Economist Steven Landsburg

Steve Landsburg

Recycling, as you know, is one of the principle tenants of the Religion of Environmentalism.

Criticize recycling, even on scientific grounds, and you’re a candidate for crucifixion, as I’ve learned firsthand.

But of course all the dogma in the world and of course all the adherents to that dogma do not, in the end, alter facts.

Steven Landsburg, an economics professor at the University of Rochester, in Rochester, New York, included the following as part of a longer essay (that longer essay is entitled “Why I’m not an Environmentalist,” and it’s well worth reading), in which he calls environmentalism a “coercive ideology” targeting children, the better to inculcate their young brains with apocalyptic propaganda.

Here is part of what he wrote his daughter’s teacher:

We do not recycle. We teach our daughter not to recycle. We teach her that people who try to convince her to recycle, or who try to force her to recycle, are intruding on her rights.

After my daughter progressed from preschool to kindergarten her teachers taught her to conserve resources by rinsing out her paper cup instead of discarding it. I explained to her that time is also a valuable resource and it might be worth sacrificing some cups to save time…

Here’s the full letter:

Dear Rebecca:

When we lived in Colorado, Cayley was the only Jewish child in her class. There were also a few Moslems. Occasionally, and especially around Christmas time, the teachers forgot about this diversity and made remarks that were appropriate only for the Christian children. These remarks came rarely, and were easily counteracted at home with explanations that different people believe different things, so we chose not to say anything at first. We changed our minds when we overheard a teacher telling a group of children that if Santa didn’t come to your house, it meant you were a very bad child; this was within earshot of an Islamic child who certainly was not going to get a visit from Santa. At that point, we decided to share our concerns with the teachers. They were genuinely apologetic and there were no more incidents. I have no doubt that the teachers were good and honest people who had no intent to indoctrinate, only a certain naïveté derived from a provincial upbringing.

Perhaps that same sort of honest naïveté is what underlies the problems we’ve had at the JCC this year. Just as Cayley’s teachers in Colorado were honestly oblivious to the fact that there is diversity in religion, it may be that her teachers at the JCC have been honestly oblivious that there is diversity in politics.

Let me then make that diversity clear. We are not environmentalists. We ardently oppose environmentalists. We consider environmentalism a form of mass hysteria akin to Islamic fundamentalism or the War on Drugs. We do not recycle. We teach our daughter not to recycle. We teach her that people who try to convince her to recycle, or who try to force her to recycle, are intruding on her rights.

The preceding paragraph is intended to serve the same purpose as announcing to Cayley’s Colorado teachers that we are not Christians. Some of them had never been aware of knowing anybody who was not a Christian, but they adjusted pretty quickly.

Once the Colorado teachers understood that we and a few other families did not subscribe to the beliefs that they were propagating, they instantly apologized and stopped. Nobody asked me what exactly it was about Christianity that I disagreed with; they simply recognized that they were unlikely to change our views on the subject, and certainly had no business inculcating our child with opposite views.

I contrast this with your reaction when I confronted you at the preschool graduation. You wanted to know my specific disagreements with what you had taught my child to say. I reject your right to ask that question. The entire program of environmentalism is as foreign to us as the doctrine of Christianity. I was not about to engage in detailed theological debate with Cayley’s Colorado teachers and they would not have had the audacity to ask me to. I simply asked them to lay off the subject completely, they recognized the legitimacy of the request, and the subject was closed.

I view the current situation as far more serious than what we encountered in Colorado for several reasons. First, in Colorado we were dealing with a few isolated remarks here and there, whereas at the JCC we have been dealing with a systematic attempt to inculcate a doctrine and to quite literally put words in children’s mouths. Second, I do not sense on your part any acknowledgment that there may be people in the world who do not share your views. Third, I am frankly a lot more worried about my daughter’s becoming an environmentalist than about her becoming a Christian. Fourth, we face no current threat of having Christianity imposed on us by petty tyrants; the same can not be said of environmentalism. My county government never tried to send me a New Testament, but it did send me a recycling bin.

Although I have vowed not to get into a discussion on the issues, let me respond to the one question you seemed to think was very important in our discussion: Do I agree that with privilege comes responsibility? The answer is no. I believe that responsibilities arise when one undertakes them voluntarily. I also believe that in the absence of explicit contracts, people who lecture other people on their “responsibilities” are almost always up to no good. I tell my daughter to be wary of such people — even when they are preschool teachers who have otherwise earned a lot of love.


Steven Landsburg

To my knowledge, the teacher did not reply.

