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Smart cities, safe and efficient, but are we being watched?
Information from a library, hospital or public transport exposed? More sustainability , improved mobility, efficiency and safety? Where can you find all of the above in one place? The answer is a smart city. Its purpose is to improve the quality of life by making the town more efficient and by reducing the distance between the citizens and the government. In this article you will read more about the smart city and what it means for our privacy.  Improved technologies Technology is moving forward, devices are becoming smarter, so it is inevitable that in the future we will use electronic devices much more than we do now. To keep the city up and running, the existing technologies need to be upgraded. Otherwise, they cannot meet the specifications and demands of the current system. But what do we want? Investigation shows that we wish for smart transportation, where machines and devices communicate with each other. We want smart buildings, where the windows can open automatically, where there is always a connection with the Internet. That is our future. Are we being watched? Cameras are hanging everywhere to guarantee our safety. But do we feel safe by it? We could get the feeling that we are being watched, every step we take is registered by authorities. Besides cameras, all data is collected. This way, authorities know for example the number of visitors at a certain event or they possess information about citizens for commercial purposes. They may sell this information to third parties. Privacy in a smart city Like mentioned before, cameras are everywhere, and data is collected. What does that mean for our privacy? Who is the gatekeeper to our data? And what if the information is hacked? The more internet data there is, the more fragile we become. Fortunately, with the arrival of the GDPR in May 2018, the rules on the subject are becoming more strict. The citizen must be informed in understandable language, especially when it comes to data traffic in a smart city. Costs savings or costs loss? All these new technologies cost money. To upgrade the existing technologies, we (governments, state or country) need to invest vast amounts of money. However, due to these smart cities, there could be economic benefits coming from the transition towards a smart city, for example when it comes to real estate. Buildings have to deal with endless energy, such as heating and cooling installations, lighting, electrical wiring, communication, lifts, electrical appliances, etcetera. A computer-controlled system regulates, monitors and controls all of this. But this can be done by automated systems. Automated systems can be used for this purpose, and therefore energy consumption can be reduced. For example, the light is turned off at a fixed time, or when nobody is present in the room, ventilation can be regulated on the number of people in the room. This can improve air quality, and will lead to user satisfaction. So yes, at first it will cost money, but in the end, it will save a lot as well. Reducing damages in case of a disaster Smart cities use sensors that are suitable for detecting abnormalities in a town or during an event. In this way, the sensors can inform the authorities if a measurement differs from the limited safety features in a city. This helps the city effectively track everything, and if there is a discrepancy, the authorities are able to act quickly and put an end to the situation so that it does not escalate. Better sustainability in a smart city Smart cities pay extra attention to sustainability, and this is reflected in the fact that they focus on renewable energy sources . If everyone uses a solar-powered system, carbon emissions will be reduced. We can recycle garbage and use the thrown away materials again. Or we may use free rainwater to flush our toilets. We can also apply durability to traffic by using smart transport. For example, to see where there is congestion and possibly change to a better route. We could also use smart traffic lights. All of this will contribute to a better quality of life. That is the ultimate purpose of a smart city: the best possible living circumstances for everybody, to provide a way of life that is the best combination of technology and comfort. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/community  
Information from a library, hospital or public transport exposed? More sustainability , improved mobility, efficiency and safety? Where can you find all of the above in one place? The answer is a smart city. Its purpose is to improve the quality of life by making the town more efficient and by reducing the distance between the citizens and the government. In this article you will read more about the smart city and what it means for our privacy.  Improved technologies Technology is moving forward, devices are becoming smarter, so it is inevitable that in the future we will use electronic devices much more than we do now. To keep the city up and running, the existing technologies need to be upgraded. Otherwise, they cannot meet the specifications and demands of the current system. But what do we want? Investigation shows that we wish for smart transportation, where machines and devices communicate with each other. We want smart buildings, where the windows can open automatically, where there is always a connection with the Internet. That is our future. Are we being watched? Cameras are hanging everywhere to guarantee our safety. But do we feel safe by it? We could get the feeling that we are being watched, every step we take is registered by authorities. Besides cameras, all data is collected. This way, authorities know for example the number of visitors at a certain event or they possess information about citizens for commercial purposes. They may sell this information to third parties. Privacy in a smart city Like mentioned before, cameras are everywhere, and data is collected. What does that mean for our privacy? Who is the gatekeeper to our data? And what if the information is hacked? The more internet data there is, the more fragile we become. Fortunately, with the arrival of the GDPR in May 2018, the rules on the subject are becoming more strict. The citizen must be informed in understandable language, especially when it comes to data traffic in a smart city. Costs savings or costs loss? All these new technologies cost money. To upgrade the existing technologies, we (governments, state or country) need to invest vast amounts of money. However, due to these smart cities, there could be economic benefits coming from the transition towards a smart city, for example when it comes to real estate. Buildings have to deal with endless energy, such as heating and cooling installations, lighting, electrical wiring, communication, lifts, electrical appliances, etcetera. A computer-controlled system regulates, monitors and controls all of this. But this can be done by automated systems. Automated systems can be used for this purpose, and therefore energy consumption can be reduced. For example, the light is turned off at a fixed time, or when nobody is present in the room, ventilation can be regulated on the number of people in the room. This can improve air quality, and will lead to user satisfaction. So yes, at first it will cost money, but in the end, it will save a lot as well. Reducing damages in case of a disaster Smart cities use sensors that are suitable for detecting abnormalities in a town or during an event. In this way, the sensors can inform the authorities if a measurement differs from the limited safety features in a city. This helps the city effectively track everything, and if there is a discrepancy, the authorities are able to act quickly and put an end to the situation so that it does not escalate. Better sustainability in a smart city Smart cities pay extra attention to sustainability, and this is reflected in the fact that they focus on renewable energy sources . If everyone uses a solar-powered system, carbon emissions will be reduced. We can recycle garbage and use the thrown away materials again. Or we may use free rainwater to flush our toilets. We can also apply durability to traffic by using smart transport. For example, to see where there is congestion and possibly change to a better route. We could also use smart traffic lights. All of this will contribute to a better quality of life. That is the ultimate purpose of a smart city: the best possible living circumstances for everybody, to provide a way of life that is the best combination of technology and comfort. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/community  
Smart cities, safe and efficient, but are we being watched?
