the damage by implementing strategies to reverse harmful effects to our waters due to haphazard behavior and other consumer/manufacturer abuses regarding the disposal of all forms of waste, but most especially, the proliferation of plastic throughout the planet.
From hereon, I am going to use “I” rather than “We” in these blog posts as they are solely my ideas and I would not like the other board members of the NRF to feel that they have to agree with my ideas.
It seems that a lot of our recycling efforts have been thwarted by profit concerns so I have heard that only 3-10% of all plastic actually gets recycled and the balance ends up in landfills and in our oceans from storms and other weather events. Plastic laden materials appear to be low value recycling because they are difficult to recycle (e.g., bottle tops, prescription bottles, and plastic packaging of most kinds) and yield lower prices than very large pieces of high grade plastic that can be used easier and more efficiently recycled. A re-pricing of recyclables might pay more for currently low value plastic because it is very important to curtail the production and eventual introduction of micro plastics into our food chain.
To effectively recycle all forms of plastic would require a public subsidy because it promotes the public good. I am suggesting removing all subsidies for fossil fuel research and development and replace that public money with funding for removal of plastic from our waterways. To my knowledge, plastic production is petroleum based so it is only fitting that the cleanup of these materials should be the responsibility of the offending polluters, i.e., the fossil fuel companies and plastic manufacturers. If these companies are smart they will focus on alternatives to plastics.
A somewhat radical proposal would be for municipalities to outlaw all new forms of plastic and to subsidize true recycling of all materials to minimize stress on landfills and start to reverse the formidable problem of curbing ocean plastic infestation with respect to that very cool word, gyres.
In oceanography, a gyre is any large system of circulating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Gyres are caused by the Coriolis effect; planetary vorticity along with horizontal and vertical friction, determine the circulation patterns from the wind stress curl. Wikipedia.
The problem with the burgeoning plethora of plastic is that it is affecting ecosystems so that if we are not careful our food supply will be so hampered that we can literally starve to death due to plastic. So, the first step is to outlaw all new plastic production even if it means curbing economic growth. The next phase is to reverse how recycling value is priced. The smallest and most difficult to recycle like bottle caps, prescription bottles, excess plastic packaging materials eventually turn into micro plastics that affect smaller organisms that are food for fish and eventually humans. All the profit in the world is meaningless if you do not have healthy food to eat.
If we look back into the not too distant past, waxed paper was used to package meats and other foods we routinely now use plastic packaging rather than an ideal compostable biodegradable and/or recyclable form of paper. The same goes for bottle tops. Instead of the extremely hard and durable plastic bottle caps we can go back to either aluminum, steel, or some material that is easily recyclable.
Plastic was developed in 1907 so take a serious look at the damage it has done to our environment in the last 111 years. Steel can replace a lot of the uses plastics have usurped. Not that steel production is such an environmentally clean operation; it is simply not. Perhaps the scientists can figure out a better material. In my novella, 2079, I call that substance Transcendium.
An excellent presentation about the danger of ocean plastic contamination is contained in a 60 minutes presentation my sister, Patti, turned me onto a few weeks ago. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-great-pacific-garbage-patch-cleaning-up-the-plastic-in-the-ocean-60-minutes/.
I have recently started the due diligence process on a company called Oceanamatica.org that has a closed loop solution to the conversion of ocean plastic into plastic pellets that can be marketed to manufacturers of various products. The company is a charity and the solution, though seemingly effective, is not profitable in the traditional return on equity sense. Once again, if you cannot eat food because of microplastics it will not really matter whether or not the return is sufficient; no food = no existence.
As I have said in previous writings, I think we will all find out, sooner or later, that the profit motive is distorting our judgment with respect to resource allocation and that had been the demise of previous civilizations like the Vikings and the Easter Island people; they simply consumed all the food sources and perished soon after.
Resource capitalism, or sustainable capitalism, or natural capitalism (to my mind, all the same terms) is probably the right direction for our civilization to choose if we wish to survive as a species on planet Earth. We have to learn to work with Nature and not against a force that is far greater than us, as a species on a planet, in a solar system, in a galaxy, in a cluster of galaxies, etc.; that is, an ever expanding Universe. Al Gore is a very smart man but he is misdirected when he talks about saving the planet.
Recycling and composting go hand in hand with the concept of resource capitalism. The jobs of the future will involve tracking resources, ideally, rather than plundering assets like rare woods, animals, and land pillaging to grow sickening crops like palm oil that give humans diseases like diabetes and obesity.
To summarize, I am advocating establishing an international tribunal to oversee worldwide recycling, composting, reuse and repurpose strategies to better utilize such valuable assets as clean water, air, high quality food production, and ideally, renewable energy sources over fossil fuels. Banning new plastic production is a prudent measure given the widespread scale of plastic infestation throughout the planet. This cleanup will not be profitable in terms of traditional business school metrics but it is necessary for our civilization to survive and thrive, in my opinion.
As any good capitalist will tell you, if you factor in triple bottom line accounting (i.e, financial, social and environment factors) with respect to plastic recycling you can easily make all forms of plastic recycling have a 10% return on capital and that would be very attractive to impact investors. Penalize fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy and plastic manufacturers over non-plastic manufacturers. Take that money and bolster the returns on things like plastic removal from the oceans.
An open challenge to all businesses, large and small, is to develop packaging strategies that involve no plastic and have solutions that are biodegradable, repurposed where possible and recycled as much as possible. In addition to net zero carbon emissions for our built environment and energy generation practices we should be striving for a society where all materials are efficiently deployed and in an eco-friendly manner.