More Recycling Myths Exposed

The church of recycling and the cult of organic composting was dealt another hard blow recently, when the Toronto Star conducted the following in-depth investigation, which was sent to me by my indefatigable friend Redmond. (Vote Redmond on October 25th, 2010!)

Green bins: A wasted effort?
Deep flaws mar recycling program as tons of organics end up in landfills or are turned into compost so toxic it kills plants

The City of Toronto boasts that its green bin program diverts a third of our garbage and turns it into “black gold” compost. But a Star investigation shows that the program – although nobly conceived – is a sham.

There are two problems. First, the city’s claim of how much waste the program diverts from landfill is inflated. Second, some of the compost that is being produced will kill your plants because of its high salt content, according to laboratory tests.

The Star found that, over the past two years, thousands of tons of organics in various stages of the composting process have been dumped into a gravel pit, tossed into landfills or stockpiled on city property. What’s more, some of the material residents are told to place in green bins – plastic bags and diapers – has wound up in the belly of a Michigan incinerator, despite Mayor David Miller’s vow Toronto will never burn garbage.

City residents deserve better, say compost experts. At least $15 million of taxpayers’ money goes to truck and treat the organic waste.

“Toronto homeowners put a lot of time and energy into separating their kitchen organics,” says Jim Graham, chair of the Ontario Waste Management Association.

“Residents have the right to expect the processors to do their job – and to create high-quality compost of consumer grade that they can use on their gardens.”

Toronto Mayor David Miller was too busy with the strike to comment, a spokesman told the Star on Thursday.

Geoff Rathbone, the city official in charge of the organic program, told the Star what happens to the organic matter “is not of concern to us” because it’s the provincial Ministry of the Environment’s job to enforce standards on processors.

The green bin program began in 2002, and today 510,000 Toronto homeowners dutifully separate garbage and put the organic waste into green bins for curbside pickup.

Compared to the pure organic programs in Durham and Peel regions, Toronto’s was flawed from the start. After public consultations, the city chose the simplest system for homeowners, encouraging plastic bag liners and the inclusion of diapers, neither of which can be composted.

The city proudly states that the compost it produces is “safe to use in gardens and lawns.”

Tests conducted for the Star by A&L Canada, a leading agricultural laboratory, found serious problems with compost produced by two separate companies contracted by the city to process the organic waste.

In one case, the lab found the compost was unfinished, meaning it was rushed through the process, in which micro-organisms break the waste down into a high-nutrient soil conditioner.

In the second case, the sodium content of compost given out at Toronto’s Environment Days was so high that it would kill plants. (More curing time would have removed naturally occurring sodium in vegetables and the salt we add to food.)

The Star also looked at the city’s so-called “diversion rate,” the markers by which recycling programs are judged. Critics say Toronto’s one-third rate is inflated.

Miller’s re-election promise in 2006 vowed to ramp up diversion rates to 70 per cent by 2010, so there’s pressure on the city to claim the highest possible rate.

Toronto’s annual output of 120,000 tons of organics has created a mad scramble for processors. In each of 2007 and 2008, the city shipped 1,000 truckloads to Quebec. By the time the green bin waste arrived, locked inside plastic bags the city wants residents to use, it was sometimes so rotten it went straight to landfill, says Quebec’s environment ministry. Some processors can’t handle liquefied rotten material.

That burns Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who has spent years trying to track the organic waste. “We have an unwritten rule with the public that the green bin system will have integrity, and the materials they put in the bins will be reused in a meaningful way,” Minnan-Wong says.

“When the food ends up landfilled, or when the compost is toxic, then you are betraying the principles and the reasons why we have this program to begin with.”

Two major compost processors hired by the city to handle the waste – such as leftover steak, banana peels and all those diapers – have been hit with provincial restrictions due to neighbourhood odour complaints.

Within the past two months, before the municipal garbage strike began, Orgaworld Canada in London was severely limited in the amount of organics it could process while Universal Resource Recovery in Welland was shut down entirely. Follow the trail of Toronto’s organics, and the flaws in the system emerge.

The Star found that Orgaworld, which processes about 40 per cent of Toronto’s organic waste, has been sending thousands of tons of “residual” plastics to be burned in Detroit. It turns out about one-fifth of Toronto’s organic output is being burned or buried in landfills.

The city tells residents to put diapers into their green bins.

Graham of the Ontario Waste Management Association also owns Try-Recycling in London. He said the diapers are considered diverted when placed in the compost stream, but are immediately screened out. “Makes for good diversion numbers, but they end up in the landfill anyway,” he said.

