June 1, 2016

Quote of the Day

This blog's problem? Not enough Lileks lately. Mandatory composting comes to Minneapolis:

Except . . . I don't know what they do with lawn waste. We have new bins now for composting, which suggests the old lawn waste is probably fed to a compactor, turned into incredibly dense cubes, shipped to China and thrown down a bottomless well. I don't know. As for the composting bin, so far we've composted exactly Zero Molecules, because I don't have a bin under the sink to dump my Organics. There isn't any room for the bin. In a recent work meeting when the subject came up, a co-worker said she had a pail on the counter where the organics went, and I was incredulous: you have a bucket of rotten vegetables on your counter?

I am from a different country. I'd say different age, but we're contemporaries. I am from the land where the growling grinding teeth in the hole of the sink reduce everything to fluid and hasten it along to the treatment plant, because we are not living in huts on the edge of a field and sharpening sticks in case the sabre-toothed tigers come at night, again. Save the pepper cores! They can be mixed with out filth and heaped around the gourds!

Always thought the future would be a bit more elegant than that.

Hat-tip: Ed Driscoll @ Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 2:09 PM | Comments (0)

October 9, 2015

The birth of other-loathing

Perhaps it's a re-birth, I'm not sure. Has there been another period in history when an anti-humanity movement was so large and so popular? The Dark Ages perhaps.

Yesterday I was asked by a colleague, "Why don't we use more nuclear power?"

"Honestly" said I, "I think it is because there is such a powerful movement to limit the available resources in order to limit the growth and prosperity of the human race."

That movement is called "global environmentalism" and, according to its Amazon summary, the book that launched the movement is called 'Limits to Growth' - Donella H. Meadows, October 1, 1972.

The headline-making report on the imminent global disaster facing humanity - and what we can do about it before time runs out. The book that launched the environmental movement globally.

First on the list of prescriptions, as explained in an editorial review of "The 30-Year Update" version, is fewer people, doing less.

The authors demonstrate that the most critical areas needing immediate attention are: population; wasteful, inefficient growth; and pollution. They show how attention to all three simultaneously can result in returning the human footprint on the environment to manageable, sustainable size, while sharply reducing the disparity between human well-being and fostering a generous quality-of-life worldwide. Absent this, the prospects are grim indeed.

How grim? RCP's William Tucker explains in 'Dealing With Abundance.'

In fact we're doing quite well as far as resources are concerned. Nobody talks about "running out of anything" anymore. The one place where doomsayers would argue that we have overshot is in the creation of carbon dioxide byproducts in the atmosphere that are going to lead to global warming.


While this is a matter of concern, once again it is not out of the reach of our technology. Glenn Seaborg, one of the pioneers of nuclear energy, used to say that "nuclear power has come along at exactly the right time because we were beginning to reach the limits of fossil fuels." He was talking both about the problem of supplies and the pollution effects of these technologies but he could have been talking about global warming as well.

So the choice is apparent: Is the path to "a generous quality of life worldwide" in the direction of science, technology, and safe, non-polluting and nearly limitless nuclear power, or through "disfiguring the entire face of the earth with low-density energy collectors such as windmills and solar panels?"

The answer depends on your bias. Do you want to limit the population, or make it prosperous? Do you love and respect yourself, and therefore others, or do you loathe successful people because, deep inside, your self-image is that of a dirty little beast?

Are you a man, or a mediocrity?

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:21 PM | Comments (4)
But Jk thinks:

I was just a pup in '72, but I really remember Fitzpatrick Sale's Human Scale. Everybody I knew bought into that. Most still do.

Posted by: Jk at October 9, 2015 4:18 PM
But Jk thinks:

Solutions are extant. (Ht insty)

Posted by: Jk at October 9, 2015 4:22 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I wasn't alive back before the roaring 20's, but I'll nominate the eugenics movement that peaked (in America) with the bankrolling (by Carnegie, Rockefeller and Harriman) of Sanger's American Birth Control League in 1921 which was supported by AG Bell, POTUS/28 (Wilson), and by a supreme court justice I can't find (Holmes?).

Three acts are cited by Wiki:
1. Sterilization in Indiana (1907)
2. "AN ACT to authorize and provide for the sterilization of feeble-minded (including idiots, imbeciles and morons), epileptics, rapists, certain criminals and other defectives" (NJ, 1911; signed by Gov. W. Wilson and overturned in 1913)
3. Racial Integrity Act of 1924 (VA)

Fitter Family and Better Baby contests were held by the Red Cross. By the mid-30's Nazi Germany were sterilizing 5000/month. California led the US in forced sterilization....

A 1937 Fortune magazine poll found that 2/3 of respondents supported eugenic sterilization of "mental defectives", 63% supported sterilization of criminals, and only 15% opposed both.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 10, 2015 2:28 AM
But jk thinks:

Justice Holmes famously said "Three generations of imbeciles are enough" in Buck v Bell.

Yet, Buck v Bell never seems to find its way into teh infamous list as frequently as Dred Scott, Plessy, or Korematsu.

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2015 7:25 PM

April 22, 2015

EV Superfund Alert

It is common knowledge that hybrid and EV cars are better for the earth than gas guzzling SUVs. Which of course means it is not true.