Smart cities, safe and efficient, but are we being watched?
A world without oil fueled by renewables.  Are we on track?
Just sit back and enjoy that thought for a minute. What if, suddenly, from one day to the next, there would be no more oil? Not a tank, not a gallon, not even a single drop? Aside from the obvious negative implications for those economies that are driven by the black gold, there will be plenty of other side-effects, both positive and negative.   Electric cars fueled by renewable energy sources I’m going to allow myself to indulge in the fantasy and explore ways of how the world will change because of it. Starting with the obvious one: we will no longer be able to fuel up our cars at the gas station down the street. So that will be a shame, leaving that big ol’ Chevy in the garage. Although there are plenty of alternatives.   Sustainable transport will be our go-to means of getting around. Most of us will own an electric car, fuelled by renewable energy sources - perhaps even of the self-driving variety, allowing us to sit back and relax as we are whisked from A to B. Alternatively, you can hop on the electric trains or metros, departing from fully sustainable and hyper-modern stations.   Drones, electric trucks and sustainable freight trains Goods are transported by drones, electric trucks, on sustainable freight trains, and smart container ships. All of which are obviously fitted with state-of-the-art tracking software and sensors, allowing for real-time analysis. Would you want to go on a long journey? There will be electric planes, ready to transport passengers to tropical destinations all around the world. Or you could opt for a sustainable cruise ship or yacht, sailing all the oceans of the world. No matter your destination, no matter your purpose - there will be a suitable means of transportation.   Sounds good? Well, yes. But let’s not ignore the reality of today: most of the mentioned forms of transportation are not even available yet, let alone a feasible option for the short term. The number of gas-guzzling cars far outweighs the number of electric vehicles, meaning that a sudden oil-stop would quite literally have society grinding to a halt. Perhaps we still have an electric scooter or an old-fashioned bike in the garage, although this will not be sufficient to cover large distances.   The unavoidable crash The entire aviation industry will crash - excuse the pun -, leaving those who frequently travel internationally hanging out to dry. As it stands, very few oil-free alternatives are available, quite possibly forcing the big airlines to scramble in their race to find an oil-free passenger plane. Just as it would be for the majority of the cruise- and yachting industry, in fact.   So, while the picture-perfect Jetsons-like vision of the future might sound appealing and admittedly become reality a whole lot sooner if oil were to suddenly disappear, the image for the foreseeable future would be far from rosy. International travel will become extremely difficult, whilst most of us will find ourselves limited in our mobility, having been robbed of our cars and buses. The trains and cars that remain will be far and few between - and most certainly incapable of handling the increased flow of passengers that are still hoping to retain their jobs or pursue an education.   The same goes for a gazillion other aspects of our life, all of which rely on oil. Deny all you want, but it is a painful fact that oil serves as the backbone of our society. Taking it all away would quite literally undermine all that we have built up, which could be disastrous for the world’s economy and set us back decades.   Nuclear power is relatively foolproof To illustrate this, just take a look at the energy needs of the world. Without oil, there is only one real alternative that would be able to meet the needs of the world - nuclear energy. All of the renewable energy sources that are currently available - hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and wave energy - are nowhere near sufficient to power all of today’s society. Nuclear power is relatively foolproof, extremely clean, and very safe.   So that sounds great - who needs oil for energy generation anyway? Unfortunately, the matter is once again not as easy and smooth as it may seem. While the costs of building nuclear facilities and the lengthy timeline associated with it may have been historical bottlenecks, the major problem is public perception. Spurred on by organisations like Greenpeace, a large proportion of the general population is not in favour of nuclear energy, to say the least, or absolutely frightened by it, at its most extreme. Events like Chernobyl and Fukushima are ingrained within our collective memory, making the general acceptance of nuclear energy a hurdle that will be tricky to overcome. Not to mention the time that it would cost us to actually build enough nuclear power plants to deliver sufficient energy, once again leaving us in a grim, dark place for the first years after having lost our oil overnight. Our lives without oil After all, figuring out how to live our lives without oil will entail even more than 'just' the way we move and generate energy. It will change the way we eat, we live, the way that we dress. Our homes will have to become much greener, as we cannot use as much energy to heat it: insulation and ventilation are the key words, while our home appliances will have to be super efficient. Low-flush toilets, water saving dishwashers, and low-draw lightbulbs will become the new norm.   Our food will be produced locally, changing each season, depending on what is available in our vegetable gardens. The same applies for clothing: fabrics that are available locally will set the norm for our garments, quite possibly including some new innovative techniques to keep us warm (remember the need to save energy in our homes?). Wait, I once again described the ideal situation. Would it really be as simple as making an instant switch to a local economy, where we all live in sustainable homes and only eat the food and wear the clothes that are available at a given time? Without putting up much of a fight? Sustainable alternatives Well, probably not. Chances are that, as the result of an oil crisis, we will turn into cavemen instead - and definitely not in the good way. Instead of resorting to outfits made out of hides and skins of animals and hunting deers and gathering fruits and nuts, we will take our figurative spears and head off to loot the supermarkets. The prospect of food shortages will fuel our primal instincts, leading to chaotic, end-of-world-like situations were people panic and riot, stopping at nothing to get their hands on some food. Similarly, we will try to take our money out of the bank as quickly as possible, foreseeing the imminent crisis that will render our bank credit worthless. Quite useless, actually, as money will quickly lose its value in the world of a plummeting economy anyhow. The rest of this scenario plays out like an apocalyptic movie: our homes, bereft of any sort of energy, will become useless shells as we are no longer able to flush our toilets, watch our tv, heat our rooms, connect to the internet, and cook our food. As our lights quite literally go out, authorities will stand by helplessly as all of their crucial systems are flat on their behind as well, including police, hospitals and armies. Riots will break out and the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ will be given a whole other meaning. All because of one silly, little, seemingly insignificant resource. Do not despair yet, though. You will be happy to hear that most governments have plans in place to prevent the last scenario from ever happening, starting by reducing their country’s reliance on oil. And although I may have attempted to paint a picture of oil being indispensable, there is evidence to the contrary. Entire countries are going ‘oil-free’, instead opting for a variety of renewable sources of energy to fuel their economies. In particular those countries who do not have much oil of their own are rapidly adjusting, fuelling innovations that can, in turn, be adapted and implemented by other countries as well. The main point? We cannot do it alone. We must do it together, with other countries. Together, we can find ways to live without oil. We can innovate, we can re-new, we can learn. That is, and has always been, the greatest strength of us, human beings.   But in order to avert the doom-scenario I briefly described above, and have a shot at making the dreamy ideal-world scenario I painted before that come true at some point in the future, we have got to take action. Today. Oil is ending - and the sooner we accept this, the earlier we can start looking for sustainable alternatives. This way, we can prevent a situation where we will suddenly find ourselves out of oil tomorrow - and give ourselves the opportunity to have a much smoother, calmer transition to a cleaner world. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/energy
