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What If We Sent Our Trash into Volcanoes?

W hile it doesn’t receive as much coverage as other problems such as global warming and climate changes, trash is also one of the biggest challenges facing the world. According to estimates, it is also a massive industry, valued at $285 billion. Every year, business and city officials scratch their heads, trying to figure out how they dispose of more than 2.6 trillion pounds of garbage.

Currently, nobody knows how exactly how much trash has found its way into nature, which is also a significant problem on its own. One thing about waste, perhaps the most worrying, is that it doesn’t stay in a single place.

Meaning it doesn’t matter where it is being dumped; it will always find a way to mess everyone’s health in the world. Unless we can find a super deep hole that goes down to the center of the earth to send all this garbage, the problem will only get worse.

Speaking of a hole that goes deep inside the earth, how about the volcanoes? Yeah, why can’t we dump our trash into the volcanoes? After all, in 2019 alone, there were 66 confirmed volcanic eruptions worldwide, and 22 of them were new, 43 of them with ongoing eruptions.

So, are there reasons not to dump our garbage into the volcanoes? I mean, volcanoes are like nature’s perfect incinerators. So, let’s find out.

Volcanoes are ideal places to send our tons of trash if we can overcome some few, tricky obstacles.

The first obstacle is the logistics. Volcanic mountains are usually located far away from civilization, and so, we need to find a way to transport our trash to these volcanoes. This is super costly.

Besides the cost of the whole operation, there is the safety of who drives this trash to the volcanoes.

Volcano craters are usually loaded with fluid-like lava lakes, which, as you can imagine, are insanely dangerous to mess around.

This can be overcome slightly if we were to use choppers or remote-controlled drones to send the trash, but even so, it will also be costlier than to let sanitation workers drive the garbage to far-flung volcanoes.

Another problem is unrelated to logistics, and it is one that may make this a nearly impossible task. While we may overcome the logistics, not all volcanoes are suitable for throwing trash into.

For this plan to work correctly, we need to have a volcano that erupts slowly and gradually ejects its lava out onto the earth’s surface, such as the ones in Hawaii.

Unfortunately, most volcanoes around the world are what is geologically known as stratovolcanoes. These types of volcanoes do sporadically have a lava flow out onto the earth’s surface but also tend to explode viciously when the pressure build-up inside the volcano becomes too much, which is usually caused by the hot gas and magma.

So, throwing trash into these kinds of volcanoes is extremely dangerous, with deadly ash, gases, and flying molten rocks.

Let’s say you arrive there before it starts exploding, and starts hauling your trash inside. In 2002, a group of scientists from Ethiopia tried this out by dumping 30 kilograms of trash into an active volcano, the result, an explosion that almost engulfed them.

What this tells us is that the lava lakes are not only dangerous but also unstable, If you throw inside something that is cold, like garbage, you are likely to trigger a domino of explosions comprising pressurized and acidic steam.

If only 30 kilograms of trash resulted in huge explosions, imagine the mess it would cause if we were to throw all our garbage in there? Well, there is only one outcome. When rocks drop into lava lakes, they usually lead to the molten lava to erupt 85 meters high into the air.

 So, imagine that could be all trash thrown up the air and into the surroundings.

Another issue is that lava lakes are very shallow and in constant motion due to the massive pressure build-up inside. So while other objects in the trash may diffuse in hot gases and lava, some like steel will not melt.

So, even if Hawaiians are so kind to allow the whole world to dump billions of tons of trash, and there are ways to transport this trash there, dumping garbage into an erupting volcano would eventually come back as polluting remnant, making the world even more dangerous than before.

Trash includes other nasty stuff such as mercury, lead, as well as other substances that would produce harmful smoke when thrown inside a volcanic lake. So this will only lead to more pollution, more so in the surrounding lands.

Conclusion

Sending our trash into volcanoes would have been a great way to solve one of the world’s biggest problems, but unfortunately, it is practically impossible and dangerous. Also, instead of solving the problem, it could lead to even worst outcomes with grievous consequences, perhaps than if you had left the trash in our lands.

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Wesam Hamdoch

Be optimistic, and you will succeed.
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