The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn

January 29th, 2008
submit to reddit Share

This came out a lot longer than I expected. However, this is also what is becoming an increasingly large portion of this website. Maintaining the environment is a critical issue especially as evidence of accelerated global warming mounts and as energy becomes more of an issue than it has in recent past. Unfortunately, many of those who claim to be working for enviornmental improvements lack an understanding of a few basic concepts which are absolutely critical to accomplishing anything.

I often find myself in arguments over economics versus environmentalism. This becomes a very difficult situation because the immediate accusation is that I care only about money and need to realize that sacrifices must be made for the good of the planet. I am also told that wind or solar is the answer and the costs and reduction of energy output is acceptable. These ideas that it is okay or honorable to make such sacrifices are overly simplistic and lack a true understanding of the forces at work. To use a phrase I have come to like, they are “Not even wrong.”

Thus, the top ten list…

 

10. Go after pollution sources with the highest benefit/cost ratio, not those which are most noticeable – If you are attempting to make a difference in the world, you should start with the largest problems with the simplest solutions and the least cost in remedying.

For example, underground coal fires produce as much CO2 as all the light cars and trucks in North America and most of those in Europe. The cost of developing a method of fighting such fires and implementing it is likely very low compared to the benefit especially in the context of the amount of effort which has gone into reducing the pollution from cars and trucks.

Similarly, aviation accounts only a small portion of CO2 emissions and there are no apparent alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels for aircraft which do not result in huge tradeoffs. The funds spent on attempting to develop and deploy hydrogen fueled aircraft or some other alternative are very high and there would be tradeoffs in the capabilities and economics of operation. Therefore, it is not wise to invest much effort or funds in such a pursuit.

9. It is always best and often vital to utilize existing infrastructure and capabilities when implementing new methods or technologies. – Any concept for producing more environmentally friendly systems must deal with the realities of the currently deployed infrastructure and the existing manufacturing and maintenance capabilities in place. Those which utilize these assets to the fullest will be the most successful and any which require retooling or major upgrades MUST be capable of doing so in an incremental manner which uses established capabilities wherever possible.

This is important in the context of things like transportation. It is entirely unreasonable to expect that there will be widely deployed hydrogen filling stations or other support facilities in the foreseeable future. Even if the ultimate goal is to establish such facilities, it is necessary that any technologies being implemented must be capable of compatibility with what currently exists in the midterm. For example, plug in hybrids which may be a stepping stone toward future electric-based vehicles but work well with existing technology.

Similarly, it is better to work with manufacturing, refining and distribution technologies that are already available as well as the existing skills of workers. It is better to deploy clean synthetic hydrocarbons, for example, than ethanol on a wide scale because ethanol cannot be pumped through existing petroleum pipelines due to it’s tendency to bind with water.

8. “Natural� “Organic� and “Bio� do not mean “good.� - Some of the most toxic substances known are natural. Furthermore there are times when using an artificial or engineered solution to a problem is far better than using a traditional low-tech or natural approach. Using synthetic substances, engineered approaches and technology can often improve the efficiency of an activity and therefore reduce the need for resources and the overall impact.

For example: a farm which utilizes insecticides and artificial fertilizers to grow a given amount of crops on ten acres may be far better for the local ecosystem than a farm which uses organic methods but requires twice the land be cleared. A common organic farming method for pest control is to import predator insects like lady bugs, however, importing large numbers of these insects may be considerably more disturbing to the local food chain and ecosystem than using a measured amount of an artificial pesticide.

�Nature� was not designed to provide mankind with food, energy and other needs in the most efficient, reliable and sustainable manner. Therefore, engineered or artificial approaches may have better overall outcomes.

7. Plans for the future should not be made on the most optimistic predictions and should consider the most pessimistic reasonable predictions – If you are formulating a plan for providing energy you cannot base it on the assumption that there will be an overall decrease in energy usage. Rather, one must assume that energy needs will continue to grow as they always have, if not faster.

Similarly, no plans for the future should ever be based on the assumption that it will be possible to do something better/faster/cheaper than it can now based on future technologies. One cannot, for example, create say “We’ll just have to develop a more efficient solar cell that is ten times cheaper than what we have now.� There is no guarantee that such research and development in such an area will be fruitful.

�Hope for the best but prepare for the worst� is generally the best policy. Any statement like “Well we won’t need to plan for that because in ten years we’ll be at the point where we’ll only need half as much oil� should be viewed with extreme skepticism.

6. Simply attacking an environmentally damaging activity is not effective unless a better alternative of similar or better economics and usefulness is presented – Protesting a coal fired power plant is, in and of itself, useless, because the plant is necessary to provide electricity. It is even worse to oppose coal, oil and hydroelectric because those are all major sources of electricity. If one wants to phase out something like coal there must be an alternative presented. It is always more effective to promote the alternative than to oppose what exists. If the alternative is accepted, the existing activity being opposed will go away on its own.

It is important that the alternative be reasonable, not speculative and capable of replacing what exists with minimal sacrifice in general. Any alternative which provides additional non-environmental benefits, such as cheaper energy, improved capabilities or better performance (in the case of a vehicle) will aid greatly in promoting the alternative. If such benefits can be presented the likelihood of success is extremely high.

