Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Missing Equation for Growth in the 21st century




One of the major topics of today's politics is our environment and how we have to save it. A big topic is global warming which has increased the earth’s regular temperature by 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1880. Two thirds of the global warming, however; occurred between 1975 and now. Not only does it increase desertification but it also harms the wildlife and the environment. 


A contributor to the harming of nature is greenhouse gasses. These harmful gasses are produced through manufacturing of products. After these items lose their value they are thrown into landfill or even our oceans without taking out the toxins, thus allowing it to contaminate our resources and environment. People talk a lot about how the environment is being destroyed yet the solutions are never brought into the spotlight.  "The best way to protect our environment is by manufacturing products with a forethought to how to reuse it as many times as possible while keeping the toxins separate from the biodegradable parts".


Reusing technology and other products can help save our environment as well as help create less waste and more jobs. Reusing technology creates a circular economy which is more efficient than the linear economy we use today. Most technology today is built on a simple principle that takes resources, makes products and dumps toxins back into earth. This is the linear economy. Recycling in linear economy is very costly and hard since the products technical and biological nutrients are mixed up. The solution to this is circular economy. It all starts with designing a product that can easily be torn apart and recycled by separating the products technical and biological parts. This creates less waste and increases the time one component is used. Linear Economy only add more waste to our world. For example the garbage is dumped into oceans creating piles of toxic debris killing any marine life. If it is not put into the ocean, it is put into landfills. This pollutes and contaminates our valuable resources. It's a cycle that has no winners. As well as saving the environment, circular principle has economic benefits too. Some brands, such as Nike, already use recyclable products to create their products. Nike takes plastic bottles and uses it to create polyester products. If we implement circular economy for consumer goods sector alone it would save $700 million. Not only does it save $700 million, it will save $1 trillion in annual savings for global economy by 2025. The circular economy both saves a lot of money and creates 100,000 new jobs in just 5 years. Implementing circular economy principles is the most basic and efficient way to protect our environment.


Besides the obvious effects of linear economy why should we switch over to circular when linear economy has been working for us? When we create products we take resources from nature; however, nature can't keep up with our needs, this is causing resources to become scarce and costly yet we keep destroying it by adding more waste to the environment.  The world’s natural resources are shrinking as we keep exploiting it without doing anything to preserve it. The world currently works on the principle of taking and giving nothing back. We cut down trees without replanting. We take natural resources and combine them with toxins so it's nearly impossible to separate and reuse it. Expenses on water and other valuable resources rise because it is getting rarer. If we stopped polluting our sources, we would have more clean water. By creating technology that can easily be reused/renewed we could use one phone to create five different products instead of creating six different products which will together create more waste than that one phone re-cycled. 


Reusing technology can help cut down deforestation in the rainforests which is a key contributor to the pollution and destruction of nature. This is just one example of what we can do with a phone after it has been used to its limit. Since deforestation accounts for 17% of greenhouse gases which is 4% more than the greenhouse gases emitted by all the transportation in the world (cars, planes, buses etc.) Making sure that the trees aren't cut down should be one of our main focuses as a society. The millennials have been taught about how many trees are being cut down every day and comparing it to football fields but we are never told a solution. If we are told of a solution then it's near imposible to achieve because changing people's habits is hard. Yet the solution to logging is much simpler than it may seem. Due to the quick growth in technology there is surprisingly good mobile coverage in the rainforest. By using simple phones that have been recycled, Topher White, a conservation technologist, created a device that can pick up on the frequencies of a chainsaw that a human cannot hear. The phone is in a box so it does not get destroyed and is powered by solar panels. The detection of chainsaws will send a location to the dedicated park rangers and they can stop loggers before another tree is cut down. Why use old phones when you can use new and more advanced technology? Well the old phones are anyways going to be thrown into nature because of our current linear economy creating more waste and pollution which harms the environment. Recycling increases the lifespan of the phone allowing it to help us save the environment. 


The main concern with switching too circular economy is the switch itself. The fear of switching is that the different parts of the product may be reused in different industries. This means the effort to make this happen is cross industries so everyone will have to participate equally and accept this change. If one industry were to control all the parts that can be resumed of a product they could increase the prices by a lot. This is a big risk that could possibly go wrong if one industry is not satisfied; however it is a risk worth taking to save our environment. If we don't try our best to save the environment it will not just harm nature but us humans as well. For example the rising sea level will destroy millions of houses near the sea, then the government has to take care of these people. Take Bangladesh, this is already happening there and though it may be far away from America we rely on the factories in these countries for our clothes and products. Prices across the globe will increase due to the shrinking resources and that affects everyone no matter who and where you are.


People are willing to help save the environment, all we have to do is tell them what they can do and take this big risk because no big change happens without a big risk. The biggest problems sometimes have the simplest solutions. Reusing technology helps create a more environment friendly economy allowing us to both use natural resources while still allowing nature to grow. Using technology already in place we can create ways to stop logging. This ultimately helps cutting down on emissions of greenhouse gases and save the rainforests. There are many people who are willing to help keep nature alive. Making technology that can be torn apart and reused will increase the lifespan of the components of the product creating more products from less resources.  The circular economy, which promotes recycling, limits the waste we put into nature saving wildlife as well. We must start now because resources are shrinking and we keep adding more waste/toxins to nature, not allowing the natural resources to replenish which creates a cycle that ultimately will harm us. 

The truth is that we only got this one world and if your mindset is that you won't live to be affected by nature than you are wrong. The natural world is a cyclical place, and we, humans, cannot change that no matter what. We can only learn from it and adapt to its needs. We have destroyed a lot of nature which cannot be replenished; however, we can do our best to save what is left before it's too late. Sometimes the biggest problems have the simplest solutions we just have to be willing to take the risk to solve it.