May 2021

Just Some Thoughts About Just In Time

For the past decades, corporations such as Toyota, General Motors, Walmart, and others have practiced a supply chain blueprint called Just In Time. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things, and the Just In Time practice (which will be referred to as JIT in this article) is one of them.

JIT began with Toyota, manufacturing automobiles. The JIT supply chain model is where the assembly plant receives the parts for the automobile in a manner that is just in time, that is to say, the delivery of parts comes just when needed, and the parts are used in the assembly of the automobile within hours.

Just in Time Manufacturing

The JIT model saved millions (some say billions, but whenever I asked them to show me the actual figures, they declined) of dollars in warehousing parts as well as the managers and personnel required to maintain those warehouses. Thousands of parts all arrive and within just a few hours they are assembled into the finished automobile.

The JIT model became a blueprint for logistics managers all across many industries. I dare say that many of these JIT-educated managers never managed a fleet of a trucks, never handled crates on a forklift, or tackled a complex assembly process by hand on the factory floor.  

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Old-Growth Rainforests, Key To Human Survival

Old-growth rainforests are mesmerizing. No other planet in this or any other galaxy, which we know of, supports these hallowed cathedrals of splendor.

Long-lived, self-perpetuating, unique genetics, structurally diverse with dead standing and fallen trees, gaps in the canopy and habitat for a rich array of life forms – old-growth has it all. It is the best that Mother Earth can muster at inhaling and storing carbon, exhaling oxygen, circulating freshwater, making climate and providing lodging for our brethren and sistren, the animals. Hallelujah.

Old-Growth Rainforests
Moisture created in old-growth rainforests circulates and irrigates the globe.
Image credit: Richard Whitcombe

Where there are rainforests it is wet: locally, regionally, continentally and intercontinentally. These stupendous biologically complex treed communities create vast atmospheric rivers of moisture, sustaining life on land. And they are giant air conditioners seeding clouds that reflect an extra five percent of incoming solar radiation into space.

From spirit bears to Tasmanian devils, rainforest life is absolutely dazzling. Predator/prey interactions are in a constant arms race. For instance, tropical rainforest fishing bats use sonar to locate fish and utilize a gaff-like toe to catch them, while plants have developed mind-boggling chemical defenses against fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects and animal grazers and browsers.

The scent within an old-growth rainforest is like walking into a heady aromatic medicine chest. Every breath is a medicinal tour de force that helps the human body ward off cancers.

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Community Food Forests To The Rescue

About 40 million Americans, including many children, experience food insecurity. An estimated 26.5 million people in the United States live in food deserts with little fresh produce on public spaces. Urban food forests to the rescue!

Community Food Forests
Atlanta’s Brown Mills Food Forest has a fruit and nut orchard, raised beds, herb gardens along with terrific walking paths across seven acres. Many hundreds of school children have visited and learned how to grow, tend and harvest the bounty.
Image credit: Sharon Lee

These marvelous oases on community lands often have three layers of food. Fruit and nuts trees make up the overstory, shrubs like raspberries and huckleberries occupy the mid layer, and an abundance of ground food like trailing strawberries or carrots, beets, potatoes and broccoli beautify the floor.

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Water, Wind And Worms, A Wonderful World

Natural systems and animals have been inspiring people for ages. Water, wind and worms are teaching us many new lessons to help caretake our ailing planet.

For example, Portland-based InPipe Energy has devised an ingenious micro-hydro system using a pressure recovery value (PRV) to regulate the flow of municipal water. It harnesses the energy within flowing water by spinning a microturbine, which makes electricity.

Sensors within PRVs help municipal agencies to better manage water infrastructures by quickly pinpointing any leakage. In addition, InPipe Energy can erase the carbon footprint of pumping water throughout the system, an energy-rich process that currently relies mostly on the fossil fuel-powered grid.

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The College Credit Conundrum

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The CARES Act, Public Law No: 116-136 (03/27/2020) aka the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act allows student loan borrowers to defer payments without accruing interest from September 2020 to October of 2021. The balances, or the total loan debt, will not increase in that time frame. As of the fourth quarter of 2020, none of more than half of the federal student loans totaling $1.6 trillion will be required to be paid back. Twenty-two million citizens who borrowed money from the federal government for college won’t be making an average payment of $400 a month .The interest that has been cancelled by the CARES Act totals $5 billion per month, with a total projected to be $90 billion. The taxpayers are footing that bill, all while the debt of the United States climbs to record highs.

Student Loan Forgiveness
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

In the meantime, Senator Elizabeth Warren is asking President Biden to cancel $50,000 per student of their loan debts. The request is for President Biden to just cancel the debts, by presidential order. The prevalence of our “cancel culture” means whatever anyone wants is now just a presidential declaration away. As former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel said, “never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

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Imagine It! An Ideal Handbook To Heal Us And Our Planet

Laurie David and Heather Reisman have penned a terrific how-to take care guide for individuals, families and ultimately our Mother Earth.

They remind us that, “Our planet, like our bodies, is a system. Everything is interconnected.” Many of us have become disconnected. This book teaches us how to reconnect and nourish our bodies and minds.

how to heal the planet

To kick-start this process, they ask thought-provoking questions: “Is the amount of news about heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires really beginning to worry you? Do you sometimes feel as though our climate crisis is so big that your individual actions can make much of a difference?”

This concise handbook brings awareness to plastics, food, clothing, chemicals, paper, water and transportation. Each chapter begins with important facts that are followed by an inspiring story. And each one closes with a doable action plan to reduce your individual and family footprints.

Every small step is significant. David and Reisman’s winning formula helps us understand why we must break old habits that are detrimental to both Mother Earth and us.

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