“We live in a disposable society. It’s easier to throw things out than to fix them. We even give it a name – we call it recycling.”―NEIL LABUTE
One of the biggest obstacles to global sustainability is the rapid extraction of raw materials to produce the stuff we consume (and ultimately throw away in a traditional linear economy).
A few innovators are beginning to design goods with a circular lifecycle, meaning the items can either be disassembled at the end of their service life and returned to the Earth or the constituent materials be endlessly recycled and made into other products. However, we’re still decades away from such products being the norm. Continue reading
“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.”―JOHN F KENNEDY
If current trends continue, private car ownership worldwide will triple to 2 billion vehicles by 2050, increasing road emissions by 80%.
As it is, transport is responsible for 22% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, pumping 8.07 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2015—cars being the worst offenders. To prevent the Earth’s climate warming beyond 2°C, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that global CO2 emissions must be cut by at least 50% by 2050.
With a business-as-usual mind-set, there’s little hope of this happening.
“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”―Jacques Yves Cousteau
Those of us living in affluent countries discard an average of 4.3 pounds of waste a day, enough to fill a 3,100-mile-long column of refuse trucks bumper-to-bumper from New York to San Francisco.* This contributes to a global annual total of three trillion tonnes, the vast majority of which either ends up in methane-emitting landfills or is burnt, producing toxic chemicals known as dioxins. Two thirds of our waste is organic (mainly food, a quarter of which is never eaten), and a third of it paper and plastic.But if I’m not personally affected by any of these things, you may say, why should I care?
One pressing issue I’ll be exploring on the Micro Earths expeditions is water security.
Water security is one of the biggest challenges for global sustainability as aquifers continue to be over pumped, rivers dry up, and wetlands disappear to development.
The demand for water has been growing at twice the rate of population increase over the last 100 years, a rate that is set to accelerate in the next decade by 50% in developing countries and 18% in developed countries. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in areas of absolute water scarcity and population growth alone will account for the consumption of 70% of all available fresh water.
Clearly, we cannot continue down this unsustainable path.
Following completion of The Expedition trilogy, I thought you might be interested to know how the human-powered circumnavigation segues into the next project: Micro Earths.
Throughout the journey I was dogged by a single burning question, one I feel we all have a moral duty to try and answer for the sake of future generations: How do you live your life so you’re part of the solution to a sustainable future, not part of the problem?