Add to that the plastic Toronto wants homeowners to line their bins with. In Durham and Peel, residents are told to buy compostable bags.

Toronto has built a multi-million-dollar system that is sup posed to separate organic waste from non-compostable plastic bags. (It is also planning two new local processing facilities, at a cost of roughly $65 million, using the same technology.) But plastics make the food rot quickly, causing odour problems for processors, and large shreds of plastic end up in the compost.

Nobody wants to see the green bin program scrapped, just made better. Susan Antler, executive director of the Composting Council of Canada, says some municipalities, such as Durham, are “shining stars.” They impose strict limits – no plastic bags, no diapers, and no dog feces and kitty litter. (The latter two are both allowed in Toronto, with feces contributing to odour issues and kitty litter putting clay into the compost.)

“Garbage in means garbage out,” Antler says.

Orgaworld founder Henk Kaskens, who is based in the Netherlands, came to London, Ont., last month to deal with “the fuss” created when the environment ministry ordered Orgaworld to limit its daily intake of green bin material to five trucks, or about 150 tons. Before that it was taking about 1,000 tons a day. (The order was lifted recently, but a new investigation is underway.)

The environment ministry says it has logged 170 odour complaints against Orgaworld since January.

At the same time the ministry hit Orgaworld with the limits, it closed down the second largest processor of Toronto’s organic waste, Welland’s Universal. The ministry told Universal it had logged 120 complaints of odours such as smells akin to “vomit” or “dead animals” since the facility opened last fall.

Toronto was caught in a vice, with nowhere to turn, because all but one of its other processors were facing ministry limitations or Environment Act charges.

Universal general manager Gerald Pratt said his company is taking the odour issues very seriously and is working very hard to fix the problems at the plant.

The problem caused Toronto to stockpile 3,000 tons of organics in city transfer stations – long before the strike began.

Orgaworld’s Kaskens, who said he makes “the best compost in Ontario,” invited the Star for a tour of his plant. He said the odour problems resulted from ducts that crashed from the walls to the floor because a subcontractor had not properly fastened them. He complained the environment ministry is too enforcement-focused and scares away future investments.

Inside the cavernous plant are huge piles of food waste, plastic bags ripped open. Kaskens said his technology turns organics into compost in just 12 to 14 days. The ministry requires it be held another 21 days, but “it is not necessary.”

The Composting Council’s Antler and numerous other industry leaders said they have never heard of compost that can be finished in 12 days. It takes up to six months to cure compost, Antler said. Kaskens pointed out the piles of residual waste, the plastics, in his plant. He said they are trucked to Detroit for incineration.

Neither the city nor compost companies could put a firm figure on the amount of non-organic residuals that are burned or landfilled, giving figures that vary from 15 to 22 per cent and higher.

Welland’s Universal general manager Gerald Pratt put it at 26 per cent, primarily plastic shopping bags. Toronto’s organic waste has a “great deal of contaminants in it,” Pratt wrote in a June letter to a Michigan landfill he hoped would help him after his plant closed.

The Michigan landfill’s manager, Dan Gudgel, said in an interview he could not compost Universal’s organics because the contamination meant it would take too long to get Michigan government approvals.

“I hear you have a state of emergency up there,” he said.

Article by Moira Welsh


The United States is not a democracy and was never intended to be. Democracy means majority rule. The rights of each individual, however, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, color, class, or creed, are inalienable in the literal sense (i.e. cannot be transferred, revoked, or be made alien) and are thus never subject to vote or the “whims of the majority.”

Which is why the word “democracy” does not appear one time in either the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence.

The United States is, as Benjamin Franklin said, a Constitutional Republic.

Calvin Coolidge had a pet pygmy hippo, which he kept in the White House.

Whereas Teddy Roosevelt kept a pet hyena.

Ronald Reagan was once given an honorary doctorate in professional football.

The largest scientific study ever conducted on acid rain (National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, Integrated Assessment, External Review Draft) didn’t find any real evidence that acid rain destroys forests.

As a teaching method, the National Wildlife Federation routinely had students dump highly acidic water on plants to, quote, “simulate acid rain.” Thus, when the plants died, the kids naturally assumed that acid rain kills forests in this same manner.

In 1992, a man in Carson City, Nevada, ran in the Democratic primarily as, quote, “God Almighty!” And did not win.

Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) was invented to protect American troops in WWII from insect-borne disease.

