The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn

January 29th, 2008
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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.
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530 Responses to “The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn”

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  1. 401
    McGlashan Says:

    DV82XL

    “Your point being?”

    I did say you can draw your own conclusions, but as you’ve been kind enough to spoon-feed me…

    http://exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=15984&IBLOCK_ID=35&PAGE=1


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  2. 402
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Okay so now this becomes an issue of the US and it’s economic, social and political power in the world and whether it is limited. Fine. A valid political discussion and a something any American would do well to consider.

    Also, it has absolutely nothing to do with anything related here.

    I would like to also offer a few equally relevant observations relating to the environment and the culture of environmentalism as it is now: Resistance is measured in ohms and current in amps. There are sometimes people who are born with six fully functional fingers on each hand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polydactyly

    Freddie Mercury was the lead singer of queen.

    Scorpions glow under UV light.

    You can make a primitive photograph player with a rolled up piece of paper and, a sewing needle and a pencil to rotate the record on. It’s not good for the record though.

    A peanut is not actually a nut.

    Stonewall Jackson’s arm was amputated and buried with full military honors. He died weeks later and was buried elsewhere.

    Deep diving with regular air can lead to nitrogen narcosis which impairs senses and makes the individual feel intoxicated. It can be dangerous.

    The first stage of the satrun-5 was fueled with liquid oxygen and RP-1 which is really the same as kerosene


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  3. 403
    DV82XL Says:

    In other words McGlashan, You are way off topic.


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  4. 404
    Finrod Says:

    I do not understand how I could have been so stupid. All this time I’d been thinking that the industrial revolution had been the result of applying enlightenment era scientific understanding to the problem of production. It should have been obvious all along that it was because Britain stole high technology off India and China.

    Anyhow, seeing as we’re all going off-topic, how about the following?

    “Now in the mind of Mr. Southey reason has no place at all, as either leader or follower, as either sovereign or slave. He does not seem to know what an argument is. He never uses arguments himself. He never troubles himself to answer the arguments of his opponents. It has never occured to him, that a man ought to be able to give some better account of the way in which he has arrived at his opinions than merely that it is his will and pleasure to hold them. It has never occured to him that there is a difference between assertion and demonstration, that a rumour does not always prove a fact, that a single fact, when proved, is hardly foundation enough for a theory, that two contradictory propositions cannot be undeniable truths, that to beg the question is not the way to settle it, or that when an objection is raised, it ought to be met with something more convincing than “scoundrel” and “blockhead”.”

    That was a quote from “Southey’s Colloquies”, by 19th Century British historian T.B. Macauley.

    It has, of course, not a thing to do with the topic at hand…


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  5. 405
    Justice Says:

    What other cities need well running transit networks?

    Every city in the country, including the small ones, with stuff that picks people up and drops them off to and from dot on the map towns and takes them into the city. Essentially, the whole country should be able to catch buses, trains, or whatever.

    You should be able to ride the buses to church, home from the bar, home from a late dinner at your girlfriends, not just ‘the 9 to 5′ crowd, which is less than 20% of trips.
    Give the buses wireless, give them traffic signal priority, give them special lanes wherever you can, but give it to EVERYONE. That’s essentially what they do in Switzerland. Switzerland is a wealthy nation, and they refit their cities for mass transit. People use it.
    We managed to afford to run roads out those places and maintain them all because of a sense of automotive manifest destiny, we can afford to serve them with less-expensive transit routes.


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  6. 406
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Yeah that’s actually going to be really hard. It’s tough to make that happen in the ‘burbs. The idea of a bus to your home is just… it ain’t happening in suburbia. I can say that there is a bus from the town I am in now to the nearby city of New Haven. I’d have to drive from my home to the busstop and the bus only comes every once in a while and then I’d have to take another city bus to the place I want to go in New Haven and if I want to go to another local town that won’t work. At best I only could get to the center of town. I’d have to walk miles.

    light rail works better than busses anyway it’s just better: no traffic, better time tables, larger vehicles.

    You could improve public transit in cities. But really replacing cars is not possible. Swizerland has different demographics. More small geographic communities. It works there.

    Canada, the US, Australia: Fine for cities, but you still need cars.


