That’s right, Herbert Hoover, the Neville Chamberlain of U.S. presidents who thought if everyone just appeased the Depression, the economy would stop bothering everyone. In 1921, the future 31st U.S. president was then Warren Harding’s Commerce Secretary. And from that post, he doled out advice that today sounds more like Cradle-to-Cradle guru Bill McDonough than a senior Republican administration official of any era. Hoover prodded industry to stop wasting their waste–the carbon dioxide that might be captured and turned into productive use.
Take this commentary on the wasted gas emitted from the fires of industry, delivered in a 1921 speech before the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association:
“The very coke oven today that is not recovering its by-products, turning its byproducts into the air, is turning a loss that can never be recovered. Your industries are the industries that take these derivatives and turn them to account… If we are going to maintain our own world, we must turn all these waste factors into something productive, and an industry that is almost wholly founded on the recovery of those wastes naturally is worth cultivation and encouragement, not only by the country but by the government itself.“
Imagine a U.S. administration of any stripe encouraging an aggressive federal program to make the world more in line with Bill McDonough’s–and Herbert Hoover’s.
– Eric R.