Just sit back and enjoy that thought for a minute. What if, suddenly, from one day to the next, there would be no more oil? Not a tank, not a gallon, not even a single drop? Aside from the obvious negative implications for those economies that are driven by the black gold, there will be plenty of other side-effects, both positive and negative.   Electric cars fueled by renewable energy sources I’m going to allow myself to indulge in the fantasy and explore ways of how the world will change because of it. Starting with the obvious one: we will no longer be able to fuel up our cars at the gas station down the street. So that will be a shame, leaving that big ol’ Chevy in the garage. Although there are plenty of alternatives.   Sustainable transport will be our go-to means of getting around. Most of us will own an electric car, fuelled by renewable energy sources - perhaps even of the self-driving variety, allowing us to sit back and relax as we are whisked from A to B. Alternatively, you can hop on the electric trains or metros, departing from fully sustainable and hyper-modern stations.   Drones, electric trucks and sustainable freight trains Goods are transported by drones, electric trucks, on sustainable freight trains, and smart container ships. All of which are obviously fitted with state-of-the-art tracking software and sensors, allowing for real-time analysis. Would you want to go on a long journey? There will be electric planes, ready to transport passengers to tropical destinations all around the world. Or you could opt for a sustainable cruise ship or yacht, sailing all the oceans of the world. No matter your destination, no matter your purpose - there will be a suitable means of transportation.   Sounds good? Well, yes. But let’s not ignore the reality of today: most of the mentioned forms of transportation are not even available yet, let alone a feasible option for the short term. The number of gas-guzzling cars far outweighs the number of electric vehicles, meaning that a sudden oil-stop would quite literally have society grinding to a halt. Perhaps we still have an electric scooter or an old-fashioned bike in the garage, although this will not be sufficient to cover large distances.   The unavoidable crash The entire aviation industry will crash - excuse the pun -, leaving those who frequently travel internationally hanging out to dry. As it stands, very few oil-free alternatives are available, quite possibly forcing the big airlines to scramble in their race to find an oil-free passenger plane. Just as it would be for the majority of the cruise- and yachting industry, in fact.   So, while the picture-perfect Jetsons-like vision of the future might sound appealing and admittedly become reality a whole lot sooner if oil were to suddenly disappear, the image for the foreseeable future would be far from rosy. International travel will become extremely difficult, whilst most of us will find ourselves limited in our mobility, having been robbed of our cars and buses. The trains and cars that remain will be far and few between - and most certainly incapable of handling the increased flow of passengers that are still hoping to retain their jobs or pursue an education.   The same goes for a gazillion other aspects of our life, all of which rely on oil. Deny all you want, but it is a painful fact that oil serves as the backbone of our society. Taking it all away would quite literally undermine all that we have built up, which could be disastrous for the world’s economy and set us back decades.   Nuclear power is relatively foolproof To illustrate this, just take a look at the energy needs of the world. Without oil, there is only one real alternative that would be able to meet the needs of the world - nuclear energy. All of the renewable energy sources that are currently available - hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and wave energy - are nowhere near sufficient to power all of today’s society. Nuclear power is relatively foolproof, extremely clean, and very safe.   So that sounds great - who needs oil for energy generation anyway? Unfortunately, the matter is once again not as easy and smooth as it may seem. While the costs of building nuclear facilities and the lengthy timeline associated with it may have been historical bottlenecks, the major problem is public perception. Spurred on by organisations like Greenpeace, a large proportion of the general population is not in favour of nuclear energy, to say the least, or absolutely frightened by it, at its most extreme. Events like Chernobyl and Fukushima are ingrained within our collective memory, making the general acceptance of nuclear energy a hurdle that will be tricky to overcome. Not to mention the time that it would cost us to actually build enough nuclear power plants to deliver sufficient energy, once again leaving us in a grim, dark place for the first years after having lost our oil overnight. Our lives without oil After all, figuring out how to live our lives without oil will entail even more than 'just' the way we move and generate energy. It will change the way we eat, we live, the way that we dress. Our homes will have to become much greener, as we cannot use as much energy to heat it: insulation and ventilation are the key words, while our home appliances will have to be super efficient. Low-flush toilets, water saving dishwashers, and low-draw lightbulbs will become the new norm.   Our food will be produced locally, changing each season, depending on what is available in our vegetable gardens. The same applies for clothing: fabrics that are available locally will set the norm for our garments, quite possibly including some new innovative techniques to keep us warm (remember the need to save energy in our homes?). Wait, I once again described the ideal situation. Would it really be as simple as making an instant switch to a local economy, where we all live in sustainable homes and only eat the food and wear the clothes that are available at a given time? Without putting up much of a fight? Sustainable alternatives Well, probably not. Chances are that, as the result of an oil crisis, we will turn into cavemen instead - and definitely not in the good way. Instead of resorting to outfits made out of hides and skins of animals and hunting deers and gathering fruits and nuts, we will take our figurative spears and head off to loot the supermarkets. The prospect of food shortages will fuel our primal instincts, leading to chaotic, end-of-world-like situations were people panic and riot, stopping at nothing to get their hands on some food. Similarly, we will try to take our money out of the bank as quickly as possible, foreseeing the imminent crisis that will render our bank credit worthless. Quite useless, actually, as money will quickly lose its value in the world of a plummeting economy anyhow. The rest of this scenario plays out like an apocalyptic