PCB007 Magazine

PCB-Apr2014

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8 The PCB Magazine • April 2014 by Joe Fjelstad Verdant electronics In 2013, Earth welcomed roughly 140 mil- lion new citizens, replacing approximately 60 million who passed away, netting a growth in the world's population of 80 million people—a number which happens to roughly match the population of Egypt. The Earth's population now stands at more than 7.2 billion. (For those interested, real-time statistical estimates for population and other subjects of significance including health and environmental matters can be found at www.worldometers.info.) The numbers are staggering and border on the incomprehensible. They also present an on- going challenge to us all to find ways to make certain that those just joining the human race have a chance to realize their potential. With- out question, it is a huge challenge we collec- tively face. Presently and throughout history, there has existed a great divide between more advanced and exploitative cultures and nations and the many still developing peoples and na- tions of the world that coexist on this, our little 'blue marble' in space, or as futurist and vision- ary Buckminster Fuller aptly called it, "Space- ship Earth." He asserted, and rightly so, that we are all astronauts and as its crew, we needed to maintain the delicate balancing act to assure that Spaceship Earth will allow us to survive fu- ture trips around our sun. The resources of our planet are unquestion- ably limited and thus are diminishing as we continue to unleash and ramp up a seemingly never-ending flow of products to both serve and amuse us with output of the global electronics industry likely to be nearing the top of the list of "offenders." In that regard, we are becom- ing victims of our own success, to one degree or another. For better or for worse, the engine of economics runs on the fuel that the con- sumers' wants must always exceed their needs. Moreover, product developers and promoters are putting forth their best effort to make sure that as many of their products as possible can be perceived as needs rather than simple wants. Presently, their focus remains targeted on those of us who inhabit the top of the world's eco- nomic pyramid and our numbers exceed 3.5 bil- lion people. A substantial market to be sure and already there is evidence that we are, or soon will be, stretching the limits of natural resourc- es. This leaves half of the world's population on the outside looking in. It would seem that, if smt coNNectioNs c o l u m n Sustainability—What and Why?

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