Ecology


Ecology and Economics and Politics and Social Issues22 Apr 2009 02:06 pm

In the last few posts I’ve pointed out how incredible man’s progress has been over the last few centuries. Yet, I also mentioned that despite these accomplishments we are missing many opportunities for making human life more rewarding, happy and safe.

In this post we’ll some of the issues which surround earth day to demonstrate how our current economic and political structures are retarding and in some cases harming the quuality of human life. Many of these ideas have been dealt with in a more in-depth fashion in previous posts over the last couple of years.

I’m using the image of the Trojan Horse to conjure the image of something offered as a gift, which in reality if meant for harm. This image does fit with some of the less wholesome aspects of modern capitalism.

Consumption is a major aspect of capitalism, and sales is a major component of consumption. A salesman’s job is to make his product appealing to the customer. Successful sales are often dependent on convincing the customer of the need or benefit of the product. Sales techniques often involve the following strategies:

1) Deception
2) Misrepresentation
3) Propaganda
4) Distortion

These techniques are used to help cast the product in the best light while omitting or under-stating its weaknesses. These techniques are also used to induce a potential consumer into making a purchase that they have no need for at that time.

The modern drug commercial is a perfect example of the above sales techniques. In which the supposed benefits of the drug are depicted in the most alluring terms while the potential drawbacks to the drug are rattled off breathlessly beyond the realm of cognition. This feeble attempt at providing balanced information is only done because of legal pressures on the industry. In most industries and businesses there is no requirement to present any case but the one which makes your product or service look as attractive as possible.

This lack of truth and skillful misrepresentation even dominates our legal system. Instead of justice, the goal of lawyers is to win cases and make money. In a justice oriented system the focus would not be on guilt or innocence, but rather on a total exploration of the facts to best understand motives, conditions and extenuating circumstances. In a system of justice the goal would not be to deceive or influence the jury and judge, but to present an honest exploration of the harm done (prosecution) and the reasons for the offense (defense), and how to best accomplish both restitution and rehabilitation.

In our legal system even though a witness is supposed to “tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”, the sad reality is that both lawyers are trying to get the witness to tell only the part of the truth that benefits their client or purpose.  One would not have to look very deep to see how the need to make money and procure clients leads to this logical outcome of guilt vs innocence over justice. Yet. most defend this immoral legal system, because they take capitalism for granted and can’t even imagine a system of justice which is not capitalistic in nature. Justice should not be a service and product offered clients but rather a system which promotes the safety and quality of life of its citizens.

Let’s take a moment to review some of the ways in which modern capitalism limits or runs counter to our efforts to create a healthy, safe and sustainable environment composed of healthy and happy individuals.

A healthy and safe environment would have products and infrastructure which was:

Efficient
Durable
Enduring
Self-replenishing
Safe

Yet, we live in a system which promotes:

Over-consumption
Fads and fashions
Planned Obsolescence
Products which need repair
Unnecessary packaging and waste

Many studies over the past few decades have documented the role over-consumption plays in various psychological disorders.  Spiritualists and psychologists alike have pointed to high consumption of food, products and services as an ineffective means of an individual attempting to fill their emotional and psychological needs.

Many addictions and compulsions are routinely exploited by our capitalistic system. Which has many motives to keep the consumer unsatisfied and unhappy. A happy and sated person will have less reason to consume and will more often consume according to need.

How to get people to consume as much as possible has long been a science in our culture. Research scientists for many companies played with their products recipe and delivery system to maximize sales and consumer loyalty to the product. Researchers at coffee companies soon realized that the amount of caffeine on their product directly correlated to the amount of coffee consumed by the public. Too high a level of caffeine and the drinker could stop at one cup, too low a level and the drinker could lose interest in the beverage. Yet, a happy medium and the consumer would drink many cups of the beverage in search of the lift they sought from coffee.

The same balance of too potent and not strong enough was found by researchers of beer and cigarettes.  They could maximize their products consumption and the loyalty of their consumers by finding the right mix of addictive high and watered down delivery.

Likewise in many aspects of the food industry this science of how to maximize consumption has been quite fruitful. Diet soda recipes often induce one to feel more thirsty after drinking than before, inciting its consumers to drink can after can in a fruitless attempt to quench their thirsts. High amounts of sodium are used in many restaurants to heighten beverage sales at their establishments (beverages have some of the highest profit margins at food establishments). The list of cravings one can elicit through careful manipulation of recipes is quite extensive, and it is safe to say that most food companies and eateries use these techniques to maximize sales and profits.