5. Taxation, price increases and caps on energy are inherently regressive and cause great damage. – Regressive means that it has a greater impact on the lower classes than the upper classes and also affect upward mobility and general quality of life. Increasing the price of energy does not mean simply mandating a price or taxing it directly. Any measures which limit energy production will cause an increase in price due to market forces. This includes carbon taxation and carbon capping without providing a variable alternative. Mandating the use of energy technologies which are limited in output or are expensive will likewise increase prices.

High priced energy is a huge burden on the lower classes to a degree much higher than the upper class. Energy is a fundamental expense to living, both directly in the form of heating, transportation and electricity and also indirectly in how it affects production of all goods and services. The price makes up a much larger proportion of the spending of those with less. Thus, an increase in the price of energy DOES NOT make all people conserve energy in an equal manner nor does it prevent frivolous use of energy.

Joe billionaire still fuels up his yatch and barely notices that he spent five dollars a gallon on marine diesel instead of two, but poor families go cold because they cannot afford heating oil at twice the price. In the end, those with the money to adopt cleaner and more efficient technology and with the excesses which can be cut are the least likely to do so. The more likely outcome of higher energy prices is a move to alternative energy sources which offer a lower cost, even if doing so results in more pollution instead of less. An example would be the wood burning stove boom during the 1970′s oil crisis or waste oil burners.

This increases the class divide, as any shortage of such an important commodity will. It causes more poverty and limits upward mobility. The overall reduction in quality of life affects nearly all sectors including health and any burden on the economic system will only make government social programs more burdened.

 

4. It is unreasonable to expect the general public will accept major reductions in living standards or comfort and convenience. Simply put, it won’t happen – There is no point in debating the ethics of driving a big car and taking vacations versus making sacrifices to sustain the environment, because history shows that the public has a very limited tolerance for any measures which directly affect their comfort, convenience and other wants. Therefore, if you want people to drive a car which is environmentally friendly, it must not be a glorified golfcart. It cannot lack air conditioning and be small, slow and lacking in capacity. People will not accept that kind of sacrifice in general.

Because they will not move to environmentally friendly options voluntarily, the next thing which generally is proposed is to mandate very strict limitations on the use of anything from incandescent light bulbs to air conditioners to big engines. The problem is that this will not generally be accepted if there is not an equally viable alternative. People will either skirt the regulations or they will put pressure on politicians to change them. In a democracy, the politicians will always be forced to bow to the will of the people on any matter which is universally disliked.

(They want their damn bread and circus and you’d be a fool to try to talk them into living without them.)

3. Depending on continuous heavy subsidies is not sustainable. – Subsidies exist for a reason and are not always a completely bad thing. They are designed to do things like maintain a strategic capability which is not normally profitable or to stimulate a sector which is important to a country and might now develop on it’s own.

However, when it comes to energy and development, a subsidy cannot be a tow-line, but only a jump start. In other words, it must be for the purpose of establishing a capability which will have value and returns on the initial expenditure. Paying to keep something going for years when it has shown disappointing results is a complete waste. It is not economically sustainable and has low benefit.

It also should be pointed out that “creating jobs� is not an economic benefit if those jobs are entirely based on expenditures which do not result in a tangible payback and rely on direct funding to exist. “Creating 1000 jobs� is not a good thing if the way they were created is by paying 1000 people to do something useless. The sustainability and overall effect must be considered.

2. Every little bit does not help. – There is absolutely no point in perusing technologies or methods which do not have the potential for actually making an ecological difference, especially if doing so will expend funds, energy or other resources without any significant return. Even in cases where there is little overall investment, simply harping on the most insignificant overall issues will at least draw attention away from what credible solutions exist.

In the end, it is not really going to matter if there is .00001% les Co2 in the air in a century. Those technologies which have limited potential are best abandoned to cut losses as soon as it becomes apparent how limited they are. Campaigns against things like iPhones are idiotic, considering the massive discharges of waste by other parts of the electronics industry and other industries in general. Putting a solar panel on your roof might make you feel good but that’s about all it does. Saying “someone has to start� or “if everyone would do it� or “every bit helps� does not count for much when you know that everyone *will not* do it and “every little bit� helps a very very little bit.

1. Sacrificing the needs of an economy for the environment will destroy both. - This is overall and far and away one thing which environmentalists seem to entirely lack any understanding of. There are a lot of claims that sacrifices must be made economically or that “the price of damaging the environment cannot be measured in dollars. We need to consider that cheap power has hidden costs to earth.�

The major problem with this is that the economic health of a society affects nearly all aspects of the society. For example, during times of recession, crime rates tend to rise, health generally deteriorates, general public moral is far less. The effects are far reaching both broadly and individually. When the economy does well, more people have good paying jobs with benefits. More people have healthcare coverage and those who do not are generally more able to pay for healthcare. More people go to college and education in general improves. There are more funds for donation to charities and the government has far more of a taxbase from which to spend.

The impact on the environment is also effected by this for several reasons. It has been said that “environmentalism is a luxury� and this is actually true in many circumstances. In a poor country cars blow out more exhaust because owners are not as prone to good upkeep of the engine and exhaust system. Recycling does not exist in such countries because the funds are not available and the demand for more raw materials is lacking, thus making it less financially motivating to recover materials.

