Who are the Litterbugs?

Rather than collecting what really is useless garbage for “recycling,” let’s get rid of it —for good—by incineration with the right technology. Mother Nature will thank us.
– Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser

Who are the Litterbugs?

Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser

The world is polluted and steadily becoming more so.

The main culprit, as I see it, is not mankind’s invention of new materials, implements and devices. Rather it’s their indiscriminate applications and—most importantly—reckless disposal or release into the environment, much of that into the high seas.

It took a long time for people to recognize that “out of sight—out of mind” was not the right approach. Let’s look at what has been or is actually still being “disposed of” in such ways.

From WWII ordinances disposed of after the war by dumping them in the North Sea, to radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and scientific materials in the second half of the 20th century, to simple garbage and waste-engine oil from the many ships plying the oceans, to the litter along many roads and waterways around the globe, it was a “standard” disposal practice to dump anything no longer wanted   into somewhere “out-of-sight,” typically an ocean environment.

Just walk along any ocean or (large) lake shore and look for the evidence. You’ll be surprised at what you can find. Some examples follow:

Radioactive Waste

After 1950 or so, when nuclear technologies advanced and nuclear power plants were being built, (still) radioactive waste materials were mostly solidified and entombed in concrete-filled steel barrels and dropped off ships to sink to the bottom of the sea.

I’m not talking about unexploded mines and bombs or unfired weaponry as they are still found in many areas. No, I’m talking about the actual “disposal” of such items. For example, reports say that in the English Channel alone, the British and the Belgians threw 28,500 such barrels with radioactive waste into the English Channel between 1950 and 1963. There are probably similar numbers of containers with such waste materials from other countries at many locations in the oceans.

WWII  Items

Non-radioactive items were also “disposed of” en masse at other sites, like the Baltic Sea. There, some 300,000 thousand tons of (presumably still “live”) German munitions alone are claimed to have been dumped.

As unexploded but still live WWII bombs continue to be regularly found in Germany, the above is a clear example of irresponsible “disposal.” Of course, such finds are now being destroyed by exploding them.

Oil Residues

Even a walk along (formerly) pristine Caribbean island shores on a sunny spring day may get your footwear and clothes covered with a black tarry substance. That’s mostly what’s left from irresponsible disposal of oil from ships on the high seas.

It will definitely ruin your clothing and is even difficult to get off your skin.

The cause of the problem: Irresponsible “disposal.”

Plastics of many Kinds

For half a century or more, industries have produced a variety of materials that may summarily be termed “plastics.” From shopping bags to many household implements, these products are vital to mankind. They make life easy and efficient in many ways.

From plastic straws or cups or drinks, to shopping bags, to lawn chairs to many other items, each has a useful purpose. They all are clean, can be produced with little costs, can be stored ad infinitum, and are quite helpful in daily life.

However, they are also increasingly thought of as “undesirable.” Recent (by-)laws in many jurisdictions, like banning the use of plastic straws, proves the point. However, the folks responsible for such laws rarely realize the true cause of the problem:

The cause of the problem: Irresponsible “disposal.”

Space Objects

More recently, a whole new “disposal place” has been discovered. It’s the atmosphere (meaning here 0-100 km above ground), around the entire world. Already, there are tens of thousands of fragments from long-ago launched space rockets, satellites, and lost wrenches by astronauts at the ISS (International Space Station) that are swirling around this globe. However, as of late, the current number of such pieces is projected to increase by orders of magnitude.

The SpaceX Company alone has plans to launch in the not too distant future a total of 50,000 satellites to cover the entire earth atmosphere with cell phone/internet communication capabilities. So far, they have sent up 60 or so of the devices and – already—astronomers complain about the “sight pollution”, i.e. those satellites interfering with their observations of the stars.

Just think of the problems that could arise from 50 thousand of such space objects items, perhaps multiplied by similar numbers of objects from other countries.

There are numerous other examples of such undesirable pollution from “disposals” of wastes and novel inventions. However, there is ONE simple solution for most of that, at least here on the ground:

A Good Disposal Solution.

Rather than collecting what really is useless garbage for “recycling,” let’s get rid of it —for good—by incineration with the right technology.

Mother Nature will thank us.


Dr Klaus L E KaiserDr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is a professional scientist with a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Technical University, Munich, Germany. He has worked as a research scientist and project chief at Environment Canada‘s Canada Centre for Inland Waters for over 30 years and is currently Director of Research at TerraBase Inc. He is author of nearly 300 publications in scientific journals, government and agency reports, books, computer programs, trade magazines, and newspaper articles.

Dr. Kaiser has been president of the International Association for Great Lakes Research, a peer reviewer of numerous scientific papers for several journals, Editor-in-Chief of the Water Quality Research Journal of Canada for nearly a decade, and an adjunct professor. He has contributed to a variety of scientific projects and reports and has made many presentations at national and international conferences.