Fostering over consumption is neither healthy nor good for the environment.

Capitalism’s dependency on profit makes if prone to encouraging over-consumption. From a capitalistic perspective neither the ecological movement’s disappearance nor its re-appearance in the form of the recycling industry is surprising.  The ecological movements concerns were harmful to the bottom lines of many corporations and industries.Yer, recycling has been designed and implemented in a way which benefits most businesses bottom lines.

First, it is great niche marketing. The recycling industry appeals to the good conscience of people and to the earth lover’s who have a tendency to consume less than the norm. A combination the recycling and organic food industries got the ecological crowd excited about consumption. A crowd which formerly avoided many forms of consumption based on morality could now be seduced to consume according to the same morality. In fact, this earth loving crowd, would be willing to purchase goods and foods at higher prices in their effort to be healthy and kind to the earth.

I know that I myself by products and recycle due to my desire to do the right and healthy thing. I do this, even though, I see through the Trojan Horse aspect of the recycling industry.

Our current recycling industry is a far cry from anything resembling a movement with ecological integrity. It is, after all, a recycling industry whose existence is dependent on making money. The recycling industry only returned because it adapted to capitalism and became a very profitable business. The recycling industry is not a charity, nor a humanitarian service, it is a profit hawking free market survivor.

While purporting to get rid of waste and inefficiency it is in fact dependent on ever escalating levels of waste to support its growth and expansion. If we were to become truly efficient, the recycling companies would be the first to go out of business.

In addition, the harms caused to the environment are often stronger than the benefits gained trough recycling. The recycling processes involved in newspapers and plastics are only two examples of the ethical dilemma the industry poses. Though trees are saved when we recycle paper the amount of toxins and hazardous chemicals put into our water supply in the process of stripping newsprint off of paper is greatly increased. Likewise, the amount of energy used and chemical damage incurred through recycling many plastics call into question it’s ecological benefits.

Could we make recycling more ecologically friendly. Yes, of course we could. But any movement adapting to our capitalistic system will have to make great concession to become profitable. In a previous post I talked of how we could replace most plastic container uses with glass. The two objections given to the use of glass by industry spokesmen are that reused glass would be  unhealthy and unsafe. Unhealthy because of germs and unsafe because glass breaks.

Well, it would be easy to create reusable glass bottles that were shatter proof or break resistant or make reusable skins made of materials which were effective and environmentally friendly.  One could also easily create sterilization stations at grocery stores, etc. which would tend to the germ problem in a safe and cost effective manner.

Yer, the reason we won’t do this is because it isn’t profitable. The reason we’ve refused to make cars more efficient is because it hurts proit margins. If we created true cures to diseases and medical conditions rather than pills which mask symptoms or depend on your constant use, then phamaceutical companies would not be profitable. Therefore, why would any research go into discoveries which would kill the business.

Capitalism depends on waste and inefficiency, for profit is dependent on waste and inefficiency.

In a system of competition each company produces more than they sell out of hopes of increased market share and their fears of running out of the product to meet consumer demand. Some estimates are that as little of one tenth of food that is raised and harvested is actually consumed.

Once again I will print the following logic chain and hope you ponder its validity.

PROFIT = Surplus = Excess = Waste

Capitalism is a system which we’ve outgrown. We need a system that thrives on efficiency, that rewards mutually beneficial solutions and actions rather than win/lose competition, and that encourages self-actualization rather than view individual contentment as a threat to consumption.

We need a structure which rewards people for being kind and compassionate rather than one that rewards artifice and views people as consumers.

As human beings, we have come along way, and our political and economic systems have contributed to this growth. Yet, we now are at a juncture where optimal growth and satisfaction require new structures. If not, our current path will further erode the quality of life of an increasing percentage of people all across the globe.

Jim Guido

Ecology and Economics and Poetry and Social Issues20 Apr 2009 05:22 pm

In the last blog I focused on the incredible progress mankind has made over the last few centuries. I mentioned how, for many on our planet, the quality of life has improved greatly. I also discussed how old belief systems such as human existence being based on pain and the fight for survival limit our personal sense of joy and contentment….. and how this negative view of life prevents us from believing in and constructing healthy social systems.

