Protecting to coastline

The United States discards 4,000 18-wheeler-sized loads of compacted plastic waste every day. Great blocks of plastic are stacked higher and higher in recycling centers, warehouses, landfills, and shipping company dockyards since last summer when China discontinued recycling the plastic waste from western nations. To combat this problem, Mr. President, please propose a disposal tax on sales of plastic shopping bags and food packaging. Hopefully this action will shift the levers of capitalism to make paper, hemp, wood, and metal packaging price-competitive again. That’s how food was sold back when America was Great, in the days before plastic was invented.

Passing the tax will take considerable energy and commitment, since the Party is averse to taxes no matter how spectacular the growth of the national deficit. In the meantime, what can we do with our plastic waste?

Well, in job deserts like Appalachia, we could build factories to convert the old plastic into new, after the waste has been culled and sorted, not by Chinese workers, but by out-of-work coal miners. Believe it or not, this occupation is safer and more rewarding than mining coal. Last month they commemorated the anniversary of one mine explosion in West Virginia that killed nearly 400 men and boys.

However, even if the new plants are built and equipped quickly, and the workers trained, what can be done with all our tons of plastic waste in the meantime?

Suppose we built all the walls ever dreamed of? At 4,000 a day, we could line up those 18-wheeler-sized plastic blocks, stacking them two blocks wide and three blocks high and, in a mere ten months, we’d have a glorious, shining wall thirty feet high and seventeen feet thick along our entire two-thousand-mile southern border. Free materials! Pre-formed in recycling centers across the country! Talk about turning liabilities into assets!

Then what? We could address our next big problem: Climate Change. Specifically sea rise. A single block of plastic is nine feet high. If we strung the blocks together along every bluff and beach on America’s coastlines, nine feet might protect us for a decade, maybe. So, at 4,000 blocks a day, how long would it take us to trash our way to sea-rise security?

Gulf Coast: 1,631 miles 5.8 weeks

Atlantic Coast: 2,069 miles 7.4 weeks

Pacific Coast: 7,623 miles 27.2 weeks

Arctic Coast: 1,060 miles 3.8 weeks

Total 12383 miles 44.2 weeks, about ten months. Wow!

Of course, that’s only the “General Coastline.” To protect every island, cove and inlet, that’s a total of 88,633 miles, which would take a little over six years. But we’re Americans; we can do anything.