Queen Daenerys Targaryen the Wasteful

In a nutshell, the circular economy is about keeping materials where they have the greatest value in the flow of commerce, thereby limiting extraction of virgin materials and disposal of items in waste streams.

Goodbye Westeros. Our society’s collective obsession with your swords and your dragons, your houses and your war-torn lands, has finally come to an end. Might I say blessedly? That should pretty clearly tell you what I think about the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

May this serve as a spoiler alert for the no more than five people out there who (a) haven’t seen every episode of the show and (b) actually want to see them at some point. You should probably skip this blog post.

There, that’s out of the way. Now, when I’m watching a show or movie that I enjoy, I am usually like a docile horse, happy to be led this way or that. I fully suspend reality and let the show-makers do their thing. My critical eye closes entirely. If they lose my interest though, it snaps back open with a vengeance. So it was for the last three episodes of Thrones.
I won’t waste words on all my frustrations, because I eventually want to make a relevant environmental point. So let’s focus on just one frustration from Episode 5, when Queen Daenerys Targaryen flips from good gal to murderous arsonist. I’m fully in the camp that believes the show insufficiently laid the groundwork for her turn to the dark side, but let’s get even more narrow than that. The lack of foresight that our fair Queen demonstrated was downright inexcusable.
Simply asked, why did she burn the city down? The obvious and highest concern here is the loss of civilian life (fortunately fictional in this case), which the show tried to justify with Dany’s sudden bloodthirst. But, I mean, why the actual buildings? Trust me, I feel icky just writing this, but couldn’t she have rounded up the civilians right along with the surrendering enemy soldiers and roasted whomever she wanted outside the city walls? Last I checked, she was planning on actually governing the Seven Kingdoms from King’s Landing. I’d have thought she would want there to BE a King’s Landing.
Instead, she turned Drogon and his fire breath into a winged wrecking ball and needlessly demolished vast portions of the city’s infrastructure. Did she give any thought to the embodied energy content of those buildings? Or to the amount of waste created in an instant? What about the virgin materials that would need to be extracted when rebuilding the city? I guess the Breaker of Chains isn’t much for advancing the circular economy.
What’s that, you say? Well, I explain that pretty well in Chapter 11 of my new book! (Yes, that was a shameless self-plug. And yes, I know that if you are reading this particular blog, you probably know what the circular economy is. Just…like...go with me, okay?)
In a nutshell though, it’s about keeping materials where they have the greatest value in the flow of commerce, thereby limiting extraction of virgin materials and disposal of items in waste streams. Circular economic practices come in many stripes, from dematerialization to design for disassembly to the sharing economy. For sustainability geeks, it’s all quite exciting, and I actually do think you all would enjoy Chapter 11 of Mid-Course Correction Revisited.
But I guess the main point of this post is simple. One of the most basic principles of the circular economy is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t go rip it apart with a fire-breathing dragon.” Shame on you Game of Thrones, shame on you.