In general, people become far less concerned with the environment when they see that their own lives and the lives of those close to them are not very good. A person does not buy highly efficient lightbulbs or a hybrid car in such circumstances. If they cannot afford oil to keep warm, they will not insulate their home but rather are more likely to start cutting down trees for fuel. They may even buy a simple stove and start to burn garbage for fuel.

An economy is not healthy when it is stagnant. It must not only be growing to be healthy, but to be prosperous it should have the highest possible growth rate while maintaining sustainable funds and keeping inflation in relative check. Only under such circumstances will the government and private organizations have the funds and the ability to tackle environmental issues. The flip side of this is that it means an increase in consumption and in consumerism in general. This equates to more potential for environmental impact.

The key, in the end, is to find ways to keep a robust and healthy economy while promoting good environmental policy. Doing so will increase standards of living, decrease poverty, increase environmentally positive projects and benefit all aspects of life and ecology.

Added (2/5/08):
Having gotten a lot of attention on this article I’ve added a couple of follow-up posts which related to this and which I might suggest checking out. You may also want to check other parts of this blog filed under “environment”.

Agree or disagree your comments are welcome and will not be removed – at least as long as the discussion is factual and substantive. Railings, flaming and profanity are not desired, however. However, although descent is welcome, don’t expect not to be refuted, taken to task or otherwise countered. Feel free to do the same. This is obviously a contentious issue. Any discussion, even if heated, is positive if it stimulates thought and education.

Sources of Greenhouse Gas and a Quick Math Lesson
Stuff “Environmentalists” Should be (more) Concerned About
Does Every Little Bit Really help?
“Green Groups” Give Me Deja Vu

Also, since there has been a lot of discussion of nuclear energy resulting from this, here are some previous posts with relevant information:

Ten Myths About Nuclear Energy
Greenpeace On Nuclear Science
A Graphic Illustration of Nuclear Energy Potential

What is Spent Fuel? – I’m most proud of this one as it addresses an issue most people know very little about. The issue of nuclear “waste” and methods for dealing with it.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 11:32 am and is filed under Bad Science, Education, Enviornment, Good Science, History, Not Even Wrong. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
View blog reactions



530 Responses to “The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn”

Pages: « 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 » Show All

  1. 101
    Dave G Says:

    Let me point out why groups like FOE can’t understand math:

    Aviation makes less than 1% of co2 produced by humans. Aircraft are already very effecient because fuel is a huge part of the expense, so all reasonable efforts to reduce fuel usage and therefore CO2 are already being done. You cannot power an aircraft on electricity. You might be able to on hydrogen, but the tanks would be huge and the range reduced. There is no way you could tackle the aircraft problem that does not cost a lot and cause great sacrifices for a very minimal return. Thus, the best policy is to accept the emissions from aircraft as small and tolerable and go elsewhere.

    Coal fires are a huge source of co2 much more than aircraft. They serve no purpose and benifit nonone. The amount of money necessary to fix them is likely low and the only risk is that there will turn out to be more difficult to fight then many think (steam, slurry, paving and other means).

    Small risk, small cost huge benefit. versus huge cost for very little benefit.

    FOE has a campaign to bring notice for aircraft pollution and zero effort on coal fires. I have looked at their pages and I see NOTHING.

    There is no logical justification for such lopsided policy that I can think of, but feel free to defend it.


    Quote Comment
  2. 102
    Finrod Says:

    Ecofiend, it is precisely because of your ignorant, head-in-the-sand, unscientific, dogmatic, counterproductive attitude that you and your fellow-travellers, and, more importantly, those you seek to influence, should be exposed to this article fully and at every available oportunity. For a start, it would be good for people to learn of the high-handed, dictatorial, thugish attitude of your kind to open debate and discussion.

    Any more of your Pontifical Decrees, and I shall be tempted to tell you what I really think of you.


    Quote Comment
  3. 103
    marymary Says:

