I wish to comment on the March issue Publisher’s Letter on the topic of e-waste.
Being a prosperous country also means we could afford to recycle. Dumping a few million tons of waste into landfill is equally expensive and as our population grows so will the waste. The inference that our prosperity is built on the throughput of goods from factory (foreign) to landfill encapsulates much of what is suspect in our current economic models.
I wonder how many people in Sydney realise that their garbage is now compacted into containers and trained, everyday, to a little town called Tarago, not far from Canberra. From the specially-built rail depot it is then trucked to an old open-cut mine called Woodlawn.
This solution to Sydney’s garbage problem has quietly developed over the last decade and has been promoted locally as a clean solution: with methane capture to produce power, and a series of wind turbines around the area. As it happens Sydney’s water deficit developed in parallel and the turbines took on another reason for their existence.
There is a common theme here with SILICON CHIP editorials over the last few years: commentary on obvious problems thrown up by an unfettered economic model coupled with rapid population growth. The commentary offered, essentially business as usual and ramp it up, is quite unimaginative.
This uncritical acceptance of the status quo illustrates the paradox which climate science presents to the Editor; accepting the science questions the status quo. Let’s be quite clear that the fundamental science, ie, whether a gas absorbs and re-radiates particular wavelengths, is as sound as the science that enables the electronic and material wonder world that ends up in our spent mines.
I wonder which other aspects of science the Editor finds questionable. I suspect only those that might jeopardise our ability to fill up holes in the ground.
Comment: it is true that a great deal of Sydney’s rubbish does end up at Woodlawn. It is also true that Australia does quite a lot more recycling than some other western countries. However, much of what is collected for paper and plastic bottle recycling also ends up in landfill simply because there is no market for it. We suspect that recycling of e-waste may be similarly non-viable.
As far as science is concerned, certain gases do absorb and re-radiate particular wavelengths. However, science has yet to come up with the answer to the riddle: why has the large increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last 15 years not been accompanied by a corresponding large increase in global temperatures?
and Green Loans
I have just read your April 2010 Publisher’s Letter on the insulation scheme and I totally agree. Unfortunately, the Green Loans program seems to have been even more mismanaged. There is a Senate Inquiry and there are horror stories appearing about how assessors have been treated. But that is not the real story. The real story is how bad the assessments were.
The assessment for my own house is an example. Total use for my house was 60,000 litres of water per year but the report lists 33,000l. It suggests electric-boosted solar hot water rather than off-peak and subtly suggests solar uses zero electricity. In addition, Victorian kWh to CO2 figures were used for NSW. Victorian figures are in fact 30% higher than NSW.