Our Vacuous Resource Policy – An Analogy

by Adam


Imagine this: there is a crime wave of homicides in your community. People are being shot all over and bodies litter the streets. The newspapers and talk radio are obsessed with it. But what are they talking about? They are universally lamenting the waste of bullets. How much the bullets cost, how the money could better be spent on education or health care and, this is the kicker, how the bullets lying around everywhere are a toxic threat because of the all the lead poisoning they are leading to.

ClickonZWThe main solution being put forward is to make bullets out of iron so they would be cheaper and non-toxic and to organize teams to pick up the bullets to save them for scrap iron. The bodies are just picked up by roving garbage teams.

This is crazy, right? Why so? Only one reason. We are socialized to think of human beings as being very valuable – more so than bullets. We birth babies after nine months, we feed and diaper them, we raise them, we educate them and we locate our parental dreams in them. We may be told that human bodies are just $3.58 worth of simple chemicals but we know that is absurd. No one creates a human body in a lab for $3.58. Humans cost millions of dollars in loving attention, in careful nurturing, in tailoring and adjusting and treating. It is the assembly of those chemicals where the value comes from, not the mere simplicity of some simple chemicals.

The point of this story is that this is a perfect analogy to the way we treat resources in this world. From the cavalier extraction of the world’s raw materials to the wasteful designs we apply to the quick obsolescence of highly tailored and assembled products to the garbage collection and the destruction – this is not a rough analogy, it matches in every detail.

The only difference is one of our collective mental states. In the case of humans, we (still) just assume they have a strong value due to everything they represent. In the case of a smartphone or a jet plane, we cannot look behind the most superficial aspect of them. We have been trained by the garbage industry to see them only as deteriorated physical objects with no value other than as disjointed, disconnected physical materials such as scraps of glass, steel, copper or nylon. We completely miss the forest – the assembled, functioning ecosystem – for the trees – the disconnected parts.

The recyclers insist that the bullets are the only items worth harvesting. As to the bodies on the streets, well let’s compost them but let’s forget about them as humans. Nurturing, creation and assembly are not accorded any value. In fact, let’s be very progressive. Let’s remember that some of the bodies contain expensive pacemakers, titanium plates and artificial joints. We need to grab those too to smelt them down into metals. And the toxic lead? Isn’t that the real level of discourse for garbage dumps? Don’t you hear endless fear mongering about toxicity, while the real waste is swept under the rug? As for the bodies, they are too organic, too hard to capture any value from. We can’t find a recycling market for them.

In this analogy, even the composting is not considered as a way to return nutrient values to the soil but as a way to get rid of the bodies. There is a huge difference in the outcome. In the first case, a high value compost is created which actually enriches soil. In the second case, every kind of inappropriate additive is thrown into the compost pile, especially mountains of chipped wood so the final product is virtually unusable. This is what happens today when garbage companies are allowed to dominate the composting business.

In this analogy, the raising of children into adult humans is analogous to the assembly of raw materials into complex product assemblies. The disdain for the humans is analogous to our disdain for the inherent value of discarded products. The bullets and bio-joints are the analogy of the scraps of raw materials collected for recycling. The reason the analogy informs is that we are built to value humans but are built to feel unconcern for products. The contrast is clear, but invalid. There are times when killing humans is considered patriotic and desirable but not normally. On the other hand, there is an immensely greedy and profitable industry which denigrates the value of products for its own profit and their propaganda is everywhere.

Could the analogy be closer? What if the bodies were not human but were dogs (feral), wolves or deer (culled) or rats (exterminated)? What will it feel like when there are ten billion humans on the planet and too many everywhere? Those bullets might take on a new value to some people. Soylent Green anyone?

For now, the humans have intrinsic value in a healthy society. But in this wasteful, sick society, the products are still regarded as annoyances. What are YOU going to do about it? Learn from this analogy? Or are you just going to continue eagerly making use of your capacious garbage can to help the garbage industry in their mad rush to strip the planet of every raw material, including water and soil, until your environment is sterilized? Just because the mainstream media aren’t sounding an alarm, doesn’t mean you can’t. The function of recycling is to put you to sleep, so that you don’t notice that there is anything wrong. Don’t fall for it.