Confused malcontents swilling Chardonnay while awaiting the Zombie Apocalypse.
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Would the concept of waste become obsolete if our garbage had value?
Imagine if you could get paid for the things you put in your rubbish, and countries competed to import waste.
Waste is an environmental issue as well as a resource issue, and as Australia approaches 2050 and a population of 40 million, resources will be more valuable than ever.
Will we look back on single-use products as 21st century madness?
That depends on the policy decisions we put in place today, and whether we can transition to a circular economy.
The idea of countries importing and even competing for waste seems like a huge paradigm shift, but in some places it is already the norm.
It has been a decade since Sweden all but banned rubbish going to landfill. Now the Swedes claim to recycle as much as 98 per cent of their waste.
Half of that is turned back into materials such as plastics and aluminium for reuse, and the rest is used to feed sophisticated incineration systems that have been developed to provide electricity and heating to Swedish households.
The incinerators are strictly monitored to adhere to Sweden's rigid emissions standards, according to Ali Abbas from the University of Sydney (USyd).
"The incineration plants are in the middle of the cities. And they have no smell and no emissions," Professor Abbas said.
According to the 2016 Avfall Sverige (Swedish Waste Management) Report, the Swedes recovered three megawatt-hours of energy per tonne of waste burnt. That is enough to power about 900 Australian homes for an hour, according to the Clean Energy Authority.
While the average Australian sends more than one tonne of waste to landfill each year, the average Swedish household sends around three kilograms.
In 2015, Sweden imported 2.3 million tonnes of waste from Norway, the UK, Ireland and elsewhere to fuel its incinerators.
In short, it has created a system that is reliant on waste as a fuel source.
If Australia was to follow Sweden's lead, by 2050 we would be sending virtually no waste to landfill. We may even be mining landfill for fuel to feed our own incinerators.
No. Ever go soaring?
I flew around in gliders a bit back in the mid-seventies, and let me tell you there are few things in life more beautiful. Never went for a pilot's license, but I did do a fair amount of co-piloting larger craft.
Anyone who's done it knows about thermals: There's a column of warm air over towns and cities, constantly rising because hot air rises etc., and that column, called a "thermal" gives the glider its lift.
And it wams any colder air moving through it. The lee of a thermal has been measured as being up to three degrees warmer than the windward side. This effect is apparently more pronounced as it moves towards the poles.
Now it's true that volcanos, forest fires etc., are natural ways to warm the atmosphere, but there are a lot more towns and cities north or south of the 45th parallels, each one creating its own thermal 24/7 than there are volcanoes. And each town is man-made, which makes it quite reasonable to say that if there are 1,000,000 towns and cities on this planet, there are a million places where the air is warmer than the "natural" air surrounding them. Add their surface area up, and no doubt you'll have a big enough percentage of the land masses covered by habitation to call it "global".
You have natural warming and cooling, but the heat added by mankind's buildings accelerates the warming part just a teensy bit at a time, and cumulatively you get what could be referred to as significant change.
So much for "To think that man can actually change/effect global weather is beyond preposterous."
Very cute, and not unexpected from someone of your ilk.
-Oomp (storytelling mothman)
Hate wasting my time with such nonsense.
Aggravating and meaningless.
I've long advocated more intelligent use of our waste stream, as El Dotarto will affirm if you ask him.
I've also long advocated for far more energy-efficient buildings, lighting, vehicles, and other things to which we become accustomed. And I've incorporated many of those things I've said into my little house in the Mojave Desert.
My house looks just like many others out here, but consumes less than half the energy. Mostly that's accomplished through the use of triple-paned windows, good insulation in walls and ceiling, a solar farm to drive my evaporative air cooler during daylight hours, and the use of LED lamps throughout the house, placed for maximum use. That all works quite well.
Oomp! Great post!!
This is a very interesting set of scientific facts.
I fear they may be lost on those on the opposite side of the debate.
I imagine some pointless memes are coming your way.
Are gliders used in Climate science research?
Which part of it was nonsense?
Where is your evidence to back up that claim?
Aggravating and meaningless?
You're describing yourself, John.
Are you so incapable of seeing another person's point of view that you would rather look like an ass before exhibiting any sign of cognitive ability - or "weakness"?
I find it so frustrating that the answer to two problems is RIGHT THERE, but for some reason it's in the too hard basket?!
Some years ago there was an interest in converting waste to fuel. It was called, "Anything into Oil," and if memory serves, it seemed limited to the use of animal byproducts, but I think that with suitable modifications it could possibly take our whole organic waste stream and process that into useful materials. One advantage I think it might present, would be a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, substituting some of that with the use of what I call short-term carbon cycling - - as foodstuffs are usually grown within a year of when they are consumed and human waste produced. Same thing with most yard clippings. Just how much of that waste stream could or would be turned back into fuels I have no idea, but our local landfill produces enough methane to fuel a local powerplant, and most of the organic waste is still in that landfill.