“Disposable diapers for children became a cause célèbre because of concern about all of the added waste to landfill, but it takes energy to heat water to wash cloth diapers and obviously then waste water is generated and it takes energy to drive the diaper service truck that’s bringing the cloth diapers to you and taking them away,” he says. “Something that looks like a slam dunk as an example of a disposable society, or that consumers aren’t bearing the cost of the increased landfill, may not be so absolutely clear.”
Similarly, while technology products such as iPhones and PCs may be adding to the junk pile with their increasingly shorter lifespans, they also have improved communications capabilities by leaps and bounds.
“Silicon Valley is starting to take over the pace of innovation in every single industry, whether it’s the auto industry or agriculture or credit cards,” says Jim Carroll, a global futurist and trends and innovation expert. “Like in the early days of the Internet, it can be seen as good and bad.”
One area of innovation that does worry some economists and business professors is financial engineering.
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