NUEVA CIENCIA: ANALISIS DEL CICLO DE VIDA

Publicado: 2011-05-23

A new science: Analysis of the Cycle of Life (ACL)

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NUEVA CIENCIA: ANALISIS DEL CICLO DE VIDA.

La búsqueda de un buen vivir más generalizado y del cuidado de la situación global de la Tierra está haciendo profundizar cada vez más nuestra conciencia ecológica. Ahora se impone analizar el rastro de carbono, de toxinas, de elementos químicos pesados, presentes en los productos industriales que usamos en nuestro día-a-día. De esta preocupación está naciendo una verdadera ciencia nueva, conocida con la sigla ACV: Análisis del Ciclo de Vida.

Se monitorizan los impactos sobre la biosfera, sobre la sociedad y sobre la salud en cada etapa de un producto, comenzando por su extracción, su producción, su distribución, su consumo y su eliminación.

Damos un ejemplo: en la fabricación de un vaso de cristal de un kilo entran, por increíble que parezca, 659 ingredientes diferentes en las distintas etapas hasta llegar al producto final.

 ¿Cuáles son perjudiciales?

El Análisis del Ciclo de Vida busca identificarlos.

 Se aplica también a los llamados productos verdes o ecológicamente limpios.

La mayoría es solamente verde al final o limpio sólo en su utilización terminal, como es el caso del etanol.

Siendo realistas, debemos admitir que toda la producción industrial deja siempre un rastro de toxinas, por mínimo que sea. Nada es totalmente verde o limpio.

Solo relativamente ecoamigable.

Esto ha sido detallado por Daniel Goleman en su reciente libro Inteligencia ecológica (Kairós 2009).

Lo ideal sería que en cada producto, junto con la referencia de sus nutrientes, grasas y vitaminas, estuviesen indicados los impactos negativos sobre la salud, la sociedad y el ambiente.

Esto lo está haciendo en Estados Unidos una institución, Good Guide, accesible desde el móvil, que establece una triple calificación: verde, para productos relativamente puros, amarillo si contienen elementos perjudiciales pero no gravemente, y rojo, desaconsejables por su huella ecológica negativa. Ahora se han invertido los papeles: ya no es el vendedor sino el comprador quien establece los criterios para la compra o para el consumo de determinado producto.

El modo de producción está cambiando y nuestro cerebro no ha tenido tiempo suficiente todavía para seguir esa transformación. El cerebro posee una especie de radar interno que nos avisa cuando se avecinan amenazas y peligros. Los olores, los colores, los sabores y los sonidos nos advierten sobre los productos, si están estropeados o si son sanos, si un animal nos ataca o no.

Pero sucede que nuestro cerebro no registra aún cambios ecológicos sutiles, ni detecta partículas químicas diseminadas en el aire y que pueden envenenarnos. Ya hemos introducido 104 mil compuestos químicos artificiales a través de la biotecnología y la nanotecnología.

Con el recurso del Análisis del Ciclo de Vida constatamos, por ejemplo, cuánto hacen disminuir estas sustancias químicas sintéticas el número de espermatozoides masculinos hasta el punto de generar infertilidad en millones de hombres.

No podemos seguir diciendo: los cambios ecológicos sólo serán buenos si no afectan los costes) y los rendimientos.

Esta mentalidad está atrasada y alienada, pues no se da cuenta de los cambios habidos en la conciencia.

El mantra de las nuevas empresas es ahora: «cuanto más sostenible, mejor; cuanto más sano, mejor; cuanto más eco-amigable, mejor».

La inteligencia ecológica se añadirá a otros tipos de inteligencia; esta inclusión es ahora más necesaria que nunca.

 

Leonardo Boff

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A new science: Analysis of the Cycle of Life (ACL)

            

Leonardo   Boff    Theologian     Earthcharter Commission

  The more general search for a good life and for caring for the global situation of the Earth is causing us to deepen our ecological consciousness. Now we have to analyze the traces of carbon, toxins, heavy metals found in the industrial products we use in our everyday lives.  A new science is being born from this concern, known by the acronym ACV (from the Spanish, Análisis del Ciclo de Vida, or Analysis of the Cycle of Life, ACL.) The impacts on the biosphere, on society and on health in each stage of a product are monitored, starting from their extraction, production, distribution, consumption and their elimination.