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  7. 407
    Justice Says:

    Well, if they ‘still need cars’ then you know where the future ghettoes will be. The arguments against bus lines, by the way, are the same as the arguments about why cars “would never work” – “you’d need to build roads all over the place and cover them with something so that they wouldn’t get covered in mud.. not gonna happen.”
    Really, building a paved road network that cars can drive on at speed between their homes and stores outside of major cities is simply not possible by any rational accounting.

    The argument of “Oh, but that place is different” doesn’t work. In some ways the US and Australia are *more* suited to transit than Switzerland. It comes down to whether you want to work on making a solution and taking the options seriously, or sit on your thumb in the middle of the road waiting to get run over.

    I fail to understand what the problem with taking another bus is. You stop at intersections in your car all the time. Get on the bus. Ride to the transfer center. Get off. Walk over to the other bus you want to catch; it should either be there waiting, or the schedule should say something like “every 6-8 minutes”. Get on the new bus. If needed, repeat.

    Also, buses have bike racks. If you really need to travel into the dim and misty depths of farmland, ride a bike to the bus stop and then from the other remote stop.
    The transit services should run no less frequently than once per hour, and in a good rural system, the buses will essentially meet you at the bus stop when your bus pulls in.
    There is nothing inherent to buses that cause them to have “worse time tables”. They can make up for smaller vehicles to a great extent with higher frequency, and they can make the buses comfortable. Adelaide has a busway that has a headway of one bus every 56 seconds – and it is only running at half of it’s capacity. Zero traffic, too. I agree that trains are better, but NOT for the reasons you state – trains alter real estate patterns more definitively. In any case, i’m not a “bus person”, i’m a transit person – buses, trains, trams, streetcars, pedicabs, sidewalks all working together in harmony.

    Sure, I agree that that will be hard to serve some poorly designed suburbs with. That is one reason why I do not intend to invest in any such land. It’s likely just kind’ve going to go away in a cringeworthy way. Sadly, “suburbs” is likely to become synonymous with “poor, crime-ridden, run down minority neighborhood where nobody in their right mind ventures into and which many feel should be torn down” in the near future.

    I’m not fantasizing here. Global oil production is going to be below global oil demand somewhere around 2013-2015. Prices are going to go crazy, and you’ll see rationing. It is not possible to get an alternative out in time for this anymore. So i’m not telling people that they shouldn’t drive their cars. They’ll stop driving of their own accord when gas gets up close to $20/gallon. Drive all you want, i’m just trying to make sure that there is a reasonable alternative.


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  8. 408
    DV82XL Says:

    There is no real argument here. Light urban rail and other public transport are not a threat to private cars. In fact by taking commuter traffic off the road, it actually benefits ‘off-net’ driving.

    Serving suburbs is not that hard. What is a difficulty is predicting ridership before establishing routes. ‘Build it and they will come,’ only works for baseball diamonds in the middle of cornfields.


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  9. 409
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Where did I ever say I oppose mass transit. I happen to think it’s a very good idea especially with lightrail or other methods which do not rely on road vehicles. But in either cases, there’s very good return on it in general.

    But you won’t replace cars with it. And the suburbs are not going to be run down nor will gas hit $20 a gallon. If it gets anywhere near that it’ll be too profitable to make synthetic fuels.

    But you can’t ignore the fact that mass transit works considerably better in cities than suburbs and you cannot hope to have a bus line go to the doorstep of every house in the country. If you did you’d have a lot of empty buses cruising around just incase someone decides to go somewhere.


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  10. 410
    Justice Says:

    ‘Build it and they will come’ actually works VERY well in mass transit and real estate. When they put in the Joondalup line in Perth, it redirected the development in the city and the area absolutely exploded. Access to transit is a major selling point for home sales in cities with good transit systems, and the houses are popular.
    As far as ‘empty buses’ – we have no problem building roads that are empty most of the day – and those are supposedly paid for by gas taxes. (actually, only a little of that cost from gas taxes, the rest is out of your paycheck and the national debt.) You may not be able to stop at everyone’s doorstep, but you can certainly get reasonably close to most of them, within a comfortable walking distance.