movie: our homes, bereft of any sort of energy, will become useless shells as we are no longer able to flush our toilets, watch our tv, heat our rooms, connect to the internet, and cook our food. As our lights quite literally go out, authorities will stand by helplessly as all of their crucial systems are flat on their behind as well, including police, hospitals and armies. Riots will break out and the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ will be given a whole other meaning. All because of one silly, little, seemingly insignificant resource. Do not despair yet, though. You will be happy to hear that most governments have plans in place to prevent the last scenario from ever happening, starting by reducing their country’s reliance on oil. And although I may have attempted to paint a picture of oil being indispensable, there is evidence to the contrary. Entire countries are going ‘oil-free’, instead opting for a variety of renewable sources of energy to fuel their economies. In particular those countries who do not have much oil of their own are rapidly adjusting, fuelling innovations that can, in turn, be adapted and implemented by other countries as well. The main point? We cannot do it alone. We must do it together, with other countries. Together, we can find ways to live without oil. We can innovate, we can re-new, we can learn. That is, and has always been, the greatest strength of us, human beings.   But in order to avert the doom-scenario I briefly described above, and have a shot at making the dreamy ideal-world scenario I painted before that come true at some point in the future, we have got to take action. Today. Oil is ending - and the sooner we accept this, the earlier we can start looking for sustainable alternatives. This way, we can prevent a situation where we will suddenly find ourselves out of oil tomorrow - and give ourselves the opportunity to have a much smoother, calmer transition to a cleaner world. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/energy
A world without oil fueled by renewables.  Are we on track?
A world without oil fueled by renewables. Are we on track?
World Environment Day. The way in which our natural capital is currently consumed is looting
The current consumption of non-renewable raw materials and energy sources means that future generations no longer have them at their disposal, but that they are stuck with the negative consequences of their use: pollution, deforestation, climate change, desertification, summarized as an ecological crisis. A liberal ethics for the consumption of non-renewable resources and energy sources How could we account for this consumption towards future generations? Which arguments would future generations consider acceptable? Which arguments for the use of, for example, plastic - which has increased exponentially in recent decades - can we give to future generations living in a world in which plastic has negatively affected the ecosystems of planet Earth? The argument 'plastic is a convenient and cheap packaging material' will most likely not be recognized as sufficient justification. Natural capital If raw materials and non-renewable energy sources are used to create a sustainable society, the consumption of natural capital can be seen as an investment for the long term. And by long term I mean the next 200,000 years. The resources of planet Earth can be seen as the natural capital. People can live off the interest of that capital, that is to say, the benefits that nature produces and regenerates. Another option is to enter the natural capital. Take a bongard as an example. The fruit trees yields fruit. When people grow that fruit, the ecosystem remains intact. However, in the short term, besides the fruit, the wood of the fruit trees could also be used and the land of the bongard could be sold to build houses. This yields more economically than just the use of the fruit, but there is a reduction in the natural capital. The short term prevails over the long term when it comes to natural capital. Looting Fossil fuels are finite. Even if there is still oil available for 1,000 years, it is still the question what its use justifies when future generations, after 1,000 years, are without sitting and are also dealing with a warmed up planet. According BP one of worlds largest oil producers, the world has 53.3 years left to find an alternative to oil before current proved reserves run dry. Of course, nations are finding new oil – meaning that number is rising – but new extraction methods are costly and can pose environmental threats. Any use of non-renewable resources must be morally justified. If part of the non-renewable resources, the natural capital, are used for the transition to a sustainable economy and society that will benefit future generations, then this is a convincing moral argument. The consumption of a part of the natural capital does not harm future generations (at least not fundamentally), but it is beneficial for future generations. The way in which natural capital is consumed now is looting: natural capital is used for the short-term self-interest and the interests of future generations are harmed. This goes against the liberal non-harmful principle. Waste bin capacity Of whom is the natural capital actually? The legal definitions of property, as commodities are owned by the inhabitants of nations, are short-sighted. The  natural capital belongs to all earthlings, now and in the future. We know that man has been scurrying around on this planet for about 200,000 years. Let us assume for the sake of convenience that man will last another 200,000 years. That means that the natural capital of planet Earth must also last 200,000 years. The natural capital of planet Earth consists not only of the amount of raw materials that people consume (minerals, fossil fuels), but also the amount of waste that the Earth can absorb, or the waste bin capacity. There is a limited amount of waste that the earth can absorb, but it is quickly exceeded. The quantities of plastic, pesticides, fertilizers and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere disrupt the planet Earth's ecosystem, which naturally invades capital. If, for example, deltas, where millions of people live, are under water due to climate change, it is clear that this is causing damage. Megafauna How can you justify to your grandchildren your consumption of natural capital that has contributed to the bankruptcy of system earth? The consumption of natural capital requires moral reflection. However, in the current political-economic system there is no reflection on the justification of natural capital. However different the political-economic systems may be, they all prioritize contemporary self-interest at the expense of future generations and at the expense of the common good. When few people lived on planet Earth and humans did not yet have technology, there was no need to reflect on the issue of the justification of the consumption of natural capital. Yet people have very early on the natural capital. For example, the disappearance of the megafauna, such as the mammoth, is largely due to man being overrun. However, since the industrial revolution, the use of natural capital has increased exponentially as a result of the technology and the problem has therefore become urgent. Wasting natural capital The ecological crisis is the impending bankruptcy of planet Earth. When the natural capital becomes depleted, there will be a tipping point in the ecosystem of planet Earth, as a result of which the living environment for, among others, the animal species will become unfavorable. However, as long as the capital is not up, it seems like life is a party. Optimists see the party that is financed by the slurping of natural capital. Pessimists see the long term, the mess that remains when the party is over. The ethics of consumption of natural capital is a moral blind spot. It is not a question that is addressed in the political-economic