I am very aware that for many on the planet life in still rife with pain and suffering, and war, starvation and disease dominate the human landscape. Yet, at the same time it is difficult to deny we currently have the resources and knowledge to eradicate a good portion of this pain and suffering. The obstacles to our reducing humanity’s woes is more political and psychological than anything else. Which, as I mentioned before, I address fully the scope of the problem and its solution in my book Exploring Intimacy which you can read free in its entirety in the words section of this site.

Yet, in my world, and the world of many others on this planet living a life generally free of suffering is immediately available. I live in an enironement which is both convenient and sustainable. An environment in which my ability to be happy is mostly up to me and is not limited by outside forces.

Everyday I walk two to four miles through some of the prettiest scenery nature has to offer. Right outside my front door there are roads cutting through lush ever changing foliage which evolves with the elevation from valley to mountain ridge. My walks go along rural neighborhoods and even include a couple of horse farms. I’m surrounded by deciduous an evergreen trees and changing foliage which includes azaleas, rhododendrons, pampas grass, bamboo, various ivies, etc. Intoxicating sights and smells cradled amongst the sounds of mountain creeks and song birds. Wild turkey’s, snakes, turtles and the occasional bear are also staples of my visual world.

Though beautiful, this is not wilderness by any stretch of the imagination, for I’m less that 3 miles from a huge grocery store and less than five from the downtown market area containing all a modern man needs to live a life of convenience. Likewise, I am minutes away from quality medical services. I live in a community which is both safe and beautiful.

Is where I live a dying breed or could it become the norm? Can we create rural/urban communities which preserve nature while providing safe and technologically current life worlds?

While in recent times we have often taken paths which seem to be moving away from creating a healthy environment and a caring society, we still have many opportunities well within our reach. The dye has not been cast and our fate has not been determined. Yet, there is much politically and psychologically to overcome.

If we continue to place commerce, profit and the individual above health and kindness, we will not only not maximize our potential but waste our opportunities. If we continue to mistrust our neighbors and try to centralize and horde wealth we will continue to foster war and wasteful winner take all competition.

Capitalism and nationalism are not evil, but rather formats that have outgrown their usefulness and now have become counterproductive. The psychology inherent in the fight for survival has made us resourceful, resilient and creative. Yet, once again it is a viewpoint which has outlived its value.

Seeing real threats is an important survival tool, yet imagining dangers leads to paranoia and loss of freedom and joy. Many of the conflicts and problems of our modern world are self initiated and maintained. When one approaches a new situation with balled up fists and prejudice it seldom can result in friendship.

The biggest problem I see us facing is in our world psychology. When it comes to our planet we take the current political and economic structures as givens and view all other possible views as either too idealistic (utopic) or irrational. This is amazing when you consider how long we’ve had civilized life on this planet and what small portion of the time our current economic and political structures have been in play.

Just as we created democracies and capitalism out of systems which were antithetical to many of its basic premises, we can create new social structures once again. Our lack of confidence is our biggest obstacle. We can and will one day create societies which are more in keeping with the times and status of our post modern world.

The only question remains how healthy and adaptive the new structure will be. Without structure social systems and societies would lack, meaning, direction and predictability. Social structures can be confining or liberating, restrictive to growth or fostering new ideas. As I noted earlier, much was gained by our current structure, yet now it has become outdated and limiting.

Developing new social structures should not be about rebellion or utopia, but rather they should be viewed as the natural outgrowth of progress and human evolution. Viewing the potential of new paradigms by comparing them with old paradigms is often self-defeating. Healthy structures are born of common sense and the meeting of people’s current needs, not in meeting the needs and goals of the old paradigms.

Much of what I’ve said in yesterday’s and today’s blog will become more understandable if you go to the words part of this site and read Exploring Intimacy.

