I usually prefer to stretch out a bit on the "hope blogging" thing, but I'm very busy today so I'm pretty much just going to refer you to this WorldChanging article on the possibility of extracting methane from landfills:
New Scientist reported recently on the project, and noted that Europe alone has the potential to generate up to 94 billion cubic meters of methane annually from landfills, with only 1% of that currently being tapped. The remainder either escapes into the atmosphere (where it is a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide) or is simply flared -- burned off to prevent explosive accumulation -- dumping a variety of impurities into the air.There's one thing I'd like to clarify: It's not that I think that technology or science is going to save us through its magical powers. But I do hope that the realization that we need saving might lead us to look at the world more carefully, question the basic assumptions that drive our society, and change things for the better using all the tools at our disposal, including science. Venting or flaring of methane from landfills is a good example of something awful that simply happens in our system, almost as though it were an act of God. We don't have the luxury of that kind of irresponsibility anymore. We never did, really.
Another thing: When we think about progress, we usually think about computers and lasers and exciting new electronic innovations. But progress, in my view, doesn't mean moving ever closer to some gadget-ridden climax of the technological sublime, where robots shine our shoes and we download music directly into our brains. Progress can also be based on ridiculously simple nonelectric constructions with few or no moving parts, and those are the breakthroughs I prefer to talk about. Progress, to me, means making human systems work better and more safely. In some cases, this may require us to go backwards. If you're lost, after all, the best way to make progress is to retrace your steps.