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Friday, March 14, 2008


I attended a very interesting talk last night at Mill City Museum in Minneapolis which focused on climate change and culture. It discussed the culture of conservation that developed during the depression and WWII and what kind of new culture of conservation we need to develop in the face of climate change.

One of the speakers, Peggy Knapp, based her talk on the idea that waste is an exclusively human thing.

I think she is right - but only because of the speed and the intensity in which we change things and create "waste." All other living things create their own waste, right? The difference is that other creatures have evolved to take advantage of that waste- one creature's trash is another creature's treasure. We just create so much new waste so fast that nothing has been able to evolve to use it up.

Its interesting that capitalism hasn't encouraged our culture to become more cyclic with our waste/resource stream. Perhaps this is because only a certain subset of costs and benefits are looked at; with immediate and local cost/benefits being prioritized and future and "elsewhere" costs/benefits being ignored.

Is there any example of another creature that creates "waste" in the same sense that humans do? Perhaps waste begins to pile up when human-disturbed ecosystems become unbalanced. But are there any other naturally evolved "wasters" like us?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
It isn't only endemic to capitalism- communism shows a large amount of this to. What it is based on is industrialization- you can't have industry without some waste, and as long as the raw material is cheap enough, waste will continue because it is the cheapest option (aka it is cheaper or easier to buy a new product than repair the old one).

24 March, 2008  
Blogger Tommy said...

I think waste is endemic to humans, because we produce so much and so much of what we produce is disposable. Animals drink water. We drink all kinds of things out of cups and bottles, and then we throw away the cups and bottles.

25 March, 2008  

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