Despite numerous studies, DDT has never once been shown to be harmful. On the contrary, it has saved more lives than any other chemical invention in the history of the world, with the possible exception of antibiotics.

One spraying of DDT lasts longer than all other pesticides combined. Which is one of the many reasons mosquitoes are less resistant to it.

Since DDT was banned, more pesticides are now required, because none are as effective as DDT.

Which is one of the biggest reasons malaria has come back with such a vengeance.

During the final rush to get the first shipment of DDT out the door to American Troops, a valve at the bottom of a large vessel of DDT accidentally came open. Chemist Joseph Jacobs, who was standing under the vessel when it opened, was covered with hot DDT. “When it dried,” he says, in his autobiography, The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur, “I had DDT an inch thick all over me. In my hair, in my ears, and in my mouth and nose. I took off my clothes, showered, and scrubbed, but probably ingested more DDT during that one incident than is today considered safe to absorb over many years.”

Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, which singlehandedly succeeded in getting DDT banned, believed that one touch of DDT could kill you.

Chemist Joseph Jacobs lived another sixty years with no adverse health effects whatsoever.

Joseph Jacobs routinely lectured on the utter safety of DDT. In fact, he began each lecture by eating a spoonful of raw DDT at the podium.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his DDT work and was eighty-eight when he died, in 2004.

“In all the previous wars of history,” wrote chemical engineer O.T. Zimmerman, in 1946, “the louse [singular for lice] has killed more men than ever died from bullets, swords, or other weapons.”

The Audubon Society, though sympathetic to Rachel Carson’s claims, has stated publicly that no extinction or significant loss to bird populations came about through the use of DDT: “of the 40 birds Carson said might by now be extinct or nearly so, 19 have stable populations, 14 have increasing populations, and 7 are declining” (Easterbrook, 1995, p. 82). It should be noted furthermore that the 7 listed as “declining” declined only slightly, and not through any demonstrable link with DDT.

After President Bush senior banned broccoli from the White House in 1990, California broccoli growers delivered nine tons of it to Washington DC.

Science is in large part government-funded. Thus, scientists improve their access to research money if they can show politicians that they are “saving the planet.”

Statistically speaking, scientists who don’t propagate the fear-factor receive far less money than those who do, regardless of the actual truth.

Melvin Shapiro, for instance, head of research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Insight Magazine: “If there were no dollars attached to the game, you’d see it played on intellect and integrity. When you say the ozone threat is a scam, you’re not only attacking people’s scientific integrity, you’re going after their pocketbook as well.”

After that interview, Shapiro stopped taking phone calls. Word circulated that his supervisors censored him for fear of hurting their own funding.

Bureaucrats realize this as well: “When the Superfund Law was passed in 1980 … the EPA’s budget went up almost instantly by hundreds of millions of dollars, and ultimately billions…. The EPA administrator actively campaigned for the Superfund Law…. And, in fact, the law that emerged was largely written by members of the agency” (Facts Not Fear, p. 8).

The Superfund Law has achieved next to nothing — apart, that is, from spending billions in taxpayer dollars.

George Washington carried a sundial instead of a watch to tell time.

More timber grows each year than is cut.

“In the time it takes you to read this letter, nine hundred acres of rainforest will have been destroyed forever,” said Russell E. Train, of the World Wildlife Fund & The Conservation Foundation, back in 1992, a complete fiction, we now know.

The famous statement made by biologist Norman Myers, which sent environmentalists everywhere scurrying to their soapboxes, that “2 percent of all tropical forest was being destroyed per year,” and that by “2000 we will have lost a third of the world’s tropical forest” (Myers cited in Goudie 1993:46.), has proved inanely inaccurate.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) puts tropical deforestation in the 1980s at 0.8 percent. In 2001, satellite imagery, which is precise, shows that tropical deforestation had declined to 0.46 percent.

Lack of property rights — i.e. private property — makes tropical deforestation worse.

The snows of Kilimanjaro, one of Al Gore’s pet props, have been receding for a very long time, a well-known fact among scientists, who, additionally, are also quick to note that the temperature on Kilimanjaro has not been going up. Why, then, the recession of Kilimanjaro’s snows? Ice requires cold and moisture. And it’s precisely the latter that’s lacking.

As climate scientist Robert Balling says: “Gore does not acknowledge the two major articles on the subject published in 2004 in the International Journal of Climatology and the Journal of Geophysical Research showing that modern glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro was initiated by a reduction in precipitation at the end of the nineteenth century and not by local or global warming.”

