Thursday, March 5, 2015

From NASA’s Air Pollution Video to K-Cups:
Macro to Micro to Macro, we’re All Connected

Video: NASA Animation Shows Asian Air Pollution Moving Across the Globe
“The indigenous understanding has its basis of spirituality in a recognition of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things, a holistic and balanced view of the world. All things are bound together. All things connect. What happens to the Earth happens to the children of the earth. Humankind has not woven the web of life; we are but one thread. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”
You don’t have to be a member of a Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, or indigenous tradition to know of the interconnectivity and interdependence of all things. As a matter of fact, you don’t even need to be spiritually inclined at all to recognize this most ancient and universal tenet as a scientifically verified and verifiable fact. Indeed, the above video from NASA should make it clear: on this planet, at least, we’re all in this together…we are all connected.

If you want to see just how deep that interconnectedness runs, there is an excellent article on the topic at:

For today’s discussion, we want to keep it more on a macrocosmic level—that is, limit it to our planet and the ways in which actions in any one region affect the whole.

We know that pollution spreads. The above video by NASA—revealing how aerosol particulates move through the atmosphere—shows how in this case air currents carry pollution to other parts of the planet.

What’s particularly interesting in this case is how this type of airborne particulate matter may be contributing to climate change in unexpected ways. Water vapour in the atmosphere collects around airborne particulates and results in precipitation. More particulates; more precipitation. If those particulates have a certain chemical composition, they may react with the water and result in a solution such as acid rain.

In any case, the pollution is returned to the earth in unexpected locations and ways; namely, as dissolved particulates in water…that goes straight into soil, streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. The water cycle drives all life as we know it on this planet, and anything that’s dissolved in water goes where the liquid water flows…including the bodies of plants, animals and ultimately humans.

Image: Pollution in the Water Cycle 
Credit: Quiksilver Foundation 

It’s very much a case of macro ecological disturbances having very real negative effects at the micro-level of individual human health and wellness.

In a very real sense, the planet earth has its own circulatory and respiratory systems. What we treat as unconscious physical systems (weather patterns, climate) are in fact part of a living breathing megaorganism…if ecosystems can be called superorganism, then a collective ecosystem of ecosystems on a planetary scale is mega indeed. 

But the mega is not immune to micro disturbances; at least, not in the aggregate macro effects. As discussed in The Attlas Project – SEE The World in a New Light:
“The question is not whether there are micro causes that have macro effects.  The real question is what micro opportunities do we seize today that will lead to positive macro effects in the future?”
This is just something we can feel in our gut. (Literally, if anyone has ever had a stomach infection). The point is: if it’s true for positive micro opportunities, then the same is true for negative micro disturbances. It explains why the inventor of the K-Cup, John Sylvan, now regrets having done so.

Originally invented for use in offices and other places where the efficiency and convenience of being able to brew a single-serve coffee out of a small plastic cup seemed to make practical sense, the single-serve disposable coffee-pod phenomenon has ballooned into a behemoth of a multi-billion dollar industry, in which personal taste and convenience drives the bulk of sales, and what critics call an environmental catastrophe.

Keurig K-Cups are non-recyclable, and an estimated 30 billion plastic K-Cups now litter the planet, mostly in land-fills, but also no doubt in the floating plastic debris field in the Pacific Ocean. (What is true for particulates and global air currents is equally true for plastic and global oceanic currents).

It even prompted one group to express their distaste in short film format…

Video: Kill the KCup 

Most everyone likes a good action drama flick. But sadly, humanity has a tendency to make life mimic art versus the other way ‘round. We need to wake up to the fact that there is no such thing as “an isolated incident,” or a “contained ecological disaster.” Likewise, the little choices we make day in and day out affect all of us.

Genesis Eco Fund believes wholeheartedly that the key to bringing the all-important reality of global interconnectivity and interdependence back into the consciousness of society is to bring micro examples of that interconnectivity and interdependence back into people’s lives…ecosystems.

You would never toss your used K-Cup into the ecosystem in your home, workplace, or school. Maybe, just maybe, that in and of itself will get you to start reconsidering tossing that used K-Cup at all…and maybe relax and spend a special moment actually enjoying a fresh-brewed pot of coffee together with family, colleagues, etc. in the interconnected and interdependent company of an ecosystem.

It’s definitely a positive micro opportunity that has potentially profound macro effects. 

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