Category Archives: Environment
If the road to hell is paved with good intentions then the road to climategeddon must be paved with pages from the green agenda. For the past couple of decades, armchair environmentalists and image-conscious politicians have been pushing through planet-saving initiatives that are often anything but. Initiatives like:
10 • Carbon Offsetting
Let’s say you’re environmentally-conscious but need to fly. Enter carbon offsetting: for the price of a coffee you can pay some third world farmer to quit burning coal, or some company to plant enough trees to cancel out the emissions from your trip.
If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. The whole practice of carbon offsetting is so fundamentally flawed that eco-writer George Monbiot compared it to pushing food around your plate “to create the impression you have eaten it.” The numbers simply don’t add up: if we in the West decided to offset even fifty percent of our emissions targets, developing nations would have to magically start emitting negative amounts of carbon. Commercial offsetting is no better; investigations routinely find companies fudging their figures, or outright lying. With no industry standard, there’s nothing to measure improvements against; meaning companies can claim whatever they like.
9 • Organic Food
Organic foods are routinely billed as environmentally friendly and chemical free; despite being neither. All the nasty stuff we use in agriculture was developed to solve efficiency problems; take it away and you’re back to square one. A liter of organic milk, for example, can require up to eighty percent more land to produce than regular milk. This means deforestation, destruction of habitats and other things you don’t associate with organic. But wait, it gets worse: multiple studies have found high levels of pesticide in supposedly-organic food; while researchers have concluded eating it is no healthier and its production may lead to increased pollution. The chasm between what we expect and what we get from organic food has gotten so wide even die hard Greens have dropped it in favor of local and sustainable.
8 • Water Conservation
If you’re in possession of a Y chromosome, you’ve probably experienced the waterless urinals in McDonald’s. Insofar as you were thinking about such things, they maybe even seemed like a good idea; after all, saving that much water must be a good thing, right?
Well, not if you want to work without the constant stench of urine. Turns out stagnant pee doesn’t react well with copper piping; and by that we mean it chews right through. Chicago City Hall wound up decommissioning their waterless urinals after that exact situation led to waste flooding the toilets. But what about day-to-day conservation, like in your home? Yeah, maybe—if your neighbors are flushing nonstop. In Germany people have gotten so good at keeping water usage down their sewers are getting backed up, forcing the utility companies to blast insane amounts of water through just to keep them working. As a result, water rates are skyrocketing—while little to no benefit is provided to the environment.
7 • Insulation
According to one green group, a single town with below-average insulation can waste as much energy in a year as the BP oil spill. By my maths, that’s something like the equivalent of a bazillion oil spills happening annually. No wonder governments are subsidizing home insulation.
Which is great, so long as people buy the right type. See, skinning cats and insulating houses have one thing in common: there’s no one way to do it. Some methods, such as mineral wool or denim, are super-green—others, involving blown hydrofluorocarbons, are like punching Mother Nature in the face. It’s estimated this poisonous junk has a global warming potential nearly 1,500 times that of carbon dioxide, meaning it’ll take roughly ten lifetimes to settle your environmental debt. Even worse, as demand for insulation grows, so does production, leading to more pollution and so on and so on until Armageddon.
6 • Wind Turbines
As anyone who’s ever lived below an RnB-obsessed neighbor knows, hearing stuff you don’t want to hear can be irritating as hell. Same applies to wind turbines.
To date no study has found a correlation between turbines and physical illness, though there may be an interesting mental one. According to that link, while people living near community-owned turbines rarely report health problems, people who have had them forced on their village often do. Complaints often focus on the low-level humming noise and shadow flicker a sun-blocking side effect officially classed as an annoyance, but probably enough to send most of us into a blind murderous rage. Obviously they could just start building these turbines further away or go the Denmark route and give local people a stake in them, but that’s probably too much to ask.
People talk about recycling like it’s some sort of superhero—just by throwing that plastic bottle in the green bin, you’re doing your part to punch pollution in its oily kidneys and leave the world a greener, healthier place. And yeah, re-using old materials is a great way to reduce the impact on the environment . . . if it works. But sometimes the theory is better than the practice. Here are ten ways recycling actually hurts the environment.
• 10 – Contamination Gets Around
Contamination is one of the biggest obstacles in the recycling industry right now. If there are impurities or toxins on the original material—say lead paint from an aluminum spray can—they’ll usually make it through the recycling process and end up buried in the new product, which might turn out to be, say, a soda can.
The worst part is that sometimes we don’t know when something’s contaminated—until it’s too late. For example, we’re just realizing that hundreds of buildings in Taiwan made from recycled steel have been giving people gamma radiation poisoning—and not the good kind—for the past twelve years.