Here is a recent lyric which fits into this theme. The song is still in production and will not be on this site for a few more months.
To Your Health                                 12/3/08

I felt fear, but never dread
I’ve been scared, but never fled
I improve, with a critical eye
Sometimes it keeps me, from enjoying life

Keep the wind at your back
Don’t fight the world nor go on the attack

I felt joy, not exaltation
I seek freedom, amidst limitation
I feel pain, not agony
I yearn to grow, amidst harmony

At my core I seek more
At the same time I feel fine

I love to laugh and smile
for it has me feel so alive
feeling calmer each day
seeing more opportunities to play

let it go it’s OK
sit in silence listen and sway
health is a treasure most precious
all that’s sensuous, delicious and luscious

Well I feel lighter than air

Jim Guido

Ecology and Economics and Social Issues15 Apr 2009 07:14 pm

What mankind has accomplished in a couple of thousand years is truly amazing. The advances of the last few centuries are breathtaking. Modern industrial society with its abillity to mass produce and create new technologies and inventions which drastically improve our lifestyle, health and knowledge are awe inspiring.

Look around your house, in your closets, bathroom and bedroom and you see objects which kings of a few centuries ago could not hope to acquire. Clothes, appliances, machines, furniture, utilities and crafts exist at every turn. The infrastructure of even the most lazy rural community are efficient and dependable. Advances in communication, transportation, medicine, agriculture and science are occurring daily.

Go to any store and look around at all the objects. Think of how they are made and the incredible functioning network of resources, transportation and production we have fashioned.

Yet despite all of this wonder and activity there are many destructive and harmful tendencies that we not only ignore but foster. Despite having an increasingly globally interconnected community we still exploit our neighbors and rape the earth. Even though the US has had no real competitors on the world military stage for quite awhile, we still wage war, torture and threaten with great frequency.

Despite all our knowledge, resources and abilities our rates of murder, suicide and depression continue to increase. Individual’s are not necessarly feeling better about themselves or their contemporaries. Prejudice, hatred, fear and agression seem to be on the rise rather than on the decline.

In my book, Exploring Intimacy, which you can read in the words section of this website, I examine the reasons and solutions for our discontent. I urge you to read it. Even though I wrote it some 20 years ago it seems to become more pertinent every passing day.

We currently have the ability and the resources to create much healthier and rewarding social structures. Part of the probelm is viewing our current social structures as inevitable even though they are recent inventions. Another problem is our tendency to avoid beneficial social changes by immediately treating any suggestion as a utopia.

Just as science and technology are ever progressing, so it should be the same with human communities. Though there is no perfect society there are social structures that are healthier than others and that promise high rates of self-satisfaction and general feeling of happiness and contentment.

It is obvious to most that some home environments and parenting styles are more conducive to producing happy children than others. Likewise, most would concede that certain working environments are more conducive to productivity and worker satisfaction than others. In general people would agree that the successful functioning of any environment from a hospital to a school is highly dependent on the how it is run and organized.

Build a healthy user friendly structure and your odds of success and satisfaction are greatly enhanced. We would be well advised to put as much thought and energy into making our society as efficient as our factories and businesses.

One of the themes of Exploring Intimacy is to assess the harm and limitation done to our sense of joy and contentment by holding on to attitudes which our society has outgrown. The Fight for Survival and its attending fears, prejudices and priorities is found to be one of the major obstacles to our building and being open to a healthier society. Though we have the means and resources to feed the planet, and peacefully coexist the remnants of the fight for survival and its accompanying fears and prejudices make this goal seem idealistic. Likewise the personal angst along with the fear and mistrust engendered by the fight for survival makes it difficult for individuals to conduct their lives in a fashion which breeds happiness and contentment.

In my next blog I will continue on with this theme and discuss how our modern existence differs from the one of pain and suffering which beget our reliance on basing human existence on the fight for survival. In the meantime you might want to start reading Exploring Intimacy.

Jim Guido

Ecology and Economics and Politics21 Jun 2007 05:49 pm

As you know the last few days I’ve been talking about the short comings of the recycling industry. And a few of the bloggers out there are wondering why I’m hating on the garbage businesses.

They are saying things like, who is this Guido dude, and just because they pulled the plug on Tony Soprano doesn’t mean he can start dissing waste management. One wise guy even was reported to say to an associate, “Can you believe the coglioni on that little worm. Who’s he to talk about garbage. What could give birth to a twit like that? If he wants to talk about garbage, why doesn’t he just talk about his momma who I bet is an old bag?”

Hey there’s no reason to talk about my momma, the lady’s a saint. And anyway any guy who’d say that about my momma, well his momma’s got to be a bag lady. Yeah, I know I’m taking the whole garbage bag too far, but sometimes things have to be said.

