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AlexTD
[The Upcycle] Big dreams vs. small details

I just finished the 'Soil not Oil' chapter, along with the previous two. I continue to really appreciate the effort the authors put into pushing this 'reversed' philosophy of design, starting with values and goals, and letting metrics measure how you're doing rather than some pre-set target. I like that a lot. 

However, I'm continually wincing at some of the larger upcycling ideas, particularly around water and food systems. I think the general principle is great - grow food with wind energy, recycle nutrients from wastewater, etc. - but the practical aspects of doing it are not even addressed. I appreciate 'why not this instead' approaches a lot, and I'm glad they're pushed here, but there's no mention of rennovating existing buildings for {passive solar, supporting rooftop hydroponics, greywater/blackwater lines}. There's probably enough wind to do the whole vertical farms lit by LEDs (at which point we're at something like 9% of incident energy available to plants, as opposed to 100% from growing them outside or in horizontal greenhouses, requiring a lot more capacity), but is that really the best way to deal with the embodied energy of our food system? Alternatively, can we really make solar panels and wind turbines that are Cradle to Cradle certified? That's an unaddressed question that I'd really like to hear the authors address (was it in the first book?). 

I guess the other point here is this: should I be assessing these details as I read this, in the sense of a near-term plan, or should I just be saying 'that's a really good goal, and I'll work on finding ways to implement it in pieces'?