• 9 – Air Pollution Is Still A Problem
The recycling process itself produces a lot of pollutants—from the exhaust billowing out of recycling trucks to energy used at recycling plants. In 2009 there were about 179,000 waste collection vehicles on the road—that’s both recycling and garbage collection. The exhaust from each one of those vehicles contains over three dozen airborne toxins.
The thing is, you can’t separate garbage trucks from recycling trucks—there’s no lesser evil. They both run on fossil fuels, and they both produce exhaust. By adding more trucks to the fleet, no matter what their purpose, we’re increasing air pollution.
And that’s not even considering the recycling facilities. One recycling plant in Washington state produces more toxic emissions than any other factory in the region. And the next three biggest polluters in the area? Yeah, they’re also recycling plants.
• 8 – Paper Sludge Is Just Disgusting
When paper is recycled, it’s all mixed together into a pulp. That pulp is washed, cleaned, and then pressed into new paper sheets. During that process, wastes like paper fibers, inks, cleaning chemicals, and dyes are filtered out into one giant pudding known as paper sludge. The sludge is then either burned or sent to a landfill, where it can leach dozens of toxic chemicals and heavy metals into groundwater.
If you think that there would be regulations against that, you’d be right. But there’s one loophole: mixing anything else with the paper sludge, even just sand, turns it from waste into a product. And there are no regulations against tossing tens of thousands of tons of your product into a landfill.
• 7 – Most Plastics Can’t Be Recycled
There are about seven types of plastic that you’ll find in day to day life, and only two of them are recyclable. Anything else placed in a recycling bin will be collected, processed, and sorted, and then thrown straight into a landfill. Even trying to recycle some things—for example the plastic that electronics are packaged in—wastes all those resources.
But it gets worse: Plastic is automatically sorted at recycling plants, but the process is far from perfect. As a result some plastics can slip through even when they’re not supposed to, and you might end up with chemicals like BPA in plastics that aren’t supposed to have it. So in a weird way, recycling can make you fat.
• 6 – Current Methods Aren’t Effective
Plastic is a pretty tricky animal overall, but in all honesty, we just have no idea what to do with it. Take plastic shopping bags, for example. It’s estimated that fewer than one percent are recycled, and that might be just because it’s so expensive. It costs $4,000 US to recycle one ton of plastic bags, but a ton of recycled bags only sells for $32! As a result, about 300,000 tons of them end up in a landfill every year.
In the history of mankind there are countless instances of cult figures who have lead their followers to ruin and disillusionment. Names like Jim Jones, David Koresh, The Pied Piper, Bernie Madoff, Adolph Hitler, Charles Manson, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and a whole host of TV evangelists have done their damage.
It was easy for those outside and not sucked in by these hucksters to see the message they peddled defied logic, science and the laws of economics: Alchemy, master race, buy your way into heaven, getting something for nothing, all have that common thread.
But the lard used to hold it all together is usually tinged with a sort of religious fervor, transferred to that central figure, giving them cult like central power. It is a common thread that overcomes the doubt to accept a belief, no matter how self destructive, or outrageous it is.
In a sort of herd mentality, anyone that dares to question their core beliefs is immediately attacked and marginalized; labeled a “denier,” or a scientific/economic “blasphemer.”
But these cults have not only lead their followers to death, destruction, financial and spiritual ruin; many of them have brought those repercussions to the rest of society.
Former vice president, Al Gore, is a prime example of a modern day cult figure to his followers. His warning against man caused global warming, causing ice caps to melt, catastrophic storms, to wipe us out and cause mass extinctions, is all based on the burning of fossil fuels to power our civilization.
Followers/True Believes of Mr. Gore, burn with religious fervor as they recite historic temperature variations & green house gas concentrations, proving the earth is headed towards certain destruction due to the burning of fossil fuels. We must repent now!
But all the while, Mr. Gore was making hundreds of millions from his “work” and many of the green movements/companies that get government funding, have Mr. Gore’s fingerprints on them somewhere.
But crushingly, Gores followers are starting to realize Mr. Gores feet are made of clay. He sold his failing “Current” cable-television station for about $500 million, which he personally gets 100 million, to the anti-American Al-Jazeera media company…which is owned by the fossil-fuel-rich royal family of Qatar.
MORE . . .