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  11. 411
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    I’m not fantasizing here. Global oil production is going to be below global oil demand somewhere around 2013-2015. Prices are going to go crazy, and you’ll see rationing. It is not possible to get an alternative out in time for this anymore. So i’m not telling people that they shouldn’t drive their cars. They’ll stop driving of their own accord when gas gets up close to $20/gallon. Drive all you want, i’m just trying to make sure that there is a reasonable alternative.

    So what have you done to make sure there is a reasonable alternative?

    Or are you waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ or Santy Claus to find one for you?


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  12. 412
    DV82XL Says:

    No, the plan is to build enough nuclear power stations so that we can all use electric cars.


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  13. 413
    Justice Says:

    I’m working with my local government on upgrading the public transit infrastructure, talking to people about the issues, helping to promote public transit, and riding a bicycle in the middle of winter to work to show that there are other alternatives. I keep up to date on the latest in public transit research, so that I can pass that information on to those involved in transportation in my area.
    What do -you- do? Sit around rejoicing that Capitalism, the Republicans, and Imperialism will crumble and wistfully fantasizing about a post-apocalyptic future which you intend to spend in a real life Disney movie? ;)


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  14. 414
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    What do -you- do? Sit around rejoicing that Capitalism, the Republicans, and Imperialism will crumble and wistfully fantasizing about a post-apocalyptic future which you intend to spend in a real life Disney movie?

    Capitalism will not crumble.


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  15. 415
    Justice Says:

    *shrugs* I figure for a lot of the activists I met in college, “Capitalism crumbles” is pretty much the exact equivalent to “Jesus returns”, and you’re the one who suggested I was waiting for -that- to happen. :D


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  16. 416
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Oh poo! I just realized that having installed the “paged comments” plugin which divides comments to a number of pages, I’ve ended up now without the quote-comment plugin link working properly. Oh dangit!

    Also as far as “capitalism will crumble” Need I state again: You can be a communist or a capitalist or a socialist or anything of that nature and it really has nothing to do with environmentalism. You want to help the environment? use the solutions that work and have a large impact and a realistic chance of getting done etc.

    The political and societal question is for a different discussion. Environmental concerns are not part and parcel of how you run a damn society. The Earth does not care if CO2 in the atmosphere comes from the cars of executives or from a factory run by a workers’ commune. It’s treated the same.

    Why is this so hard for people to understand?


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  17. 417
    ChicChris Says:

    I do not think public transit is a bad idea but we should not use too much of it because technology got us into this problem and more walking and less travel and more living with nature and not fighting it is what we need to do and go back to the way it was when things were better.

    Nuclear power is bad and we should stop using it as soon as possible. It hurts earth in every way and the waste is making her soul very sick. We need to stop nuclear as soon as we can before it gets worse. Nuclear is the worst thing for the environment there is.

    Listen to people from groups like Greenpeace. You might not agree but it’s because they understand and you do not.

    Most important is stop nuclear as soon as we can and before it’s too late. It is something mankind should never have touched. Its like a bad black magic and it has very bad energy. It must be stopped now. Nuclear is the greatest evil. We can’t keep doing this to earth or she will expel us to survive. She loves us and will live in harmony with us if we allow that. But more nuclear poison gives her no choice.

    Thank you. Please everyone work hard to stop nuclear. It is very bad.


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  18. 418
    Finrod Says:

    ChicChris, your post is an insult to everyone on either side of the debate who has posted thoughtfully on this thread.


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  19. 419
    McGlashan Says:

    ChicChris.

    TROLL!


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  20. 420
    BTR071984 Says:

    I agree. Nuclear is bad. We need to stop with it b4 it is to late. I think this list is not true and u should not listen to it. It hates the earth thats not cool.

    peace


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  21. 421
    BTR071984 Says:

    We need 2 think natural and 2 use less chemicals and science that makes toxins and things that were never meant 2 be made. we cant put those on earth. its poison. if we fight we will win. Remember that these are not good or true. this is just from money people.


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  22. 422
    Tsakanga Says:

    Thank you, ChicChris, your impassioned post has set the record straight, erasing all the meaningless logical discussion preceding it.

    Unfortunately, you haven’t considered one thing… heart and passion might fuel one’s actions but its the reasoned and logical mind that guides them. Since you brought up Greenpeace, I’ll give you that they have passion, but the jury’s still out on reasoned and ready to acquit on logical.

