Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Cutting Plans

“One man’s waste is another’s treasure. Not countin’ pollution, of course.” Al Menzies and I stood on a knoll overlooking the Colorado Holistic University campus. He had just finished work on a plan for cutting the ecological impact of the physics complex by half over the next 13 years. His suggestions will be integrated into a larger plan with a similar target for the university as a whole. “I hate knockin’ down buildings,” he continued, “but the offices have gotta go.”

I imagined native plants occupying the area after the demolition. “I’m surprised that efficiency doesn’t get you at least that much,” I said, fully aware that he must have tackled that low-hanging fruit at the beginning of the effort.

“Efficiency!” he spat. “With current tech, that keeps ya from losin’ about a sixth of what’s added, energy and so-on. If ya take out the need for addin’ then you’re gettin’ real savings. Nature knows how: reuse everything, includin’ the consumers. That’s the example we gotta follow.”

“That seems like overkill,” I insisted. “Is it because we need the labs to support the stop-and-clean?” Yes, I used the new lingo for stopping self-sustained impacts and getting rid of pollution.

“It’s simpler than that. Remember Menzies’ Rule? Do everything ya can, as soon as ya can, ‘cause it might not be possible later.”

A block to our right, I saw Maura exit the history department where I now work. She waved, and I waved back. “Have you heard what they’ll be doing with history?” I asked Al.

“Nah,” he said, “but I’m guessin’ it’ll be less ‘cause of their lack of labs. Also, the alumni love the history of the place a lot more, pun intended. Like I said, another’s treasure.”

Stories of similar decisions are appearing more frequently in the news as promises made during the negotiation of the global strategy now have the force of law. Most cities have already announced that they will be literally breaking ground in less than two weeks, putting plans into action so they have a defensible chance of meeting the strategy’s targets.

Reality Check

The following graph shows the distribution of world resources as projected over time for the simulated world. Ratios discussed in the post apply to the sum of wants and waste. Note that waste must be totally gone two years after the deadline.

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