The National Defense Authorization Act of 2001 requires that vessel disposal be conducted “…in the manner that provides the best value to the Government,” while also “giving consideration to worker safety and the environment.” As discussed in the Internalized Costs section above, the Federal government has a poor record in bringing best value to the Government with respect to ship disposal. However, the best value scenario dims even further for artificial reefing and SINKEX disposal methods when one considers the hidden externalized or deferred costs associated with ocean dumping.
These hidden costs have been externalized to the environment and to the future, but are nevertheless real, and could become the liability of the polluter. It is well known that pollution prevention is far less costly than pollution remediation; in this way, not only are the true costs deferred to the future, but they are dramatically increased by this deferral. Current Federal ocean dumping policies do not account for these hidden costs. This section addresses some of the externalized costs associated with ocean dumping, however this section is in no way exhaustive of all costs externalized and deferred to future generations.
Natural Resource Costs
Productive resources such as steel, aluminum and copper are limited, yet the human need for them is virtually endless. The reality of our finite earth, coupled with our current loss of biodiversity and global warming crises, should remind us that our “use it and then lose it” lifestyle is unsustainable. Primary production of metals is far more damaging to ecosystem health, habitat and biodiversity due to the impacts of mining on the face of the earth, increasingly in wilderness areas in developing countries. Likewise, primary production is far more energy intensive than secondary metals recovery (e.g. recycling) and thus produces greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution in higher volumes. According to the University of Colorado at Boulder, recycled
compared to virgin aluminum production alone.79 In 2008, 52% of aluminum used in North America came from primary production,
with only 34% deriving from recycled material. The remaining 14% was imported.80
This open pit copper mine in Bingham Canyon, Utah, is considered the world’s largest man-made excavation on earth; however, it only supplies the U.S. with 18% of our annual copper need. Having operated for over 100 years, the mine’s ore reserves are expected to be fully depleted by 2020. Image Source: Flickr user arbyreed under creative commons agreement; http://www.flickr.com/photos/19779889@N00/3746214349/in/photo stream/
http://recycling.colorado.edu/education and_outreach/recycling _facts.html
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