Laudato Si 21: Residue

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. As Pope Francis discusses here, some waste products are severely hazardous, and some people lament the good ol’ days:

21. Account must also be taken of the pollution produced by residue, including dangerous waste present in different areas. Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilized in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxins in those places are low. Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has been irreversibly affected.

Pollution would not be tolerated in most democracies, especially if it were deposited near the rich and powerful. We can thank activists it’s not as bad in some countries–like the US–as it is in places where the poor have no voice and the privileged can play the game of NIMBY.

Cell phones and computers are two products of the past twenty years that it doesn’t seem we’ve made any provision for recycling, let alone disposal. And then consider new initiatives in manufacturing. That last sentence quoted above: ominous, isn’t it?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Laudato Si 21: Residue

  1. Melody says:

    Actually there is a plan for recycling and disposal. It’s called “send it to the developing world”.
    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/news/2002/02/25/computer-waste.htm
    The good part is that it provides jobs and conserves resources. The bad part is that it is frequently carried out without regard for pollution and the health of workers. Europe and Japan have an organized system. But the developing world isn’t there yet; and the generators of the waste seem to have a “not my problem” attitude.

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