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Climate Change Update: Expert Says Carbon is an Asset, NOT a Liability

Nov 16, 2016 09:50 AM EST
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Carbon Dioxide
“Carbon is not the enemy," William McDonough, world-class architect, designer, and urban planner declares in his keynote speech at the SXSW Eco conference.
(Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Carbon is a hot topic these days. With the US democrats working to regulate, reduce, and soon eliminate carbon emissions in the hopes of reversing its ominous effects, and President-elect Donald Trump, a republican, vowing to trample all this.

While most experts agree that carbon is indeed the culprit behind climate change, William McDonough, a world-class architect, designer, and urban planner, thinks otherwise, according to an article by the Scientific American. In his keynote speech at the SXSW Eco conference, the William McDonough + Partners founder and author of bestselling and eye-opening titles, Cradle to Cradle, and The Upcycle, declared "Carbon is not the enemy."

McDonough echoes the same views in his commentary published in Nature,"... carbon -- the element -- is not the enemy. Climate change is the result of breakdowns in the carbon cycle caused by us: it is a design failure. Anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make airborne carbon a material in the wrong place, at the wrong dose and for the wrong duration. It is we who have made carbon toxic -- like lead in our drinking water or nitrates in our rivers. In the right place, carbon is a resource and a tool."

He also believes that efforts on carbon regulation is misguided. "Striving for less pollution means we will do less bad," he noted at SXSW Eco. "Instead we should ask, what can we do that creates more good?"

McDonough further encourages both the public and their politicians to shift the view on carbon by rethinking, reviewing, and eventually optimizing the way we design things, like cities, for example. He added that by aiming to restore the natural carbon cycle, we can take advantage of carbon for the benefit of humans, so that it can create positive environmental impacts, not harm in the end. "In the right place, carbon is a resource and a tool," he adds.

McDonough is best known for his remarkable projects like the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College, which purifies wastewater and sewage into rich organic compost and produces a substantial surplus of solar energy.

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