More than a decade ago, maybe as much as 2 decades ago I heard of some European automobile manufacturers taking responsibility for the materials used in their vehicles, by way of recalling all end of life vehicles and recycling every single component. Now I don’t know how accurate the story was, as it was second hand information at best when I received it, and I can’t even remember where I heard it. But it gave me an idea.
More than 5 years ago I started suggesting ( and publishing ) the idea that manufacturers should be made to show technical cause for the use of any and all non-biodegradable and/or toxic materials — ie: they should be required to show that materials are chosen for technical not economic reasons, so that the best materials for the job are used, even if something else is cheaper, where those cheaper options are toxic and/or non-biodegradable — as this would ensure the maximisation of materials innovation for biodegradable and non-toxic options.
Secondly I argued that even where technical cause could be shown for the use of non-biodegradable and toxic materials, they should next have to show a lifetime management plan for all materials used;
— such that:
- materials recaptured are continually recycled until eventually returned to Earth in a form manner and location, not significantly different in ecological consequences of their presence, as compared to where they were originally taken, in order to ensure minimisation of ecologically harmful consequences of such return to Earth;
- the proportion of materials not recaptured and returned to Earth cannot collectively — across all global users of that material — build up in the environment faster than its capacity to break them down;
- the proportion of materials not recaptured and returned to Earth cannot collectively — across all global users of that material — do ecological damage in the environment faster than its capacity to heal and regenerate.
Now I read an article ( here ) that says an economic meeting at Davos has discussed something similar ( but likely less an extensive responsibility ) for manufacturers to recapture and recycle materials.
OK … so let’s think about that. We’ve been pumping all this shit into the environment for decades and centuries at an ever increasing pace, we’ve known about many of the problems for almost as long, we’ve had the solutions suggested by many people over decades ( for free in many cases, these people weren’t paid to come up with nor share the ideas ), and now decades later it’s finally being discussed in a meeting of the kind of powerful pricks whom actually have the money and influence to see it done.
Where the fuck were you guys or your predecessors decades ago? Centuries ago for that matter.
This is the problem with capitalism, it has a total inability to think rationally and honestly ( as a sociological construct ), until things are too damn late, and when it finally does start taking stuff seriously, it’s too little too late.
Why is that?
Well let’s use Star Trek for the answer:
- who gets to demand the laws of physics change to suit their needs on The Enterprise? The captain.
- who gets to ignore science in order to make money in enterprise? Business leaders.
- who gets to remove the captain from duty when he’s unfit to command? The ship’s medical officer.
- who gets to remove business or political leaders from power when they’re fucking the planet? No one, they own everything.
Please don’t waste anyone’s time arguing that we get to have fucking elections … when has that ever changed things where money and power wanted to prevent the change?
Currently they’re just discussing this, and if you have a read of the article mentioned and linked above, what you’ll see is that even if they implement their plan, it’s not a very stringent set of rules like the one I suggest, it’s got holes you could drive a bus through, they’re not suggesting to pay enough taxes to give governments the power to enforce it — which even if they did would be imperfect enforcement — besides all of which, they’re still ages away ( many years at least, if not more than a decade or two ) from getting anything actually happening towards such a set of goals.
Think about that:
- We’ve already caused the extinction of more than 50% of species of just about everything;
- We’ve already caused the destruction or pollution of more than 50% of the planet’s ecosystems;
- We haven’t slowed down the rate of destruction and killing, and to the contrary it has accelerated;
— how exactly is this an urgent and prompt response to a critical problem?
That’s right, it isn’t one.
By the time anything is actually done about this, and by the time what is done has the chance to gain any momentum — assuming the rates of destruction keep trending in the directions they’ve been going, including their trends of variability — we will likely have crossed the threshold of 60%+ of natural species and ecosystems destroyed killed or polluted, even possibly crossing the threshold of 70-80%.
Where do those numbers come from? Well to a degree yes I’m pulling them out of my arse, but fortunately my arse has a better education than many people. The species extinction rate for example has accelerated such that we’ve caused as much extinction in the past 2-3 years as the previous 2-3 decades, and very little has been done about it despite massive protests and social movements around the world … quite to the contrary of public demand, national parks on land and in coastal waters have had their protections eroded ( in those few places where they even existed ), and the economic pressure to exploit them further has only intensified.
Meanwhile whom do we have holding political power? Well there’s a bunch of ideologically insane bigoted and imbecilic fascists in power, some with better hair cuts than others, but all of them doing really fucking stupid things.
What about economic power, who holds that? The exact same people for the most part.
Where exactly is this massive change required going to come from if the status quo hasn’t altered significantly? You really think they’re going to affect massive change in a positive way now? These people in power for the most part barely seem to care, and even where they do they barely seem to understand the problems, and they clearly haven’t a clue about the solutions EVEN WHEN other people figure it out for them and tell them the answers for free.
Ecosystems depend on diversity, size, density, environmental conditions ( weather etc. ), and resources ( water and minerals ) for their stability and health — they also rely on adjacent ecosystems which influence them by proximity with respect to influencing weather, but also by providing alternative habitat for species in the case of such things as fires — but now our global ecosystems are increasingly sparse, isolated, and under increasing natural and anthropogenic stresses.
Without the things our ecosystems rely on, they’re under increasing threat of further decay and eventual collapse, which can happen quite suddenly. Imagine for example when the rain forests dry up, and the pollution within their boundaries is now exposed to water starvation, how do you think they’ll cope with that pollution when there’s no more water to wash it away or dilute it? Any such areas will just die, they won’t even be left with a savanna of dry scrub, then the soil will erode without roots to hold it together, and an infrequent but large flood will wash all that pollution into the ocean ( as it still won’t have broken down ), where it will kill fish and whales.
The point is that capitalism doesn’t typically handle anything unless there’s a profit attached, and even then it handles it badly, plus it holds power in the hands of the few instead of the many, so it cannot possibly even begin to handle all the things it must, even if it wanted to ( which it clearly doesn’t ).
We have already seen it, and you’re going to see it more, but the acceleration of our ecological problems is well under way, and so far the insane ideology of capitalism has mostly decided ( or so it seems ) that it will “solve” the problem by killing people — ie: reduce demand and resource consumption by culling the population through war, which of course is not a solution at all, and will only make things worse.
If you trust this economic paradigm to serve your interests, you’re a fool.