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Why You're too Starving to Grasp Climate Change

It's fairly easy for us to pursue avenues toward sustainability in the developed West. We've made a ton of cash from operating all the machinery that's prematurely unleashed the massive amounts of carbon into the carbon cycle from burning fossil fuels. We're pretty flush, so we can do things like divert a quarter of the 33 million metric tons of corn the U.S. produced in 2007 into cellulosic ethanol production.

Why You're too Stupid to Grasp Climate Change

Here's what happens the next time that you toss a Diet Coke can in the trash can in your kitchen instead of taking the extra time to put it in a recycling bin, you lazy cow. The can gets wrapped up along with the rest of the trash in what is likely a 0.9 mm-thick polyethylene bag that you will eventually take to your trash can (which, ironically, is probably located beside your recycling bin). In a few days, a truck that gets an average of 2.8 miles per gallon will come by and pick up your bags of trash, including that Diet Coke can and take it to a dump, where it will be added to the other 249.6 million tons of municipal waste generated that year in the U.S. Plowed into a mass grave, the bag containing the Diet Coke can will be backfilled and left buried, where it will take around 100 years to degrade.

Recycling has come a long way since its debut -- and so have landfills. In this twofer HowStuffWorks podcast, discover the realities of modern recycling and find out why the world's largest landfill might be more aptly described as an "oceanfill."