    THE EARTH SHOULD BE AT THE VERY TOP OF THE , “LIST OF CONCERNS”, FOR LIFE AND PEACE ON EARTH. IT’S ALL VERY WELL TO GIVE OPPINIONS AND DONATE WHAT WE CAN TO HELP THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM SO MANY DIFFERENT CONFLICTS, BUT THE ONE THING WE SHOULD ALL BE DEVOTING OUR TIME AND EFFORTS ON IS , THE EARTH”.
    FOR WITH OUT HER WE ARE NOTHING. AO THE NEXT TIME YOU FEEL GENEROUS AND DEVOTE YOUR, TIME, MONEY AND EFFORT TO THE , “LESS FORTUNATE”, STOP AND ASK YOUR SELF, AM I PUTTING THE EARTHS NEEDS FIRST? YOUR NOT!
    I HAVE TO KUDOS THOSE WHO ACTUALLY DO AND THERE ARE MORE AND MORE EVERYDAY, SO THANK YOU ALL, WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?
    WHILE RICH CELEBS ADOPT CHILDREN FROM ORPHANGE’S OR RESCUE THEM FROM PERIL, (DON’T GET ME WRONG I THINK IT’S GREAT), BUT WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HELP THE EARTH? WITH NO EARTH WE’RE ALL IN PERIL. USE YOUR MONEYS TO BETTER THE EARTH BEFORE YOU TRY TO BETTER A LIFE, I’D GIVE MY LIFE TO HELP THIS EARTH WOULD YOU?
    INSTEAD OF SPENDING SOOO MUCH MONEY ON LUXURY LIVING AND TRAVEL USE IT TO BUILD 1 ECO FRIENDLY HOME. GRANTED NOT EVERYONE CAN AFFORD TO DO THIS RIGHT NOW, SO TO THOSE OF YOU WHO CAN, WHY IN GOD’S NAME ARE YOU NOT? YOU WANT TO BE A HERO, HELP THE EARTH FIRST. WITH OUT HER THERE’S NO CHILD TO RESCUE.
    I’M NOT DISSING PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GIVE KIDS A BETTER LIFE, I MYSELF HAVE ADOPTED, BUT FOR ALL THE CELEBS OUT THERE,(DOBT YOUR READING THIS) JUST IN CASE, PLEASE YOU KNOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE MORE THAN US ,”AVERAGE jOES”. SO I ASK YOU TO CONSIDER THIS, START SOMETHING NEW IN HOLLYWOOD, PERHAPS, “HOLLYWOOD GOES GREEN”?
    PUT THE EARTH AT THE TOP OF ALL ISSUES ON HER! WITH OUT HER, THERE ARE NO ISSUES, NO LIFE.
    WE ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES TO LIVE ON THIS PLANET, YET WE ARE SOELY RESPONSIBLE FOR DESTROYING HER. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF SOME ONE CAME TO YOUR HOME AND STARTED TO DESTROY IT? STARTED KILLING OFF YOUR FAMILY?
    WOULD YOU STAND BY? I THINK NOT!
    THERE’S LOTS OF IN-EXPENSIVE WAYS TO HELP, MOST FREE, DO SOME HOMEWORK, IF YOUR READING THIS YOU HAVE THE BEST TOOL RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, USE IT, SPREAD THE WORD AND DON’T LET IT GO. THINK OF IT AS IF YOU JUST FOUND OUT YOU HAVE A SERIOUS ILLNESS THAT WOULD KILL YOU IF YOU JUST LEFT IT.
    WOULD YOU JUST LEAVE IT OR WOULD YOU MAKE CHANGES THAT WILL SAVE YOU?
    INSTINCT WILL KICK IN AND YOU’LL FIGHT FOR YOUR SURVIVIAL, LET YOUR INSTINCT TAKE OVER, FIGHT, TEACH AND PROTECT.


    Quote Comment
  4. 104
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Must I state again for the record that I really like it here on this planet and I also like good things like clean water and not choking on the art. Also I prefer to have an overall minimal impact on the environment, especially in regards to things which can cause serious damage to the overall global systems.

    Also, I should mention that when I see poor people living in poor countries that have a very low standard of living, nutrition that there is nothing more I want then to see more of the third world improve in living standard and see a general reduction of poverty and more education/health care/development/food/clean water.

    I swear, that’s really what I’m motivated by…


    Quote Comment
  5. 105
    Fillivo Says:

    COAL CANT BURN UNDERGROUND IDIOT! YOUR SO STUPID HOW CAN EVERYONE THINK THIS IDIOT HAS ANYTHING TO SAY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO GO LEARN SOME SCIENCE F*****G DIPS**T MORON


    Quote Comment
  6. 106
    ellindsey Says:

    Coal can’t burn underground? Tell that to the residents of Centralia, PA. That is, the handful who didn’t evacuate when the coal seam under the town ignited.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralia,_Pennsylvania
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mine_fire

    It’s not just mines either. The coal seam in Burning Mountain in Australia has been burning for about 6000 years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_Mountain


    Quote Comment
  7. 107
    Finrod Says:

    marymary and Fillivo: On the left hand of your keyboard you’ll find a button in the middle called Caps Lock. Yours appears to be on. I think this is a good idea. It makes you seem really forceful and committed, and gives people the ability to gauge the value of your posts at a glance. Please continue on in this vein to make a positive contribution to the debate.


    Quote Comment
  8. 108
    DV82XL Says:

    Filivo Read Coal Mine Fires then apologize to everyone here,


    Quote Comment
  9. 109
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    The only option would be to mandate conservation, and that has problems too!

    People who claim that conservation should be mandated seem to forget exactly who is going to mandate this conservation.


    Quote Comment
  10. 110
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    COAL CANT BURN UNDERGROUND IDIOT!

    So where is the fire coming from?

    Did someone succeed in breaking out of Hell?


    Quote Comment
  11. 111
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Considering your feelings toward environmentalists it would seem more like you are less interested in the economy than in destroying the earth, which is just crazy. I think you should realize that environmentalism is about sustainability. Look at the price of oil and tell me that does not effect the economy. If we used less then it would be cheaper for the poor people and it would be better for the welfare of all sectors of the nation.

    And what exactly would get people to use less oil, except higher prices?

    People will waste what is cheap and conserve what is plentiful.


