Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Green Fire

in talking about green energy, most attention goes to solar and wind. Denmark, for example has highly efficient plants that turn waste into electricity and heat, and have filters that catch harmful substances like mercury and dioxin. Today's incinerators are much cleaner than earlier versions, capable of filtering out, scrubbing or trapping hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, dioxins, and heavy metals — as well as small particulates. And some of the by products of the process, extracted metals, gypsum and acids, can be sold to construction and manufacturing companies. Quite green, isn't it?

Burning waste also decreases the need for landfills, both preserving nature and cleaning up waste at the same time. The fact that big cities like New York export garbage to landfills in other states is a good indicator of how incinerators can solve two problems at once. By converting garbage into fuel, they change a smelly unsightly mess into a valuable resource and decrease their dependence on oil.

Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands are also using this technology and they like it so much that they are building more plants. In Germany they only burn materials that cannot be recycled. After all, we don't want to have to keep cutting down trees just to make paper, do we? In the big picture of using renewable resources, there are other solutions on the horizon.

As people become increasingly aware of the fact that industrial hemp is different than marijuana, we can once again have a renewable source of material for making paper without decimating our forests. We used to do this all the time, making paper, rope, oil and fabric out of hemp. Farmers all over the US were growing it. then when the anti-marijuana mania hit, industrial hemp was lumped in with marijuana, its psychoactive cousin. You cannot get a buzz smoking industrial hemp.

Hauling garbage to an incinerator saves the burning of the fuel needed to haul it to distant landfills, and instead of just dumping it and letting it rot, it is turned into electricity.

In Denmark, between recycling and the trash to energy incinerators, very little of their waste goes into landfills. Once again, if we would get busy building such plants, people would be employed in construction and maintenance, our environment would be cleaner and we would be less dependent on coal and oil. All good results.

Fire is a great way to purify. When my time here is up, I want to be cremated. Makes a lot more sense to me than being buried in a box and continuing to set aside endless acres of land to keep burying people in boxes. I will gladly return to ashes and leave the rest of the world have the room it needs to work and play.

See, our alternative energy choices are not just limited to wind and solar. There are more options. We still have time to clean up our act. Fire can help green our world.

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