Everything eats and poops.   Every living thing takes in energy and useful matter, and expels non-useful waste products. The waste gets scattered and recycled -- scattered, broken down or eaten by other living things.   In fact, scattering the waste is crucial to survival; otherwise the organism can be smothered.

Humans are unique in our ability to use energy to transform matter (make it useful) outside our bodies.  Each phase of technological advancement – the discovery of fire 200 million years ago, the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, and finally the industrial revolution 150 years ago – led to population growth, and also to waste growth.

The waste explosion that follows every energy revolution spurs, in turn, innovation in waste management.   We have progressed from simply leaving stuff behind and moving on, to centralized garbage dumps, urban sewer systems, no-dumping laws, catalytic converters, banning ozone destroying refrigerants, and so much more.

Now, we've arrived at a unique moment in human history.    Our species was born into a world full of space, and empty of people.   Now it's rapidly filling with people, and running out of space.   Think of those night photographs from satellites that show a world with white dots -- artificial lights and fires -- everywhere that is habitable.   And, for the first time, no spot on the earth, its waters and its atmosphere, is free of some sign of human pollution.

We never thought of our heat trapping gases -- CO2, methane and others -- as pollution.    We didn't think they made much difference, and couldn't imagine that our puny species could actually alter something as huge as the entire atmosphere.    But we have reached the limits of what the atmosphere and oceans can recycle.    As a result, concentrations of CO2, as well as other heat-trapping gases, are rising, causing the earth to warm... (see Basic Science Narrative)

It's time – overdue, actually – to move up to the next level in waste management.    The highest priority is the management of greenhouse gas pollution, which is changing our climate in ways that will harm everybody.

[further elaboration of this narrative will be added]

A footnote:   Now, most of us -- especially kids, but also adults -- don't actually like cleaning up our own messes.  It's usually not much fun, and can be a lot of work.   But when we're told, we grumble then do it.   Industry and industrial waste (pollution) is no different.    After all, it's one of the first lessons we all learned in kindergarten:     "Clean up after yourself."