Dr. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts

Dr. Kaiser can be reached at: mail@convenientmyths.com

12 thoughts on “Who are the Litterbugs?”

  1. The Westchester County (NY, US) Solid Waste District has a pyrolysis (very high temperature) incinerator for household garbage, and modern sorting for metals, plastics by number, glass and waste paper. This frees up capacity on the incinerator that can be rented out to commercial customers.

  2. Dumping in landfills is a useless and overwhelming mess. Recycling that is truly melting down and reusing cans, bottles and plastics is not only possible but eliminates the waste of materials. Fabric and paper can be repulped and remade. Anything too contaminated to be reused can be incinerated. Filling the land and ocean with trash is until both are polluted is far more important for our future than any CO2 issue there could be.

    • Filling up old quarries and mines is a good way to put the land back to its original state or to re-use it so landfill done properly is not a bad thing.

  3. As I was an explosives hauler for some years, I was surprised at the amount of ordnance left over from WW I AND II. I personally hauled lots of it to old bases to be “de fragged” or re cycled safely. It has been standard procedure since the sixties. The worst manmade problem is now Fukushima. There is no answer, no remedy. Look it up. It is not being reported.

    • The UK chemical weapons establishment is still dealing with WW1 gas and chemical shells that are being dug up from the battlefields of Belgium and France.

  4. ***However, the folks responsible for such laws rarely realize the true cause of the problem:

    The cause of the problem: Irresponsible “disposal.” ***

    Not rampant “endless growth” consumerism, or our temporary and disposable lifestyles? Nope, it’s trash disposal that’s the problem.

    We endlessly mine and extract and kill so we can produce/buy/consume crap we don’t need then throw it away once we don’t want it any more. Rinse/repeat/rinse/repeat

  5. Plasma incineration can even deal with low level radioactive waste from hospitals. Very impressive.

    Of course everyone jumped on the recycling bandwagon until China stopped accepting it. Now it goes to landfill.

  6. The drinking straws at some restaurants taste like it’s made from recycled toilet paper. If I can’t have a plastic straw in a restaurant, I’d rather drink straight from the glass.

  7. recently it was suggested that Victoria Australia started burning waste in hitemp incinerators and using the heat generated for power.
    well….did the greenies go ape over that idea!!
    however as chinas not taking it the mountains found in warehouses dumped and also some rural areas illegal dumps found.. the ideas up again and this time it might happen;-)
    what I would like to see immediate bans on is?
    bloody disposable nappies!!!!
    they have to be the most foul waste produced in massive daily quanitity going to landfill
    simple old cloth washables, were economical lasted for more than one baby and the crap went into the sewage where it belongs. public litter bins full of reeking shitty nappies all over the place is NOT an improvement in any way.
    and if a mum cant cope with her kids crap to maintain, responsibly, then maybe being a mum was a bad choice

  8. The plastic hysteria just shows how stupid people are these days. It is not the fact that it exists that it gets into the river systems and out to sea but that somebody put it there. Same with all the litter. A lot of things have got better such as ship tank flushing and dumping raw sewage at sea or in rivers.

  9. Thank you, Vance, for at least mentioning the elephant in the room.

    Presumably, the radiation from Fukushima that is still flowing into the Pacific Ocean will remain there for a very long time, accumulating until the whole earth is poisoned. Talk about a slow motion train wreck!

    And where are the Greenies on this issue? Nowhere. That in itself proves their agenda is not environmental.

  10. 1. I was living in Germany in the early 90’s. A newspaper article at the time stated that the German govt had conducted a long, large, thorough study about the benefits of recycling, something they were world leaders in. (Bottle collection points in every neighborhood, separated garbage etc.) They came to a disturbing conclusion:
    first, that the recycling processes created more pollution than it was supposed to alleviate;
    second, that they would continue the same recycling protocols anyway because they make people feel better (virtue signalling high!).

    2. A friend of mine in the 90’s gave me a presentation he was using for his business in the NYC area which featured a 30 minute documentary about Japanese incinerators which his firm was trying to sell in North America. The video was impressive with clear-cut statistics and explanations about how they can burn off 99.99% of pretty much anything, including plastics, poisons, metals, batteries, radioactive stuff etc. I think at the end of the movie they had a shot of a large incinerator facility with its smokestack emitting hardly anything visible at all, whilst underneath it and on the adjacent property was a childrens’ playground – because that’s how clean the whole thing is.

    In any case, I agree with you completely that the issue is disposal and the solution is incineration.

    If only people would stop being sidetracked by impossible monsters to slay (like ‘global climate change’) and instead deal with what can be addressed, like no end of pollution caused by poor disposal methods. Tangentially there are big issues like agricultural pollution from pesticides and antibiotics, but really these are disposal problems too.

    The solution involves clear policy-making from governments, but since most are beholden to the same large corporations who do most of the damage, unlikely to expect help from that quarter. For myself, I buy used cars and try to be a good person generally (low emotional pollution footprint!) and figure anything else is a waste of time and worry!

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