    As for ‘nuclear poison’, what would you say if I told you Mama Earth build and operated light water reactors long before we ever did? do a web search for The Oklo Natural Nuclear Reactor.


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  23. 423
    DV82XL Says:

    Apparently even those who can write a full sentence are not immune to illogic:

    ‘German environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) called on Tuesday for a ban on new coal fired power stations, citing climate protection targets.

    “Conventional new coal-fired plants…must not be built any longer, otherwise the government cannot meet its target to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 40 percent by 2020 over 1990 levels,” said Managing Director Rainer Baake in a statement.

    Baake, a Green Party politician and former state secretary in the environment ministry, said that such a move would not necessitate higher gas imports for Germany which already gets 80 percent of its gas from abroad.

    But the Federation of German Industry, BDI, warned that Germany was headed for a huge power supply shortfall and high prices if it did not act quickly to replace its power stations.

    “To reject coal and nuclear energy and at the same time moan about inflated energy prices, that is a complete contradiction,” said Managing Director Werner Schnappauf in a statement.’

    From: This page


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  24. 424
    BTR071984 Says:

    I think coal and nuclear are both bad. I don’t know which is worse, but probably nuclear because it is also very dangerous and so people living now have to live in fear and not just the future with the waste. I think wind and solar are the best but I understand wind will sometimes not be there for power. That’s okay if you keep batteries incase, but solar is better because you know it’s going to be sunny at some point and you still get it working in clouds, but just less. So that’s the best way to go and I think that we should put a what it takes now to do it and to get it done. Yea it can be expensive but once its done the fuel is free and then you can be all set.

    Nuclear seemed good a long time ago but that was bc they did not realize how it is so dangerous and radioactivity. Now we have learned and we need to not use it again and learn from the history. We are just lucky we only had a few really bad incidents and didn’t destroy the earth. We can too close!


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  25. 425
    Dave G Says:

    Honestly, you have no idea what you are talking about, do you?


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  26. 426
    Tsakanga Says:

    DV82XL, that statement isn’t illogical if you assume what he meant was it wouldn’t necessitate higher gas imports for Germany if they lock electricity supply at current levels and implement rolling blackouts in the future when demand outweighs supply.

    Whether the German public finds that reasonable or acceptable is a different question.

    Although, another way they could reduce their CO2 emissions is to slash beer production… after all, beer is just a luxury in a carbon based economy.


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  27. 427
    KLA Says:

    Tsakanga,

    Slashing beer production in Germany? Are you kidding? Beer is considered a biofuel there. It’s what drives people to work. Without it they won’t. :-)


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  28. 428
    Burya Rubenstein Says:

    Somewhere in this thread or these links someone said that uranuim is about as common as tin.
    I can goto Walmart at any time and buy some tin. A 15 gram tube cost $1.47. I happen to have a
    tube of it right here on my desk. I use it to secure electrical connections, though I’m really not very
    good at that task. (97.3% tin, 0.7% copper, 2.0% rosin flux core.) The cost of filling all the tankage
    (main and auxiliaries) on my vehicle would buy about a kilogram of this tin alloy, and I’m quite
    certain that I’m getting ripped off.

    So why can’t I buy that magical energy-giving metal? Or can I? It would be damned near as
    good as perpetual motion, given a price structure and availability like that of tin.


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  29. 429
    Andrew S Says:

    “Environmentalists” are a political group. In politics you need to win the fight to get appropriate compromises. That often means taking positions beyond what is the desired result. Many people do not care at all about the environment in the long term–some people don’t care what happens to the planet after they die (and frankly, i cannot philosophically argue with that position). To balance that, some people need to care too much about the environment.


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  30. 430
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Burya Rubenstein said:

    Somewhere in this thread or these links someone said that uranuim is about as common as tin.
    I can goto Walmart at any time and buy some tin. A 15 gram tube cost $1.47. I happen to have a
    tube of it right here on my desk. I use it to secure electrical connections, though I’m really not very
    good at that task. (97.3% tin, 0.7% copper, 2.0% rosin flux core.) The cost of filling all the tankage
    (main and auxiliaries) on my vehicle would buy about a kilogram of this tin alloy, and I’m quite
    certain that I’m getting ripped off.