Other bloggers gesticulate wildly as they snort, “who is this new boy. He’s barely even entered the game and he’s woofing like he’s some kind of superstar. He comes into our hood and right out of the box he starts talking trash.”

Now I’m new to this blog gig, and I’m just learning about who runs these streets. So far I haven’t been jumped by either the “scripts” or the “bloogs” but I do feel the heat coming.

Any way back to the whole profit makes waste argument. I still contend that our current economic system not only promotes waste, but is dependent on it.

If things in our society lasted a long time and were durable, our economy would fall. We’ve long ago accepted the premise of planned obsolescence. What this means is that we make things which have a short shelf life, so that people will have to go out and buy more stuff.

Sometimes we create this “planned obsolescence by making things which will break down and need to be replaced. Sometimes we do this thru creating an appliance or object that is dependent of constant servicing or on other devices which will have to be purchased often. Other times we make things which will be quickly out of date or out of style (ie:fashion and fads).

If we really created truly durable goods the Maytag repairman wouldn’t just be lonely, he wouldn’t exist. Just think of the millions of jobs and services which would vanish if we made things durable and easily upgradeable. In many cases we are talked out of fixing or keeping perfectly functioning machines and objects.

As they say necessity is the mother of invention. Go to Cuba and due to our embargoes and political pressures, you will still see cars from fifties tooling down their roads. Cars built now a days would not probably last as long, and for sure we’d be convinced and pressured into buying a new vehicle thru ad campaigns and even legislation if the bulk of us were to try and hang on to our old vehicles.

When i talked earlier this week about how we could make the recycling industry real by replacing plastic “recyclable” bottles with reusable glass bottles, I hinted at the number of people who would be out of work with the shut down of plastic bottle manufacturers.

Yet, those layoffs wouldn’t even scratch the surface of the total effect on jobs. Get rid of the plastic bottles and you get rid of all the jobs involved in design and advertising of the plastic containers.

I saw an article a couple of years back which talked extensively on the amount of waste which is generated by packaging. The article claimed that packaging makes up over 7% of all stuff that are manufactured. Now I don’t know about the real percentage, but it had me think about all the packaging that is involved in our culture. The bulk of those uncountable tons of packaging are not able to be reused unless they re-enter the marketplace after being toxicly and wastefully recycled.

Since almost all packaging is involved with the advertising and marketing aspects of products and corporations, businesses are very resistive to reuse. This is not only true of the packages sold in stores, but in the stores themselves. When a chain store closes down the building is seldom reused, more often it sits idle for years and years or is torn down. Competing chains almost never occupy that store, and often will opt to build next door to the vacant building rather than move into the existing site.

The major reason for this is that the buildings design, floor space and front are not their official design. The store name would not present itself the same, and customers would be forced to adapt to a foreign floor plan. The store isn’t a building but an image that advertises itself. This is just another example of how packaging produces endless mountains of waste and endless production of materials which have a unnaturally short shelf life.

The examples of how our society is wasteful and dependent of waste is endless. I will decline to expound upon other aspects of fad and fashion which generate waste. Instead I’ll leave it to you to find your own examples and write to me when you find them.

In most situations it is costly far corporations to manage their own waste. If my business is making cars or producing electricity, recycling the cars or the polluting waste caused by the use of coal would cut severely into my profits. Yet, those same materials can become the source of profit if my business is to recycle those waste materials. As I pointed out earlier the basic flaw of this system, no matter how efficiently it is structured, is that waste expands and does not contract in this system. And more importantly, the toxic aspects involved in the production and recycling process grow in a geometric manner.

From a logical point of view profit and waste are synonymous. Look at the following chain:

Profit = surplus = excess = waste

A profit is a surplus. In a totally balanced and efficient transaction their is no profit. A profit means more money was charged than the cost of the item.

So a profit is a surplus. Another word for surplus is an excess. And an excess being more than what was needed is a waste. At first glance you might discount this relationship and say that it isn’t true. Yet, I challenge you to think about it. I think you will find, as I have, that for every exception to this I find I can find a number of practical situations where this is true.

I’ll write again in a few days. My plan next time is to discuss how the game of monopoly can be used to talk about the real economy.

