There is a wide conviction among people that there are resources that can be renewed, and some that are non-renewable. How come, why is this (mis-) understanding so widely? Is it just convenient to look at it like this?
In the first place, to come directly to the point : anything can be renewed. ( See previous blogs -1 cycle- for some more background on this). If something is renewed, is a matter of having nature do its work, or have people intervene and do the job. Which in a way is nature as well. The difference in perception I cant find another reason, is mainly based on laziness. If nature does the job, its called “renewable resources”, and if nature takes too much time , its not mankind taking over responsibility for renewing the resources, its just called “ non-renewable resources” , and the problem ‘disappears’. This takes its own pace in society and the opinion rules that nothing can be done about that. A somewhat fatalistic mindset.
In one of our previous research projects we already found that this terminology is untenable, and reinforces itself. By naming it like this it becomes as if being a law of nature . We , back then , came to the conclusion that it would be better to make another distinction: re-growables and re-newables : anything can be renewed: some regrow, and other can be renewed. Non renewable are renewable, only we don’t do it. Naming it regrowable and renewables, the sting is removed from the debate. One hopes.
But whats in a name, the question remains if this will endure, if regrowables get the chance to regrow, and if renewables will be renewed. In other words: if mankind will invest in renewing stocks. Since it still is a strange attitude : the thought that nature has to do it on its own: not realizing that mankind is nature as well, and can interfere in the cycles/flows. The only distinction is that man can decide not to act, continue guzzling in resources, jolo in modern terms, , and wait for the stocks to deplete. The Louis 14 syndrome so to say. Waiting for the deluge. Some have already started building floating houses . Where did I read about that before…?
Moreover, in many cases where nature (excluding mankind) wants to do its work, mankind prevents this. More land is occupied for settlements , fun landscapes and other unproductive use of land. Or even made unproductive by exhausting agriculture. We are the machinator in the natural system, the virus that upsets things.
In other words: mankind not only has the possibility to renew “ non-renewables” , but can also prevent that regrowables are renewed. Which , to be honest , is of course nothing else as any other sub species of nature react: there is a niche in the ecosystem, and its taken, as much as possible , either subtle or shooting bullets : any species has its particular defense and offense weapons set up, and sometimes exploits others , like bees in service of propagation attracted by nectar. Like the Chinese 150 years ago were forced to trade with the English attracted by cocaine.
Pollan in his book the Omnivore’s dilemma” suggests that not mankind is the most successful species on earth but maize: since it has exploded as a species , and was successful in using mankind for its success and its reproduction. We as humans are the bees of Maize.
Whatever, it will take some time before regrowable and renewable will be adopted in daily life. Before mankind accepts that oil , coal and gas are renewable , only that this process comes with a few drops a year per hectare.
In the mean time , focusing on energy in the arguing but the same counts for materials, nowadays we don’t talk about ‘ energy’ as such anymore, but of CO2, carbon, greenhouse gas, global potential warming, the debate has been deflected again from its roots, and is professionally shifted towards some of its side effects. In fact only 1 side effects. Important, but not the full story. Nobody wants to burn his fingers on the real issue: depleting or renewing.
Of course, you can look at CO2 , and give licenses to new fossil energy power plants under the condition that they capture an store CO2 (.), but still you are depleting the source. Sooner or later. Everything thats is not re-generated, dies out. Extinction of resources, Lost in dispersed molecules. It is just that way. Which once was brilliantly phrased by a commercial slogan from SPA water company. OK, its complete nonsense to drink water from a bottle in stead of from the tap, for sure in our regions, but their slogan was perfect: if we are not good for the water, the water will not be good for us.
And that counts for more then water alone: If agricultural land is exhausted, nothing will grow anymore. If sheep graze until the land is bare, the soil blows away.
Which is the reason that I want to introduce another approach, which might be accepted more easily. We are doing the rights things or not , which should not be hidden in a concluding detachment like ‘renewable’ or ‘non-renewable’, but in a actual reality and connectivity: something is renewed or not . We stick to the source, in stead of a deflected effect, and incorporate our own behavior : something is either renewed or not-renewed, and in the last case its called non-renewed resource use;: its not about non-renewables, but about non-renewed use of resources . Which makes a huge difference. Societies main resource issue is then summarized as:
renewed or non-renewed , thats the question