Phosphorous is a fundamental building block of genetic material (DNA, RNA). It is second only to calcium as a mineral in the body. Phosphorus is present in bones and teeth and combines with calcium to form calcium phosphate which is the substance which gives the skeleton rigidity. It is also present in every cell in the human body and in the body fluids as well: helps build strong bones and teeth, essential for healthy cell membranes, essential for the conversion of food into energy (the energy cycle in our cells), and essential for healthy metabolism. Phosphorus is found in nuts, legumes, cereals, grain and dairy produce. Without a ready supply of phosphorous, we are dead.
Far more scarey than peak Oil, peak phosphorous has been estimated by some to have occurred over 15 years ago, while others estimate we might have another 30 years before we have reached the peak of the major supply sources. I hadn’t heard or seen any media on this issue until I heard a recent interview of Prof James Elser of Phoenix on ABC Science Show. Phosphorous mining is another example of how human societies have accelerated the rate of ‘taking’ from the planet, while decreasing the speed of ‘giving’ back. We have done this of just about all the elements and lifeforms we have used over the last 100 years. And from every angle we look, we see that we have killed off our future. We are placing our descendants directly in harms way, a harm that we are creating.
Phosphorous recycling, though, is well known, and can be done through the recycling of human wastes. Activating the ‘giving’ side of the equation by recycling phosphorous is another reason to change the way our society is structured.
Western society has become safety conscious (or should I say, litigationphobic) to the detriment of our children’s well-being. Yet we have not been able to form a governance structure that can efficiently and effectively respond to the outcomes of the one ability that makes humans, human – our ability to foresight. We would rather allow ourselves to hurt ourselves more and more, than actually have a mature and considered discussion for a change of social order, so that our descendants might have a future.