I.e. the local climate shift on Kilimanjaro began a century ago.

About a decade ago, Doctor R.J. Braithwaite wrote an article that appeared in Progress in Physical Geography.

In that article, which was peer-reviewed, Doctor Braithwaite tells us how he analyzed 246 glaciers, sampled from both hemispheres and latitudes, between the years 1946 and 1995. This “mass balance analysis” he conducted found that “some glaciers were melting, while a nearly equal number were growing in size, and still others remained stable.” Doctor Braithwaite’s unequivocal conclusion:

“There is no obvious common or global trend of increasing glacier melt in recent years.”

“By some estimates, 160,000 glaciers exist on Earth. Only 63,000 have been inventoried, and only a few hundred have been studied in the detail described by Braithwaite” (“It Would Be Nice to Know More about Ice,” Jay Lehr).

On the basis of that logical fallacy known as the fallacy of insufficient evidence, all glacier fears are stopped cold right there.

But in fact that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Keith Echelmeyer, a glaciologist at the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute, says this:

“To make a case that glaciers are retreating, and that the problem is global warming, is very hard to do… The physics are very complex. There is much more involved than just the climate response.”

Mr. Echelmeyer goes on to tell us that in Alaska there are large glaciers advancing in the very same areas where others are retreating.

Quoting Doctor Martin Beniston of the Institute of Geography at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland:

Numerous climatological details of mountains are overlooked by the climate models, which thus makes it difficult to estimate the exact response of glaciers to global warming, because glacier dynamics are influenced by numerous factors other than climate, even though temperature and cloudiness may be the dominant controlling factors. According to the size, exposure and altitude of glaciers, different response times can be expected for the same climatic forcing.

According to the excellent glacier program at Rice University, those response times run something like this:

Ice sheet: 100,000 to 10,000 years

Large valley glacier: 10,000 to 1,000 years

Small valley glacier: 1,000 to 100 years

“Glaciers are influenced by a variety of local and regional natural phenomena that scientists do not fully comprehend. Besides temperature changes, glaciers also respond to changes in the amount and type of precipitation, changes in sea level and changes in ocean circulation patterns. As a result, glaciers do not necessarily advance during colder weather and retreat during warmer weather” (John Carlisle, National Center for Public Policy).

Grist magazine: There’s a lot of debate right now over the best way to communicate about global warming and get people motivated. Do you scare people or give them hope? What’s the right mix?

Al Gore: I think the answer to that depends on where your audience’s head is. In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don’t think there’s a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis. Over time that mix will change. As the country comes to more accept the reality of the crisis, there’s going to be much more receptivity to a full-blown discussion of the solutions. (Source of this astonishing exchange: Grist Magazine[boldface mine].)

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) was a foreign diplomat at age 14.

Teddy Roosevelt once delivered a one-hour speech, despite the fact that he had just been shot by a would-be assassin.

Quondam senator Barry Goldwater recommended peanut butter for shaving cream.

The tenth President of the United States, John Tyler (1790-1862), was unable to get a job after leaving office and so worked at a village pound tending cows and horses.

All the trash produced by the United States for the next one thousand years could fit into a landfill forty-four miles square by 120 feet deep—one tenth of 1 percent of all this country’s entire land area. (“A Consumer’s Guide to Environmental Myths and Realities,” Policy Report #99, National Center for Policy Analysis, Dallas, TX, September 1991, 3, quoting Clark Wiseman of Gonzaga University.)

“It is entirely possible that we may be the last generation of humans to know this wondrous earth as it was meant to be,” said the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, many years ago.

“Nearly every habitat is at risk,” said Time Magazine, almost two decades ago. “Swarms of people are running out of food and space …” Which is another statement that time and the facts have exposed as completely false. Thus:

Every man, woman, and child on the planet could fit shoulder-to-shoulder in a space no bigger than Jacksonville, Florida.

Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution says Congress has only these powers. To borrow money (not the same thing as taxation); regulate commerce with foreign nations; establish rules for naturalization; coin money and fix standards of weights and measures; punish counterfeiting; establish a post office; promote science with patents; establish the lower courts; punish pirates; declare war; raise and support armies, but only for a term of two years; provide a navy; regulate naval and land forces; call forth the militia; and administer capital.

“It would be impossible to construct a logical argument that these powers permit the massive welfare state and regulatory state that exists today in America,” said Doctor Thomas Dilorenzo, in 2006.

“The United States is not a Christian Nation,” said President John Adams, in the Treaty of Tripoli.

