The Outstater

September 28, 2022

Garbage In, Garbage Out

IT’S HUMP DAY but the mood is dampened by an Indianapolis Star story saying Indiana will be a humid, overheated dystopia in a few years. The state’s largest if not most respected newspaper predicts increases in heatstroke and cardiovascular collapse as well as longterm organ and cell damage.

The warning is clear:  If we don’t reduce greenhouse gases to the level of a medieval village we are doomed.

But don’t hook the oxen up to the manure spreader just yet. These people are a virtual Ouija board of stupid predictions. Let’s look at their record on the most basic of the “save the planet” campaigns — waste recycling.

In my city, recycling each year consumes more than 15 percent of the trash bill. That has been going on pretty much since the first “don’t liter” signs cropped up along the interstate six decades ago. Now we are told that if we don’t comply with the relentless do’s and don’ts of the recycling gods (no ceramics, mirrors, light bulbs, electronics, wires, hoses, toys, plastic straws, to-go lids, yard waste or holiday decorations) our farmland and oceans will be inundated with refuse.

Well, someone owes us an apology. Officialdom could have told us that the only waste we needed to worry about was the waste of millions of dollars on the recycling flimflam. Even the tree huggers knew as much. This is from the New York Times 26 years ago in an article entitled “Recycling Is Garbage”:

“Clark Wiseman, an economist at Gonzaga University has calculated that if Americans keep generating garbage at current rates for 1,000 years, and if all their garbage is put in a landfill 100 yards deep, by the year 3000 this national garbage heap will fill a square piece of land 35 miles on each side. This doesn’t seem a huge imposition in a country the size of America.” He estimated that the garbage would occupy only 5 percent of the area needed for the national array of solar panels proposed by environmentalists.

And if that 35-mile square still troubles you, Wiseman reminds us that the loss will be only temporary. “Eventually, like previous landfills, the mounds of trash will be covered with grass and become a minuscule addition to the nation’s 150,000 square miles of parkland.”

More recently, Richard Fulmer, an engineer writing for the Foundation for Economic Education, expressed similar doubts:

“Recycling resources costs resources. It must be collected, transported, and processed. This requires trucks, which must be manufactured and fueled, and recycling plants, which must be constructed and powered. All this also produces pollution — from the factories that build the trucks and from the fuel burned to power them, and from the factories that produce the components to build and construct the recycling plant and from the fuel burned to power the plant.”

Fulmer says that if companies operating in a free market were allowed to profit from recycling where it was economically feasible then we could be confident that it is saving more resources than itself uses up. But when recycling is mandated by law there is no such assurance.

Back to hothouse Indiana, such calculations for climate change spanning centuries or even decades are inexact if not capricious. This, ironically, makes them more valuable to the save-the-world merchants. In 30 years, by the time it is learned that the doomsday editors, officials and ad hoc experts were profiting at mankind’s expense, they all will be retired.

Where? Somewhere warmer, of course. — tcl


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