paradigm. The reasons why the natural capital is widely disassembled is that it is possible and that we also have a legal system in which it is legal to do. Technology is making more and more possible, but in practice this leads to ever more intensive looting of natural capital. The bankrupt of system earth The extent to which looted can be measured with the ecological footprint. The average ecological footprint of the Dutch person today is 3.7 planet Earths. This means that if everyone would live on Earth if the average Dutch person would need 3.7 planet Earths. Since we have to live on 1 planet Earth, this means that we commit suicide and we attack the natural capital. We rob us of future generations. Shell and Friesland Campina are examples of companies that deprive future generations of the opportunity to enjoy the proceeds of the natural capital because they participate in the plunder of the planet. Individuals can also ask themselves the question: what justifies my consumption of natural capital? The richer people become, the greater their ecological footprint . Although the rich may have acquired their money within legal frameworks, not everything has been said about the moral justification of an exorbitant lifestyle with a large consumption of energy from non-renewable resources and raw materials (or a large ecological footprint). How can you justify to your grandchildren your consumption of natural capital that has contributed to the bankruptcy of system earth? https://www.whatsorb.com/category/community By: Floris van den Berg. Photo Cover: Bigstock
The current consumption of non-renewable raw materials and energy sources means that future generations no longer have them at their disposal, but that they are stuck with the negative consequences of their use: pollution, deforestation, climate change, desertification, summarized as an ecological crisis. A liberal ethics for the consumption of non-renewable resources and energy sources How could we account for this consumption towards future generations? Which arguments would future generations consider acceptable? Which arguments for the use of, for example, plastic - which has increased exponentially in recent decades - can we give to future generations living in a world in which plastic has negatively affected the ecosystems of planet Earth? The argument 'plastic is a convenient and cheap packaging material' will most likely not be recognized as sufficient justification. Natural capital If raw materials and non-renewable energy sources are used to create a sustainable society, the consumption of natural capital can be seen as an investment for the long term. And by long term I mean the next 200,000 years. The resources of planet Earth can be seen as the natural capital. People can live off the interest of that capital, that is to say, the benefits that nature produces and regenerates. Another option is to enter the natural capital. Take a bongard as an example. The fruit trees yields fruit. When people grow that fruit, the ecosystem remains intact. However, in the short term, besides the fruit, the wood of the fruit trees could also be used and the land of the bongard could be sold to build houses. This yields more economically than just the use of the fruit, but there is a reduction in the natural capital. The short term prevails over the long term when it comes to natural capital. Looting Fossil fuels are finite. Even if there is still oil available for 1,000 years, it is still the question what its use justifies when future generations, after 1,000 years, are without sitting and are also dealing with a warmed up planet. According BP one of worlds largest oil producers, the world has 53.3 years left to find an alternative to oil before current proved reserves run dry. Of course, nations are finding new oil – meaning that number is rising – but new extraction methods are costly and can pose environmental threats. Any use of non-renewable resources must be morally justified. If part of the non-renewable resources, the natural capital, are used for the transition to a sustainable economy and society that will benefit future generations, then this is a convincing moral argument. The consumption of a part of the natural capital does not harm future generations (at least not fundamentally), but it is beneficial for future generations. The way in which natural capital is consumed now is looting: natural capital is used for the short-term self-interest and the interests of future generations are harmed. This goes against the liberal non-harmful principle. Waste bin capacity Of whom is the natural capital actually? The legal definitions of property, as commodities are owned by the inhabitants of nations, are short-sighted. The  natural capital belongs to all earthlings, now and in the future. We know that man has been scurrying around on this planet for about 200,000 years. Let us assume for the sake of convenience that man will last another 200,000 years. That means that the natural capital of planet Earth must also last 200,000 years. The natural capital of planet Earth consists not only of the amount of raw materials that people consume (minerals, fossil fuels), but also the amount of waste that the Earth can absorb, or the waste bin capacity. There is a limited amount of waste that the earth can absorb, but it is quickly exceeded. The quantities of plastic, pesticides, fertilizers and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere disrupt the planet Earth's ecosystem, which naturally invades capital. If, for example, deltas, where millions of people live, are under water due to climate change, it is clear that this is causing damage. Megafauna How can you justify to your grandchildren your consumption of natural capital that has contributed to the bankruptcy of system earth? The consumption of natural capital requires moral reflection. However, in the current political-economic system there is no reflection on the justification of natural capital. However different the political-economic systems may be, they all prioritize contemporary self-interest at the expense of future generations and at the expense of the common good. When few people lived on planet Earth and humans did not yet have technology, there was no need to reflect on the issue of the justification of the consumption of natural capital. Yet people have very early on the natural capital. For example, the disappearance of the megafauna, such as the mammoth, is largely due to man being overrun. However, since the industrial revolution, the use of natural capital has increased exponentially as a result of the technology and the problem has therefore become urgent. Wasting natural capital The ecological crisis is the impending bankruptcy of planet Earth. When the natural capital becomes depleted, there will be a tipping point in the ecosystem of planet Earth, as a result of which the living environment for, among others, the animal species will become unfavorable. However, as long as the capital is not up, it seems like life is a party. Optimists see the party that is financed by the slurping of natural capital. Pessimists see the long term, the mess that remains when the party is over. The ethics of consumption of natural capital is a moral blind spot. It is not a question that is addressed in the political-economic paradigm. The reasons why the natural capital is widely disassembled is that it is possible and that we also have a legal system in which it is legal to do. Technology is making more and more possible, but in practice this leads to ever more intensive looting of natural capital. The bankrupt of system earth The extent to which looted can be measured with the ecological footprint. The average ecological footprint of the Dutch person today is 3.7 planet Earths. This means that if everyone would live on Earth if the average Dutch person would need 3.7 planet Earths. Since we have to live on 1 planet Earth, this means that we commit suicide and we attack the natural capital. We rob us of future generations. Shell and Friesland Campina are examples of companies that deprive future generations of the opportunity to enjoy the proceeds of the natural capital because they participate in the plunder of the planet. Individuals can also ask themselves the question: what justifies my consumption of natural capital? The richer people become, the greater their ecological footprint . Although the rich may have acquired their money within legal frameworks, not everything has been said about the moral justification of an exorbitant lifestyle with a large consumption of energy from non-renewable resources and raw materials (or a large ecological footprint). How can you justify to your grandchildren your consumption of natural capital that has contributed to the bankruptcy of system earth? https://www.whatsorb.com/category/community By: Floris van den Berg. Photo Cover: Bigstock