“Private property is the guardian of every other right” said James Madison, the father of the Constitution.

“I precisely advocate the abolition of private property,” said Karl Marx.

“Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned,” said Ludwig von Mises.

“The only alternative to private property is government ownership — that is, socialism,” says Doctor Dilorenzo.

Peter Cooper, inventor of a gelatinous dessert called Jell-O, once ran for the Presidency of the United States.

And lost.

Glass Recycling

Read Part 1 of this article here.

Take an empty beer bottle. We can either throw that glass bottle away or recycle it.

Assume for a moment that we all want what’s best for the planet. Assume, therefore, that we want to use as few resources as possible.

Should we recycle our beer bottle, then? Or should we throw it away?

And how do we know?

Do we believe the Al Gore’s of the world, who assert what we should do, for no other reason than that they assert it? Or do we look into the actual data ourselves?

Ask yourself this:

If recycling is more expensive than using new materials, can it really be more efficient?

The free market prices its resources by what’s called opportunity cost.

Opportunity cost is not arbitrary.

It means that producers won’t choose packaging which costs more if that packaging is identical (or inferior) to other options.

For years now, many of you have spent thousands upon thousands upon thousands of hours sorting, washing, de-labeling, and resorting bottles so that these bottles could be recycled.

The horrible truth of the matter is that most of these hours have been a complete waste, the very thing you sought to avoid.

But more than that: the environment is worse off because of your efforts.

Most of the glass you’ve worked hard to have recycled is now resting in some landfill – via a very circuitous, and very costly, route.

That’s a fact.

Here are a few more:

Recycled glass is called cullet.

The process of producing cullet consists of grinding up glass, which in turn requires machines and much electricity.

Recycling glass is a thoroughly industrial process, make no mistake.

Cullet glass is full of additives, contaminants, and impurities, most of which are trapped within the cullet, so that they remain harmless. If, however, someone again melts the glass, which is precisely what happens when it is recycled, these contaminants are released into the earth, water, and air.

Different colored glasses cannot be merged for bottles.

Mixed cullet is, for the most part, useless.

Clear glass and green glass are usually landfilled.

Glass broken beyond a certain point is landfilled.

Amber glass is the only recyclable glass that’s remotely in demand.

Silica – also known as sand, which is what glass is made of – is exceptionally cheap and exceptionally abundant.

Silica production is not a danger to the environment, by any standard. Indeed, silica is made into glass without any extra steps or expense, unlike recycled glass, which is much more involved and much more environmentally unfriendly.

That is why virgin glass is cheaper than cullet glass. It also, incidentally, provides you with a critical clue into something you should know the next time you ponder whether to throw your bottles into the trash, or into the recycling bin.

If cullet glass is more expensive and also more toxic, and if cullet glass usually ends up in landfills anyway, why, then, do we bother recycling glass?

A good question, for which, unfortunately, there is no good answer.

Here, however, are some of the bad ones:

“Recycling is always cheaper, no matter how much it costs in terms of those Federal Reserve notes you call money,” say a number of my critics.


“Silica mining rapes Mother Earth.”

You can certainly believe this nonsense if you like, and I, for one, will certainly never convince you otherwise, no matter the evidence.

But you should be aware of how much more waste you’re creating, and how much more you are polluting the environment.

You can also believe, as many never tire of telling me, that “recycling has a spiritual component,” which in turn gives recycled products “special value that price cannot measure.”

But I’m speaking to those of you who have not yet been blinded by the environmental dogma:

If price is a reliable indicator – and it is – then the majority of recycling is incontrovertibly irrational.

It is worth noting that many American cities, though explicitly “green,” have nevertheless come to see what for many of us has been blindingly obvious for years: glass recycling is an utter waste. It’s a waste of time, and it’s a waste of resources and money. Furthermore, it’s bad for the environment.

That is why many American cities have wisely done away with glass recycling – green glass in particular, which is so plentiful that it’s ridiculous to recycle it, and the cullet market for which is so overwhelmed by an excess supply that recycling it costs big time, in every way, because so much of it is ultimately landfilled.

There are, of course, a number of other cities that “have tried to delete green glass from the list of recyclable materials, but face a political veto from recycling enthusiasts. And, interestingly, the political opposition comes precisely from those people who will end up paying more for the inefficiency of the recycling they insist they want. Taxpayers, citizens, the folks who take their garbage out to the street, want to ask the city to put green glass back on the recyclable list, regardless of the cost” (Michael Munger, “Think Globally, Act Irrationally: Recycling”).

