PlutonianEmpire wrote:Source of the post Anyways, assuming a global trash accumulation of 670.505 billion tons of trash, and if each piece of trash (and drops of liquid of acids) were spread out evenly across the entire surface, for example, would that be noticable from space?
Yeah, that would definitely be noticeable. It would amount to about 1 kilogram of trash for every square meter of surface area. If it is only spread over land area, then it is more like 4 kilograms per square meter.
Needless to say it's totally implausible for trash to be spread evenly like that, but we can use this as a helpful way to visualize how much trash it is. Another good visualization is to consider it in a single pile and ask how tall and wide that would be, or spread evenly over a smaller area and ask how deep it would be.
To do that we'll need to come up with some average density. There are a wide variety of trash densities, and how they get compacted is also important. But for order of magnitude estimates, let's take it to be fairly highly compacted at 1000kg/m3. That means 670.505 billion tons would take a volume of around 600 cubic kilometers! Let's come up with some visualizations of that:
-It would bury all of Earth's surface (land and sea) to a depth of 1mm. (Is that impressive? I can't really tell.)
-It would bury the state of Texas to almost a meter. (Pretty impressive).
-It would bury everything within the former 10x10 mile "diamond" border of Washington DC under more than a mile of trash (very impressive and probably an improvement for the city).
What if it were a conical pile? Suppose it had an angle of repose of 30°. Then it would be over 8km high, and 30km wide at its base. It would dwarf mountains like Kilimanjaro or Everest (but not Hawaii, as measured from the sea floor).
Salvo wrote:Source of the post Could we reach the earth's nucleus to release this thrash without being squashed by high pressures and without causing structural damage to the planet (creating a volcano or new fractures in tectonics)?
Not likely (temperatures are comparable to surface of the Sun and pressures of hundreds of gigapascals [over a million atmospheres]). Even if you could make a hole, you could not keep it open. Even if you could keep it open (perhaps with some futuristic metamaterials), it still seems like a wildly inefficient way to deal with the problem.
A lot of people entertain the idea of shooting it into the Sun, but as you pointed out it's a pretty poor choice considering the delta-v requirement. Sending it into Jupiter actually seems like a better idea -- the velocity at atmospheric entry would vaporize it -- but it's still a bad option when you consider the cost, and potential consequences of error (e.g. contaminating other solar system bodies).
The best way to solve the waste problem is simply to be smarter about how we generate, recover, and convert waste. We can do a lot better with how we recycle used materials, break down others through chemistry (sometimes even using clever biochemistry to deal with toxic stuff and heavy metals), and reduce our reliance on materials that are neither reusable nor degradable.