Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"I've just reached a place where the willow don't bend." Dylan

The Global Musings of an Educated Man.....vol.100
It just hit me as I was typing this in like the blast of arctic air that is outside the front door. 100. I have reached the century mark. What began out of an act of encouragement from a true friend, you know who you are Mr. Thompson, has become so much more to me. It has helped me cope with the ups and the downs and the ins and the outs of mine and this crazy yet beautiful world's existence. I couldn't have imagined it a couple of years back that I would release 100 of my rants, musings, or suggestions, but then again, if you ever have met me with a couple of Stella Artois's down the hatch or tokes in the lungs, you would only expect it, I guess. I feel like Barry Bonds without the steroids, which makes me I guess feel nothing like Barry Bonds. Oh well. I digress yet again. But, enough about me.
How about Slumdog Millionaire? Yes it's a great movie, about over coming odds and obstacles and class struggles. But yet, it seems to me, only righteous and subtly ironic that the movie that captured the Best Picture award at the Golden Globes this year was Slumdog Millionaire. Could it be the zeitgeist of our times coming through our collective unconscious? A year of Global Economic Crisis and America teetering on the edge of a depression, it's fitting that the movie about a slumkid from Mumbai, who becomes India's biggest winner on their version of "Who wants to be a Millionaire" by relying on his own life experience, where it is all written, would capture such a wide audience. Could it be that we are all, or we may be becoming Slumdogs' ourselves if we don't fix the problems of our crumbling economy and look to the solutions of the future. And yes, we all want to be Millionaires. Don't we?
"So how can we encourage economic growth in a world in which natural resources are limited, not growing? One of the most innovative ways to think about this challenge is the "cradle to cradle" concept the architect William McDonough and the chemist Michael Braungart describe in their book Cradle to Cradle:Remaking the Way We Make Things. They argue that our current approach to recycling is that we take bigger and higher quality computers, electronics, boxes, and cars and turn them into lower quality, less sophisticated products-and then we throw them away. It is not really recycling, they say, but "downcycling"--just slow motion waste and resource depletion. In Cradle to Cradle, they argue that we can and must make every TV set, chair, carpet, piece of furniture, and computer screen out of materials that can be either completely reusable in other products or completely biodegradable, so that they can be used as fertilizer. All product components, they insist, can be designed for continuous recovery and reutilization as biological or technical nutrients--"eliminating the concept of waste."
"Cradle to cradle means, in counter distinction to cradle to grave, that we close all the cycles, so we don't just send things to landfills and incinerators, we put them into closed cycles so that we can use them over and over again....Like this chair that you're sitting on is aluminum and fabric. The fabric goes back to soil. The aluminum goes back to industry, so nothing is ever wasted. We eliminate the concept of waste--everything is in a closed cycle....We look at all these materials, (and) instead of worrying about where they're going to end up in a landfill or incinerator, we design them to be completely safe, so they go back to nature or back to industry forever. And importantly, this creates massive new opportunity for job creation---in our own country, because in the future, as labor costs begin to level out, logistics will be the most expensive thing and the local will become not only the most cost-beneficial but the necessary. So imagine, today there are 4.5 billion pounds of carpet that get thrown away every year in America. Instead of throwing it away to a landfill, shipping it to China, or incinerating it, what if it all could become carpet again because you designed a cradle-to-cradle product. Not only would you be able to change your carpet as often as you wanted without guilt, but you would be producing massive amounts of jobs in America."
"One day, McDonough suggested, all appliances could be leased-refrigerators, microwaves, television sets, even all cars-and returned to their manufacturers to be completely recycled, over and over and over: not cradle to grave, but cradle to cradle. Some variation of this approach is the only viable solution for economic growth in a flat world."  Thomas Friedman  Hot, Flat, and Crowded   (2008)
Until next time, open arms and open minds.

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