    Quote Comment
  12. 112
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    DV82XL, your logic only works if we keep doing things like we have through history. That is what it is based on but history has been a past of not sustaining things and not caring about the world. Things are different and changing fast because everyone is going to have to realize the real price of things. As soon as everyone starts working for sustainable and clean lives then we will all be able to shoulder the burden.

    You are going against human nature.

    Your arguments are like those of Rebecca Hagelin and Janice Shaw-Crouse advocating abstinence-until-marriage as a solution to teenage pregnancy.

    We have to stop having unnecessary luxuries that hurt the world no matter how much money we have. You might be a billionair but you still have to live on the earth and you still breathe the air. We are equal there. And so what if a one person won’t stop it? We need all people to stop with luxuries. One is a small number but it doesn’t have to be one. People stop fueling their ships and limos and private planes as soon as they realize that it’s for the greater good and their good too!

    Just like young people will stop have sex for fear of pregnancy and disease?


    Quote Comment
  13. 113
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Maybe we should consider that our schools shouldn’t just teach people not just knowledge but also to be good people too!

    The Roman Catholic Church, considered by some to be the one true church, has been teaching people to be good for almost one thousand nine hundred seventy-eight years now. Apparently some people have not learned their lesson.


    Quote Comment
  14. 114
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Coal fires are very real and they occur in areas which have both natural and man made paths for oxygen to get into the coal seem. Porous ground combined with fissures and mine tunneling means that massive fires can burn for decades and burn millions of tons of coal. The CO2 released is very appreciable and the effect on local ecology is disastrous.

    China has more coal fires than any other country the coal fires in China alone account for more co2 than all the cars and light trucks in North America. Worldwide coal fires account for nearly as much CO2 as all passenger cars combined!

    The one majos successful effort to fight a large coal fire occurred in Liuhuanggou China. The massive fired had been burning for more than a century. It was extinguished by an effort to find and plug major sources of oxygen followed by a program to map the fire with infrared measurements and to drill into it and inject water. The effort took four years and cost the US equivalent of 12 million dollars. However, researchers in Europe and US have indicated that they believe new techniques using high pressure steam, CO2 or other means which have more penetrating power and volume than water could CUT THAT TIME DOWN TO A YEAR OR LESS.

    Do you know how much 12 million dollars is in terms of energy funding? The US Department of Energy has a 60 billion dollar anaul budget, most of which goes to research of new technologies.

    12m is SQUAT and EVERY enviornmental organization should be ALL over this and DEMANDING to have programs to put out coal fires. It would be a bargain at ten times the price!


    Quote Comment
  15. 115
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    I HOPE PEOPLE LIKE YOU DIE FOR THE GOOD OF THE FUTURE

    Impotent coward.


    Quote Comment
  16. 116
    Dave G Says:

    Agreed Drbuzz0, but why should greenpeace and FOE be demanding that the government put out those fires alone? They could get the ball rolling by doing it themselves. They certainly have enough volteneers. They certainly have the money.

    What do you think would happen if they announced “Tomorrow’s protest is canceled. Don’t bring signs, instead bring shovels and hoses. We’ll be meeting at the old mine where there’s a big fire instead. We need everyone who can come to help man the pumps and donate money for the infrared survey and the rental on the pumpes and piping and also the price of all the compressed gas and steam generators. Everyone will be divided and your job is to fill in the cracks and mineshafts with gravel and cement”

    Yeah… I bet all the members would show up, right? I mean it would make a big difference. (sorry did that sound sarcastic?)


    Quote Comment
  17. 117
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    We have to live within our means.

    What do you define as our means?

    I have a bachelor’s degree in Finance, and living within one’s means is being able to fully finance one’s lifestyle without having to increase debt. Now many people borrow money just to cover expenses (as opposed to borrowing to purchase assets.)

    People who live outside their means become bankrupt and are reduced to poverty.


    Quote Comment
  18. 118
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Seriously. Some of these green people remind me of the alleged state senator in the 30’s that wanted by law to make pi equal to 3. To make it easier for calculations.
    The green party in germany also has tried to repeal the 2nd law of thermodynamics. They were after all LAWmakers. Results were and are predictable.

    The arguments by some of these green people are very similar to arguments by people promoting abstinence-only sex education.

    In fact, I wonder if there is a significant overlap between the two groups.


    Quote Comment
  19. 119
    Fillivo Says:

    FIRST I THINK YOU”RE LYING AND SECOND I DON”T SEE YOU ****S OUT PUTTING OUT COAL FIRES ALL I SEE IS YOU SITTING ON THIS PIECE OF S*** WEBSITE TALKING ABOUT HOW WE SHOULD DESTROY THE WORLD BECAUSE YOUR TOO STUPID F*****G IDIOTS AND I HOPE YOU LEARN OR JUST EAT YOUR OWN S*** AND DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Quote Comment
  20. 120
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Two things:

    1. Honestly, if i had anywhere near the means or following of most enviornmental organizations, I would most certainly tackle coal fires myself (in addition to trying to raise awareness of the problem and more importantly establish protocols for fighting them and bring in people from other areas or countries to learn how to fight them so they could return to their areas and put them out)

    2. I am going to have to edit some of the comments here. I assure all that no content or context will be changed, but I’m going to need to censor some of the expletives. They are not desired here because I want to have this site avaliable and not showing up on filters in schools or libraries. I think it’s fair to remove the obscenity and retain the message since it doesn’t really pertain.

