Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Global Carbon

On the note of global tree recycling: I have been watching "How it's made" as my standard after-dinner-with-a-drink TV show. In two episodes, one on printer paper, and another on toilet paper, it describes part of the process. Printer paper is made from mostly trees, where it gets chopped, boiled, bleached, dehydrated, sold and eventually printed on. Toilet paper is made from mostly recycled paper, where it is boiled, removed of ink, re-bleached, dried and put on cardboard rolls. In my favorite issue of Science everan article describes how Washington DC is going to upgrade its sewage treatment facilities to turn half of our carbon sewage into fertilizer (the other half will burn the methane by-product to run the plant). So if you think about it, carbon gets emitted from the temperate zones, where all the cities are, where it gets sequestered by the forests of Canada  which get turned into trees, which get turned into paper, which get turned into toilet paper, which get turned into sewage, which get turned into fertilizer which gets turned into food in the temperate zones. The food obviously gets turned into crap, which gets wiped by the toilet paper. It makes me hopeful about the future. The systems we have in place can already accommodate the cycling of nutrients for a global economy, except for the fossil fuels. The less we rely on fossil fuels, the more the carbon loop becomes closed, in which case nature will take care of herself.

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