In a nature’s system, there are obvious elements, like food, as well as hidden elements, like sewage. The latter is as much necessary but not as noticeable. However, when the system does not function smoothly, the hidden part will take unwanted salience. I learned this when I visited the farm (a small one) where I WWOOFed last year, and I was informed that in late April there was an excessive amount rain and the rainfall flooded in the lower level of the house. The water was not the issue as it did not sustain. The real problem was that the flood brought sewage out from the tank underground and, although the water flowed away, the lower floor was left a total mess and smelt bad. I had never realized there was a sewage tank right beside the house underground during the time I WWOOFed on the farm. The sewage of the house goes to the tank and the content gets removed every few years. I had been so used to a built-in sewage system in urban residence and never thought about how the sewage was deposed in the rural areas.
When we designed the terraforming project on Tuesday, we did mention the problem of disposal of trash and, in our case, radioactive waste, but we left the issue unattended. After all, Mars is already a waste land and it doesn’t seem inappropriate to leave some trash on it. However, in any realistic situation, waste is something to concern. And this is part of the challenge, that a design can hardly be comprehensive, and we need to learn in the process.
Also, it is somewhat unexpected that when asked what policy she would like to design, Catherine Flowers talked about policies for tackling looming environmental disasters. She seems to be less optimistic. In our discussion of nature’s future and the transition, we seem to have overlooked this part of transition: while transforming our organization and architectures, we would have to take care of the issue of justice and the welfare of people suffering ongoing climate change.