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On Earth and in Space: « Our Waste products »

Por Miguel Soares - Obra do próprio, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Waste generation rates are rising across the world. With rapid population growth, annual waste generation is expected to increase by 70% from 2016 levels to 3.40 billion tonnes in 2050 (Re: World Bank). By early 2018 China, which is the world’s biggest waste importer decided to impose a ban on foreign trash. That was a salutary lesson to some Western Countries which refused to invest heavily in waste treatment facilities. And now, a quick look at the outer Space. According to the estimates of the European Space Agency there are some 29.000 debris objects larger than 10cm and 166 million debris objects smaller than 1cm which remain in Space. The total mass of all Space objects in Earth orbit is more than 8400 tonnes. The major Space-faring nations do not seem to be very preoccupied by the fact that the Space could become a new rubbish bin. These countries worry only about the risks of collision that might arise between satellites and debris. A draft code of conduct for Outer Space Activities which included rules on Space debris was set 10 years ago under the auspices of the Council of the European Union. This draft agreement has completely stalled. The reason is that the three major Space powers: Russia, China and the US work primarily on military and security issues. In view of this, we still believe that the most efficient way to deal with the problem of waste is to make less of it.

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