Jim’s First Book:


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Finally, is the collector and its components designed to be easily reused and recycled?  If not, in part or whole, the collector will take up space in a landfill.  In addition to the damage to the environment that landfills cause, they also cost money for the land they occupy and perhaps the eventual cost of cleaning up the groundwater storage basins which underlie them or receive leachate from them.

If, on the other hand, the collector is designed to be easily recycled, the cost of land filling and potential groundwater pollution is avoided.  Additionally, the negative impacts associated with mining and processing metals and other materials to make a new collector or other product are largely eliminated.  It takes a relatively small amount of energy to melt and reform a refined metal, compared with what it takes to produce it from virgin ore.  The pollution generated by recycling a metal is also much easier to control and greatly reduced in volume, compared with getting the same amount of metal by mining and processing virgin ore.

The issues raised in the solar collector example just discussed are almost never considered when we unleash products on the world.  This is because there is a general lack of knowledge about how the ecology of our planet works and how what we do affects it.  This lack of ecological savvy has led us to accept half-solutions in dealing with human caused ecological problems.  Even solar energy, if not thoughtfully implemented, can be ecologically destructive.

Another example relates to how we have approached the global carbon dioxide-greenhouse warming issue.  In proposing solutions to this problem, a number of scientists have called for growing various plants, from algae to trees, as a way to reduce the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere.  While there are many good reasons for growing plants and particularly trees, a permanent reduction in atmospheric CO2 may not be not one of them.

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