World Environment Day. The way in which our natural capital is currently consumed is looting
World Environment Day. The way in which our natural capital is currently consumed is looting
The best green innovations of the week
Hydrogen dustcards and light-up trees A number of eye-catching and potentially transformational innovations have emerged that could help businesses and nations deliver on resource efficiency, low-carbon transitions and combat climate change.  With the European Commission presenting its long-awaited marine-litter-busting proposal on banning single-use plastics, sustainability has once again been pushed to the forefront of media attention. With this in mind, this round-up covers a variety of ideas, concepts, products and systems that could help nations and businesses accelerate sustainability commitments. Turning trees into street lights Cities across the globe have looked at ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their streetlight network through smart solutions this year, with The City of London Corporation confirming in February that “state-of-the-art” technology will coat urban spaces in various lighting types and colours at different times of the night. But Copenhagen-based startup Allumen is studying a way to go one step further than LED lighting and turn trees into natural lamps. Researchers at its labs are trying to isolate the genes that make bioluminescent microalgae glow, so they can tweak them and add them to trees, genetically engineering the  plants to emit light. This could, in theory, eliminate the need for electricity and cut the carbon emissions usually related to building street lamps. Scientists believe the relevant genes can be located fairly quickly but could face challenges with getting the gene to perform in a tree – or with ensuring the plants shine brightly enough to replace LEDs. However, it cannot be denied that the prospect of street lights which actually absorb CO2 rather than contributing to emissions is an attractive one. Self-healing cables Fluid-filled cables were deployed across 8,000km of the UK’s electricity network in the 1960s and 70s in a move to ensure electric cables were better insulated and had fewer voids– but over time, they have started to leak and impact the surrounding environment. Northern Powergrid, alongside the Energy Innovation Centre and system developer Gnosys, has this week announced it has been successful in creating a self-healing alternative to tackle the leaking problems. The new liquid, called self-healing fluid, contains a mixture of tung oil and metal soaps which cause it to react and form a strong cohesive mass when it is exposed to air. This will seal the leaks in a similar way to blood concealing into a scab on a wound. The electricity network will start incorporating the new fluid in its network of 930km of cables before the end of 2018 and anticipates the switch will save the firm up to £20m over the next five years. This summer, up to 20,000 litres of the self-healing fluid will be deployed throughout its cable network. Heavy on the hydrogen As carmakers push to electrify their models and businesses strive to cut fleet emissions, the EV revolution has just begun within the heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) sector, with Volvo last month unveiling its first electric truck designed for heavy-duty roles. This week saw UK waste management firm Grundon launch a low-emission hydrogen and diesel dual-fuel waste collection vehicle, which it claims is the first to be used in Britain’s commercial waste industry. The DAF HGV was retrofitted with a 10kg hydrogen unit in a move which cost £177,000 and was described by Grundon group logistics manager John Stephens as “a significant investment”, but one the firm has been keen to make. The truck is fully operational and is collecting waste from homes in London as part of a trial of the dual-fuel technology. If the trial produces adequate carbon reductions, Grundon will look to invest further and retrofit more of its fleet. Rocking the boat Self-driving cars continue to be a hot topic after the Government launched the first phase of a £100m investment in the development of driverless vehicles earlier this year, but researchers are now turning to boats in a bid to cut congestion and pollution on city canals. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have this week unveiled 3D-printed autonomous boats which are fitted with environmental sensors to monitor water pollution and pH levels. Researchers hope the small vessels, which are also equipped with microcontrollers and GPS modules, can be scaled up and used to transport goods and passengers in cities such as Amsterdam, Bangkok and Venice. They have been tested along pre-planned paths in a swimming pool and in the Charles River in Massachusetts, with the inventors now attempting to adapt the model to account for wave disturbances and stronger currents before scaling it up. Coffee cup shake-up In the current market, takeaway paper coffee cups can only be recycled in select infrastructure. They are commonly sealed with a plastic lining to make them waterproof and, although plastic and paper are recyclable, the lining cannot be handled by most recycling facilities. As public awareness around single-use plastics and disposable cups grows, packaging engineering firm Smart Planet Technologies has created a new coating to replace the plastic inside your venti triple-shot latte. Cups lined with the resin-based substance, called EarthCoating, can be widely recycled within existing infrastructure, alongside uncoated paper. Smart Planet Technologies estimates that incorporating the EarthCoating cup results in a cup that contains 43% less plastic than one with standard polyethylene liners, and claims that cups with the substance built in can be recycled up to seven times. The firm has supplied more than seven million of the cups to European clients since launching them last October, and is now looking to expand into the US market. No porky pies With the alternative protein sector set to be worth $5.2bn by 2020, several companies are investing in creating non-meat alternatives to popular dishes. For example, Impossible Foods unveiled a meat-free burger which cost $80m to produce, that uses 95% less land and around 75% less water than traditional burgers. Plant-based food tech startup Beyond Meat has followed suit and turned to breakfast, launching a breakfast sausage patty which is made from pea, mung bean, rice and sunflower protein and designed to look and taste the same as pork. The firm hopes that by mimicking the taste and texture of meat, it can encourage the switch to alternative protein sources and help to slash the estimated 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions currently accounted for by meat and fish supply chains. The patty is currently available to US-based restaurants only, but the Californian firm is planning to launch its product range in Europe, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Chile, Israel, Korea, Taiwan and South Africa this year after finding success in Hong Kong and Germany as well as at home. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/energy By: Sarah George, Eddies, photo cover: Earthbuddies
