Fick inga kommentarer till första utkastet till min essä till Ridleypriset (ett brittiskt pris instiftat för essäer kritiska till s k miljöpolitik - se info postad tidigare på SKRIVA). Så jag antar att min artikel var bra från början! Icke desto mindre har jag putsat och ändrat i den, och nedan är sista versionen (antagligen med en del kvardröjande småfel, ty sådant finns alltid). Kommentarer välkomna. Artikeln handlar om det meningslösa i denna vurm för sopsortering, ett jätteslöseri med tid och resurser som jag menar betyder ofantligt litet i "miljöhänsyn". Samtidigt slänger butiker tusentals ton mat till ingen nytta. (Returglas osv är väl OK. I övrigt bör sopstationer mekaniskt sortera och resten brännas för att ge elektricitet. Människor skall inte pådyvlas det maskiner gör effektivare.) --Ahrvid ----- Never in the Field of Environmental Wastefulness Has so Much Effort Meant so Little An evening during one of the recent harsh winters in Stockholm ? they are getting colder and snowier ? I saw an old lady struggle with two big bags. She was walking slowly and with much effort to one of the so called recycling stations all over the Swedish capital. The pavement was icy and covered with several inches of snow. She nearly slipped several times. The city council has cut down on ploughing and sanding, persuaded by the environmentalist dominated media that winters are a thing of the past. And I thought: what if this dear old lady falls and breaks a leg? It would cost tens of thousands in hospital treatment, for sure. Suddently a fancy, heavy SUV ? a stock broker? a bankman? - stopped by the long row of recycling containers, driver emerging and tossing a few bags into the different containers. From the car I would guess his work was worth perhaps a thousand an hour. (Using local currency. SEK 7 = USD 1.) Shouldn't he rather than every week spending hours sorting garbage and drive away with it, use his valuable time analysing the economic crisis and doing something about it? And how much petrol does his big car consume, by the way? Those green shrines of environmental worship aren't only in Stockholm. Every city and town has them. As far as I know, they're all over Europe. There were big headlines when in one town it was shown that after the ?environmentally conscious? citizen had sorted the trash, the garbage was all thrown together again and simply burned. It's probably common, I'd think. Do we really ?save? anything, especially Earth, by this trash sorting? Are we really short of wood pulp, glass and metals? Is it worth it compared to the billions of hours citizens spend sorting and transporting, time that could put to better use? Paper comes from trees and we won't run out of trees. The world's forest cover increases, thanks to urbanisation. Iron and aluminium are among the most common elements in Earth's crust. Glass comes from sand ? any shortage of sand reported lately? OK, plastic comes from oil ? but not necessarily; it can also be made from other materials. But the plastic is usually only burned anyway. So what is the point of all the efforts? A Good Citizen probably spend hours each week contemplating what trash should go in which bag, and then driving it to the recycling station, only half a mile away - if you're lucky. Is it just a symbolic thing? Forcing people to perform meaningless deeds to make them ?environmentally aware?? There was an uproar in the TV sofas when a lady was criminally charged for leaving a used frying pan outside the metal recycling container, since it was full or the pan was to big for the container hole. You see, the town had hired garbage spies that sat nearby and discovered her unforgettable crime. How much are garbage spies paid an hour? How much is a person worth for an hour's work? Statistics say, calculated straight from GDP/capita, each Swedish citizen earn an average of SEK 152/work hour. Say that everyone spends 1 hour/week sorting and transporting for recycling, an estimate probably much on the low side. That's 52 hours/year, a work worth SEK 7902 /year or ca USD 1130/year. In Sweden alone, one of the smaller countries, that means a billion dollars/year is wasted ? on waste. How much is it world wide? I'd guesstimate at least 100 billions. It could be more. Those most enthusiastic about the environmental thing tend to be upper-middle class, earning significantly more than average, the well-off with fancy cars that can afford to believe that mankind is ?destroying the Earth? with ?our? (their) standard of living, No thought there for the poor of the world that craves for economic growth to get a decent life. The suburbian house-with- lawn owners just go on with their lives as if symbolic garbage sorting rituals make any difference. And those recycling stations are usually a stinking mess. There's food left in the cans and packing waste. Rats and flies think it's yum-yum. Bacteria too. How many infections and how much disease is spread by putting garbage containers around openly on the streets? The city council complains that rats are becoming more numerous. Do they ever consider why? How many sickdays does this potential health hazard cause? Also, the recycling stations means we have to pay for two parallel garbage collection systems. The usual garbage collection directly from the households goes on. More extra work hours wasted and extra costs. Some