August 22, 2009

Don't mention whose waste

Still shaking my head over a New York Times article that managed to discuss the waste disposal and concomitant pollution problem in China without mentioning or alluding to the long-term practice of first world countries - including the US - exporting their waste, primarily to China and India.

Sure, China creates humongous waste of it's own, but that's what happens when one or two billion people are gathered together on this fine little planet.

The "we're running out of landfill" hymn is ancient. So old in fact, that, surely, the world ran out of landfill entirely, oooh, it must have been 150 years ago, hey?

And yet, we never get to the point of actually running out. We're perpetually on the verge. Like a newly discovered poppet about to hit the big time. We continue to wait for the day when we wake up to the front page headline declaring:


In the voraciously disposable US, daily waste per person is 4.5 pounds, an amount that snails up, rather than multiplies rapidly. Waste output is not increasing exponentially, in other words.

During this entire century, the US will need landfill of 18 miles square and 100 feet tall, which is 0.009% of their available land. Well, roughly that much landfill, minus whatever is exported to China and India, I suppose.

At that rate, the US will need to use up 1% of land to accommodate its waste during the next 11 thousand years.

Yes indeedy. Crisis. Pending. Almost.

China's incinerators loom as global hazard


  1. Out of sight, out of mind.

    Shouldn't be a problem, open cut mining creates massive holes in the ground that can be filled up with garbage once all the goodies have been extracted.

  2. Damn it!

    Such obvious symmetry, wish I'd thought of that.