    If you can’t all be mature I’m going to have to invoke a profanity filter and I do not want to have to do so.


    Quote Comment
  21. 121
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Every choice people make has tradeoffs.

    Each choice has its own benefits and costs; some choices have no benefits.

    Regarding government intervention, some choices should always be punished because they clearly violate individual rights (running a murder-for-hire business, dumping industrial waste into someone’s backyard.)

    But it is not so clear when no individual’s right is being violated, but the costs are borne by society. No specific inidividual has a claim to the ocean or other public waterway. Governments, as proprietors of oceans up to twelve miles off the shoreline, as well as public waterways, have the right to regulate activities in those areas such as fishing or dumping waste. But what if a fishing business provides tax revenue, which also benefits society. A business that generate industrial waste also generates tax revenue, which may offset the costs of disposing waste into an approved site.

    These questions do not have one-size-fit-all answers.


    Quote Comment
  22. 122
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Indeed, Michael Ejercito, there is no easy answer to things, however that is the point of the “ten things” it helps evaluate if a solution is viable at all or just unworkable.

    But then I’d also like to add I have always favored a policy which works by providing clean plentiful energy to encourage people to use it. If you make it inticing to do so people will have no problem leaving other forms of energy.


    Quote Comment
  23. 123
    marymary Says:

    “Caps off”, There’s alot of talk of ,”reality and Economy” when it comes to the earth’s welfare and there valid points, not that you need me to say so. However when your faced with the reality of , no home, no food, no electricity or water with a Family to provide for and protect, your idea of reality changes and the economy is irrelavent. At least for this moment and who knows how long that will be. I believe that this is inevidable the way we’re going. A little extreme, for many perhaps but I’d rather teach my children and my Community that this is a possibility and we should not only try to avoid it, (obviously) but we should be prepared. For the people in public eyes, whom have a great deal of influence on our youth, You all should be helping to get the word out to our Youth every where on this planet. Make it a new ,”fad”, if you will.
    No matter who you are or what you believe in or how much money you have , we all require the same ,”basics”, of life.
    Nieve, perhaps but true.
    I think anyone who’s lived in a community that has lost power for a lenghty time would agree, to a point anyway. People who good afford it just left but that may not be an option for some in the future, (maybe that’s what ,”and the meak shall inherrit the earth”, really means.
    Pardon me for any spelling errors.


    Quote Comment
  24. 124
    Finrod Says:

    “But it is not so clear when no individual’s right is being violated, but the costs are borne by society. No specific inidividual has a claim to the ocean or other public waterway.”

    It could be argued that lack of private ownership of these natural assets is the main factor for lack of concern polluting them. If they could be owned by individuals or corporations, the owners would have a huge interest in preserving and enhancing the value of their property.


    Quote Comment
  25. 125
    DV82XL Says:

    You’re so right Finrod, but that bit of logic is way, way beyond most people to the point where we can’t waste time pushing it for now.


    Quote Comment
  26. 126
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I just want to make note of something: I made a (small) edit to the list. Number ten said “Highest cost/benefit ratio” It struck me that was entirely mathematically incorrect. If it had been “most favorable” then it would be okay, but since the wording implied that it was the highest ratio of cost divided by benefit that would be the opposite of what you want..

    Thus I reversed them. I’m just a stickler for mathematics like that.


    Quote Comment
  27. 127
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Clean energy has its benefits.

    Coal would be clean energy source if the emissions were trapped in an airtight container.

    It could be argued that lack of private ownership of these natural assets is the main factor for lack of concern polluting them. If they could be owned by individuals or corporations, the owners would have a huge interest in preserving and enhancing the value of their property.

    Which is why water and air pollution are big problems, as private ownership the ocean or the air is impractical.


    Quote Comment
  28. 128
    Blitz3601 Says:

    Thanks for correcting rule 10 and for deleting the expletives. I’d like my son to read through this and appreciate your work. My opinion is that it does not change what they have contributed in any significant way.


    Quote Comment
  29. 129
    drbuzz0 Says:

    ” “Caps off”, There’s alot of talk of ,”reality and Economy” when it comes to the earth’s welfare and there valid points, not that you need me to say so. However when your faced with the reality of , no home, no food, no electricity or water with a Family to provide for and protect, your idea of reality changes and the economy is irrelavent.”

    No! Your idea of the enviornment changes. The econemy becomes even more important. When you are cold you burn what you have to burn and care little how it pollutes. When you have no fresh water you demand it be provided even if doing so means daming up a major river or some other extremely enviornmentally damaging activity. If you have no electricity you will not object to a coal power plant being built!

    No now the economy becomes more relevant than it ever has before to you. You want food? You will need employment. The economy will not provide you with employment if it is in the hole. You want a higher standard of living with electricity and water and housing? HA! What chances do you think you have of that in an outright recession?

    The better the economic situation is the better the chances of upward mobility are and the more funds will be avaliable for social problems.