    So why can’t I buy that magical energy-giving metal? Or can I? It would be damned near as
    good as perpetual motion, given a price structure and availability like that of tin.

    Yeah, it’s a bit hard to come by in it’s raw form in your local store because it’s just kinda lacking in consumer uses. But did you want to buy some? In what form? Depleted uranium? Uranium ore? Natural uranium metal is a bit harder to get, but I can probably get you some.

    Let me know and I can get you some uranium no problem.


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  31. 431
    Michael Ejercito Says:

            Burya Rubenstein said:

    Somewhere in this thread or these links someone said that uranuim is about as common as tin.
    I can goto Walmart at any time and buy some tin. A 15 gram tube cost $1.47. I happen to have a
    tube of it right here on my desk. I use it to secure electrical connections, though I’m really not very
    good at that task. (97.3% tin, 0.7% copper, 2.0% rosin flux core.) The cost of filling all the tankage
    (main and auxiliaries) on my vehicle would buy about a kilogram of this tin alloy, and I’m quite
    certain that I’m getting ripped off.

    So why can’t I buy that magical energy-giving metal? Or can I? It would be damned near as
    good as perpetual motion, given a price structure and availability like that of tin.

    Refining uranium from its ores is much more expensive than refining tin from its ores.

    Michael


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  32. 432
    flrtz Says:

    STFU. What a loser and a lot of guys talking out their asses. STFU. This is the worst article I’ve ever read. I don’t even know what to say to people who think this. I just hope you shut up or die or both.


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  33. 433
    DV82XL Says:

            flrtz said:

    STFU.

    What a loser and a lot of guys talking out their asses.

    STFU. This is the worst article I’ve ever read. I don’t even know what to say to people who think this.

    I just hope you shut up or die or both.

    Another brilliant riposte from a sparkling intellect


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  34. 434
    BeccaF10 Says:

    I really did not like this article. I can’t understand why it was posted on another blog. It just says we should not make sacrafices? That’s stupid. How can you measure the cost of the enviornment. I don’t think it’s right to tell people not to be responsible.

    Plus fuel costs don’t hurt poor people that doesn’t make sense. They don’t own a boat. We should tax the rich for fuel and use it to buy solar panels for the poor.

    And life style will be better with less energy. Once you stop driving your big car and start riding a bike you’ll quickly realize it’s a lot nicer to have a bike and be out in the air. Once you stop using so much electricity you can see it’s not needed that much.

    Plus you say the economy is what matters. That is so wrong because the environment changes it. If I am good and don’t hurt the earth then I’ll be healthier. That helps the environment right?

    Plus, india and china are polluting because they have good economies. That proves you wrong. I’d take this down before I make myself look like more of a fool. Nobody likes the people who believe this and think the best thing to do is nothing or nuclear which is no good and we all know that.

    You are a bastard and I’m sure you have no friends thinking this way and so are the commenters who support this. You’re all such bad people I cant believe people could think that evil.


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  35. 435
    BeccaF10 Says:

    I agree that you should STFU!


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  36. 436
    DV82XL Says:

    BeccaF10 every time one of you morons post here you firm up our side of the argument. Your simplistic views and opinions show exactly how hollow and devoid of logic your ideas are.

    As a group you have a poor command of your own language, and you seem unable to grasp even the simplest ideas if they are expressed in numbers or simple liner logic. I suspect that you are representative of most of those who hold these types of opinions on energy.

    I hope those who do read this thread with an open mind can see they quality of the arguments on both sides of this question, and the quality of the people supporting them.


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  37. 437
    Sam Says:

    I’m pretty sure you have just been trolled, considering Becca was pretty much taking the “what not to do” point for point from the article!


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  38. 438
    Burya Rubenstein Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    Yeah, it’s a bit hard to come by in it’s raw form in your local store because it’s just kinda lacking in consumer uses.

    But did you want to buy some?

    In what form?

    Depleted uranium? Uranium ore? Natural uranium metal is a bit harder to get, but I can probably get you some.

    Let me know and I can get you some uranium no problem.

    How much would be the cost of an amount and type suitable for building a device to, say, replace the kerosene
    burner in a Stanley Steamer automobile, or substitute for a home furnace, or be the heat source for an engine
    such as described on http://www.asciimation.co.nz/turbine/ ?


