Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Recycling Earth

"The recycling that I mentioned here is not the process of birth and death. This recycling comes between birth and death. In other words, it deals with the ‘code of conduct' of humanity when it arrives in this planet as a new born baby till the period of departure through death. We must live the life in this world with the realization that we are only travelers for a time being and we must maintain the sanctity and preserve the natural resources of this planet by ensuring a bright future for new arrivals which will be coming during and after our departure."

By Abdul Basit,

With the economic crisis that has gripped the world nations due to euro zone and the new report of US State Department of Energy stating that the carbon emissions in the environment have vastly increased in 2010, the world is passing through a critical stage. At the recent ECOQ exhibition and conference on environment in Qatar, Jean Audouze, President of France UNESCO said that at the beginning of 19th century, the planet had only 1billion human inhabitants. It is estimated that by next month there will be 7 billion people on Earth (which we have already attained this October), and by 2050 there will be 9 billion. “If every human being wished to live with the standards of American people, we would need seven Earths to support this amount of people. If every human being wanted to live in the same standards of a European, we would need three Earths to support all those people.”

With the growing population and developing countries emulating the path of developed countries in unsustainable and exploitative economic development, we will soon find ourselves in a situation where this planet is not enough for fulfilling our consumerist desires. Hence, how can we save the humanity and this earth from the greed and consumerism and ensure a balanced, sustainable and eco-friendly economic growth. This thought hounded me and resulted in the development of a new concept, ‘Recycling Earth'.

We have hitherto heard of waste management system by waste hierarchy of 3 R's namely, reduce-reuse-recycle (there also two additional R's that are incorporated recently like recover and rethink). The aim of this waste management hierarchy is to extract the maximum benefits from the used materials and reduce the amount of waste to minimal. As for recycling which is the third aspect, it is the process of converting used materials into new products to prevent the wastage potentially useful materials. These materials include paper, glass, plastic, metals, electronic...etc.

By the concept of ‘Recycling Earth' we can include the following three aspects:

1) Recycling land, water and air
2) Recycling Humanity
3) Recycling Economy

Being the only habitable planet in the universe, our earth, which is blessed with vast and varied landscapes and bio- diversities, should be protected in all respects to ensure the existence of the humanity and well-being of the future generation. Hence we have to preserve the land, air and oceans and prevent it from damage and pollution. Following are the brief details of how we can recycle land, water and air.

a) Land : Growing population, spreading urbanization, deforestation, industrialization, desertification, disposal of waste and unsustainable method of agriculture: have all negatively affected our land. Many of the islands and coastal areas are in the brink of disappearing due to rising sea levels and melting glaciers. The climate change has affected the carrying capacity of this planet and erosion and soil degradation are widespread. Taking into the consideration these factors, we have to find ways to recycle or reutilize the land that has been negatively affected and at the same time preserve the forests and other natural resources from extinction. We must also try to retrieve brownfield and superfund lands (these are terms used in US for unused and contaminated lands). Many new techniques have been developed to clean up the contaminated lands like soil vapour extraction, bioremediation, in situ oxidation and phytoremediation. However, further research and development is required to develop more sophisticated methods. Immediate actions must also be taken to save many islands from rising sea levels. Read More