Projects

In the vituperative days of the early 1980s, the late Keith Joseph had a rule: never question the motives of one’s opponents. Always remember that even those you might find hateful also want a stronger and fairer country — they just differ on the best way to achieve this.

The Spectator, ‘Rise above it ‘, 12th January, 2019.

Policymakr isn’t actively engaged in Projects yet, because we’re still in beta. But this page showcases examples of what possible future Projects could be about. If you’d like to add an idea to the list please write to us. If you sign up or subscribe to the Newsletter, we’ll let you know when we’re ready to start work on Projects.

Space junk

Space junk, or space debris, is any piece of machinery or debris left by humans in space. It can refer to big objects such as dead satellites that have failed or been left in orbit at the end of their mission. It can also refer to smaller things, like bits of debris or paint flecks that have fallen off a rocket. Some human-made junk has been left on the Moon, too.

While there are about 2,000 active satellites orbiting Earth at the moment, there are also 3,000 dead ones littering space. What’s more, there are around 34,000 pieces of space junk bigger than 10 centimetres in size and millions of smaller pieces that could nonetheless prove disastrous if they hit something else.

Project?

Unsustainable live (wild and farm) animal trade

The numbers of other live farm animals (we collected data for pigs, cattle, sheep and goats) being exported has also grown dramatically over the past half a century, according to data from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). This growth has shown no signs of slowing despite advances in refrigeration technology allowing fresh and frozen meat to be stored and transported and concerns around the spread of animal diseases such as African swine fever (ASF).

—Mark Levitt, The Guardian, Two billion and rising: the global trade in live animals in eight charts, March 20 2020.

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Planned obsolescence

One of the main problems with the current linear economy’s production and consumption model, as opposed to a sustainable circular economy system, is planned obsolescence. Planned or programmed obsolescence refers to the deliberate shortening of a product’s useful life by the manufacturer in order to increase consumption.

Planned obsolescence is a serious environmental problem for the planet. Every year, up to 50 million tons of electronic waste are generated, a very high percentage of which – around 85% - is usually discarded randomly, ending up in waste tips in developing countries, creating a risk for the environment and the health of people, animals and plants.

To combat planned obsolescence, which is also costly to consumers who have to renew their products more often, several initiatives exist, including a European Union directive, certification for the prolongation of product lifetimes, and specific NGO programs.

—Acciona, The battle against planned obsolescence.

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The North Pacific Garbage Patch

A gyre is a marine phenomenon, caused by the relationship of neighbouring currents. Essentially, it’s a vortex of trapped water which spins around a centre point. It has no access to the neighbouring currents, so transfer of particles is not possible. In 1988, scientists predicted the garbage thrown off in the ocean will ultimately converge in one of these gyres and create a huge patch of waste floating in circles forever. Well, it happened. Estimates vary between 700 thousand and 15 millions square kilometres of garbage. Roughly 0.4 to 8.1 percent of the entire surface of the Pacific Ocean is covered in a mixture of toxic sludge, plastic, petrol and other thrown away waste. No wonder sharks don’t like us. Hell, I’d bite off the leg of anyone who comes into my home and empties their garbage can inside.

—Audrey Wright, The Top 20 Biggest Man-Made Disasters: A collection of the biggest disasters we caused to the Earth.

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Fighting resistance to antibiotics

Antibiotics save lives but any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance.

Since the 1940s, antibiotics have greatly reduced illness and death from infectious diseases. However, as we use the drugs, germs develop defense strategies against them. This makes the drugs less effective.

—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, How Antibiotic Resistance Happens

Project?

Add yours!

Tell us about ideas that would make a good Policymakr Project. And become Project leader when we start working on it.

Project?

Further reading

A great deal of thought went into planning how Policymakr would be organized, how it would operate, and what this website would look like. If you want to read more about other relevant topics, the following list contains most of the material mentioned on this site. Feel free to contact us if you have ideas about possible additions.

Fisher, R., 2019. “The perils of short-termism: Civilisation’s greatest threat”. The Guardian, [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190109-the-perils-of-short-termism-civilisations-greatest-threat [Accessed 28 April 2020].

Our inability to look beyond the latest news cycle could be one of the most dangerous traits of our generation, says Richard Fisher.

Read this on the Guardian or download a PDF version.

Rich, N., 2018. “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change”. New York Times, [online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/01/magazine/climate-change-losing-earth.html [Accessed 28 April 2020].

Arthur C. Brooks, 2019. “Our Culture of Contempt”. New York Times.

The problem in America today is not incivility or intolerance. It’s something far worse.

Tom Levitt, 2020. “Two billion and rising: the global trade in live animals in eight charts”. The Guardian.

The world’s seas and roads are awash with farm animals, with almost two billion pigs, cattle, sheep and chickens trucked or shipped as exports in 2017.

Top of the list of animals being exported in absolute numbers are chickens. The amount of live chickens being moved around the world has ballooned by a staggering sixteen times in fifty years.

Sustainability for All, 2020. “The Battle Against Planned Obsolescence”.

Planned obsolescence can cost people a total of up to 50,000 euros during their lifetimes.

Jonathan O’Callaghan, Natural History Museum (London), 2019. “What is space junk and why is it a problem?”..

Since the dawn of the space age in the 1950s, we have launched thousands of rockets and sent even more satellites into orbit. Many are still there, and we face an ever-increasing risk of collision as we launch more.

Science Daily, 2020. ” New strategy in the fight against antibiotic resistance”..

Bioscience engineers have developed a new antibacterial strategy that weakens bacteria by preventing them from cooperating. Unlike with antibiotics, there is no resistance to this strategy.

Harford, T., 2020. Saving the planet demands sacrifices just as Covid-19 does. Financial Times.

We could crush livelihoods to prevent ecosystem collapse — but that would be a last resort.

Luce, E., 2020. It’s the end of globalism as we know it (and I feel fine). Financial Times.

For the most part, its unravelling ought to be of deep concern. But we need a new social compact.