Recycling:The Technology of Conserving

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Recycling:The Technology of Conserving I. America Thinks Trash Over the past two decades, the U.S. Public has embraced a remarkable hobby: recycling. The awareness of threatening environmental issues and recycling programs have been growing parallel to each other. Despite vast and compelling evidence against recycling, the American public has continued to practice daily rituals of sorting out items from their own trash. After reading the arguments posed by the anti-recyclers, making sure to acknowledge the truth and disregard over generalizations and flaws, a prevailing question arises: Is recycling necessary with our technological advances? II. The History of Garbage “Population when unchecked increases in a geometrical ration. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio.” -Thomas Roberto Malthus (1798) The world has inevitable had its share of “sighting” into the future. An energy crisis in the middle of the 19th century was caused by the dwindling supply of whales. In 1905, President Roosevelt announced a “timber famine”. In 1929, the United States was proclaimed to have a mere seven year supply of petroleum left. It was also predicted by several ecologists, including Paul Ehrlich, one of the world’s better-known scientists and author of “The Population Bomb”, that in the 1970’s or 80’s the world would undergo a terrible famine and eventually starve to death. Not only did the widely fear popular “sightings” not occur, but “things were actually getting less scarce as population grew.” [8] Did we get lucky? Yes and No. Yes because the scarcity forced prices to increase and forced creative and ingenious minds to “create” new resources. No because new uses for resources existed, we just had not discovered them. Furthermore, luck did not take care of the problem, hard work towards solutions did. Are we running out? “Fossil fuels and most minerals are more abundant than in the past--that is, they are more readily available and cheaper than they used to be. Most resources are so plentiful that they will last for centuries” (6). Resources are abundantly available, but like anything else in this world, if we abuse, we will have unfortunate consequences. Maybe not complete extinction or mass starvation, but definitely unwanted problems which could have been prevented. So, we might not run out of oil and one sighs with content. However, it is not necessarily a good thing. More oil means more pollution. III. Two-Faced Trash Humanity’s destiny is debated by two opposing views in the recycling world. The ecologist and the economist.

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