Hydrogen dustcards and light-up trees A number of eye-catching and potentially transformational innovations have emerged that could help businesses and nations deliver on resource efficiency, low-carbon transitions and combat climate change.  With the European Commission presenting its long-awaited marine-litter-busting proposal on banning single-use plastics, sustainability has once again been pushed to the forefront of media attention. With this in mind, this round-up covers a variety of ideas, concepts, products and systems that could help nations and businesses accelerate sustainability commitments. Turning trees into street lights Cities across the globe have looked at ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their streetlight network through smart solutions this year, with The City of London Corporation confirming in February that “state-of-the-art” technology will coat urban spaces in various lighting types and colours at different times of the night. But Copenhagen-based startup Allumen is studying a way to go one step further than LED lighting and turn trees into natural lamps. Researchers at its labs are trying to isolate the genes that make bioluminescent microalgae glow, so they can tweak them and add them to trees, genetically engineering the  plants to emit light. This could, in theory, eliminate the need for electricity and cut the carbon emissions usually related to building street lamps. Scientists believe the relevant genes can be located fairly quickly but could face challenges with getting the gene to perform in a tree – or with ensuring the plants shine brightly enough to replace LEDs. However, it cannot be denied that the prospect of street lights which actually absorb CO2 rather than contributing to emissions is an attractive one. Self-healing cables Fluid-filled cables were deployed across 8,000km of the UK’s electricity network in the 1960s and 70s in a move to ensure electric cables were better insulated and had fewer voids– but over time, they have started to leak and impact the surrounding environment. Northern Powergrid, alongside the Energy Innovation Centre and system developer Gnosys, has this week announced it has been successful in creating a self-healing alternative to tackle the leaking problems. The new liquid, called self-healing fluid, contains a mixture of tung oil and metal soaps which cause it to react and form a strong cohesive mass when it is exposed to air. This will seal the leaks in a similar way to blood concealing into a scab on a wound. The electricity network will start incorporating the new fluid in its network of 930km of cables before the end of 2018 and anticipates the switch will save the firm up to £20m over the next five years. This summer, up to 20,000 litres of the self-healing fluid will be deployed throughout its cable network. Heavy on the hydrogen As carmakers push to electrify their models and businesses strive to cut fleet emissions, the EV revolution has just begun within the heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) sector, with Volvo last month unveiling its first electric truck designed for heavy-duty roles. This week saw UK waste management firm Grundon launch a low-emission hydrogen and diesel dual-fuel waste collection vehicle, which it claims is the first to be used in Britain’s commercial waste industry. The DAF HGV was retrofitted with a 10kg hydrogen unit in a move which cost £177,000 and was described by Grundon group logistics manager John Stephens as “a significant investment”, but one the firm has been keen to make. The truck is fully operational and is collecting waste from homes in London as part of a trial of the dual-fuel technology. If the trial produces adequate carbon reductions, Grundon will look to invest further and retrofit more of its fleet. Rocking the boat Self-driving cars continue to be a hot topic after the Government launched the first phase of a £100m investment in the development of driverless vehicles earlier this year, but researchers are now turning to boats in a bid to cut congestion and pollution on city canals. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have this week unveiled 3D-printed autonomous boats which are fitted with environmental sensors to monitor water pollution and pH levels. Researchers hope the small vessels, which are also equipped with microcontrollers and GPS modules, can be scaled up and used to transport goods and passengers in cities such as Amsterdam, Bangkok and Venice. They have been tested along pre-planned paths in a swimming pool and in the Charles River in Massachusetts, with the inventors now attempting to adapt the model to account for wave disturbances and stronger currents before scaling it up. Coffee cup shake-up In the current market, takeaway paper coffee cups can only be recycled in select infrastructure. They are commonly sealed with a plastic lining to make them waterproof and, although plastic and paper are recyclable, the lining cannot be handled by most recycling facilities. As public awareness around single-use plastics and disposable cups grows, packaging engineering firm Smart Planet Technologies has created a new coating to replace the plastic inside your venti triple-shot latte. Cups lined with the resin-based substance, called EarthCoating, can be widely recycled within existing infrastructure, alongside uncoated paper. Smart Planet Technologies estimates that incorporating the EarthCoating cup results in a cup that contains 43% less plastic than one with standard polyethylene liners, and claims that cups with the substance built in can be recycled up to seven times. The firm has supplied more than seven million of the cups to European clients since launching them last October, and is now looking to expand into the US market. No porky pies With the alternative protein sector set to be worth $5.2bn by 2020, several companies are investing in creating non-meat alternatives to popular dishes. For example, Impossible Foods unveiled a meat-free burger which cost $80m to produce, that uses 95% less land and around 75% less water than traditional burgers. Plant-based food tech startup Beyond Meat has followed suit and turned to breakfast, launching a breakfast sausage patty which is made from pea, mung bean, rice and sunflower protein and designed to look and taste the same as pork. The firm hopes that by mimicking the taste and texture of meat, it can encourage the switch to alternative protein sources and help to slash the estimated 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions currently accounted for by meat and fish supply chains. The patty is currently available to US-based restaurants only, but the Californian firm is planning to launch its product range in Europe, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Chile, Israel, Korea, Taiwan and South Africa this year after finding success in Hong Kong and Germany as well as at home. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/energy By: Sarah George, Eddies, photo cover: Earthbuddies
The best green innovations of the week
The best green innovations of the week
Counting the cost - simple steps to a