    Now you can make the argument that “protecting the environment is going to be better for the economy in the long run”

    There are several problems with this:

    1. Only a collective action can have an impact but since every individual can do as they choose and every decision is made by individuals they will tend not to. (This is why it’s hard to get people to vote, especially in electoral districts which have no reasonable possibility of being decisive)

    2. You get no tangible benefits from preventing future problems or from stopping things from getting worse. If you stop global warming you don’t improve the world. You only keep it from getting worse. Much less inspiring to the populous.

    3. There is no imidate benefit and it’s impossible to know when a noticable benefit is.

    You will have a hard time getting people behind things on the grounds that “If we had not instituted this policy there’s a 60% higher chance you’d be suffering from asthma right now”

    But that is besides the point.

    “I think anyone who’s lived in a community that has lost power for a lenghty time would agree, to a point anyway. People who good afford it just left but that may not be an option for some in the future, (maybe that’s what ,”and the meak shall inherrit the earth”, really means.
    Pardon me for any spelling errors.”

    No it’s really the opposit. That is actually the point. If your community has lost power for a lengthy time, who will have the power? Those who can afford to move out or to buy a generator. You now have a situation in which energy shortages dramatically effect the poor worse than the rich.

    Thus this only proves that energy rationing will cause such problems. Furthermore, the meak do not inherit the earth, because the atmosphere and water is shared. Those who end up surviving are those with the money to keep going even amongst shortages. Hence: You have regressive taxation and disproportional burden on the poorest


    Quote Comment
  30. 130
    DR1980 Says:

    We had a coal-fire in the Southland colliery near my place a few years ago. They were able to extinguish the fire relatively quickly by pumping the mine with fire suppression gasses and sealing the mine. I’m not exactly sure how long it too to extinguish the fire but the mine was closed for a total of 3 years.

    I’ve been to the Burning Mountain also. It’s in the same region that I live in. It is an interesting place. You can distinctly see the margin of the burning coal seam as you walk up the mountain by the dieback of vegetation. It reminds me very much of an ecotone. The top of the mountain is desolate and sulfur encrusted. Apparently there are 2 other underground naturally burning coal seams in the world.

    Has anyone mentioned carbon capture or sequestration? Richard Branson is offering $US25 Million to anyone who can devise a way to remove large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere.


    Quote Comment
  31. 131
    KLA Says:

    Just to put a few things into perspective. Imagine there were a law for oil companies or refiners that they are allowed to refine out only one gallon of gasoline out of every 149 gallons of oil (0.7%). The other 148 gallons they forced to treat as “waste” and pay for the disposal of it, but are not allowed to put it back into the ground. With oil at $100.- a barrel (42 gallons) that gallon of gasoline would cost more than $300.-. We would sink in a see of waste. Also, oil would have run out early in the 20th century.
    Sounds silly, right?
    But that is exactly the situation with nuclear power today.
    The vehement opposition to fuel reprocessing and against breeder reactors HAS MANDATED this situation. It also FORCES creation of that waste.
    In regards to CO2 sequestering from coal plants. Every ton of coal burned creates roughly 3 tons of CO2. 3 tons of CO2 is a VERY large volume. Multiply that with the thousands of tons of coal used every year. Where to put it? There are suggestions of underground caverns and such using high pressure storage. Doesn’t anybody remember the thousands of people that died when a volcano in Africa a few years ago released a relatively small CO2 cloud? Any rupture in one of those underground storage sites (they’re under very high pressure, remember) has the potential to release a suffocating CO2 cloud for many miles around. Killing anything that moves. The probabilities of such an accident are orders of magnitude higher and more deadly than even the worst possible nuclear accident in a western reactor.


    Quote Comment
  32. 132
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I heard about that but as I understand it it applies to removing co2 that is in the atmosphere. Do you know if it would qualify in situations where one prevents it from entering the atmosphere?

    If it’s to take it OUT of the atmosphere then one is rather limited. Any idea how much lithium hydroxide $25M can buy? (not that it really does any good because it takes energy to make so..)


    Quote Comment
  33. 133
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Actually it’s funny that Co2 capture should be mentioned. I actually was working on a graphic to illustrate how you can store CO2 from a single coal fired plant’s annual production. This based on one of the larger (1.5-2 gigawatt) US anthacite fired plants approximate annual co2.

    Three options presented:

    at maximum theoretical density as a highly compressed ultra-cold dry ice material
    (of course this would take more energy to actually do than is produced)

    As a highly compressed cryogenic liquid (would take about as much energy as is produced)

    As a solid chemical by binding it with a CO2 absorber

    Take your pick. BTW: Ever been to Cape Canaveral Florida? Damn that building is HUGE. It’s only like 60 stories or something, but HUGE

    http://www.depletedcranium.com/co2sync.jpg


    Quote Comment
  34. 134
    DV82XL Says:

    What I’m worried about is schemes for carbon capture that involve massive adjustments to other systems like the iron dumping in south polar oceans. Too many unanswered questions.


    Quote Comment
  35. 135
    KLA Says:

    In contrast to that, ALL the nuclear waste produced with the hughely forced inefficient method I mentiond of all US nuclear reactors since the first one started to operate 50 years ago still fits into a high-school gym.
    Put another way: With new thorium based reactor technology ALL the waste produced by the energy use of a typical 4 people american houshold for 70 years would fit into a coffe cup. And even that would decay to harmlessness in 300 years or so. THAT is what I would call environmentalism and protecting the earth.


