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Dysfunction - Aug 21

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Thieves loot cemeteries for metal

Oren Dorell, USA TODAY
Ghouls have made a resurgence in cemeteries throughout the United States, prying plates and ornaments from headstones and selling them to scrap yards.

A rise in metal prices is driving the thefts, detectives say. Prices for copper, brass and bronze - metals that are commonly found in cemetery remembrances - have in some cases quadrupled in price in the past four years.

Because the metals can be hammered out of shape, the thefts are virtually untraceable.

"It's disgusting," says Detective Kurt Fundermark of the Cape Coral (Fla.) Police Department, who is investigating the theft of 150 brass flower vases from grave sites in two cemeteries.
(19 August 2008)

Sending waste to China saves carbon emissions

John Vidal, Guardian
Sending old newspapers and plastic bottles 10,000 miles for recycling in China produces more carbon savings than landfilling it in Britain and making new goods, reveals a study from the government body charged with reducing UK waste.

In the last 10 years annual exports of paper, mainly to India, China and Indonesia, have risen from 470,000 tonnes to 4.7m tonnes, while exports of old plastic bottles have gone from under 40,000 tonnes to half a million tonnes.

Now the counterintuitive conclusions of the report from the Waste Resources Action Programme (Wrap) suggest that the advantage of recycling over landfilling is so great that it makes environmental sense to ship waste right round the world if it can be used again.
(19 August 2008)

The impact of continued population growth

Mahfuz R. Chowdhury, UPI Asia Online
New York, NY, United States, - The world’s population is approaching 7 billion and apparently increasing at a rate of about 78 million per year. At the current annual growth rate of 1.16 percent, it is expected to double within 60 years. However, the projection of 9 billion by 2050 by the United Nations is an improvement over an earlier 40-year estimate (1960 to 2000) during which the population of the world practically doubled, from 3 to 6 billion.

The point is that the world’s population will continue to grow unless there is a conscious effort by mankind to limit its growth, or if nature imposes some kind of control like the recent earthquake in China or the cyclones and tsunamis in South and Southeast Asia.

In 1798 an English economist, Thomas Malthus, gained fame by arguing that population grows at a geometric rate while food output grows at an arithmetic rate, making food scarcity inevitable. His theory was dismissed for promoting pessimism on the grounds that it failed to consider technological advances in agriculture and food production...
(14 August 2008)

New sea change forecasts present a slimy picture

Robert C. Cowen, Christian Science Monitor
Earth’s oceans are on the brink of massive change. You see it in such details as the hordes of Pacific mollusks that researchers have identified as ready to invade the North Atlantic as a thawing Arctic Ocean opens the way. You also see it in broad trends: A new overview warns that such relentless human impacts as overfishing or agricultural pollution - as well as global warming - threaten mass extinctions of marine life.

Jeremy Jackson at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who made that overview, notes that this is “not a happy picture.”

He says that “the only way to keep one’s sanity and try to achieve real success is to carve out sectors of the problem that can be addressed in effective terms and get on with it as quickly as possible.”

For example, policymakers and governments can work aggressively to get international agreement on sustainable fishing practices that really work. They can vigorously pursue development and implementation of nonpolluting farming.
(20 August 2008)

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