John Tierney in NY Times: Recycling was ‘Garbage’ in 1996, it’s Still That Way Today, and the Future Looks Even WorsePosted: October 4, 2015
Recycling was Bullshit Then, and it’s Bullshit Now.
Mark J. Perry writes: In 1996, New York Times science columnist John Tierney wrote an article that appeared in the New York Times Magazine about compulsory recycling titled “Recycling is Garbage.” Tierney’s controversial argument in that article can be summarized as follows: Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America. Tierney wrote, “Rinsing out tuna cans and tying up newspapers may make you feel virtuous, but it’s a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources. Americans have embraced recycling as a transcendental experience, an act of moral redemption. We’re not just reusing our garbage; we’re performing a rite of atonement for the sin of excess.” Now you can understand why Tierney’s recycling article set the all-time record for the greatest volume of hate mail ever recorded in the history of the New York Times Magazine.
Because it was one of the first and most effective challenges to the naive, pro-recycling propaganda that has been used to successfully brainwash millions of American school children for the last quarter century, I’ve featured John Tierney’s classic recycling article on CD many times over the years (especially around the “green holy days” known as “Earth Day” and “America Recycles Day”), including here, here, here, and here.
Bonus Video. In the Penn and Teller video below on recycling, they refer to John Tierney’s 1996 NYT article, and further explain why recycling is an activity that involves “feeling good for no reason.”
It’s been almost 20 years since John Tierney taught us that “recycling is garbage.” Fortunately, he has just provided a recycling update in today’s New York Times with a new article titled “The Reign of Recycling.” So, what has happened over the last two decades? According to Tierney, “While it’s true that the recycling
message religion has reached more people converts than ever, when it comes to the bottom line, both economically and environmentally, not much has changed at all.” And what about recycling’s future? It “looks even worse,” says Tierney.
Here’s a condensed version of Tierney’s new article on recycling, with my section titles and emphasis:
1. Background. In 1996, I wrote a long article for The New York Times Magazine (“Recycling is Garbage”) arguing that the recycling process as we carried it out was wasteful. I presented plenty of evidence that recycling was costly and ineffectual, but its defenders said that it was unfair to rush to judgment. Noting that the modern recycling movement had really just begun just a few years earlier, they predicted it would flourish as the industry matured and the public learned how to recycle properly. So, what’s happened since then? While it’s true that the recycling message has reached more people than ever, when it comes to the bottom line, both economically and environmentally, not much has changed at all.
Despite decades of exhortations and mandates, it’s still typically more expensive for municipalities to recycle household waste than to send it to a landfill. Prices for recyclable materials have plummeted because of lower oil prices and reduced demand for them overseas. The slump has forced some recycling companies to shut plants and cancel plans for new technologies. The future for recycling looks even worse. As cities move beyond recycling paper and metals, and into glass, food scraps and assorted plastics, the costs rise sharply while the environmental benefits decline and sometimes vanish. Read the rest of this entry »
Steven F. Hayward writes: Try this out as a thought experiment: what would happen if, tomorrow morning, we had definitive proof that catastrophic climate change was impossible, wasn’t happening, and would never happen. Would Al Gore breathe a big sigh of relief and say—“Well good; now we can go back to worrying about smoking, or bad inner city schools, or other persistent, immediate problems.”
“As an ageing warrior, he grew breathless in pursuit of smaller and smaller dragons—for the big dragons were now harder to come by.”
Of course not. The general reaction from environmentalists and the left would be a combination of outrage and despair. The need to believe in oneself as part of the agency of human salvation runs deep for leftists and environmentalists who have made their obsessions a secular religion.
And humanity doesn’t need salvation if thereis no sin in the first place. Hence human must be sinners—somehow—in need of redemption from the left.
I got to thinking about this when reading a short passage from an old book by Canadian philosopher George Grant, Philosophy in the Mass Age:
“During the excitement over Sputnik, it was suggested that the Americans were deeply depressed by Russian success. I thought this was a wrong interpretation. Rather, there was a great sigh of relief from the American elites, for now there was an immediate practical objective to be achieved, a new frontier to be conquered—outer space.”
This tracks closely with Kenneth Minogue’s diagnosis of liberalism in his classic The Liberal Mind. Minogue compared liberals to medieval dragon hunters, who sought after dragons to slay even after it was clear they didn’t exist. The liberal, like the dragon hunter, “needed his dragons. He could only live by fighting for causes—the people, the poor, the exploited, the colonially oppressed, the underprivileged and the underdeveloped. As an ageing warrior, he grew breathless in pursuit of smaller and smaller dragons—for the big dragons were now harder to come by.”
[Order George Grant‘s book “Philosophy in the Mass Age” (Philosophy and Theology) from Amazon.com]
Hence on college campuses today the liberal mind is relentlessly hunting after “microaggressions,” which is pretty pathetic as dragons of injustice go. Environmentalists are still after the fire-breathing dragon of climate change, now that previous dragons like the population bomb have disappeared into the medieval mists—so much so that even the New York Times recently declared the population bomb to have been completely wrongheaded.
“Hence on college campuses today the liberal mind is relentlessly hunting after ‘micro aggressions,’ which is pretty pathetic as dragons of injustice go.”
Or perhaps a better metaphor for true-believing environmentalism is drug addiction: the addictive need for another rush of euphoria, followed by the crash or pains of withdrawal, and the diminishing returns of the next fix. For there’s always a next fix for environmentalists: fracking, bee colony collapse disorder, de-forestation, drought, floods, plastic bags . . . the list is endless. Read the rest of this entry »
Deep in the archives here at punditfromanotherplanet, I found this rare file photo of Robert from the early days.
Before Ferrigno was a Best-Selling Crime Fiction/Thriller Novelist, and Narrative Designer and Content Creator for Game Studios, he was one of the founding Editors of The Rocket, the World’s Greatest Magazine, and a high-flying Features Writer at The Orange County Register.
This photo is likely from when he was moonlighting on his first novel, The Horse Latitudes, while still at the Register…