    Quote Comment
  36. 136
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Yeah those ones seem to have more credibility although they also scare the bejesus out of me in terms of the overall effect on the ocean chemistry and biology. They get less attention probably because people realize pretty fast that dumping massive amounts of anything in the ocean could be dangerous


    Quote Comment
  37. 137
    DR1980 Says:

    I agree. Sequestration scares me for a number of reasons. One highlighted is the potential release of CO2. I do alot of caving. The biggest danger in most caves are CO2 pockets. I have experienced what it was like to be in a CO2 pocket. I didn’t even realise I was in it. It isn’t just a killer. It is a silent killer.

    Methane is an interesting example. Frozen methane in the deep ocean indicates that storage may be possible but on the other hand, release of methane from those very reserves 55 million yrs ago are thought to be responsible for the extinction of a large proportion of species within the ocean and on earth not to mention climate change…

    It is good that you mentioned changes to ocean chemistry and biology drbuzz. CO2 has the potential to increase acidification significantly. My biggest concern however, hasn’t been mentioned. The CO2 that we have emmited into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution (~150 yrs) has been identified as the major driver of global warming and the changes to general circulation that have resulted. What happens to atmospheric circulation if you remove large quanitites of CO2 from the atmosphere at a rapid rate?


    Quote Comment
  38. 138
    DV82XL Says:

    The worse thing is that iron-fertilization of the sea will only excuse more burning of coal and CO2 is not the only waste product from that sector.


    Quote Comment
  39. 139
    drbuzz0 Says:

    There is that and there’s something else I was reminded of by your posting, although slightly off topic. Fossil fuel recovery releases MASSIVE amounts of methane. Coal mines, for example, they need to have large fans in the underground ones and even the above ground strip mines have danger of explosion if they have a high methane area. The methane from coal mining is too dilute to economically capture but the amounts are very significant. It is a considerably more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.


    Quote Comment
  40. 140
    DR1980 Says:

    H2O is even more potent, which brings into question the appropriateness of hydrogen as a fuel source…


    Quote Comment
  41. 141
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I don’t know that H2O (water vapor) is really a concern with hydrogen. Water vapor is already common in the atmosphere. Burning natural gas makes water as do most fossil fuels and if you made hyrdogen from water then one would assume it would be neutral.

    Yes, H2O can trap heat in some circumstances, but that doesn’t seem to be really effected much by humans


    Quote Comment
  42. 142
    Rod Adams Says:

    I will try again to get a rise out of both “Environmentalists” and those who believe that environmentalism is all about trying to push people to a low energy, low economy existence.

    My theory is that many mainstream environmental groups fight nuclear energy because it is threatening to the profits of the oil, coal and gas industries. People that make a living off of those industries have huge incentives to try to limit the supply of competitive energy sources and make a tremendous amount of money when the balance between supply and demand is shifted in favor of the seller.

    Please think about this concept long and hard and then tell me what you think.


    Quote Comment
  43. 143
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I think that may very well be a big part of it. There are a number of factors. Some are doubtless just following what is said blindly.


    Quote Comment
  44. 144
    DV82XL Says:

    No doubt at all the leadership gets its marching orders from their real clients, the poor sheep in the trenches don’t know ant better.

    Ultimately we just have to ask Cui Bono?


    Quote Comment
  45. 145
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    The worse thing is that iron-fertilization of the sea will only excuse more burning of coal and CO2 is not the only waste product from that sector.


    Quote Comment
  46. 146
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Sulfur oxides are a waste product of burning coal. (Coal contains sulfur as an impurity.)


    Quote Comment
  47. 147
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    The vehement opposition to fuel reprocessing and against breeder reactors HAS MANDATED this situation. It also FORCES creation of that waste.

    What were the reasons for opposition to fuel reprocessing and breeder reactors.


    Quote Comment
  48. 148
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Well reprocessing could be used as part of a weapons program. With the fuel from most reactors that wouldn’t work too well, but you could in theory use it as a front for weapons grade plutonium recovery.

    (Why the hell this matters in countries like the US/Brittan/France which already has plenty of weapons grade plutonium or countries like Canada/Germany/Japan which could totally build a nuke if they really wanted it with or without a reprocessing program… ya got me)

    The same with breeders, although you’;d have to modify most of the non-weapons breeders with a faster throughput.

    Reprocessing can also be messy if you do it incorrectly and don’t have good controls.. Some of that happened at hanford.


    Quote Comment
  49. 149
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Wow. This post has generated more coments and more traffic in a short time than any previous. Funny, I kinda thought it was too long and wrote it without much thought for it being a “major” posting. I mean sometimes I do four or five in a day but a lot of people have been attracted to this and it’s been posted on several other websites.

    NIFTY!


    Quote Comment
  50. 150
    DV82XL Says:

    These “10 things” are a major contribution to the fight, my friend, and you should be justifiably proud.


    Quote Comment

Pages: « 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 » Show All

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *

Please copy the string fC4bHs to the field below:

Protected by WP Anti Spam