Let's take an example: in making a one kilogram crystal vase, incredible as it may sound, 659 different ingredients are used in the different stages until the final product appears. Which are harmful? The Analysis of the Cycle of Life seeks to identify them.

It is also applied to the so called green, or ecologically clean, products. The majority are only green at the end, or clean only in their final utilization, as in the case of ethanol. Being realists, we must admit that all industrial production leaves a trace of toxins, no matter how small. 

Nothing is totally green or clean.

Only relatively eco-friendly.

This was examined by Daniel Goleman in his recent book, Ecological intelligence, (Kairos 2009).

It would be ideal if each product, in addition to detailing its nutrients, fats and vitamins, also stated its negative impacts on health, society and the environment. This is being done in the United States by Good Guide, an institution accessible via the Internet, that establishes a triple qualification: green, for relatively pure products, yellow, if they contain harmful but not extremely bad elements, and red, unadvisable due to its negative ecologic footprint. Now the roles have been reversed: it is no longer the seller, but the buyer who establishes the criteria for purchasing, or for consuming, a given product.

The mode of production is changing and our brains have not had enough time yet to follow that transformation. The brain has a sort of internal radar that lets us know when threats or dangers are near. Smells, colors, flavors and sounds warn us about the products, if they are damaged or if they are all right, if an animal is attacking us, or not.

It so happens that our brains do not yet register subtle ecologic changes, nor do they detect chemical particles disseminated in the air that can poison us.  Through biotechnology and nanotechnology, we have already introduced 104,000 artificial chemical compounds. With the resource of the Analysis of the Cycle of Life we can prove, for instance, the extent to which these synthetic chemical substances decrease the number of male spermatozoids, to the point that millions of men are rendered infertile.

We cannot continue saying: ecological changes are good only if they do not affect costs and earnings.  That form of thinking is backwards and alienated, because it does not note the changes that happen in the consciousness. The mantra of the new enterprises is now: «the more sustainable the better; the healthier the better, the more eco-friendly the better.»

Ecological intelligence will be added to other types of intelligence; including it is now more necessary than ever.

 

Leonardo Boff

05-20-2011

 

Free translation from the Spanish by

Servicios Koinonia, http://www.servicioskoinonia.org.

Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.

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The bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman reveals the hidden environmental consequences of what we make and buy, and shows how new market forces can drive the essential changes we all must make to save our planet. Ecological Intelligence draws on cutting-edge research to reveal why “green is a mirage,” illuminates inconsistencies in our response to the ecological crisis, and introduces new technologies that reveal with “radical transparency” the eco-impact of products we buy, with the potential to drive consumers to make smarter decisions and companies to reform their business practices.

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O Interview: How Daniel Goleman Is Changing Our Ideas About Living Green

By Aimee Lee Ball

O, The Oprah Magazine  | 

From the April 2009 issue of   O, The Oprah Magazine

 

Daniel Goleman wants to start a revolution to save the Earth. The unlikely weapon? Your brain.

In his 1995 best-seller Emotional Intelligence, psychologist Daniel Goleman, PhD, changed our concept of what smart is—from a high IQ score to a much broader, richer collection of personal and social capabilities. Now he is challenging our ideas about living green. With Ecological Intelligence, published this month, Goleman calls on all of us to think beyond terms like "organic," "recycled," "fair trade"—and to pursue a deeper, more critical understanding of how the products we buy, use, and discard affect the environment. Convinced that information is the tool we need for real reform, he offers a few lessons to get us started.

O: Most of us turn down the thermostat, use canvas shopping bags, and recycle paper. Is any of this making a difference?