Ecology and Economics and Social Issues18 Jun 2007 07:07 pm

In the previous two posts I’ve talked about the limitations of our current recycling system and what would need to be changed in order for recycling to have a significant positive impact on the environment.

In this post we will look at how much waste is built in to the very fabric of a free market economy. Competition and choice are hallmarks of our free market economy.Yet, we often overlook the close relationship market competition has to the proliferation of waste.

Let’s say we owned a company that mass produced a product to sell to the public. The amount of the product we produced whether that be cars, books, furniture or appliances would be based on our anticipated market share.

Businesses do not want to limit their profits and possibly alienate their potential customers by under estimating sales and not producing enough of their product. This means that almost every manufacturer and business over produces. This excess inventory is of course waste.

The average company compounds the problem by either destroying the excess of the product or just letting it sit dormant. Sure many companies unload a portion of their excess thru sales and discounts, but at some point they decide it is more profitable to eat the losses rather than set the precedent of lower prices.

Each year uncountable tons of new and unsold merchandise is entered into our landfills and waste management system.

All the companies are competing for the same customer. Since they all can’t win, they all can’t successfully sell their merchandise. In the literary world how many books are thrown out of stores and warehouses to make room for the optimistic sales of new releases. The odds of getting hit by lightning have to be higher than producing the exact number of books to be sold.

The grocery market is a good example of creating waste in order to protect current and future profits. A grocer dealing with produce with a short shelf life faces this dilemma every day. When the bananas being sold at 59 cents a pound are getting a bit too ripe he needs to decide how much to reduce the price to move the merchandise.

Let’s say his research indicates that if he sells the bananas at 45 cents a pound he will be able to sell 80% of his remaining bananas. Yet, if he sells them at 50 cents a pound he will only sell 70% of the remaining stock. In order to make the most profitable decision he looks at the profit he will make on the two prices. In many cases he will end up making more money by selling only 70% of his stock rather than 80% of his produce at the lower price. Therefore, from a strictly profit oriented point of view it would be better to let 30% of his produce rot than 20%.

This fact of economics gets played out daily in products with both long and short shelf lives. Waste is an essential aspect of a free market and profit based economy.

Often times like in the example of the bananas the amount of the old product put on sale at a low price will be small to protect the profits of the new stock of the product. If everyone is buying the older bananas at the discount rate, than the new bananas offering the highest profit margin would not sell. This would cause the new bananas to not sell until they got riper and continue the chain of lower profit sales.

Likewise if the new unsold 06 cars were sold at a huge discount while the new 07 cars hit the market, it could hurt the sales of the new 07 cars which have the higher profit margin.

Now I’m not saying that these dynamics occur in every situation or that there are some people who will only buy the newest greenest bananas no matter what the price, yet it would be foolish to imagine that what was here described doesn’t play a major role in the excessive waste production of our society.

In tomorrow’s post I will give one last attempt at trying to demonstrate how our economic system is dependent on waste.

I hope that you all don’t view this discussion as a “waste” of time.

Guido

Ecology and Economics and Social Issues16 Jun 2007 04:59 pm

Before reading this it might be good to read yesterday’s post.

So why did the Ecological movement return as a recycling issue? And what is the net benefit to the environment obtained by recycling?

First it is important to realize that recycling quickly grew into a major industry. In other words recycling exists because it is a business, a lucrative business.

Like any industry it’s success depends on increasing profits. If you look at the statistics you’ll see that recycling has not decreased the amount of trash we generate, in fact, the amount of waste has skyrocketed since the advent of the recycling industry.

The ecological movement went underground until it found a way to become profitable, to become economically viable. Once altered enough to generate substantial profits it became the PR darling of many ambitious fledging businesses. This is not to imply that all of the participants in the recycling industry are greedy or inhumane, it only points out the realities of succeeding in a profit based economy.

A relatively small amount of waste material is recycled. Even if the percentage of waste being recycled were to substantially increase, it still would not mean that our society was becoming more efficient.

If we were to become more efficient the first industry to go bankrupt would be the recycling businesses. Their success currently depends on increasing amounts of trash and of waste. They are totally dependent on our society producing escalating amounts of waste.

Without increases in waste they would lack the growth needed to increase their profits and sustain their existence.

True ecological efficiency would strip the industry of a sustainable profit margin.

