So I'm sitting at a red light today, turning the AC up another notch, when suddenly the guy in front of me opens his window and dumps his entire ashtray of cigarette butts on the ground! Can you imagine?! It's bad enough people toss them out individually, but there must have been three or four packs worth in there.
Aside from irritating me so much that I leaned on my horn and let him know it (not sure if I expected him to apologize, get out and pick them up, or pull a gun on me), it made me wonder how long it takes those babies to biodegrade. Which, of course, leads us to our weekly random Google search.
Because it turns out that "it takes 10 years for one cigarette butt to biodegrade."
Also: It takes ten years for a new drug in the laboratory to get to the market. It takes 10 years for land to recover after an oil spill. It takes ten years for a Horseshoe Crab to reach sexual maturity to reproduce. After CFC's are emitted, it takes ten years for them to reach the stratosphere. Once there, they can continue to destroy ozone molecules for 75 to 100 years, depending on their type. Averagely, it takes ten years for an HIV + positive person to develop the disease condition known as AIDS. It takes ten years for an olive tree to bear fruit. It takes ten years for a new technology to move from its beginnings in the lab to the point where it is available in sufficient quantities at a low enough price that it affects the general market. Five years from lab to street; five more years to drop in price and increase in availability.
Maybe somewhere, right now, someone's working on some new technology that, 10 years from now, will help us deal with all the stray cigarette butts? Would be nice.