- Al Gore is now richer than Mitt Romney – and it’s all thanks to big oil (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Thirteen Years Later, Lefties Finally Figure Out That Al Gore Has Been Lying To Them (stevengoddard.wordpress.com)
- AlGorjeera — It’s Official: Al Gore is by far the most lavishly funded fossil fuel player in the global warming debate today (climatedepot.com)
- Oil Funded Al Jazeera Makes Al Gore Richer Than Mitt Romney (townhall.com)
- Glenn Beck: “Badge of Honor” that I’m more loathsome to Al Gore than Al Jazeera (scooprocket.com)
- Employees of Al Gore discover he’s a bullsh*t hypocrite (fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com)
- Current TV Staffers Reportedly Angry That ‘Bullsh*tter’ Al Gore Sold Out To ‘Big Oil’ (mediaite.com)
- Richer Than Romney: Al Gore Scores On Sale Of Current TV (forbes.com)
If you fear genetically modified food, you may have Mark Lynas to thank. By his own reckoning, British environmentalist helped spur the anti-GMO movement in the mid-‘90s, arguing as recently at 2008 that big corporations’ selfish greed would threaten the health of both people and the Earth. Thanks to the efforts of Lynas and people like him, governments around the world—especially in Western Europe, Asia, and Africa—have hobbled GM research, and NGOs like Greenpeace have spurned donations of genetically modified foods.
But Lynas has changed his mind—and he’s not being quiet about it. On Thursday at the Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas delivered a blunt address: He got GMOs wrong. According to the version of his remarks posted online (as yet, there’s no video or transcript of the actual delivery), he opened with a bang:
I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.
As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.
So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.
His honest assessment of his heretofore poor understanding of the issue continues for almost 5,000 words—and it’s a must-read for anyone who has ever hesitated over conventional produce.
MORE . . .
- Leading Environmental Activist’s Blunt Confession: I Was Completely Wrong To Oppose GMOs (slate.com)
- Mark Lynas, Environmentalist Who Opposed GMOs, Admits He Was Wrong (huffingtonpost.com)
- A Huge Step Forward for Environmentalism: GMOs Are Not the Enemy (io9.com)
- United Kingdom: Celebrities’ GM crusade stops science feeding the poor, says campaigner (telegraph.co.uk)
- Environmentalist Admits He Peddled Anti-Scientific “Green Urban Myths” About Biotech Crops (txwclp.org)
Fifteen years after its painful birth in Kyoto, Japan, the world’s first legally binding agreement to limit emissions of greenhouse gases ended this week.
For some it is a victorious conclusion. The 37 industrial nations that stuck with the protocol after the US pulled out in 2005 say they exceeded their promises, cutting their emissions for the period from 2008 to 2012 to an average of 16 per cent below 1990 levels, compared with the 4.7 per cent promised in the agreement.
But the protocol only ever applied to rich industrialised nations. Most of the cuts came from Eastern European countries when their economies collapsed after the fall of the Berlin Wall – reductions that would have happened anyway.
In the same period, global emissions have risen by 50 per cent, thanks to the rapid industrialisation of nations such as China, not covered by the original deal.
Formally the protocol lives on. Climate talks in Doha in December created a second “compliance period” stretching to 2020, when diplomats promise a new deal involving all nations will come into force. But with Russia, Japan, New Zealand and Canada pulling out, this next period only covers nations which contribute 14 per cent of global emissions, mainly the European Union and Australia.
What’s more, phase 2 contains the same fundamental loophole as the first deal. Too many rich countries have met their targets by moving their carbon-intensive industries, such as steel and aluminium manufacturing, offshore to nations not covered by the protocol.
MORE . . .
- Has the Kyoto protocol done more harm than good? (newscientist.com)
- Happy New Year – Kyoto Is Dead (wattsupwiththat.com)
- Kyoto climate change treaty sputters to a sorry end. (cbc.ca)
- U.N. Conference Agrees To Extend Kyoto Protocol (npr.org)
- A Crippled Kyoto (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Kyoto climate change treaty sputters to a sorry end (updatednews.ca)
Popular Mechanics has spent some time cruising in a 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and driving it taught us some of the real-world quirks of owning an EV. Ron Moore learned a lot from getting his hands on an i-MiEV, too. But Moore’s lessons came from ripping the thing apart.
Moore is a training consultant for the National Fire Prevention Association. He, along with a hand-picked team of firefighters, systematically tore apart a donated 2012 i-MiEV last month to educate emergency personnel on the complications high-voltage batteries and electrical systems present.
“It was a perfect opportunity for us,” Moore tells PM. “We were unlimited in what we could do to it.”
Where an ordinary car carries a 12 V battery, an EV might have more like 330 volts in its system, Moore says. That not only presents an increased immediate danger to first responders, but also puts new kinks into how they ensure a car is completely shut down.
Typically, firefighters disconnect the battery to kill any live wires within the vehicle, Moore says. But with EVs and hybrids, this isn’t the case. Just disconnecting the 12V battery from the Mitsubishi does nothing to kill the power, Moore says. The car’s larger 330 V lithium-ion battery is supplying power to both the vehicle’s drivetrain and accessories.
MORE . . .
- Mitsubishi i-MiEV EV Becomes Firefighter Training Tool (earthtechling.com)
- Toyota working on sodium-ion batteries that will extend EV range to 500-1,000 kilometers (inautonews.com)