The Coors Recycling Plant is where all recyclable glass in the entire Colorado region goes. An employee there, who requested anonymity, told me this:

“A great deal of what has been sorted for recycling does end up being landfilled, despite what you hear, because of contamination or lack of market for the recycled material.”

How much?

“Don’t ask.”

One estimate: less than half.

Another estimate: less than a third.

Another: less than a quarter.

Conservatively, this means that if 80,000 tons are hauled for recycling, about 40,000 tons ends up in a landfill.

To put that into perspective:

Rather than throw your bottles into the trash and then pay one of our fine local haulers to take that trash to the dump, as we used to do in the good old days before the religion of environmentalism swept across the country like a plague, we are now paying our local government, in the form of subsidies, so that we can now spend thousands upon thousands of hours cleaning, de-labeling, sorting, and resorting glass, so that we can then pay for more trucks to pump more pollution into the air and use more fossil fuels in the process, so that finally our bottles can be hauled a couple of hundred miles (roundtrip), so that they can then, at last, be landfilled.

That is the beauty of green politics and all their profligate governmental bureaucracies.

That is our earth-friendly greens at their finest.

It is also sheer madness.

Ask yourself another question:

How has such a fraud been perpetrated?

Answer: the neo-Marxist philosophy of environmentalism and your tacit sanction of that philosophy.

Recycling “feels good,” for instance.

It has a “spiritual component.”

Recycling “simply must be better for the environment.”

Humans are a blight upon the earth.

Reader, you’re being lied to.

You’ve been brainwashed into believing that throwing away your Heinenken bottles will destroy the planet.

If you only hear a single thing that I’m saying, let it be this: if something is viable, it will never need to be subsidized.

If subsidies are called for, that thing is wrong.

Recycling must by necessity be subsidized because it is inherently wasteful. When recycling is not wasteful, it’s done voluntarily, as it’s been done since the dawn of humankind.

If you doubt this, read Rubbish, by one of our foremost rubbish experts, Doctor William Rathje.

And remember this also:

“There is a simple test for determining whether something is a resource (something valuable) or just garbage (something you want to dispose of at the lowest possible cost, including costs to the environment). If someone will pay you for the item, it’s a resource. Or, if you can use the item to make something else people want, and do it at lower price or higher quality than you could without that item, then the item is also a resource. But if you have to pay someone to take the item away, or if other things made with that item cost more or have lower quality, then the item is garbage” (Michael Munger, “Think Globally, Act Irrationally: Recycling”).

Read Part One of this article here.

Recycled Trash

Few arguments are more dangerous than the ones that “feel” right but can’t be justified (Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, 1981).

Paradoxically, recycled trash is exactly what you get 99 times out of 100 when the sacred subject of recycling comes up.

Recycling is the process whereby rubbish is converted into reusable materials.

Recycling — once known as scavenging — is as old as mankind herself, and it has always been a way dealing with waste products. But it was once a decision left up to individuals, and not coercive governmental institutions.

Rubbish is an inescapable by-product of human life.

At present, there are only three possible ways of dealing with rubbish: dumping, incinerating, or recycling.

One of the primary forces behind the push for so much mandatory recycling is utter ignorance about the extent to which spontaneous recycling occurs in the private sector.

In the words of one of our foremost rubbish expert, Doctor William Rathje, of the University of Arizona:

“As long as mankind has been throwing away trash, others have sifted through it.”

What this translates to is this:

When recycling makes sense, as it does with scrap steel and aluminum cans, it makes sense not because of resource scarcity, which is not a problem, nor because extracting the resources will irreparably harm the environment (it won’t), but because it is economically tenable to do so.

Businesses in free-market countries exist to recycle these products. And they’ve existed for many, many decades.

Furthermore, no one is being forced to save recyclables, or to take them away.

A few other things about recycling you’ll most likely never hear from our environmental contingent:

Forests in developed countries are not mowed down to produce paper, and recycling paper does not “save forests”: pulpwood is grown and farmed specifically for paper, as this quondam forester makes unequivocally clear.

Thus in the long run mandatory recycling laws hurt people and the economy, for when demand declines, farmers stop growing pulpwood trees. And since recycled paper often requires more energy to make, it is often more expensive.

In addition, de-inking newspapers, which is necessary in order to recycle them, may create a toxic sludge not at all good for the environment, which sludge, toxic or not, must somewhere be landfilled.

Because recycling ignores the law of supply and demand, recycled material is very often landfilled – as, to cite one of many examples, shortly after enacting its mandatory recycling laws, the German government admitted (Recycling’ Demand Side: “Lessons from Germany’s Green Dot”).

