In their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, American architect William McDonough and German chemist Michael Braungart conclude that waste and pollution are to be avoided entirely. “Pollution,” says McDonough, “is a symbol of design failure.”
The challenge is to re-evaluate the materials we consume and the way we manufacture products so as to cut down on waste. Restructuring the transportation system has a huge potential for reducing materials use as light rail and buses replace cars. For example, 60 cars, weighing a total of 110 tons, can be replaced by one 12-ton bus, reducing material use 89 percent.
South Korea has said that they plan on hunting endangered whales that are protected by a global moratorium. Just like Japan, the South Koreans are trying to justify this by claiming that the whaling is done for scientific reasons.
In 1982 the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an international body set up in 1946 with the mission to regulate the whaling industry, adopted a global moratorium on commercial whaling. But due to a loophole in the treaty it is possible for countries such as Japan, and now also South Korea, to engage in so-called “scientific whaling” – and this even though the whale meat will later on be sold in markets for consumption. While Japan hunts hundreds of whales in international waters the South Koreans only plan on hunting mink whales in their own waters.
It was during the annual IWC meeting in Panama that delegates from South Korea announced their whaling plans. “We’ve submitted a proposal to the IWC’s Scientific Committee to resume scientific whaling in our waters and will await the committee’s assessment,” a Korean official said.
In article after article, book after book, scientists and environmentalists have exposed the devastating effects of constant economic expansion on the global environment. The drive to produce ever more “stuff” is filling our rivers with poison and our air with climate-changing gases. The oceans are dying, species are dying out at unprecedented rates, water is running short, and soil is eroding much faster than it can be replaced.
But the growth machine pushes on.
One of our legacies from the last century, which was dominated by two world wars and the cold war, is a sense of security that is defined almost exclusively in military terms. It so dominates Washington thinking that the U.S. foreign affairs budget of $701 billion in 2009 consisted of $661 billion for military purposes and $40 billion for foreign assistance and diplomatic programs.
But the situation in which we find ourselves pushes us to redefine security in twenty-first century terms. The time when military forces were the prime threat to security has faded into the past. Read the rest of this story »
No previous civilization has survived the ongoing destruction of its natural supports. Nor will ours. Yet economists look at the future through a different lens. Relying heavily on economic data to measure progress, they see the near 10-fold growth in the world economy since 1950 and the associated gains in living standards as the crowning achievement of our modern civilization. During this period, income per person worldwide climbed nearly fourfold, boosting living standards to previously unimaginable levels. A century ago, annual growth in the world economy was measured in the billions of dollars. Today, it is measured in the trillions. In the eyes of mainstream economists, our present economic system has not only an illustrious past but also a promising future.
Earlier this month saw the publication of a damning report which highlighted the need for clearness and simplicity in UK government policy to give companies more confidence when investing in Green technologies, particularly in the electricity market.
The report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a UK based think-tank, shows that a history of the UK government blowing ‘hot and cold’ on carbon reduction plans has reduced investment in the energy sector despite the prime minister David Cameron declaring that he passionately believes that renewable energy is vital to the UK’s future.