Re: Near-Term Scenarios -- Environment

GBurch1 (
Sat, 23 May 1998 08:37:18 EDT

In a message dated 98-05-17 23:38:18 EDT, Paul Hughes wrote:

> The only limitation of this idea so far has been geographic proximity. The
> internet can alleviate this problem by allowing otherwise geographically
> remote
> industries to start selling their waste products to companies who could use
> the
> raw materials found within it. Even if companies gave their waste away, it
> would
> be much cheaper than the money they now spend on disposal logistics.

I agree that vastly increased information flows will facilitate improved
control of environmental through-put management (to coin a bureaucratic-
sounding term). However, I remain somewhat skeptical of proposals that
complete recycling of industrial waste can be economical with near-term energy
and manufacturing techniques, simply because of energy inefficiencies.

I think many current "green" proposals for industrial waste recycling are
fundamentally wrong-headed because the energy input necessary to recycle
ultimately CAUSES more pollution: The energy necessary to accomplish them
increases the hydrocarbon load on the environment. Thus, simply burying the
waste in question is ultimately better for the environment because it is the
lesser of the two evils.

Improved information systems WILL allow a more informed choice on these
questions, though, since the energy load for any particular process ought to
be a matter of "micro-accounting" that will allow the actors involved to
calculate the economic and ecological costs and benefits of any proposed
waste-recycling transaction or chain of transactions.

Greg Burch <>----<>
Attorney ::: Director, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must
be driven into practice with courageous impatience."
-- Admiral Hyman G. Rickover