While conventional lead acid batteries used for starting internal combustion engines (ICE) are readily recyclable, state-of-the-art lithium ion batteries are not.

Given the extremely high metal value of used cobalt-based lithium batteries it seems strange that only one company in the world, Unicore of Belgium, has bothered to develop a recycling process. When you take the time to read and digest Umicore's process description, however, the reason becomes obvious. Recycling lithium-ion batteries is an incredibly complex and expensive undertaking that includes:
  • Collection and reception of batteries;
  • Burning of flammable electrolytes;
  • Neutralization of hazardous internal chemistry;
  • Smelting of metallic components;
  • Refining & purification of recovered high value metals; and
  • Disposal of non-recoverable waste metals like lithium and aluminum.
The process is economic when a ton of batteries contains up to 600 pounds of recoverable cobalt that's worth $40 a pound. The instant you take the cobalt out of the equation, the process becomes hopelessly uneconomic. Products that cannot be economically recycled can only end up in one place, your friendly neighborhood landfill.

Disposable diapers are less a scourge upon the earth.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:59 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Worth it to run your car on coal...

Posted by: jk at April 22, 2015 4:03 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'm still holding out for a Delorean with the bolt-on Mr. Fusion on the rear deck.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 22, 2015 4:35 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

hybrid and EV cars are better for the earth than gas guzzling SUVs

It's not common knowledge, it's CONVENTIONAL WISDOM.. And (tsk-tsking the crude language on order) it's not 'untrue' it's about convention, not about wisdom.

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 23, 2015 1:06 PM

April 8, 2015

Burn the Heretic!

Penn Jillette, line one! Mickey Kaus dares apostasy! He and I differ substantively on immigration, but we're both good recyclers -- unafraid to waste water, energy, or time cleaning our trash. But in the California drought?

Here's another potential water-saving idea: A moratorium on mandatory recycling. I would guess at least 10% of my water use comes from washing/rinsing all the recyclables I am required to separate out from the regular trash. We single yuppies use a lot of plastic take-out containers. Rinsing them makes recycling them easier and, more important, avoids having the recycling bins become a magnet for rats. All that rinsing is a huge hassle. I assume it is normally worth it because it cuts down on land fill use and conserves raw materials like aluminum.

But are those worthy ends more important, right now, than saving us from running out of one of the necessities of life? Seems like a no-brainer: It's more important to save the water. We could start recycling again when it starts raining again.

Or never -- it's Bullshit!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

HAHAHAHAHA! Good point, Mickey.

But dedicated do-gooders already rinse their recyclables with effluent from their no-flush toilet instead of with precious tap water. "Get with the program, slacker! Hey comrade, put this 'Mickey Kaus' guy on the list for a home visit by the Resource Abuse Team."

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2015 11:47 AM

April 6, 2015

Ban Fracking!

I don't often laugh at threats to a person's livelihood. But the industry of plastic recycling is built on a foundation of lies, and its load-bearing walls are various subsidies. If low oil-prices threaten this already tendentious enterprise, I'm sorry. You folks are just going to have to get real jobs.

BINBROOK, England--A former World War II bomber hangar houses a monument to the recent plunge in oil prices: hundreds of bags of shredded plastic.

The hangar is used by CK Group, a recycler of bottles, pipes and sundry bits of plastic. Plastic is often derived from oil, and there used to be money in recycled scrap. Not anymore. The fall in oil prices has dragged down the price of virgin plastic, erasing the recyclers' advantage.

"Many in the recycling industry are hanging by the skin of their teeth," says Chris Collier, CK's commercial director, walking among the bales of unsold shreds. "Everybody is desperately chasing for money to stay alive."

Dropping cable for streaming services has been a great excuse to watch all the Penn & Teller BS shows again. Recycling (Season 2, Episode 05) is one of my all time favorites. It is available on YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:57 AM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

Dear Recyclers: "We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt. "

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2015 11:10 AM
But johngalt thinks:

But... I thought recyclers did this out of the goodness of their hearts, to benefit Mother Earth? Why all this talk about money and profit? Or do they only care about Gaia when there is something in it for THEM? A tad "selfish" non?

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2015 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

I dunno. One of the more pernicious lies about the movement is that it makes all kind of economic sense. If people saw it as a sacrifice, that might help.

Oh no, who am I kidding? Almost nothing would help. It is gris-gris on a grand scale. (Has brother jg seen the P&T BS episode in question?)

Even when the questionable economics work out in the 3rd R's's favor [singular possessive of a plural numeral -- whatchya think?], I remain convinced no-one has counted the additional energy expended in cleaning and redundant transportation. I happen to be an avid recycler -- my recycled trash gets washed in hot water, so it doesn't stink in the big airplane hanger they stuff it in because it is totally useless.

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2015 2:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think I have, but I've watched Transporter and John Carter more than once. Recycling is Bullshit is easily worth watching more than once.

Posted by: johngalt at April 7, 2015 2:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:
"If I discovered all my efforts were meaningless in recycling, I would feel really betrayed by ... the community."

From the recycling mom in the conclusion to P&T's 'Recycling is BS.' How will moms and dads and others all across America feel when the find out the same thing about all the myths they've been fed in the promotion of man-caused climate change?

Posted by: johngalt at April 7, 2015 3:12 PM