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  39. 439
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Burya Rubenstein said:

            drbuzz0 said:

    Yeah, it’s a bit hard to come by in it’s raw form in your local store because it’s just kinda lacking in consumer uses.

    But did you want to buy some?

    In what form?

    Depleted uranium? Uranium ore? Natural uranium metal is a bit harder to get, but I can probably get you some.

    Let me know and I can get you some uranium no problem.

    How much would be the cost of an amount and type suitable for building a device to, say, replace the kerosene
    burner in a Stanley Steamer automobile, or substitute for a home furnace, or be the heat source for an engine
    such as described on http://www.asciimation.co.nz/turbine/ ?

    Uhhh… well you really can’t do that with depleted uranium. It’s fertile but you can’t get a reactor going with just DU. Natural uranium… um.. you could do that but you’re need a real lot of heavy water and a real lot of uranium.

    Um… they don’t really scale down all that well because you need to keep critical mass. You can go pretty small with higher enrichments at the cost of overall effeciency. If you are interested in going for a reactor I don’t actually sell those, but I guess I could put you in touch with someone who does.

    Uh… if you want to go with the natural uranium route I’d recommend the Canadian atomic energy agency. Otherwise, for smaller systems, you could try Toshiba or General Atomics and then there’s always Westinghouse and Ge.


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  40. 440
    Michael Prager Says:

    It is absurd, to me, to speak of how people will or won’t alter their lifestyles based on current thinking. Modes of thinking change as conditions change, and very, very few are left who suggest that climate conditions aren’t changing. People will accept even onerous change if they think we are faced with a crisis that they can help with. We’re already seeing that. And as the problem worsens, people will do plenty, out of their own self-interest.

    More here: http://www.michaelprager.com/blog/?p=527


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  41. 441
    DV82XL Says:

    What always stuns me is the shear hubris of those from the English speaking world that attack this list. They seem to think that Western morals and ethics and Western political power still runs this planet. We are the culture in decent; we are not dictating terms to anyone, anymore. Furthermore, if North America, and Europe reduced their carbon emissions to zero and China and India continue on their present path, the CO2 burden in the atmosphere would continue to grow.

    All of you idiots that think that we can solve this problem by lifestyle changes also seem to forget that most of the population of this world already live in low energy lifestyles and can’t wait to get out. We must look to global solutions that will alow them to rase their standard of living and not exacerbate global warming. because we have no other option.

    Consider this: We have known since the 60′s that population growth was out of control. This is something that almost everybody knows, everybody agrees with, and everybody can contribute to the solution. Yet population grows, and especially in places that need it the least. The Chinese, who had the most draconian birth control laws ever could do little to stop their population growth. By what magic do you think that somehow everybody is going to change their thinking, all over the world, and spontaneously start living a low impact lifestyle?

    It’s just not a workable solution, and that’s what the ’10 things’ post is all about – workable solutions.


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  42. 442
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    It is absurd, to me, to speak of how people will or won’t alter their lifestyles based on current thinking. Modes of thinking change as conditions change, and very, very few are left who suggest that climate conditions aren’t changing.

    Teenage pregnancy surely changes conditions.

    Why doesn’t the threat of teenage pregnancy (not to mention STD’s) stop teenagers from having sex?


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  43. 443
    Jessy Says:

    As I read these I found I could not help but say “yes that makes sense” to almost each point. It’s totally logical and it’s based on real world and historical examples. That’s very heard to argue against when you can demonstrate examples. I think the illustrations also helped make the point. The one about the oil burner really drove home some things to me because it made me recall how I know of people who have lessened using heating oil because it’s expensive by burning more wood or even garbage. Also the idea that environmentalism is a luxury: painfully true. If you hurt the economy obviously people will try harder to feed their families than reduce their carbon footprint.

    But much as I agree with this I can only say to myself “My god he’s right. We are doomed” because I don’t see how the world could ever take a step in the right direction within these ten ideas. If we are to make the environment better we need to change human nature and economics. But we can’t do that. Humans are as they are. So then it’s a catch-22 and no progress can happen.

