Friday, August 1, 2014

W.I.P.P. and the Texas Shredder

Forgot to mention the other day, I had a desire to visit the Home of the Texas Shredder, which is in Canutillo TX, just north of El Paso. There was no effing way I was even going to bring it up with my honey that we go there, though I (because I do love to go on tours of industrial manufactories if I can get in on them) desperately wanted to see one of my favorite pieces of technology.
Ah, no. Not this Texas Shredder.
THIS Texas Shredder.
I also wanted to visit W.I.P.P. but doubt I could, and so had to satisfied with driving by the place after we went to Carlsbad Caverns. (W.I.P.P. was directly on the drive back to Amarillo).

Now, why would I want to visit a weapons-grade-but-"mixed down" plutonium depository? Surely the twelve-year-old-boy in you can answer that. You will also perhaps remember that W.I.P.P. was in the news earlier this year?

Actually, these items are all within a theme rather unsuccessfully explored some time ago, in two essays: Deep LogisticsThe 100,000 Year Project. I'm not sure that exploration was needed or warranted, as the question about future deep time orientation = deep morality involves something that, as my honey sagely put it to me, is something that requires more than wisdom, a something deeper than wisdom that lies stratigraphically just beneath it, and is certainly connected to biology.

Quite simply, a good start is stewardship: resource management and materials reincarnation.

I point to the Texas Shredder as an example of a solution (recall that once upon a time, scrap cars in the US were a HUGE environmental problem, and probably, without fanfare, the last remnants of that problem were hauled out of the woods in, say 2008 or so, and turned into little tiny recyclable pieces of steel in places like Thailand, China, Kenya...), but also perhaps the very earliest manifestations of the maws of Sneetch Machines.

Surprisingly, and perhaps a result of living a harsh and frugal life, places in the Southwest point in the direction we need to go. Perhaps Texas (and Texas, please, you haven't been a frontier state for a hundred years, so cut the shit already) can start by switching from carbon exploitation to carbon management, and from there to the other elements and compounds.

So, there's that. And then W.I.P.P.? The Union of Concerned Scientists considers the project the best of  nothing but worst alternatives. I'm not sure I agree.

I view the disposal downblending and sequestration of 34 metric tons of plutonium as something that we may regret in a unique way. After all, 34 metric tons of plutonium is extremely useful in the right environment - the outer Solar System. Problem is, the time when that utility is recognized to be useful in thermoelectric generators could be far in the future or never.

But I would prefer, if we are going to think about anything that we, anything that we use, that we think about in the long term rather short-sighted.

I read an excerpt, and as a result, now plan on reading a book called "About a Mountain", by John D'agata.

Surprisingly, it is in the juvenile section of my local library. That's probably a good sign.

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