“[We] are running out of ways to dispose of our waste in a manner that keeps it out of either sight or mind,” said Nobel Prize winner Albert Gore, a statement contradicted by every shred of hard data on this subject.

For example:

“If we permitted rubbish to reach the height it did at New York’s Fresh Kills site (255 feet), a landfill that would hold all of America’s garbage for the next century would still be only about 10 miles on a side” (Lomborg, 2001).


During the 1980s, the waste disposal industry moved to using larger landfills, partly because of new EPA regulations and partly because of consolidations and mergers. At the same time, the number of operating landfills fell sharply. The EPA, the press, and a variety of other commentators focused on the number of landfills, rather than on their capacity, which was growing rapidly, and concluded that we were running out of space. J. Winston Porter, the EPA Assistant Administrator responsible for that agency’s role in creating the appearance of a garbage crisis, has since admitted that the key EPA study was flawed because it counted landfills rather than landfill capacity, and it also underestimated the prospects for creating additional capacity. Allen Geswein, an EPA official and one of the authors of the EPA study, remarked, ‘I’ve always wondered where that crap about a landfill-capacity crisis came from’ (Bailey 1995, A8).

Even the notoriously leftist EPA acknowledges that risk to life from modern landfills is “virtually nonexistent.”

The truth is, there is no shortage of landfill space, not remotely. All the trash produced by the United States for the next one thousand years could fit into a landfill forty-four miles square by 120 feet deep – one tenth of 1 percent of all this country’s entire land area. (“A Consumer’s Guide to Environmental Myths and Realities,” Clark Wiseman, Gonzaga University.)

“Recycling laws could eliminate the one-pound coffee ‘brick packs’ you now find in retail stores. These packages hold the same amount of coffee as metal cans, but weigh less than one-third of traditional metal cans, and they take up little space. Recycled-content laws would force the use of cans instead” (Facts not Fear).

Transporting recyclables requires separate collection trucks. In addition to which, producing finished recycled goods consumes a great deal of energy and also causes pollution, every bit as much as producing, for example, paper from pulpwood.

“In Los Angles, curbside recycling means that the city had to have eight hundred rather than four hundred trucks to pick up trash. And that city already has an air pollution problem” (Ibid).

Rubbish is indeed an inescapable by-product of human life. Yet according to Richard Denison of the Environmental Defense Fund: “Garbage is intolerable in a free society.”

Humans, in other words, must live as ghosts, because the religion of environmentalism finds the by-products of human existence “intolerable.”

Concerning the question of which method creates the most pollution:

“It is almost beyond dispute that manufacturing products from recyclables instead of from virgin raw materials” (making, for instance, paper out of old newspapers instead of virgin timber) “causes less pollution and imposes fewer burdens on the earth’s natural habitat and biodiversity,” says the Natural Resources Defense Council.

And yet:

This assumption is not merely beyond dispute; it is wrong in many instances. Recycling is a manufacturing process, and therefore it too has environmental impact. The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment (1989, 191) says that it is ‘usually not clear whether secondary manufacturing [such as recycling] produces less pollution per ton of material processed than primary manufacturing processes.’ Indeed, the Office of Technology Assessment goes on to explain why: Recycling changes the nature of pollution, sometimes increasing it and sometimes decreasing it. For example, the EPA examined both virgin paper processing 18 PERC POLICY SERIES and recycled paper processing for toxic substances. Five toxic substances were found only in virgin processes, eight only in recycling processes, and twelve in both processes. Among these twelve, all but one was present in higher levels in the recycling processes (Office of Technology Assessment 1989, 191). Similar mixed results have been found for steel and aluminum production. Indeed, over the past twenty years, a large body of literature devoted to life-cycle analyses of products from their birth to death has repeatedly found that recycling can increase pollution as well as decrease it (Daniel K. Benjamin, “Eight Great Myths of Recycling”).

Reader, at the very least know this:

Nothing is ever truly recycled until it has been sorted, remanufactured, and repurchased.

Thus, one must not just blindly advocate a categorical policy of recycling, recycling, recycling — by compulsion, if necessary — without any regard for what the market will bear.

This only creates tons more waste, which is one of the many reasons that mandatorily recycled garbage is so often landfilled.

So much for the inane claim that “economics have nothing to do with the environment.”

This, like recycling and a host of other issues, is just so much more environmental trash.

Read Part 2 of this article Glass Recycling here.


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