Date: Wed Feb 20 17:20:22 2008 Back to Contents

Author: Urs Lauterburg

Subject: Re: rationalization for trash burning

Dear environmental caring tap-lers,

Sorry I pitch in late here on this topic. However a few days ago I
tried to post a text to a local newspaper ,because there is a ballet
next week about the construction of a new garbage disposal (simply
burning the waist) plant. I fed the text into an automatic German to
English translator and put the result below. I think the text has at
least some relevance to physics and is not too for off topic to be
posted as a contribution to this thread. OK, after some slight
brushing up of the synthetically generated English here it goes:

As a critical citizen and on the occasion of the public voting on the
legal prerequisites for a new waist combustion facility project of
the city of Bern I was astonished about the fact that the entire city
council recommended the public to vote for the project without even
one single counterpart. However, such a large and important project
of a long-term significance should be critically judged and
thoroughly discussed. For this I would like to add the following

Our civilization waist consists to a large part of materials which
were extracted from natural resources at a considerable expense of
innovation and energy. It is therefore not appropriate to transform
the waist by a simple burning process into the energetically deepest
condition, thus preventing any future reuse. The combustion process
produces large quantities of the greenhouse gas CO2 and a pretty
undefined gaseous mixture of toxic substances. The production of the
later is amplified and reinforced by the fact, that the combustion of
the waist cannot be performed without supplying additional
conventional fuel. Because of the facts cited above we should at
this time not invest into simply burning up the waist, even if the
heat is used to warm up a few public buildings.

It would be much better to invest into at modern system targeted at
the maximum possible recycling of the materials which are involved.
The city should implement a comprehensive and modern garbage disposal
system. This should be possible with a combination of appropriate
information campaigns for the citizens urging him to help with
separating the materials along with a modern plant which is build and
conceived on the basis of recycling.

I am convinced that in the long run a recycling based society will be
much better off than one which is built on wasting huge amounts of
natural resources.

I hope that this was not too far off topic and philosophical and will
still pass the tap-l censorship ;-)

Regards in a clean, cool and bright future


Urs Lauterburg
Physics demonstrator
Physikalisches Institut
University of Bern

>Seems like it must be:
>Water vapor
>..lots of space..
>Carbon dioxide
>and so forth
>On Mon, 18 Feb 2008, Paul Nord wrote:
>>Well... technically, it's probably third behind #1 water vapor, and
>>#2 CO2. But there's probably little we can do about the H2O gas.
>>There's less methane than CO2. Human sources (coal mines and cow
>>farts) haven't changed the atmospheric methane concentration too
>>much. I think that purely on the basis of reputation, methane
>>ranks number two.
>>And... you'll be kicking yourselves for this... no one seems to
>>have gotten the joke. ;-)
>>On Feb 18, 2008, at 11:58 AM, Rick Tarara wrote:
>>>In which sense--is it the 2nd highest concentration or is it the
>>>molecule the second strongest absorber of infrared or is it the
>>>second overall absorber of infrared? The effect on global warming
>>>depends on which of these is meant. Only the last of my three
>>>choices would qualify it as number two--IMO.
>>>----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard Berg"
>>>>"Methane - it's the number two greenhouse gas."
>>>> Lisa Neef - research scientist, Danish Meteorological Institute
>>>>Next to water vapor, I presume?
>Dr. Richard E. Berg, Professor of the Practice
>Director, Physics Lecture-Demonstration Facility
>U.S. mail address:
>Department of Physics
>University of Maryland
>College Park, MD 20742-4111
>Phone: (301) 405-5994
>FAX: (301) 314-9525

From Wed Feb 20 17:20:22 2008