It's Your Environment Too The Environment, Waste Management, and You A Michael Decker Presentation Croatan High School Newport, NC, 28570
The Problem <ul><li>Dealing with our waste is a very costly and troublesome problem </li></ul><ul><li>It can either be incinerated or buried in a landfill </li></ul><ul><li>Both incineration and burying have problems </li></ul><ul><li>It affects everyone and everyone can stop it </li></ul>
How and Why <ul><li>Waste management has become a serous problem because dealing with waste before it becomes a problem often “harms” profits </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, many corporations have fought against efforts to curb their waste; and many citizens have fought it because they do not want to inconvenience their lives </li></ul><ul><li>Other, poorer nations, are more lax with waste management (for example, US ships are often deconstructed in India where laws allow children to deal with asbestos with their hands and dump it directly into the ocean) in order to promote business investment within their borders </li></ul><ul><li>They allow the problems to occur, hoping that the benefits of major corporations functioning inside their countries will outweigh the negative side affects </li></ul><ul><li>China, for example, has very lax environmental guidelines in order to develop rapidly </li></ul><ul><li>But why does waste management over there affect me here? Because, the world is a connected system. </li></ul><ul><li>Also, it is not just a problem over there, it is a problem over here! </li></ul>
So What... <ul><li>It is a fact that all landfills leak --- all of them. </li></ul><ul><li>That means that toxic chemicals and heavy metals are deposited in the soil and in the water. The world's waters are shared by all (yes, pollution in the Victoria Falls could potentially harm life as far south as Mexico). When toxic and heavy metals are in the soil, they prevent or retard growth or are incorporated into the plants. This could mean crops affected in China could harm people in America or cause a worldwide famine. </li></ul><ul><li>Also, landfills are often covered up. This prevents natural decomposition by blocking out light and oxygen. That means that something like paper could potentially take decades or centuries to decompose. Basically, we will run out of space to place everything. </li></ul>
So Why not Just Burn it...duh! <ul><li>Burning can lead to more immediate and dire effects. </li></ul><ul><li>Burning releases the toxic and chemicals directly into the air where they can be breathed in and lodged in the lungs or incorporated into the body. Additionally, incineration releases particulate matter (fine particles capable of being lodged into the lungs, causing chronic breathing problems and diseases such as emphysema). </li></ul>
So, I think I got it...but Explain to me Again how this Relates to World History... <ul><li>Easy – the answer is globalization. As cultures become more and more intertwined, these problems affect more and more people. As I said before, problems in Canada or China can affect people as far as Australia or Europe. </li></ul><ul><li>But there is also a second answer – the industrial revolution. With the industrial revolution came the advent of high waste economies and population growth. These 2 things coupled together take a serious toll on the environment. Mother Earth can sustain itself until a large group contributes multiple large problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Additionally, developing countries are less prone to curb corporate abuses Also, developed countries have a population accustomed to leisure. Their citizens are characterized by “affluenza.” They feel their wealth makes them immune to the problems of the world (someone else will fix it). They do not want their lives to be interrupted because of some whistle blower.because they need the investments in order to develop. </li></ul><ul><li>As in the past, people will shrug off responsibility for their actions, hoping things will just fix themselves (hmmm....does this relate to the fall of Rome). </li></ul><ul><li>People become content and complacent and do not think anything can harm them (China and the Mongols....) </li></ul><ul><li>Citizens feel that their government will take everything (and then came the rise of the welfare state....) </li></ul><ul><li>But most importantly, money talks. In all places of history, when it was more economical to ignore the problem, then people did. Not until they realized the adverse side affects did they act (colonization, feudalism, Han China). American history is fraught with examples of how big corporations controlled governmental policy. But citizens need to realize they have a voice and they can make a difference. </li></ul>
So what can be Done? <ul><li>Follow the 5 r's: reuse, reduce, repurpose, refuse, and recyle </li></ul><ul><li>Buy reusable things rather than buy things that can only be used once (i.e. a refillable water bottle, flatware, kitchenware...) </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce the amount of waste and amount of consumption you do; be more efficient with natural resources </li></ul><ul><li>Repurpose retired things for new things (i.e. tire swing, driveway made from old, unusable industrial products) </li></ul><ul><li>Refuse to buy stuff you don't need </li></ul><ul><li>Recyle....I think you know what that means </li></ul>
Hmm...Well, What else can be Done First, let's talk about the most feasible thing – recyling. Rather than dumping that television set (which contains numerous toxic metals in it such as arsenic) into a landfill, why not take it to a recyling plant where those toxic chemicals can be reused and that plastic casing and glass can be incorporated into new products. Also, we can choose to only buy products made from recyling. But what else? We can use the government to enforce recyling or more efficient use of natural resources. We can educate people on the harmful effects of their actions. And we can, as consumers, have the markets shift to favoring products made that are environmentally friendly.
So What are the Benefits? Less air pollution, less water pollution, more sustainable economies, less impact on the environment, better health, better economic stability, and better relations within the global context.
So How can YOU Help? You can follow the 5 r's, vote with your dollars on products that benefit the environment, pressure governments to take measures to curb unnecessary waste and deal with the waste in a more sustainable manner, and buy from corporations attempting to make a difference by not dealing with their waste in countries with lax regulations. Already, citizens are taking this effort and companies such as GE, Toyota, and BP are taking measures to reduce unnecessary waste. Local communities such as Mexico City and Portland are also taking very environmentally friendly efforts to fight the abuses on the environment. But this is truly a problem that can be solved on an individual level.
Bibliography Hattemer , Holly. Health Effects of Municipial Waste Incineration . New York: CRC Press, 1999. Print. Miller, Tyler. "Waste Management." Living with the Environment . 15th ed. 2006. Print. "Why Recyle?." Cambridgeshire County Council 2009 Web.9 Jun 2009. <http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/environment/waste/campaigns/Whyrecycle.htm>.