General remarks

I wish to make a few remarks on current news items of interest.

Country singer Randy Travis was found in a ditch in north Texas allegedly drunk, naked, and belligerent following an apparent one car accident.  Crimony! It’s that awful Nashville music that he sings. If I sang that twangy, mornful, depressing stuff all the time, I guess I’d be sloppy drunk in a ditch too. He should dry out and switch to show tunes or something a bit more cheerful.

It seems that while the televisions and internets of the world are busily dulling enchanting us into the delusion that our ever accelerating consumption of resources and expansion into wild spaces are having no effect on the “natural world”, the global ecosystems are actually in trouble. I emphasize natural world only because so many of us are preoccupied with the on-line world. In fact, many are worried about a “state change” in the global ecosystems.

In Approaching a state-shift in Earth’s biosphere, a paper just published in Nature, the authors, whose expertise spans a multitude of disciplines, suggest our planet’s ecosystems are careening towards an imminent, irreversible collapse.

Earth’s accelerating loss of biodiversity, its climate’s increasingly extreme fluctuations, its ecosystems’ growing connectedness and its radically changing total energy budget are precursors to reaching a planetary state threshold or tipping point. [ The Automatic Earth, August 6, 2012. ]

I know, I know. Sounds like Chicken Little. But we should pay more attention to our small planet. The atmosphere is thinner than most people think, the fisheries are stressed, desertification is happening in Africa, and human population pressures are mounting in many locations.  We can’t keep the extractive industries going forever. We need to find an economic model or culture that allows us to do with less mass. Reduced consumption per capita. Look, it’ll happen anyway as key resources dwindle.

We should be aggressively recycling lithium, gallium, tellurium, indium, and the rare earth elements in particular.  These are key elements in our much beloved electronic devices. There are other materials to watch, including hydrocarbons in general.  A society with infrastructure causing one to hop in the SUV and drive 5 miles from their isolated subdivision to buy cigarettes and beer is a society that is on a rendezvous with destiny.

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About gaussling

Gaussling is a senior scientist in the chemical business. He occasionally breaks glassware and has been known to generate new forms of hazmats. Gaussling also digs aerospace, geology, and community theatre. View all posts by gaussling

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