The Circle of Life, Scrap Edition


The June 28 edition of BusinessWeek cited the major items China buys from the United States:

  1. Beverages and alcohol.
  2. Agriculture and livestock products.
  3. Waste and scrap.
  4. Iron, steel, copper, and aluminum.

The third item is the one that grabbed my attention, for three reasons.

One: We produce a whole lot of waste and scrap, if that’s our third-largest export to China.

Two: Why can’t WE use that waste and scrap to produce more consumer goods? You know–recycling. Is it because we don’t make stuff anymore? We’ve sent all of our manufacturing abroad?

Our fourth-largest export is instructive: raw materials that American industries should be using to produce stuff. The Chinese make stuff, they sell it to us, and when we’re done with it, we sell it back to them to make more stuff to sell us. The Circle of Life. Elton John wrote a song about that.

Three: We’re missing out on yet another Green industry. The Europeans are perfecting wind power. The Japanese, Chinese, and Europeans have the high-speed trains. The Japanese produce hybrid and electric cars, and lead in battery technology. The Israelis are assembling the infrastructure for electric cars. And the Chinese process the world’s junk and turn it into something useful.

Lots of Green jobs are being created around the world, while we sit back and gulp our beloved oil and insist that the sky isn’t falling.

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