Goleman: In 10 years we'll look back on these efforts as baby steps. What we haven't understood is the full consequence of everything we buy and use. A glass jar has hundreds of ecological impacts we're blind to. Just to make the glass, you have to burn a gas furnace 24 hours at 2,000 degrees. That consumes a huge amount of energy.

O: You talk about "greenwashing." What is that?

Goleman: Greenwashing is the selective display of one or two virtuous attributes of a product, meant to impart ecological friendliness. Used to shine up market appeal, it actually creates an illusion. The label may say 100 PERCENT ORGANIC COTTON, but it takes about 660 gallons of water to grow the cotton for one T-shirt. If the shirt is colored, a large amount of dye rinses off into factory wastewater, which can end up in rivers, and some commonly used textile dyes harbor carcinogens. These products are green-ish: They're draped with the appearance of ecological merit, but that's not the whole truth.

O: So how can we know the whole truth?

Goleman: A method called life-cycle assessment looks at an entire range of a product's impact from the time its ingredients are extracted from the Earth: the chemical compounds used in manufacturing, how it's transported to us, what happens when we use it and throw it away. Buying phosphate-free soap allows you to say, "My detergent doesn't have the harsh chemicals others do." The question is, how are you washing with it? The very worst thing for the Earth about detergent is that we heat water to use it. What we need is ecological intelligence, so we become a mass of shoppers who care, driving companies to do the right thing.

O: How should we educate ourselves?

Goleman: There's a new software program, GoodGuide, that can calculate the specific ecological impact of a product during its manufacture, transport, use, and disposal. The visionary behind this idea is an industrial ecologist named Dara O'Rourke, PhD, at UC Berkeley. To help us make smart purchases, GoodGuide provides information like: What ingredients in the product are health concerns? How far did it travel? How were workers treated? GoodGuide integrates data from hundreds of complex databases and summarizes the bottom line in the time it takes to exhale. A shopper can type in the bar code of a product in her cell phone, send it via text message, and within seconds an image appears, rating the product in terms of its environmental, health, and social impact. The software is still being worked out, but it's available for iPhones now, free, at GoodGuide.com.

O: Why is this kind of knowledge so important?

Goleman: It's what I call radical transparency. It brings to the neighborhood mall the same full disclosure that's in corporate financial reports. It means that shoppers know the entire life cycle of a product right at the point they consider buying it. It makes every one of us able to vote with our dollars based on sound information.

O: How will that affect manufacturers?

Goleman: Once shoppers become empowered, we will facilitate industries thinking in completely new terms; for example, making products that are totally biodegradable. The industrial processes in use today were developed at a time when no one had to consider what the environmental impact was. Who cared? But making ecological concerns matter to a company's bottom line will help it do the research and development that will reinvent everything we buy.

O: Your book was written before the economic downturn. Can we live green without paying more for it?

Goleman: Yes. You don't have to go to the most expensive organic food store. And some of the highest-priced shampoos have the worst chemicals, according to Skin Deep [CosmeticsDatabase.com], a website that evaluates ingredients in cosmetics.

O: Why will green information affect consumers any more than education about tobacco has? The surgeon general has been putting warning labels on cigarettes for more than 40 years, but 21 percent of the population still smokes.

Goleman: There will always be a group of people who just don't care, but look at the number of people who smoked in the 1950s [nearly 40 percent of the adult population in 1955] before the warning, compared with now. That's a massive improvement. And unlike the tobacco industry, which dug in its heels and fought every scientific fact about smoking, companies today are more than willing to make improvements that benefit the environment. The perception that an issue matters is important to companies because it's the perception that will change consumer behavior and, in turn, market share.

O: Who will lead the green revolution?

Goleman: I think it's going to be an army of eco-moms. In most families, it's the moms who shop, and moms care about the well-being of their families. The real leaders are not the Al Gores; they're the moms.

O: In your book, you urge us to be compassionate consumers. Do you mean compassion for the Earth?

Goleman: Making choices that improve things for all of us on the planet is an act of compassion, a simple act we can do any time we go shopping.

http://www.oprah.com/world/O-Interviews-Ecological-Intelligence-Author-Daniel-Goleman

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