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An Open Letter to Joe Biden

From Max Deatrick, age 18

Joe Biden

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

RE: New Recycling

Dear Mr. President, 

I write to you not on my behalf but on behalf of the world. NASA scientists published in 2021 an article describing how their studies have shown that objects entering the earth’s atmosphere from space cause the objects to incinerate but the interesting fact is that there are little to no carbon emissions released when doing so. The article further explains how scientists in Virginia have created a device called a PEM, or Plasma Enhanced Melter, that heats up waste and regulates the amount of emissions it produces making for a much more eco-efficient way of “Recycling”. As you and I both know, trash buildups in coastal isles such as Tuvalu and the Maldives are being consumed by waste coming in from the ocean currents. Another thing we both know is that our US military has a working PEM aboard one or more of our aircraft carriers at sea currently. The PEM breaks down waste to its original chemical compound by slowly heating it until complete incineration. What is especially curious about these PEMs is their ability to emit minimal carbon into the atmosphere compared to other ways of incineration. Imagine Mr. President, if we placed a PEM the size of a shipping container in the heart of Tuvalu and kept it functioning. Do you think that would be beneficial?

I like to explore these thoughts for one reason Mr. President, because the earth is slowly dying. We as people must do something to help our future. Although the common misconception is we must conquer nature for it to be safe, we must have control for it to be truly safe. This is untrue for nature has thrived long before we as humans have, yet with excessive pollution and the earth’s atmosphere crumbling nature can no longer thrive in a human-centered environment. It is also understood that there is no possible way for us as a species to return back to a certain way of living, especially with the pleasures of technology we face daily. What is absolutely certain is that we must right the wrongs we’ve made against the environment but do it as productively and innovatively as possible.

Aldo Leopold had the beginning of the idea in the Sand County Almanac, where he thinks so very eco-centrically, yet still must stay modern in order to thrive himself. Leopold’s many pieces of literature have led him to be an inspiring figure for environmentalists, which makes his pieces all the more interesting to dissect. In his essay Good Oak, he opens with, “There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace”. This quote from the passage explains so much about the way farmers live rather than “City Folk”, explaining the immediate spiritual dangers of relying on man-made heat and man-produced food. It is implied that living eco-centrically while still being a contributing factor to society is not only beneficial to the earth but for your spiritual health.

On the other hand, we can take a look at a poorer example of living eco-centrically yet instead of being a functioning member of society, he removes himself from society completely. I am talking about the famous Christopher McCandless whose story is highlighted in John Krakaur’s novel Into The Wild. There is a point in the story where McCandless claims, “I don’t want to know what time it is. I don’t want to know what day it is or where I am. None of that matters.”. This clearly explains Chris’s ideals on the world and how he thinks eco-centrically, he states he no longer wants to be a part of society of any kind and revert back to nature completely. As we know from Chris McCandless’s unfortunate demise, living completely with nature away from society will cause no good to the world. In fact, it is rather selfish to think that only he can go on this spiritual journey for “inner peace”. McCandless’s ideals lay in his yearning for solitude amidst nature without the murder of animals or help from societal tools, which is what caused his death in the end. Yet, McCandless is a very inspiring figure for many environmentalists for his ideals and his journey, for it is that of legend for a vast majority of eco-critical thinkers.

To draw similarities between McCandless and Leopold I would simply say their goals are the same, to live in peace with nature and each other, the difference is the way they achieve these goals. I would say Leopold’s ideals connect almost directly to my point of this essay. We mustn’t live completely without society, for we have spent hundreds of years building and crafting the world we know today, but rather improving our world through an eco-critical lens.  Plasma Arc Recycling is the solution to our immense waste issue as humans yet it does not have the proper attention or research put into it. That is the purpose of this letter Mr. President, for I do not wish for you to completely implement these PEMs on every street corner in the next month, rather I would like for you to shift money into the research and awareness of these PEMs for we must know their full potential or liability if they are to be the future. 

- Max Deatrick

This submission was part of an open letter assignment at Huntington Beach High School. If you are interested in submitting a post to EarthPlex, visit our Submit a Post page.

Joe Biden, environment, open letter


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