Nelson Environment Centre's Karen Driver said the idea was to create a "circular economy" for products and waste. Rather than something being made, used, and dumped in landfill at the end of its useful life, it's about repurposing it so parts are reused, not thrown out. "To achieve zero waste properly you need everyone in the chain thinking about it, but it really comes down to the design of products," Driver said. Manufacturers and product designers need to have a product's end-of-life in mind when they make it, giving thought to how it might be reused, fixed, or recycled when they're choosing materials. But everyday consumers have their part to play too. Reduce Driver's first tip is don't buy it if you don't really need it. Avoid products that are single-use, like plastic bags or bottled water. Even if something is able to be recycled, it's best to cut down on anything that creates waste, as recycling isn't without its own environmental impacts. "If you're needing to buy something, just think about the lifetime costs of it,"Driver said. She suggested buying things that can be repaired - wooden-handled garden tools instead of plastic, for example - and spending a bit more on items like clothes, choosing quality garments that will last longer, rather than cheap items that need replacing every year. Buying unpackaged fruits and vegetables is a big one too. Driver said it not only cuts down on plastic from packaging and bags, but it can be cheaper for the consumer, as loose items often have lower per-kilogram cost than packaged goods. She said buying loose items means you're more likely to only buy what you need.  Reuse Anything you do own, in terms of plastic containers and bottles, reuse as much as possible. "Reuse it until it's not reusable anymore and then recycle it," she said. Glass jars and more durable containers can be better in the long-term, however. Driver said places like Bin Inn or organic co-ops will let you bring your own containers to be refilled, to avoid relying on single-use bags or containers. Products like beeswax wraps for food and sandwiches are available as alternative to plastic wrap that only gets one use before its tossed in the waste. Biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes are a more sustainable option than their plastic alternative. Rot Driver said where people often came unstuck was thinking they had to change everything at once. She said a better approach was to take it a step at a time. "Like composting for instance. If you put all your vege scraps in the bin, just think about if you could compost it," she said. Worm farms, compost bins, and bokashi are all popular systems , and the Nelson City Council offers a $20 discount for composting materials.  She said the Nelson Environment Centre were happy to advise people as to how they could manage their food waste based on their living situation. Bokashi systems work well for apartment-dwellers or those without gardens, for example.  Recycle If something can't be broken down by nature's processes, isn't able to be reused, and can't be repaired or repurposed, the last option is to recycle it. Driver said the Environment Centre took old electronics, including cellphones, and where they couldn't use the parts to remake new devices, they would recycle them.  The new government was going to look at ways to charge a levy on vehicle tyres, to help cover the cost of recycling them at their end-of-life, she said.  She said both central and local government had a role to play in providing a framework for manufactures to be responsible with end-of-life management for products, and give incentives where necessary to encourage companies to think about "product stewardships". In Kaikōura, the council realised its landfill was nearly full and didn't want to have to dig a new one, so has been encouraging zero waste practices. Auckland Council has also been setting up community hubs to teach residents how to repurpose things and encourage them to think differently about what is waste.  Because for consumers, Driver said, the first step was to look in their own bin. "Have a think about what's the biggest thing you've got in your bin, in terms of volume or weight, and think about how could you reduce that."  
Nelson Environment Centre's Karen Driver said the idea was to create a "circular economy" for products and waste. Rather than something being made, used, and dumped in landfill at the end of its useful life, it's about repurposing it so parts are reused, not thrown out. "To achieve zero waste properly you need everyone in the chain thinking about it, but it really comes down to the design of products," Driver said. Manufacturers and product designers need to have a product's end-of-life in mind when they make it, giving thought to how it might be reused, fixed, or recycled when they're choosing materials. But everyday consumers have their part to play too. Reduce Driver's first tip is don't buy it if you don't really need it. Avoid products that are single-use, like plastic bags or bottled water. Even if something is able to be recycled, it's best to cut down on anything that creates waste, as recycling isn't without its own environmental impacts. "If you're needing to buy something, just think about the lifetime costs of it,"Driver said. She suggested buying things that can be repaired - wooden-handled garden tools instead of plastic, for example - and spending a bit more on items like clothes, choosing quality garments that will last longer, rather than cheap items that need replacing every year. Buying unpackaged fruits and vegetables is a big one too. Driver said it not only cuts down on plastic from packaging and bags, but it can be cheaper for the consumer, as loose items often have lower per-kilogram cost than packaged goods. She said buying loose items means you're more likely to only buy what you need.  Reuse Anything you do own, in terms of plastic containers and bottles, reuse as much as possible. "Reuse it until it's not reusable anymore and then recycle it," she said. Glass jars and more durable containers can be better in the long-term, however. Driver said places like Bin Inn or organic co-ops will let you bring your own containers to be refilled, to avoid relying on single-use bags or containers. Products like beeswax wraps for food and sandwiches are available as alternative to plastic wrap that only gets one use before its tossed in the waste. Biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes are a more sustainable option than their plastic alternative. Rot Driver said where people often came unstuck was thinking they had to change everything at once. She said a better approach was to take it a step at a time. "Like composting for instance. If you put all your vege scraps in the bin, just think about if you could compost it," she said. Worm farms, compost bins, and bokashi are all popular systems , and the Nelson City Council offers a $20 discount for composting materials.  She said the Nelson Environment Centre were happy to advise people as to how they could manage their food waste based on their living situation. Bokashi systems work well for apartment-dwellers or those without gardens, for example.  Recycle If something can't be broken down by nature's processes, isn't able to be reused, and can't be repaired or repurposed, the last option is to recycle it. Driver said the Environment Centre took old electronics, including cellphones, and where they couldn't use the parts to remake new devices, they would recycle them.  The new government was going to look at ways to charge a levy on vehicle tyres, to help cover the cost of recycling them at their end-of-life, she said.  She said both central and local government had a role to play in providing a framework for manufactures to be responsible with end-of-life management for products, and give incentives where necessary to encourage companies to think about "product stewardships". In Kaikōura, the council realised its landfill was nearly full and didn't want to have to dig a new one, so has been encouraging zero waste practices. Auckland Council has also been setting up community hubs to teach residents how to repurpose things and encourage them to think differently about what is waste.  Because for consumers, Driver said, the first step was to look in their own bin. "Have a think about what's the biggest thing you've got in your bin, in terms of volume or weight, and think about how could you reduce that."  
Counting the cost - simple steps to a
Counting the cost - simple steps to a 'zero waste' life
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