Record consumption of materials... Or of stupidity?

The latter, of course.

Record consumption of materials... Or of stupidity? /img/global-extraction.jpg

Please have a quick look at the key points, as summarized by the Guardian of a report just presented at Davos:

  • Since 1970, world population has doubled, but its total usage of virgin materials extracted from the planet (oil, wood, sand, water, metals, fertilizers…) has quadrupled
  • One far from perfect way to visualize this, but better than nothing, is that every human being today “uses” more than 13 tonnes of materials per year
  • the stupidest part of this is that “In the last two years, consumption has jumped by more than 8% but the reuse of resources has fallen from 9.1% to 8.6%"
  • Half of the total is sand, clay, gravel and cement used for building, along with the other minerals quarried to produce fertiliser
  • Other major categories include food, transport, healthcare, communications, and consumer goods such as clothes and furniture

Just 8.6% is reused

Record consumption of materials... Or of stupidity? /img/top-stupidity.jpg

Nearly a quarter of the virgin materials extracted each year is discarded into the environment. The full report commented by the Guardian article puts a not-entirely-negative spin to this picture by with the slogan that “The world is now 8.6% circular”. Still, it is an embarrassingly stupid picture, isn' it? And indeed, the report warns that, on the environmental level, “we risk global disaster if we continue like this”.

But at least it is for a good cause, isn’t it?

Of course. Rising equality, rising anxiety and general precariousness, life expectation stagnating or decreasing in several countries… If those aren’t excellent reasons to keep wasting at least one quarter of everything we pick up from the ground, what else could possibly be?

The report concludes that “the world needed to learn to do more with less and replace ownership with sharing, as is increasingly being seen with cars”. To read more about some high-tech things we could “learn to do more with less” without any real decrease in quality of life, please read here, here and of course here. Frankly, the more I compare how much stuff we mess with with how society works, the more global rationing seems a road to better living, rather than damage control.