Did you know that the city of Oslo is powered by garbage? Amazing and true. The Norwegian capital, home to about 650,000 residents, operates two enormous incinerators which supply the city with about 1.5 terawatt-hours of power. A terrawatt, by the way, is a trillion watts. In other words, it’s a latt of watt. (I will be here all week.)
At any rate, this seems ideal, yes? There’s no better use for garbage than to be burned up and transformed into something useful. Alas, in this heartless world nothing good can exist without its opposite existing simultaneously, and it is thus sad but not terribly surprising to hear that Oslo is now running out of garbage.
Basically, Oslo’s eco-friendliness contained the seeds of its own destruction. The reason there’s not a lot of garbage is that Europeans are so good at a) turning their own garbage into energy and b) not creating a lot of garbage in the first place because they recycle so much. Which are both Great Things. Except that Oslo could really use some garbage. So it’s looking into importing garbage. From — where else? — the United States! (Neighboring Sweden already does this.) Sigh. Isn’t it wonderful to know the world of responsible sustainable energy is just as absurd as the world it’s trying to replace?
- Oslo Runs on Garbage, And Now It’s Running Out , Smithsonian
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