Are you separating your garbage for re-cycling? Hello! You may be a filthy polluter.
That is what John Tierney suggests. He writes for the New York Times. The Times reveres Green concepts. It is the Vatican of the Green Movement. So Tierney is a renegade, a reprobate. He will earn a few lashes from his colleagues for sure.
Back in 1996 he wrote that re-cycling was a waste. He cited lots of evidence that it costs more than it saved. It did not cleanse the atmosphere. As Greens promised it would. Yes, it made folks feel virtuous. And did sweet little else.
His Green colleagues told him to shut up. Just wait 'til everyone, down to curmudgeon Uncle Fred, got into re-cycling, they said. We'll have Nirvana.
Well, Tierney has written of late. No Nirvana. Re-cycling is still a waste, he says. Back to the lashes.
As he is dragged away to the Times' dungeons, here are the problems he cites.
Re-cycling was supposed to turn waste into gold. The aluminum cans. The metals. The leather. And rubber. Why, companies would pay big money for this stuff. Because it would be cheaper than new.
It didn't work out that way. The re-cycled stuff costs more than new. Because processing the re-cycled stuff costs more than projected. Because new stuff costs less than projected.
So...lots of re-cycling companies have copped it.
Ahh, but what about virtue? Re-cycle your plastics and glass and dental floss. Earn a few indulgences, eh?
Tierney dumps ice water on such dreams: "To offset the greenhouse impact of one passenger's round-trip flight between New York and London you'd have to re-cycle roughly 40,000 plastic bottles, assuming you fly coach. If you sit in business or first-class, where each passenger takes up more space, it would be more like 100,000."
Suppose you rinse first. And your water is heated by coal-derived electricity. Then you could be dumping more carbon into the air than you are saving. Get away from me you filthy polluter.
But what about our precious land? If we don't re-cycle we must use landfills. "Landfills" is a delicate urban word for dumps.
Run out of land? New York City types who think Harlem is upstate cannot imagine there are miles of pasture land beyond the Big Apple. In the 90's they concocted a huge crisis. Over how little precious land would remain if we used it for, ugh, landfills. Why, there would be no land for us to drive to on weekends to let our dogs romp.
Back in 1996 Tierney calculated their innocent stupidity. He easily determined how much trash Americans would generate the next 1000 years. And easily calculated it would fit into a landfill that would take up one-tenth of one percent of land we use for grazing.
And...the pain of it. Once we cover our landfills we use them for grazing. For parks. Hell, for tennis for the effete who worry about this stuff. They attend the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament at courts built on a landfill.
And more pain. Landfill operators sell the methane that comes from decomposing garbage.
Still worried about carbon footprint? Let us re-cycle all our plastics and glass. All our food and precious lawn trimmings. Toss in those bags of Autumn leaves you just gathered. Add all our textiles, rubber and leather. We will save - ta ta - two-tenths of one percent of this country's footprint. Break out the Perrier!
Let's face it. It makes us feel good, but re-cycling is a fraud. A con. Those most conned feel most virtuous.
We should bury our garbage. If the materials are worth anything let people 100 years from now extract them. With robots. Let them have a ball.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is the King of the Greens. He vows to eliminate garbage for the city by 2030. He wants all the Big Apple's garbage to be re-cycled by then. Even though it costs $300 more per ton to re-cycle than bury it.
The garbage that ought to be buried is his thinking.
I know, I know. Re-cycling makes you feel good. I'm afraid it is like wetting the bed. It gives you a warm feeling, but it doesn't do anything for anyone else.
From Tom...as in Morgan.