by Frosty Wooldridge
Part 17: Garbage, waste, refuse in America and worldwide
The writer John Steinbeck said, “American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash — all of them — surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and smothered with rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. In this, if no other way, we can see the wild and reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index. I wonder whether there will come a time when we can no longer afford our wastefulness — chemical wastes in the rivers, metal wastes everywhere, and atomic wastes buried deep in the earth or sunk in the sea. When an Indian village became too deep in its own filth, the inhabitants moved. And we have no place to which to move.” — John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
With a population of 319 million people in 2014, the United States generates 4.5 pounds of trash per person 24/7.
(Americans throw 251 million tons of trash annually into landfills, onto the land, into our lakes, rivers and into the oceans.) Photo D’arcy Norman
We throw more trash than most of the rest of the world, but they catch up annually as they grow their populations by 80 million each year. China adds 27 million cars, net gain, to their highways annually, but as those autos age, their dead carcasses litter the landscape. China expects to use and toss over 900 to 1,200 million tires annually as they continue their quest to be more like Americans. The US tosses 250 million tires annually.
60,000 –Number of plastic bags consumed in the U.S. every 5 seconds (Sierra Club)
240,000–Number of plastic bags consumed worldwide every 10 seconds (Sierra Club)
Number of plastic bags Americans use every year (Clean Air Council)
30,000 tons–Landfill waste created from plastic bags each year (Clean Air Council)
Less than 1 percent–Amount of plastic bags that are recycled (Clean Air Council)
The amount of garbage we discard numbs a thinking person’s mind and stupefies anyone who thinks about the ramifications of our future.
15 million–Sheets of office paper used in the U.S. every 5 minutes. The average American uses roughly the equivalent of one 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree in paper and wood products each year. (EPA)
100 million–Number of trees cut down in the U.S. annually to make the paper for junk mail (Clean Air Council)
9,960–Pieces of junk mail that are printed, shipped, delivered and disposed of in the U.S. every 3 seconds. (Chris Jordan)
(Part of the 100 million tons of plastic floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch the size of Texas just 1,000 miles west of San Francisco and growing as billions of humans toss their plastics into our oceans.) Photo by Mother Nature Network
2.4 million pounds
Amount of plastic pollution that enters the world’s oceans every hour (Clean Air Council)
Number of plastic cups that are consumed on airline flights in the U.S. every 6 hours (Chris Jordan)
Number of plastic beverage bottles that are used in the U.S. ever 5 minutes. The number of plastic water bottles discarded in the U.S. every week could circle the Earth five times. (Plastic Pollution Coalition)
The more I dive into the research of this series, the more I am sickened at what I discover. When you pile up the numbers for the USA, it’s overwhelming. When you pile up the numbers for India, China and other overpopulated countries, it’s down right frightening. We add 1 billion humans every 12 years—so the trash numbers will continue to climb. Our oceans will continue to be destroyed. But no one will address it; not one single world leader.
(People living in their own trash in Africa, India, Mexico and many places around the world.) Photo by www.Lightingtheway.com
20 to 50 million metric tons–Amount of electronics the world throws away annually. That’s the equivalent of trashing 45,500 to 125,000 fully loaded 747s each year. (Ewasteguide.info)
10-18 percent–Amount of electronics that are recycled. (Ewasteguide.info)
304 million–Electronics disposed of from U.S. households in 2005 — two-thirds of them still worked. (Clean Air Council)
18,500–Number of homes that could be powered for a year if we recycled all of the cellphones retired annually. (Clean Air Council)
All totaled, the USA discards 251 million tons of trash annually. How do you compare that number?
The United States discards more than 4,837 Titanic’s filled with trash in a normal calendar year.
(People living in the utter nightmare of their own waste around the world.) Photo by www.lightingtheway.com
Unfortunately, it drips, drains, funnels and wafts into the land, air and water. We face “payback” in the coming years on a scale unheard of in human history.
Worldwide, humans produce 1.2 kg per person per day or 1.3 billion tons per year). By 2025 this will likely increase to 4.3 billion urban residents generating about 1.42 kg/capita/day of municipal solid waste 2.2 billion tons per year.
Finally, Americans waste or cause to be wasted nearly 1 million pounds of materials per person every year. This figure includes 3.5 billion pounds of carpet landfilled, 3.3 trillion pounds of CO2 gas emitted into the atmosphere, 19 billion pounds of polystyrene peanuts, 28 billion pounds of food discarded, 360 billion pounds of organic and inorganic chemicals used for manufacturing, 710 billion pounds of hazardous waste and 3.7 trillion pounds of construction debris.
