By David Swanson
Remarks in Burlington, Vermont, April 22, 2017
Thank you all for inviting me. There is no place I'd rather be on earth day. And that includes marching for science at the March for Science in Washington. Although I certainly support marching for honesty, and I'd even march for the cause of getting more scientists to march -- and any other group that hasn't yet found the time to bother.
Unless resisting madness becomes mainstream, the madmen will decide our fate.
Thank you also for having started the first chapter of World Beyond War and for having given us the idea to have chapters. We now have people working on starting dozens of chapters in over a dozen countries. And we have staff to help them, and we have people in 151 countries who have signed the pledge that I'll pass around here, pledging to work to end all war. We're trying to get to 175 countries, because that's how many the U.S. military admits to having troops in. So, 24 more to go. If you know anybody in Venezuela, Cuba, Honduras, Mongolia, Algeria, Lithuania, Ethiopia, or Papua New Guinea, please point them to WorldBeyondWar.org.
And thank you for having set up such a terrific program of workshops today, and -- I hope -- of work that will follow the workshops.
I hope my comments fit into the program, because I'm going to take a round about way of speaking in support of peace and environmentalism by praising garbage incinerators.
In the United States a garbage incinerator is mostly used to get rid of vast quantities of stuff nobody ever needed in the first place -- not including, I'm sorry to say, presidential twitter accounts.
And a typical U.S. garbage incinerator produces vast quantities of pollution, horrible smells, dioxin, mercury, nitric oxide, lead, and particulate matter. If you live near such an incinerator, your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and respiratory problems shoot through the roof.
So, you want to locate such a thing as far as you can get it from any population that puts significant funding into election campaigns.
That's why in recent years the students at Benjamin Franklin High School and Curtis Bay Elementary School in a poor and already heavily polluted section of Baltimore, Maryland, had to organize and -- thus far -- block the construction near their schools and homes of what would have been the biggest and nastiest incinerator yet. Baltimore is already the leading U.S. city for deaths caused by air pollution. And air pollution, like the stairs in your house, like toddlers who find guns, like unsafe workplaces, like local police forces, and like fast-food meals, is more likely to kill you than is ISIS or Al Qaeda.
The Baltimore incinerator, the construction of which has been stopped thus far, would have burned 4,000 tons of trash per day and emitted 1,240 pounds of lead and mercury per year. That's not the kind of garbage incinerator that I want to praise.
There should be two pictures up on the screen. The one that's not an airplane is an incinerator, or waste-to-power plant, now nearing completion in Copenhagen, Denmark.
If you have to have incinerators, because you have not yet reached zero waste, you might want one like this one. It emits none, zero, not a speck of all those nasty poisons and smells that an American simply assumes an incinerator must produce, as illness must produce health insurance companies, as robberies must produce gun sales, and as cable television must produce Wolf Blitzer.
Because this incinerator is not dangerous to those near it, it can be placed near a city. This will allow it to heat 160,000 homes while providing electricity to 62,000 homes, and generating a byproduct of water while burning something over 1,000 tons of waste a day, or a quarter of what was planned for Baltimore.
And because it's placed safely near a city, this particular power plant has had ski slopes installed on the roof of it, with elevators used to bring skiers to the top. Trees will be planted along the ski slopes, as well as hiking trails, climbing walls, a restaurant and bar, etc. And when the incinerator is no longer needed, you'll still have the ski resort.
None of this means that the incinerator is not still a problem. It still produces carbon dioxide. However, it produces much less of it than do other plants. And the architects' goal is for it to publicly display exactly how much it is releasing in order to encourage reduction. It is supposed to do this by producing smoke rings rather than a stream of smoke. Each ring, if it works, will contain the same known amount of C02.