Wednesday, January 29, 2003


A colleague of mine recently moved to Goettingen. He´s here in Argentina with me, and over a beer he told me of the experience with great dry humour, and I realized that he was expressing frustration with how his native land had changed during his absence, and in a larger sense, giving a warning on the social costs of having a light ecological footprint.

Germany has established an extremely conscientious program to control waste. Smoke, recyclables, kitchen waste, EM radiation - it´s all regulated. When he moved in to his home, he was given a booklet explaining how he was to use the different appliances to control all this.

The furnace is "105 percent efficient," getting that extra bit from the latent heat of condensation. I´m still suspicious about the number - I´m not sure how they get it that high. Wood burning is completely out of the question. Bottles and tin cans have to be taken back to the store from which they were bought, with the original receipt. The kitchen waste is great; it has to be sorted into five different bins. OK, that´s fine, but you have to estimate how much volume you put out each week, and you have to justify it when you fall short. He can get away with not putting out organics because he submitted a long form explaining that his household of x square meters was producing y kilos of waste which could safely be composted on z square meters of land. And we won´t even discuss the wireless telephone he smuggled in to be able to use the phone while he is in his woodshop...he operates it without having submitted the requisite forms applying for a permit to emit radio energy.

To live cleanly, one pays a price. The real question is, are you willing to pay it? It´s not likely that most of us would put up with this kind of nonsense.


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