Discover more from Imperfect notes on an imperfect world
Josef Adalian and Lane Brown have written a thought provoking article about the state of the television industry, ‘The Binge Purge’. What is remarkable is how much of what is being described could be applied more broadly to describe many industries and institutions today. Consider these quotes from people interviewed in the piece:
‘These companies took what was an extraordinarily successful economic model and they destroyed it in favor of a model that may or may not work — but almost certainly won’t work as well as the old model.’
‘It’s like the entire system has snapped.’
‘We thought we were paying attention, and yet it still happened because nobody really knew anything about how any of this was working. We just all as a group sat there and watched all of the things that we had worked so hard to achieve — we watched them get taken away right from under our noses.’
‘It’s not like just returning to the old status quo is the answer. We’re at the center of the tornado right now, and it seems like it’s whipping all around us, and I don’t think anybody really understands how to make it stop.’
One final quote from the piece: ‘The solutions weirdly all revert back to what used to be on some level.’ That appears to be what is happening with tourism.
From the UNWTO May 2023 World Tourism Barometer (don’t worry, there is a Sustainable Development Goals logo on the webpage):
International arrivals recovered 80% of pre-pandemic levels in Q1 of 2023.
An estimated 235 million tourists travelled internationally in the first three months, more than double those in the same period of 2022.
Many destinations saw international tourism exceed pre-pandemic levels in Q1 2023.
International tourism is expected to continue its recovery throughout the year backed by strong pent-up demand, the sustained recovery of air connectivity, as well as by the recent reopening of China and other major Asian markets and destinations.
Whether or not the pandemic suggested anything different about other ways of living, whether or not ecological limits suggest that a world of as much travel as possible is feasible or advisable, such quibbles are pushed to the side, and instead we have people actively engaging in ‘revenge tourism’. Time to consume more, we missed out.
No-face / Kao-nashi ( 顔無し) from Spirited Away ( 千と千尋の神隠し ) is a character I spend a lot of time thinking about these days. Image care of Studio Ghibli.
The materials in single-use vapes could have a valuable second life if recycled properly. Each device contains about 0.15g of lithium in its battery, a metal classified as a “critical” raw material by the US and EU. The International Energy Agency has warned it could be in short supply within two years as manufacturers race to scale up electric car production.
More than 90 tonnes of lithium were used in the production of the $5bn worth of single-use vapes sold globally last year, according to Financial Times estimates based on data from the research group Euromonitor, the consultancy ECigIntelligence and the electricals recycling non-profit Material Focus. That equates to enough lithium to supply more than 11,000 electric vehicle batteries. They also contained roughly 1,160 tonnes of copper, enough for 1.6mn home electric vehicle chargers.
There is not enough lithium, cobalt or nickel in our currently reported global mineral reserves to produce just one generation of batteries, to phase out and replace the current existing ICE transport fleet and fossil fuel power generation systems.
Given all of this, it is hardly surprising that Adam Tooze finished a recent lecture, ‘Facing the climate crisis in a world of inequality’, with basic, existential questions:
Do we want to live in a disposable world?