Rome, NY Sucks

But At Least We're Not Utica

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What Environmentalists Did Wrong

Instead of arguing against Earth Day, I thought I'd just look at some of the actions by environmentalists that have either backfired or failed altogether.

Peak Oil
For decades, some people have been arguing that the world is reaching the limit of crude oil that can come out of the ground in a day. We were supposed to reach this level in the 80s. The excuse for it not happening was fuel economy in the late 70s. Even now, there is oil in Alaska and the coastlines of the US that are not tapped for political reasons. There is a limit to the amount of fossil fuel on the planet of course, but making dire predictions that don't come true tent to hurt your credibility.

Global Warming
This is even worse science than peak oil since it uses predictive modeling. I remember the supposed chain reaction CFCs were supposed to cause to upper atmosphere ozone (upper atmosphere ozone good, lower atmosphere ozone bad) and the "ozone layer." Now that we banned a substance responsible for providing billions of people with fresh food and medicine, consumption of energy by inferior R-141 based refrigeration is higher than the "old" equipment. So much for new technology.

Don't worry. Now that R-14 isn't hot news, CO2 is the big evil. The stuff that makes trees grow is now the cause of global warming. However, I'd like to see some methodology aside from evidence of temperature change. First of all, there are a billion more people on the planet in the last few decades and they all put out heat and CO2. There's also evidence that the sun's output of energy is higher in recent years. Then there's global dimming.

Last week's Nova told the story of lessening light on the planet's surface. They tried to spin it into a worse global warming picture, since pollution controls will cause light to increase and global temperatures to jump. I chose to look at it as three decades of junk science that failed to account for smog reducing solar radiation.

Environmental/Natural Capitalism
This is reason #1 that you won't find a lot of fiscal conservatives at an Earth Day rally (unless they're picking up liberal minded women with a low cost/benefit ratio). This is the concept that while products and services have a market set value, the impact on society should be added on to the cost. Since this goes against the core of capitalism, the cost is applied by external governments.

In the free market, something is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. If something is priced beyond the desire of people to buy it, it won't sell. If someone can offer the product for a lower price, they will sell more of it. This concept does bypass the concept of morality, but that has to be an individual decision rather than a group one.

The Kyoto Treaty comes to mind. Developed nations agreed to cut carbon emission over time. With no market forces, some countries will fall far short of the goal (with no specific penalties anyway). Others are sending their messy manufacturing to China and India. These are so-called "developing nations" that are allowed to pollute at the expense of western manufacturing workers. Let's not forget that China produces a good using more fuel and producing more pollution than a comparable facility almost anywhere else in the world.

Pollution will eventually be solved by the free market. Gas prices will make energy efficiency more desirable. People who want to sell solar cells and wind turbines will find ways to make them cheaper and more powerful. This process might go faster if greenies didn't push for the government to subsidize new technology. People who pay for "green" energy or buy carbon offsets are basically helping out the energy companies that are required to lower pollution anyway. They'd be better off saving that cash and buying solar and wind systems to get off the grid entirely. This leads into a personal gripe.

Suburban Disdain
I'm not talking about those SUV's like John Kerry has. No, environmentalists don't like suburban sprawl. People who work in cities and don't want their families to live in a shoebox move outside the city for housing. The sprawl and the exurbs arise when the distances become large. The bad part of comes from longer commutes and longer drives to the stores. This is more of a problem with the location of jobs to me. I have to drive twice as far because the only place that wants to hire me is in another city. With the changing nature of jobs, is it really smart to more next to your workplace when it might be different in a few years?

Almost every carbon footprint is based on the car. In that example, city is good, suburb is bad. Forget that most cites have to bring in water, food, electricity and workers from miles away. They also pump out sewage and garbage by the ton sometimes hundreds of miles away. Suburbs frequently do the same. They just don't have to. A suburban house has enough land for off-grid energy sources, trees for shade and winter fuel, geothermal heat pumps and ground wells. Homes can also use finished basement space during cold winter nights and hot summer days instead of large HVAC systems. Is it better to take the bus and have a wasteful apartment or drive a car and live in a house with a 0 carbon footprint?


  • At April 24, 2006 1:33 PM, Blogger Bling Free said…

    It is obvious you are not a scientist.

  • At April 24, 2006 8:18 PM, Blogger Strikeslip said…

    I have to agree that Global Warming, if not junk science, is certainly questionable science. What is even more concerning is that our education system will make us more vulnerable to junk science in the future, since the kids are kept busy learning to "do" things instead of learning to "know" things.

    I just posted on this at Fault Lines: Global Warming, Ignorance, Economic Destruction and the New Dark Age.

  • At April 25, 2006 6:59 PM, Blogger RomeHater said…

    I saw that. Good stuff.

    The point of junk science is not that it's false, (yet frequently is) but that there is so little of the scientific method involved. A hypothesis is that carbon dioxide causes global warming, a fact is when you can reproduce your hypothesis, that's fact.

  • At May 22, 2007 4:35 PM, Blogger Shaun Poore said…

    I think you need to go look up the specifics of the kyoto treaty again. Look which countries follow it

    Now see the big red US, look it up we're without a doubt the biggest violator of the Kyoto treaty.


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