• If wastewater is factored in, the total annual flow of waste
in the American Industrial system is 250 trillion pounds.
• Less than 2% of the total waste stream in the United States is recycled.
• For all the world to live as an American we would need two more Earths; three more if the population should double and twelve Earth’s altogether if worldwide standards of living doubled in the next forty years.
(Our trash reaches the Arctic Ocean where polar bears, whales, seagulls and seals must contend with our accelerating nightmare.)
And to think that America will add another 138 million people by 2050—a scant 36 years from now. The world will add another 3.1 billion in that time.
Somewhere down the line, Mother Nature will kick our rear-ends back to the Stone Age.
If you would like to make a difference, please join these organizations for the most effective collective action you can take: www.CapsWeb.org ; www.NumbersUSA.org ; www.TheSocialContract.com ; www.Fairus.org
Join me, Frosty Wooldridge, with Dave Chaffin, host of the Morning Zone at 650 AM, www.KGAB.com, Cheyenne, Wyoming every Monday 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., as we discuss my latest commentaries on issues facing America. You may stream the show on your computer. You may call in at: 1-888-503-6500.
In a five minute astoundingly simple yet brilliant video, “Immigration, Poverty, and Gum Balls”, Roy Beck, director of www.numbersusa.ORG, graphically illustrates the impact of overpopulation. Take five minutes to see for yourself:
“Immigration by the numbers—off the chart” by Roy Beck
This 10 minute demonstration shows Americans the results of unending mass immigration on the quality of life and sustainability for future generations: in a few words, “Mind boggling!” www.NumbersUSA.org
This is the best website to start: www.numbersusa.org ; watch Roy Beck’s “Immigration by the Numbers” at 14 minutes. Bi-partisan and very effective. Become a faxer of pre-written letters to your reps to make positive change.
Visit www.TheSocialContract.com for the best information on what we face as a civilization as to overpopulation, energy, immigration and much more.
Canada www.immigrationwatchcanada.org ; in Australia www.population.org.au [email protected]; in Great Britain www.populationmatters.org ; and dozens of other sites accessed at www.frostywooldridge.com. In Florida, www.flimen.org .
Dave Gardner, President, Citizen-Powered Media ; Producing the Documentary, GROWTH BUSTERS; presents Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity, Join the cause at www.growthbusters.org ; Trailer to his latest movie on overpopulation: http://youtu.be/KLWxWOcUrVc
Check out this link with Wooldridge on bicycle and Lester Brown and panel discussion:
Tomorrow’s Americaproject on www.youtube.com/contemporarylearning.
Producer: GEORGE A. COLBURNwww.tomorrowsamerica.com
Email: [email protected]
Link to www.tomorrowsamerica.com for more discussions on America’s predicament.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Alexandra Paul talks about human overpopulation and saving our world by all women having 1 child only:
One planet, one child:
We must come to terms with birth control and stabilizing human population. This three minute video brings the terror of India’s predicament up close and personal by Paul Winn of Australia:
This film will rock you: MOTHER: CARING FOR 7 BILLION
Dr. Jack Alpert , www.skil.org
Too Many People Video series
How Much Degrowth is Enough? “NEW” Sept. 2012
The Human Predicament and What to Do About It Feb. 2012
Overpopulation Means Civilization Collapse Aug. 2011
Important books to read and educate yourself:
Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation, edited by Philip Cafaro and Eileen Crist, 2012
The World Without Us, Alan Weisman 2007 A scholarly research on how the Earth will fare after Homo sapiens are gone.
Man Swarm, and the Killing of Wildlife, Dave Foreman 2011 Mankind as locusts.
Take Conservation Back, Dave Foreman, 2013
The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler, what America faces when oil runs out.
Overshoot by William Catton
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
Peak Everything: Facing a century of Declines by Richard Heinberg
Plan B, 4.0, Saving Civilization by Lester Brown
The Population Fix by Edward C. Hartman
America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans by Frosty Wooldridge
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2012, he bicycled coast to coast across America. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis facing America: what to do about it.” www.frostywooldridge.com . His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click: www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Live well, laugh often, celebrate daily and enjoy the ride,
6 Continent world bicycle traveler
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