Archive for the ‘Environmental Protection’ Category

E.T. LandfillThirty one years ago, Atari took some of its trash to a landfill. Although things get dumped in landfills every day, this particular landfill became a legend among those who play video games because it occurred in the midst of Atari’s video game crash and included unsold copies of E.T., which has frequently been cited as one of the worst video games of all time. The other day, a documentary film crew dug up the landfill to see if the story was true (even though it was pretty clear that it was).

Not surprisingly, the dig revealed a bunch of trash that Atari had disposed of in 1983. What may be surprising to anybody who regularly throws things away, though, is the fact that Atari’s 31-year-0ld trash is essentially unchanged from the day that it was buried in the ground. Does the image above look like something that has broken down even a little? Yes, things are sort of rumpled, but that is more likely the result of a trash compactor than sitting underground for 31 years.

Kyle Orland at Ars Technica asks what this can teach us about the creation of legends, since unlike many urban legends, the facts in this case were well-documented. I think that the more important question, though, is how we can use this as a lesson to encourage others to recycle. E.T.’s “home” supports WALL-E’s message that in the future, most of the trash you throw away is not going to look like fertile soil, it is going to look just like it did when you put it in the garbage.

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I recently saw an interesting article via Facebook about the potential for “net-zero” homes, in which the goal is to produce as much energy as you consume. While the up-front costs seem rather large (and are certainly out of reach of most American households), I expect that we will see more people using techniques like these to offset their energy costs as fossil fuel prices rise. Matt Grocoff, who also drives a Chevy Volt presumably powered by the solar panels on his roof, says:

The technology already exists, and it’s proven to be affordable if you look at the total time value of that money. A typical mortgage is for 30 years, for instance, so if you look at the cost over a 30-year period, going net-zero is actually far more affordable than not doing it.

But to get specific, the basic idea is this: People like to say that old houses need to breathe. And frankly, I’ll just say it: That’s bullshit. They breathe just because that’s the way they were built. They had cedar shingles on the roofs, no insulation, and they were leaky. And it’s a good thing they were because people were heating with coal-fired, pot-bellied stoves. You can only imagine the indoor air quality in those days. But today, regardless if you’re heating with a gas furnace or geothermal system, you want to keep that energy inside the house, where it can keep you warm, and then use a little bit of energy to ventilate the home.

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