Trash?

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funkytwinkie
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Trash?

Postby funkytwinkie » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:27 am UTC

This is sort of a silly question, but it's been on my mind forever...Here goes.

We're attacking the environment. Big time. I don't need to mention all the global warming, strange weather conditions happening, et cetera et cetera.

I was thinking...We have so much trash that we generate every day, and we keep stashing it away underneath the ground, which will take centuries to break down and even harm the soil by turning it acidic, making it an unsuitable condition for most plants to grow.

Why can't we develop catapults or rockets powerful enough to catapult trash into space? Surely we have rockets to do that to launch people outside of earth.
[I know you're now going "BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA"]

This will take out so much of the burden on what to do with trash! And the law of conservation of mass doesn't really seem to be working right now anyways...the human race is growing exponentially, so the law is already 'disturbed', but I don't really see any telltale signs that this is a bad thing. Why not tilt the balance the other way around?

I am also aware this is very bad practice for us, not behaving like the ideal citizen of the universe as we should be...


Okay, I'm going to go hide in shame and embarrassment now. *runs away, leaving traces of blush*

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Maurog
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Re: Trash?

Postby Maurog » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:34 am UTC

I'm sure that once we have these space elevators going, catapulting trash into the sun might just become a reality.
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Nath
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Re: Trash?

Postby Nath » Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:08 pm UTC

funkytwinkie wrote:Why can't we develop catapults or rockets powerful enough to catapult trash into space? Surely we have rockets to do that to launch people outside of earth.

Launching things into space takes massive amounts of fuel and other resources. If we could do it on a scale which would make a dent in the trash problem, it would probably be ridiculously bad for the environment.

funkytwinkie wrote:And the law of conservation of mass doesn't really seem to be working right now anyways...the human race is growing exponentially, so the law is already 'disturbed'...

What do you mean?

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Re: Trash?

Postby JBJ » Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:57 pm UTC

It costs several thousand dollars to launch 1 lb. of material into space. The average american produces something like 1500 lbs per year. Economically not feasible.

I'm much more in favor of plasma gasification. The syngas produced by the process can be used to generate electricity essentially turning the garbage into a fuel source. A planned facility in Floridais expected to generate 120 MW of electricity back into the grid.
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Re: Trash?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Feb 13, 2009 3:50 pm UTC

Nath wrote:
funkytwinkie wrote:And the law of conservation of mass doesn't really seem to be working right now anyways...the human race is growing exponentially, so the law is already 'disturbed'...
What do you mean?
I can only assume that Funkytwinkie was thinking of the Earth as a closed system with no external influences to add mass to the planet, such as comets and asteroids, and that there was no nearby energy source that constantly bombards the planet with massive amounts of light and energy in the form of heat, like a Sun or something.
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Re: Trash?

Postby sophyturtle » Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:52 pm UTC

The best solution is just to create less trash. Things like recycling and reducing packaging can help a ton. Also using packaging that is biodegradable instead of plastic and Styrofoam. These would be good things and much more practical than launching things into space (which does not solve the problem, just moves it).
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Re: Trash?

Postby janusx » Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:17 pm UTC

sophyturtle wrote:The best solution is just to create less trash. Things like recycling and reducing packaging can help a ton. Also using packaging that is biodegradable instead of plastic and Styrofoam. These would be good things and much more practical than launching things into space (which does not solve the problem, just moves it).

Well if you launch it into the sun I would think that its a pretty permanent solution. However, the cost would really be too high. Using the trash to generate electricity seems like a viable option. Personally I don't see trash as being very high on my list of world problems to solve. Landfills are pretty effective at the moment and it will be a long time before they run out of space -- Finished landfills are often resused for building space, golf courses, parks, and recreational areas.

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Re: Trash?

Postby SummerGlauFan » Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:31 pm UTC

There was a Futurama episode about the dangers of launching your trash into space. Don't do it. ;)

Anywho, on a more serious note, the best way to reduce trash is to recycle. Also, trash-incinerating powerplants, while they undoubtedly pump out CO2, do get rid of a sizeable chunk of non-recycleable garbage, relatively speaking.
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Re: Trash?

Postby funkytwinkie » Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:49 am UTC

Nath wrote:
funkytwinkie wrote:And the law of conservation of mass doesn't really seem to be working right now anyways...the human race is growing exponentially, so the law is already 'disturbed'...

What do you mean?


I meant that currently, mass of 'stuff' growing/increasing on earth [birth of organisms] far outweighs [literally] mass of things being destroyed [death of organisms]...Does that make sense?

On another funny note...can the earth get so heavy that its orbit can change drastically? That's another one of my irrational fears. Can we solve for that critical mass?

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Re: Trash?

Postby TheStranger » Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:43 am UTC

funkytwinkie wrote:I meant that currently, mass of 'stuff' growing/increasing on earth [birth of organisms] far outweighs [literally] mass of things being destroyed [death of organisms]...Does that make sense?


The total mass is not increasing, more of the mass (an exceptionally small percentage of the total planetary mass) is being used by humans then was being used before.

On another funny note...can the earth get so heavy that its orbit can change drastically? That's another one of my irrational fears. Can we solve for that critical mass?


The mass of the earth is increasing at a statistically insignificant rate as the earth moves through clouds of interstellar dust meteors and such. Over the entire life span of the earth (until the sun expands and burns the atmosphere off) the earth will not accumulate enough mass to make a noticeable change to it's orbit.
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Re: Trash?

Postby Dream » Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:48 am UTC

funkytwinkie wrote:
Nath wrote:
funkytwinkie wrote:And the law of conservation of mass doesn't really seem to be working right now anyways...the human race is growing exponentially, so the law is already 'disturbed'...

What do you mean?


I meant that currently, mass of 'stuff' growing/increasing on earth [birth of organisms] far outweighs [literally] mass of things being destroyed [death of organisms]...Does that make sense?

On another funny note...can the earth get so heavy that its orbit can change drastically? That's another one of my irrational fears. Can we solve for that critical mass?

I don't think organisms living and dying adds mass to the earth. If fact, I can't think of anything besides accretion of matter from space that does, though an actual scientist should address that.
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gerb
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Re: Trash?

Postby gerb » Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:57 am UTC

funkytwinkie wrote:Why can't we develop catapults or rockets powerful enough to catapult trash into space? Surely we have rockets to do that to launch people outside of earth.
[I know you're now going "BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA"]


First thing I thought from reading that was Wall-E. That was one of the only things I saw wrong with that movie... They're there for seven hundred years on a massive spaceship and throwing away that much trash all the time?

Anyhow.
I agree that we shouldn't be making so much trash.
Trash is bad. **waggles finger at population of Earth**
If we don't figure it out soon we'll all have to make robots, then fly away into space for a while so the robots can clean it up for us. 8)
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Re: Trash?

Postby PurpleMint » Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:01 am UTC

funkytwinkie wrote:On another funny note...can the earth get so heavy that its orbit can change drastically? That's another one of my irrational fears. Can we solve for that critical mass?


Sounds like someone wasn't paying attention in science class! People decomposing and being born and such doesn't make the earth heavier. ( but there are other ways to knock earth out of orbit anyway. )

Does "trash" include toxic chemicals too? That's what I'm scared of the most.

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TheStranger
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Re: Trash?

Postby TheStranger » Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:04 am UTC

Shooting perfectly good elements into space is a waste of energy and those same elements.
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Re: Trash?

Postby Azrael » Sat Feb 14, 2009 5:00 pm UTC

This is no longer (if it ever was?) Serious Business.


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