    I don’t think putting out coal fires will help enough. Put out coal fires, stop flaring and change the way cement is made, great that’s fine, but we’ll run out of high-return low-investment ideas like that long before we solve the major problems.

    Maybe we need to accept that we’re screwed


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  44. 444
    DV82XL Says:

    No NO NO There is a ways out. Adopt nuclear power, and do so in a way that is safe and inexpensive and that will be with standard designs and standard siting criteria. This is all well within our capabilities right now. Full court press, we could stop burning things to make energy in twenty years.


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  45. 445
    KLA Says:

    That way out that DV82XL (and I) promote, also is the way out of the population explosion. If you look at the world population today, high birth rates are solely located in those regions that practice “low energy lifestyles”, meaning they are poor. Every developed nation has native birth rates that are below the level where they compensate for death rates.
    Why?
    In an urban, technological society, children are a financial burden. They cost. I know, I have some myself. It is simply not possible to have a high standard of living AND a lot of children. In a rural society, with a low impact, low energy lifestyle, children are an asset. Because every help allows to fight off starvation if farming can be sustained at least at subsistence level. Besides, without high technology, the child death rate is high, so you start out with a lot. This is not a concious decision by the parents, but programmed into any higher life-form.
    So development of those “low energy lifestyle” regions will also over time reduce the population naturally. Which lowers then automatically the burden on resources and the impact on the environment. The challenge is to have a technological “high energy” lifestyle WITHOUT destroying the environment in the process. That’s where non-polluting, CO2 free nuclear energy comes in. Everything else is a feel-good band-aid that does not make a hoot of a difference, just serves to drag the technological society down to a poorer level. Because the energy return on invested cost and energy is too low. At that poorer level, the same mechanisms that cause population explosions kick back in.


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  46. 446
    Josh Says:

    I agree that nuclear helps reduce the population, but for the WRONG reasons. I don’t think that helping global warming is good if it means we have dead babies everywhere.

    That’s the thing one of the enviornmental groups I remember hearing “Sure nuclear doesn’t cause Co2, at least not directly, but I’d take Co2 over dead babies”

    The other thing I remember they said was “nuclear energy for global warming is like smoking crack to loose weight. It might work but it causes a lot worse problems.”

    Plus, I’m not convinced nuclear even reduces Co2 because it has been proven it actually makes nearly as much because they have to turn the ore into the right kind of plutonium.


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  47. 447
    DV82XL Says:

    Josh that’s is just so much rubbish. There are nuclear plants all over the world. Were they really killing babies that would have been proven long ago. Coal plants DO kill babies, that has been proven.

    As for your contention that nuclear doesn’t reduce CO2 that was also proven to be a lie as well.

    Do your own research for pity sake, and find out the truth before accepting everything you hear.


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  48. 448
    KLA Says:

    The French, which create over 80% of their electricity from nuclear, must have a lot of dead babies. NOT!!!
    Child mortality is as low there as in most highly developed countries in Europe. However, sub-saharan Africa, which has no nuclear reactors, has the highest child mortality rate. You don’t even have to do research. Just use a few neurons.


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  49. 449
    GivPeaceAChanc Says:

    I do not like nuclear. They used to say it was clean but it turned out to be wrong. The problem with nuclear is that one mistake and bang that’s it. People make mistakes so you can never have nuclear. The french are moving away from it and toward clean power under the pressure of enviornmental groups who understand the folly of it.

    I think we should realize that using nuclear to reduce global warming might work, but that’s not the point. Using crack to loose weight works too, but it is not worth it because it introduces more problems then it solves.

    You should remember that even Al Gore said that global warming would not mean the end of the world. He even said it would probably not be the end of the human race. It would just be the end of life as we know it and possibly the end of much of the human race, under the worst conditions.

    But nuclear means an end to everything. So how is that better? Replace global warming with nuclear and potentially kill every man woman and child and every plant and animal on earth? That makes no sense to me. Nuclear is the ultimate bad choice. Nuclear is so bad it’s evil. It’s not like something which is not human can be evil most of the time, but nuclear is something which has no good use and nothing but destruction. To me, this is evil.


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  50. 450
    Johan Says:

    GivPeaceAChanc why dont you give some statistics on how many people this “evil” source of energy has killed compared to say biofuels that causes the premature death of close to 2 million people world wide.


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