Lets take a look at the use of milk, water and soda containers as an example of how a truly ecological system would work. In our current system recyclable plastic containers are produced and sold to beverage companies to place their beverages in. The production of these containers is in itself harmful to the environment both in energy used to produce the plastic, transportation of the bottles to beverage companies, and the toxic waste produced in the manufacturing process in making the plastic.

The bottles once used are available to be recycled. Yet, the bulk of the recycled plastic bottles aren’t used as plastic bottles. So an endless stream of plastic bottles need to be produced. The process of making ex-plastic bottles into new plastic bottles would still entail more energy, pollution and toxic waste to be generated.

Yet, in every step of the recycling process profit is made by someone in the chain, and costs are passed on to the next person (business) in the chain.

So, what would an ecological friendly recycling system look like in the beverage industry?

Instead of plastic we could use bottles. The bottles would need to be sterilized, but that could easily be taken care of somewhere in the chain. One option would be for the supermarkets to have conveyor belts which would sterilize the bottles before you filled the bottles with the beverage of your choice. The beverages could be dispensed into the the sterilized containers by a tap much like you use to get your drinks at a fast food restaurant.

So why won’t we use this method? The main reason is that its efficiency would prevent a number of businesses from making a profit. It’s a simple technology which is hard to make profitable.

Tomorrow I’ll state my case as to why I think a for profit society (capitalism) is incompatible with efficiency and ecology.

If you ever want to become dissillusioned with the recycling process I suggest you do a little research on the process by whcih newpaper is recycled. The entire process of leaching newsprint off of the paper and how the paper is made useable again is extremely toxic and relatively inefficient.

As I mentioned yesterday, I myself, do recycle. Yet, I do so realizing that recycling is not a solution to either pollution or waste.

More tomorrow.

Ecology and Economics13 May 2007 12:57 pm

When one starts a blog where does one begin? There is so much to say, so many different directions to go in.

Today when I was uploading some chapters from an unfinished book of mine The Value(s) of Money for this site, I thought it might be good to go over some of the ideas in the book to help reinvigorate me to write on. Since it’s been years since I wrote the early chapters I thought a review would be a good start. So for the next few days I’m going to get myself, and you, up to speed.

The major premise of my book is that we are obsessed with finding and assessing the value of everything in life. We not only talk of the value of things, but also endlessly debate our personal and social values.

Value is obviously primarily an economic term, and it makes sense that a capitalistic and commercial society would place an emphasis on value. Yet, in The Value(s) of Money I try to examine how our preoccupation with value has effected not only our economy, but our politics, educational and medical systems, as well as our view of religion and spirituality. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a single aspect of our external and internal life which is not highly influenced, if not dominated, by our obsession with value.

Back in the late sixties and early seventies our society was flooded with a series of social movements. One of the movements had to due with a growing concern of the environment and the quality of our air and water. This general movement took on the name Ecology.

During the sixties one seldom talked about their values, instead one talked about their standards, morals, principles or even one’s ethics. The only discussion of values in this modern sense was by Cultural Anthropologists in their efforts to help us understand the desires and goals of societies much different from ours.

In the seventies this term was adopted by pop psychologists in an effort to help us understand ourselves and our behavior. Soon, we were introduced to exercises designed to help us “clarify” our values, and to help asocial personalities reenter society thru successful positive value change.

While our society quickly embraced the new usage of the word value, it just as quickly marginalized the ecological movement.

By the late 70’s the Ecological movement went back to academia and did not play an important part in the national dialogue. Some would point out that reality got in the way of the Ecological ideal. Economic stagflation, the oil crisis, etc. came to the fore and concerns for the environment would have to wait till better times.

In great part the Ecological movement re-emerged as a need to recylce. It became our privilege and duty to help save the environment thru proper waste management. Helping the environment became the responsibility of the individual. We were led to believe that if we, as individuals, recylced market forces would take over and corporations and businesses would be forced to be “green” and enviromentally friendly.

Tomorrow I will write on why I think the recycling movement is more myth than fact, and what a real ecological movement would look like.

I want to conclude with two final points. One is that I realize this entry was a little dry, but a little set up was required. Second, I want to say that I do recylce, but more because of personal ethics than in the net impact of recycling on the environment.

More tomorrow.

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