GreenYes Digest V96 #59

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GreenYes Digest Wed, 25 Dec 96 Volume 96 : Issue 59

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GreenYes Digest V96 #58

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Problems you can't solve otherwise to

Date: Tue, 24 Dec 1996 11:33:25 -0800
From: Hal Levin <>
Subject: GreenYes Digest V96 #58

>Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 18:25:42 -0500
>Subject: Fwd: (Fwd) Lack of waste in Germany...
>Forwarded message:
>Resent-from: (BOBBI TOUSEY)
>Date: 96-12-17 11:00:00 EST
>------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
>Date: Tue, 17 Dec 1996 04:26:35 +0100 (MET)
>From: Pawel Gluszynski <>
>Subject: Lack of waste in Germany...
>Scaned from: Newsweek, October 28, 1996; pg. 17
>Garbage Gap Alert
>There's not enough trash to go round
>By Scott Sullivan
>Germany is suffering a garbage shortage.


>Environment-friendly furnaces have
>sprung up to burn otherwise unusable rubbish and use the heat
>to generate electricity. The result: a boom in demand for both
>industrial and household waste, combined with a radical shrinkage
>of supply and a spiraling increase in the cost of garbage.

I believe the issue is related to the need to recoup the investment in the
huge, so-called "environmentally-friendly" incinerator- cum-electricity
providers. The seductive notion of a power plant fueled by garbage caught
hold in Germany, and enormous effort went into creating these devices in a
way that would be deemed environmentally acceptable. At the same time (and
for several years prior to it) there was a big anti-nuclear power movement
in Germany while next door France was building nukes all over the landscape.
Meanwhile, enormous improvements in waste reduction, recycling, and re-use
have been made in Germany, perhaps among the world's best. But, having
invested not only the capital but the social capital of educating people
about how to separate garbage and establishing the mechanisms for recycling
waste into fuel, the Germans are understandably reluctant to abandon there
"environmental fantasy" of waste-to-fuel. But, in fact, from an
environmental perspective, there can never be a true shortage of waste from
human over-consumption. The shortage in Germany appears to be for fuel to
feed the co-generators and their investors desire to recover their capital.


>There is "complete chaos on the garbage market," says Barbel Hohn,
>the environment minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
>The minister's warning may turn out to be a slight exaggeration -
>but trust the rule abiding German public has proved that it is
>indeed possible to have too little of a bad thing.
A nice turn of a phrase, but nonesense nonetheless. Garbage is just that.
When it is food for other processes or organisims - like detritous on the
forest floor - then it is too little for those organisms dependent upon it
and their populations will diminish. But such fluxes in population density
are part of the maintenance of "natural" balance. The bulk of human garbage
is not natural nourishment for anything - it is a reflection of the
over-extraction of raw materials and harvesting of natural resources
completely out of balance with the natural cycles of the biosphere. Reducing
the flows is the first step in addressing the huge distortion and imbalances
created by bulging human populations and their rushes to consume.
Hal Levin email:
2548 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Tel. 408 425 3946 Fax 408 426 6522


End of GreenYes Digest V96 #59