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Life in the Angkor rubbish dumps, Cambodia



Rubbish and Survival

This collection takes a look at rubbish and survival or how to avoid the tendency to "mess things up".

"The Fifth Garbosphere" takes you through the history of trash from latrines to atmospheric pollution, while "The Bubble" likens humanity to the physics of a bubble.

The "Earth's Economic Balance" weighs up the two main attitudes to economics market capitalism versus sustainability  choose your currency.

And finally "Green Ice" is a short piece written about a wild and important place which records our past and gives some vital clues for the future Greenland.


The Fifth Garbosphere

While the Romans are best known
for the first widespread utilisation of the latrine
(examples can be found in ancient Egypt, from around 2000 BC,
and in China, from around 100BC, during the Han Dynasty),

It was the British, during the industrial revolution
who pioneered the fully flushing sewage system for urban societies,
from the water closet (1596) to the first London sewerage system (1865)
thereby establishing the first Garbosphere*.

The second garbosphere, stimulated by the first,
comprises a system for maintaining clean water supplies
free from bacteria, water-borne diseases, toxic waste and chemicals,
constituted in the U.S. as the Clean Water Act (1972; amended 1977, 1987),
adapted in various forms worldwide, and currently proposed as
Article 31 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

The third sphere is the quintessential garbosphere:
a system for handling discarded food and packaging.
Gradually evolving from city dumps, landfill sites, disused mines,
incinerators, sorting-at-source collection systems, industrial recycling units,
anaerobic digestion, composting units, and waste minimisation;
also identified as a geological stratum – the Poubellian (Lower and Upper).

Now the fourth garbosphere has only recently been appreciated:
the atmosphere - the air that we breathe –  the layer in which we live.
Limits to the contamination of the Earth's atmosphere

by human expulsions of the gaseous kind, mainly carbon dioxide and methane

have been reached. Advances in technology have led to management of
the first, second and third garbospheres, and now we have the fourth.

It's dawn was marked by the appreciation of the CFC-ozone-layer link
Identified, debated and acted upon, following the 1987 Montreal protocol#,
but the main development phase of the fourth garbosphere has just begun.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) mapped, tracked and modeled
global greenhouse warming, mainly caused by centuries of burning of fossil fuels,
and plans are underway to control the human sources of atmospheric CO2.

Animal waste, water quality, garbage control, and atmospheric chemistry make four
loosely associated with earth, water, wind and fire –  so what constitutes the fifth?
It is, somewhat analogous to the Greek's Aether –  the sphere of knowledge.
The world-wide-web, news and literary journals, and international scientific bodies
encapsulate the global sphere of human knowledge but are sadly now polluted
by computer viruses, mis-information, propaganda and ignorance.

So how do we clean up the fifth garbosphere?
Well, like the first four, it needs some technology,
but mainly it takes motivation and self control.
Do you want to live with pollution and waste?
Speak no trash, see no trash, and hear no trash.
And start cleaning up the fifth garbosphere.

*Garbosphere is defined as a domain for the handling of human waste products. Trash refers to "any worthless material that is to be disposed of." The word is of Scandinavian origin meaning "fallen leaves and twigs." Trash (Am. Eng.) is essentially synonymous with rubbish (Br. Eng.). Garbage is a subset of trash comprising "food and packaging that is discarded." The word probably came from Old French - jarbage "a bundle of sheaves, entrails," Garbage has the sense of being collected, managed and, ideally, re-cycled. (Modified from answerbag.com, posting of Sep 27, 2005.)

#The 1987 Montreal Protocol, convened by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), was a comprehensive, international agreement designed to slow and eventually reverse stratospheric ozone depletion, and called for a 50% reduction of Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) emissions by the year 2000. Amendments to the protocol were made in 1990 and 1992. As a result of these regulatory measures, CFC concentrations declined in lower atmosphere, and remained constant in the upper atmosphere by 2000.


The Bubble

is a thin, fragile membrane:
one molecule thick, spreading infinitely, yet contained
like a bubble with multiple curves and topological twists,
refracting the light into myriads of colours,
a birefringent, prismatic shimmer,
watchable forever.
The flaws, knots and twists
are healed by chemical spreading, remarkably,
in spite of, and because of, the tension. Complexity,
elasticity and the unfathomable bonds of history
provide its flexibility, whilst the growth of
homogeneous mono-molecularity
brings new and dangerous
Sustain and enjoy
human and cultural diversity
in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australasia,
the Americas and islands of the seas.
Resist all the disjoining pressures,
for the spread of uniformity
only makes the bubble
more likely to






 Earth globe west (from NASA)


Earth's Economic Balance 


e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e

e-business has arrived - fast international commerce

exchange of monies with a few clicks of a mouse

entrepreneurs of every kind are trading in e.e

evaluate your desired goods and then make

easy decisions to purchase virtually free

except for a minor tax or mark-up fee

ecomomics in this open web is the

edge - the ultimate global trade

enemy of the large corporate

enterprise - or just maybe

end of our own diverse

ecology - we choose

either to see value

endure or leave

Earth to die




         Make everything on Earth cheaper D Declare everything on Earth has value.



Green Ice


It was hunters who came here first
For furs and fish at the edge,
on the edges of ice:
white ice, blue ice, green ice, brown.


Then came the hunters for life at the edge:
wild life, conflict life, borderline life.
Cyanobacteria, Salix arctica,
Sterna paradisaea, Ovibos moschatus.


But now most valued by those who hunt
For an edge on the tracks of Earth history:
Cenozoic ice shows, Mesozoic dramas,
Paleozoic plays and Proterozoic operas.


White ice, blue ice, green ice, brown;
Greenland – Earth’s thermometer.


Greenland ice cap melt (photo by J.A. Dowdeswell)