recycling that makes sense. For many decades we've taken our cans and bottles to the supermarket ? where you go anyway - to get our deposits back. It's usually not much effort to seperate drink containers, go to the supermarket to get some money back and the system works well. In Sweden around 90% of cans and bottles are returned. Supermarkets also have small containers for used batteries that may contain mercury; battery volumes are so small that such recycling isn't much of an effort either. We also have electronics, though a tiny fraction in volume compared to food containers, bottles etc. Some want old electronics to extract the small amounts of copper, even gold and other metals from it. If there's real value in it the markets will take care of getting recycling done, but personally I think that decent, old electronics should be re-used as it is. Ship working computers and mobiles to the poor of the world. Paper has traditionally been recycled. For hundreds of years we had lump collectors ? it was a profession ? since paper in older times was made from old clothes. Lump collection was later transformed into collecting ordinary paper, but directly from the doors of the households, not stinking containers in the streets. But it wouldn't really matter if paper goes to the garbage dump processing ? plants will burn it to extract some energy from it. Plastic burns well too. Here's my swift, modest proposal: We take bottles and cans and batteries to the supermarket, as usual. Let the Salvation Army or someone ship still decently working computers and mobiles to the poor. The rest goes to the household trash and is burned for energy at the garbage dump, with metal and glass mechanically separated. Why spend billions of hours on things machines do better? The huge resources wasted by ordinary citizens spending evenings sorting trash, should be used for updating garbage dumps that still don't generate electricity or mechanically separate heavy material. Machines are our friends. People would have more free time, which would make them happier and they could spend more on creative things worth money. Society in general would benefit, getting more of the economic growth that the poor need since less effort is wasted on meaningless things. Ironically, while the posh people waste their time on meaningless sorting rituals there's real, useful waste being thrown away without any thought of all. Supermarkets throw away thousands of tons of perfectly good food. I don't know about laws in other countries, but I understand wasting good food en masse is very commong in at least the Western world. In Sweden food has a rather narrow ?Best Before? date. ?Best Before? means ?Quite Good for Some Time More?. It's usually perfectly fresh and safe for some time after ?Best Before? ? but still it's thrown away by the supermarkets. There's an international movement of ?dumpster divers?, young students and others breaking into the containers and taking care of the wasted food. They call themselves ?freegans? but will only find a tiny percentage of the wasted food. Most of it go straight to the garbage dumps. Why can't it be sold by the supermarket for a reduced price? Perfectly good food worth billions go to waste, which would benefit the poor. There are of course poor also in Western societies, who'd be happy to save money on vegetables or cheese that's one day older than some pencil-pusher has decided it ?should? be. And in a strange twist, while supermarket owners who throw away food they shouldn't, they still ?recycle? food they shouldn't. Meat tend to be more expensive and there have been an ongoing scandal for years when supermarket owners have been caught red-handed with re-labeling the ?Best Before? dates on old meat products. Old meat where bacteria thrives may be a health hazard. Year after year undercover reporters placing secret marks on meat packages have revealed how supermarkets routinely do this potentially dangerous re-labeling. Afterwards they always promise to stop, but don't. The food safety authority does nothing. Obviosuly, it's more important to employ garbage spies to catch a woman with an illegal frying pan. Let's not even go into the thousands of tons of perfectly good fish thrown overboard dead by frustrated fishermen, who can't land the catch because of quota regulations. It's throwing away good food before it could come to any use. And I can't see killing fish to throw it overboard benefits the fish stock. It seems political regulations a bit too often force people to do the wrong thing, artificially creating higher prices, lots of frustration and time waste, and possible health hazards. We all lose. We lose time. We lose food. We lose money. My thoughts go back to that dear old lady who struggled through the snow and ice with her recycling bags for no good at all. --Ahrvid Engholm -- ahrvid@xxxxxxxxxxx / Be an @SFJournalen Twitter Follower for all the latest news in short form! / Gå med i SKRIVA - för författande, sf, fantasy, kultur (skriva-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, subj: subscribe) - och delta i FANTASTIKNOVELLTÄVLINGEN, info www.skriva.bravewriting.com / Om Ahrvids novellsamling Mord på månen: http://www.zenzat.se/zzfaktasi.html C Fuglesang: "stor förnöjelse...jättebra historier i mycket sannolik framtidsmiljö"! 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