"Taking himself seriously, so you don't have to."

Part II: Waste

Part II: Waste

 

We’ve got to slow the waste. We’ve reached a high water mark in this world. We have all of the energy we can use, but it’s drying up faster than we can imagine. But we need that energy. We need that power that the good earth has provided us so far. And we need to use it right. But we’re not, because every electron volt is used in the same wasteful, no-good-end way we’ve been using it for so long (consider the amount of energy spent to create a pound of ground beef, and how much is lost when that pound of beef is thrown away). We’re wasting the energy ripped from the innards of our planet. All for some game we keep playing called capitalism, which has such negative aspects as to become soon obsolete.

 

There are two ways that I use the word “waste”:

1. Produce which was not consumed at its highest value (as a result of economic conditions).

2. Non-renewable energy used toward anything but creating renewable energy.

 

Capitalism, as we know it, drives the creation of vast, vast amounts of waste, in both meanings. I will examine each.

 

Produce Wasted

 

What happens when you have enormous industries devoted to producing as efficiently as possible? You have an industry like the poultry industry, whose goal, by proxy, is to grow as many chickens as possible for the least amount of money. And that is exactly what they do. They are very good at it. Many other industries are the same, and I would say that most all of our capitalistic systems end up working in the same way: endeavoring to make as much money as possible, they create as much of a product as possible, as cheaply as possible. In this way, it is truly a wonder that such things can be carried out, that enough chickens are grown, killed, plucked, shipped and consumed to feed the grocery stores in this country, not to mention the KFC joints and restaurants sprinkled across the country.

It is marvelous that it can work, surely, but there is a price. That of waste. For all of the chicken that is grown, killed, plucked, and shipped (I don’t know the exact figures, but I would guess), 20% of it is thrown away. Not exactly tossed out with a rubbish bin, but it loses 90% of its value, and is only useful to mince into pet food or worse. Same with all other kinds of meat products, and the same with vegetable and fruit produce. There is a massive amount of food simply waiting for somebody to eat it, and many times, no one comes to the table, because admission requires a price.

There is something wrong with this picture. Hungry people are everywhere. And yet they must beg for what little they receive. I will not dwell upon the sympathetic attitude that this creates, not merely stop with the fact that hungry people ought to be fed while there is food to feed them. Or do you consider it just that the product of the workers in those factories and the expenditure of those precious gallons of gasoline, should end up as chickens rotting in the dumpster behind a grocery store? “To feed those that are hungry” is a worthy end for that labor and energy. Unfortunately, much of it does not end up that way.

The reason that this happens is because of our conception of money itself. It is so readily available that it seems, in a sense, free. Again, this is no good. Unless we truly take it to be so, which is possible, but I will address that possibility in the Section II.

 

Wasted Energy

 

Much of what we consume is unlimited. Water vapor can always form to clouds and fall back into the sea. Plants will grow, die, and grow again. So long as we do not exterminate a population, animal species will flourish and regenerate themselves. Oil, natural gas, and coal do not, however. Their creation requires more energy than they can give. They were produced by processes taking millions of years and tremendous pressures, eons of compaction, expressly for the purpose of our proper usage.

Proper usage entails that we utilize the the nonrenewable sources of energy for the creation of renewable sources of energy. Period. Any usage of them otherwise is waste. I do not want to disparage certain things like taking the family on a road trip, or flying in a jet airplane somewhere, or using excessive air conditioning. In fact, this is exactly what individuals should do, as they are provided sources of energy, and it is their prerogative to use them as they wish, within legal limits, of course. We can all help out a little bit here and there by riding a bike to work or turning off the lights during the day or taking public transportation. These are but little things, and every bit helps, surely. The major point is what we, we society, we U.S.A., have as a goal. Is our goal to party our way into the grave?

This is the most dire situation for us. The needless expenditure of energy is something that, were we to lose our footing and devolve, future generations would curse and mock us. And rightly so, if that be the consequence. Nonetheless, we have not passed the breaking point yet. A recent statistic “20 billion dollars per year for air conditioning for armies in Afghanistan”. This is APPALLING. It’s not the dollar amount that disturbs; it means next to nothing. But the fact that we are using that much energy to cool air in scorching badlands. One might say that it is energy bought from the very countries we are occupying, or that it is again bought from other foreign nations, and that, in the end, that energy usage will have little consequence besides worsening the value of the dollar, but really, we are not the only ones in this modern world. This is a global problem. Wasting our own energy, or wasting any other country’s energy will come to blows at some point in the future unless they both work toward the same goal. Any needless usage of energy, certainly in this capacity and in these times, almost makes a war “unjust” by that very fact. As it stands, this is the most important practicable, identifiable problem facing mankind.

If the U.S. is occupying the place for the reason of the oil itself, we need to re-examine our priorities, and face up to the fact that it is only through bold measures, at home, that we can win this thing. And if the U.S. is occupying it because we believe there could be an atomic bomb created, and that our presence prevents that fact, then there is an argument to be made. So far as I have seen, that is not the case. In addition, there are more pressing powers in the region that would take great offense to such weaponry. And if (and this is the line we have been telling ourselves) that there are “terrorists” to fight there, small bands of cave-dwelling militants bent on world domination (HA!), I think the best strategy (this coming from someone who could probably pull something like that off, were he assigned to do so) would be to send in saboteurs. It would be quite simple. If I am not mistaken, there have been Americans fighting for the Taliban previously that we have captured. Would it really be that difficult to train up a few commandos to infiltrate and destroy key targets? Or am I missing something? In any case, wars of this sort are not only wrong for the multitude of reasons discussed by a thousand sentimental hearts on radios and televisions, but excessively so for their waste of energy.

What else can one say? How else can the problem be described? One could restate it in other terms, draw a diagram, find some statistics, perhaps calculate, roughly, how much time we have left to waste. One could detail other country’s problems of a similar sort, as all is well-documented now. One could point to other experts who feel the same on this very subject. One could outline other further expenditures of energy that are unnecessary. I will tell a story.

Never has all humanity experienced pressure of this sort. We are in virgin territory; humanity has been riding a train, one stocked to the brim with supplies and fancies to endear the hardest of hearts, fueled by what we thought was an endless supply. Few among them thought wrong of it, but were content to ride, and wonder not from whence it came, for their future and our history were quite unknown. For what could come of disaster that could be worse than before? Finally they decided to commandeer the locomotive. What fun was had! My god, some thought, it would split the earth with its speed! Along it went, faster and faster, and soon it came to a rise. But the engineers thought, “There’s nothing at the top of the hill. And we would have to work harder to get there. It’s much more fun to chug about in circles!” And so, here we are.