A new book published by Oxford University Press by University of East Anglia scientists Tim Lenton and Andrew Watson proposes that future humans must recycle 100 percent of everything we want to use and that we must be fuelled by sustainable energy sources.
The book, entitled Revolutions that Made the Earth, is the culmination of six years’ work and looks at humanities past in an effort to learn from the mistakes and successes we have made.
The authors argue that human civilisations in the future should emulate the biosphere and create what they name ‘Gaia devices’ – named after the Gaia theory that paints Earth as a self-regulating system – which recycle the materials and waste much more efficiently than is currently done.
Mining for metals will continue, but mining of some metals could stop, and cities which are already stockpiled with metals in the form of manufactured goods and scrap heaps could become the mines of our future, providing us with plenty of material to recycle.
“We need to maximise recycling of all the materials we use to build and grow things, which together with the appropriate energy source is the secret for a sustainable future with a relatively high population,” said Professor Lenton, professor in Earth system science. “In principle, as long as humans have an abundant source of energy we ought to be able to increase our standard of living and avoid the problems of accumulating waste products by greatly increasing the efficiency of recycling.”
“Our alternative vision of the future is of a new revolution, into a high energy, high recycling world that can support billions of people as part of a thriving and sustainable biosphere,” said Professor Watson, a Royal Society research professor. “Rather than retreat in a last ditch attempt to minimize our impacts, our best hope now is to embrace revolution and intervene with more intelligence in the Earth system, to close the recycling loops we have opened, and restore stability. In contrast to previous upheavals we have foresight – we know what harm we may do and how we can prevent it.”
Revolutions that Made the Earth is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble and, I imagine, many other locations online and not, and I definitely recommend people take a look.
Source: University of East Anglia