A whopping 91% of plastic isn’t recycled | National Geographic

Source: A whopping 91% of plastic isn’t recycled | National Geographic, by Laura Parker

Mass production of plastics, which began just six decades ago, has accelerated so rapidly that it has created 8.3 billion metric tons

Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, so most of it still exists in some form. Only 12 percent has been incinerated.

6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of that, only nine percent has been recycled.

How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled | NPR

Source: How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled | NPR, Laura Sullivan

An NPR and PBS Frontline investigation reveals how the oil and gas industry used the promise of recycling to sell more plastic, even when they knew it would never work on a large scale.

Here’s the basic problem: All used plastic can be turned into new things, but picking it up, sorting it out and melting it down is expensive. Plastic also degrades each time it is reused, meaning it can’t be reused more than once or twice.

On the other hand, new plastic is cheap. It’s made from oil and gas, and it’s almost always less expensive and of better quality to just start fresh.

Starting in the 1990s, the public saw an increasing number of commercials and messaging about recycling plastic.

These commercials carried a distinct message: Plastic is special, and the consumer should recycle it.

It may have sounded like an environmentalist’s message, but the ads were paid for by the plastics industry, made up of companies like Exxon, Chevron, Dow, DuPont and their lobbying and trade organizations in Washington.

Industry companies spent tens of millions of dollars on these ads and ran them for years, promoting the benefits of a product that, for the most part, was buried, was burned or, in some cases, wound up in the ocean.

Documents show industry officials knew this reality about recycling plastic as far back as the 1970s.

For The First Time, World Learns Truth About Risk Of Nuclear | Medium

Source: For The First Time, World Learns Truth About Risk Of Nuclear | Medium, by David Watson

Originally published in the UK Nuclear Institute’s Nuclear Future magazine in July 2020.

RE: Coping with a big nuclear accident; Closing papers from the NREFS project | Process Safety and Environmental Protection (Volume 112, Part A, Pages 1-198 (November 2017))

  • Remediation and food bans are good value for money
  • The presumption that long term relocations are a good policy tool needs re-evaluating

While accidents at nuclear plants are very rare, it is impossible to say that they will never occur. As Prof Thomas says, “I’ve often met with the reaction that we should make sure accidents don’t happen. And that’s fine. But accidents do happen, they have happened — and what do you do then?” The NREFS project sought to measure objectively the effectiveness of actions (usually referred to as ‘countermeasures’) a government could take following an accident, principally evacuation, sheltering (staying indoors for a period of hours to days), bans on the consumption of locally grown foods, remediation (cleaning of buildings and soils to remove contamination) and long-term relocation.

On the age of computation in the epoch of humankind | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Source: On the age of computation in the epoch of humankind, by Christoph Rosol, Benjamin Steininger, Jürgen Renn, & Robert Schlögl

tl;dr: To paraphrase Homer Simpson, “To Computation! The cause of… and solution to… humanity’s resource problems.”

 

Digital technologies do not only provide the basic infrastructure to control the industrial metabolism, they also are first-rate consumers of resources. Through the entwinement of the digital sphere with the physical world and actual energy and material cycles, digital communication has become tightly coupled to the current dynamics of wear and tear of earthly resources. No computational infrastructure can exist without the prior transformation of matter and no information without the transformation of energy.

The asymmetry of signals and effects should therefore not be misinterpreted. Information technology is the opposite of an immaterial technology. Even the smartest device needs dumb metals. At least 40 chemical elements are used in every smartphone, which means we carry around one-third of the periodic table in our pockets. What seems to be an almost immaterial business of zeros and ones makes use of more chemical elements than every previous technology in history.

Smart data technologies appear to many to offer ways out of the energy and resource dilemma. … However, in undertaking such endeavours, rebound effects should be a concern. As the well-known Jevons’ paradox states, increasing efficiency will likely lead to an increase in consumption in response to lower prices. One will have to see if smart, adjustable technologies create a difference to that rule.

Digital technologies have greatly contributed to a frenzy of unsustainable resource exploitation and consumption, the generation of waste and political ambivalence, yet they appear as viable solutions to ameliorate those problems. The rapid and radical change that has occurred to the Earth system as a result of the impacts of industrialized societies has been accompanied – if not leveraged – by rapid and radical changes in information technologies and digital media. Yet still, the hope is that their potential and collaborative scalability for a rational counter approach to untenable developments is enormous.