Thursday, May 11, 2017

Waste Management - Key to Sustainable Productivity

The key is Homeostasis or Dynamic Balance -  the ability of Mother Earth to adjust with changing conditions of the environment through time.
 “Everything on earth and in the universe undergoes a cycle, a beginning and an end, and in between a period of growth, stability and senescence. Yet no cycle could succeed unless it is part of an interrelationship with and among other cycles in the biological and physical world, each lending a vital role aimed at a holistic and perpetual oneness apparently designed by an unknown hand.”    - AVR

Farmers should recycle rice hay back to the soil, and must not burn it. (Painting by French Impressionist painter Claude Monet

Abercio V. Rotor, Ph.D.
Presented at the  National Environmental Conference, St Paul University, QC, 2008

When asked what is the best way to keep “balance of nature”, an old man living by a small mountain lake atop Mt Pulog answered, “Leave Nature alone.”

I expected a different answer because the book says man is the “guardian” of living things, and of all creation for that matter. 

But how could it be when the earth is five billion years old and man’s arrival is not earlier than two million years ago?

The difference in viewpoint is further aggravated by direct conflict between man and nature throughout the ages.  And our Darwinian view that survival is an ultimate struggle.

Then this relationship took a different turn. Now the enemy of nature is man.
                                            “The ultimate test of any civilization
                                               is not in its inventions and deeds;
but the endurance of Mother Nature
         in keeping up with man’s endless needs.”
                                                  - AVR

But such thought is folly. We are still governed by the laws of nature.  Our advantage is not necessarily the advantage of nature, and vice versa. Man’s periodicity of time and space is so brief; it is not even a wink of nature.

Now allow me to take up the subject assigned to me – does recycling enhance sustainability? On the point of nature yes.  Let’s look into these phenomena.

1. Lightning is Nature’s quickest and most efficient converter and recycler, instant manufacturer of nitrates, phosphates, sulfates; it burns anything on its path, recharges ions. Lightning sustains the needs of the biosphere, it is key to biodiversity.

2. Fire is the Nature’s second tool. While fire is indeed destructive, in the long run, fields, grasslands and forests are given new life by it. Fire is a test of survival of the fittest. It re-arranges organisms and assigns them in their respective places. It gives chance to younger members, such as trees in a forest, to take over the older ones, rejuvenating the whole forest itself. It is the key to the continuity of life.

3. Volcanoes erupt to recycle the elements from the bowels of the earth to replenish the spent landscape, so with submarine volcanoes that keep the balance of the marine ecosystems, including those at the deep ocean floor. 

The Tale of the Potted Tree  

A scientist planted in a pot a tree seedling    1/2 kg in weight, 1/2 meter tall.  He placed 20 kg of soil, and watered the plant regularly. After one year the sapling weighed 5 kg and reached 2 m in height. The weight of the soil is still the same – 20 kilos more or less.

But where did the incremental biomass (4 1/2 kg) come from? Gain in biomass is stored energy (of the Sun) + stored matter (water from the soil, and Carbon Dioxide from the air.) This is the Principle of Photosynthesis, which is the foundation of a complex system of energy flow in the biosphere – a system than encompasses interrelationships between and among organisms through a food web.
  • Perpetual Rhythm of Recycling on the grassland, field and forest.
  • This helps explain Homeostasis or dynamic balance in any ecosystem such as the Tropical Rain Forest
What are the practical applications of this phenomenon?
  • When we eat rice, we get that energy and release it in the form of work
  • When we burn firewood we release that energy in the form of heat and light.
  • When we step of the gas we release a bit of the sun stored millions of years ago.
  • A compost pile shrinks and releases heat and gas.
  • Wildfire clears forests, smoothers pasture; carcasses become part of soil; farm wastes become organic fertilizer.
The Laws of Nature always prevail

      •         Seasons, weather and climate
         Life cycle and alternation of generations
         Food chain, food web, food pyramid
         Continental drift, volcanism, ice age
         Naturally occurring Cycles –
       - Carbon
       - Nitrogen
       - Phosphorous
       - Calcium
       - Water      
       - Other elements and compounds.

Be keen with the Continuity and Perpetual Rhythm in Nature
      •      Rhizobium bacteria restore N balance in soil.
       A forest or pasture grows back after fire.
       A volcano erupts, lava settles into fertile soil.
       Termites break cellulose into simpler compounds.
       Regeneration follows a typhoon or flood.
•    Tides and currents keep the sea in a state of balance. 
Root modules of a legume abode of Rhizobium bacteria 

The key is Homeostasis or Dynamic Balance is the ability of Mother Earth to adjust with changing conditions through time.

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