“Green” groups are giving me Deja Vu…

February 2nd, 2008
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I’d like to thank Sovietologist for bringing to my attention this article about how “nuclear is not necessary” if we as humans completely restructure our society into one based on local economics, simpler technologies and a general move toward more modest, subsistence living which does not rely on large amounts of energy. This is one of the final arguments of the “Green” side, after having seen that nuclear energy is capable of filling human needs for energy and doing so safely and economically the new argument is “Well lets get rid of our need for energy and then we don’t even need to worry about nuclear because we won’t need it.” Of course this is fantasy and this continued idiocy is getting more laughable all the time. It sounds strangely familiar to me.

Here’s little taste of the stupid…

Other environmental activists aren’t so sure. They say that long-term sustainability – a vision that doesn’t include radioactive waste stored for hundreds of generations – will require some deeper changes. If we want to preserve the climate without relying on atomic energy, we will need to re-think many of lifestyle assumptions – our modes of transportation, our ways of eating, the size of our houses, and the generation and distribution of our energy.
….
Energy Justice Network organizer Reitman agrees. “I think we are going to have to face some kind of cultural shift,� he says. “I think the culture we have created for ourselves, a society based on a lot of excess and consumerism, really has let a lot of people down. I think the prospect of getting together in a serious way as a country [to stop climate change] is a great opportunity to get back to the roots of what it means to be an American, which is to be neighborly. It’s a great way to re-energize our culture, as well as our economy and our power grid.�

That kind of vision makes nuclear power irrelevant. If we can reach a societal consensus that what we desire is a slower and smaller way of living, a re-conceived notion of success, then we can fundamentally reformulate our energy system. In any discussion involving a redefinition of “progress,� nuclear power is not simply dangerous or dirty – it’s pointless. That’s a conversation the nuclear industry is unlikely to win.

“If we’re going to make it safely into the future,â€� Taylor says, “we want to reclaim the vision of energy production and of an economy that is primarily rooted locally….

So what we have here is basically “Okay so the problem really isn’t nuclear energy it’s the fact that our society depends too much on energy and technology and big houses and all that other evil stuff so we need to eliminate that and then nuclear won’t be necessary and neither will big coal plants or any other major pollution.” Aside from reducing millennium of human progress to a return to mud huts, this reminds me a real lot of some stuff I heard back in the 1990′s from someone else. To his credit he did demonstrate that it is possible to live a rather simple life in a cabin. Here’s some of what he had to say:

46. We attribute the social and psychological problems of modern society to the fact that that society requires people to live under conditions radically different from those under which the human race evolved and to behave in ways that conflict with the patterns of behavior that the human race developed while living under the earlier conditions. It is clear from what we have already written that we consider lack of opportunity to properly experience the power process as the most important of the abnormal conditions to which modern society subjects people. But it is not the only one. Before dealing with disruption of the power process as a source of social problems we will discuss some of the other sources.
…..
47. Among the abnormal conditions present in modern industrial society are excessive density of population, isolation of man from nature, excessive rapidity of social change and the break-down of natural small-scale communities such as the extended family, the village or the tribe.
…..
208. We distinguish between two kinds of technology, which we will call small-scale technology and organization-dependent technology. Small-scale technology is technology that can be used by small-scale communities without outside assistance. Organization-dependent technology is technology that depends on large-scale social organization. We are aware of no significant cases of regression in small-scale technology. But organization-dependent technology DOES regress when the social organization on which it depends breaks down.

I would suggest taking a look at Mr Kaczynski’s “manifesto” which is surprisingly similar in theme to the arguments of the “Green” and “Environmental” groups. Actually, to the point of being scary. He didn’t do as well in getting a following, however. Not having a major PR outfit he resorted to blowing people up, which garnered about as much respect and following as it should. Too bad people don’t see through groups like Greenpeace as easily.


This entry was posted on Saturday, February 2nd, 2008 at 8:54 am and is filed under Bad Science, Enviornment, History, Nuclear, religion. 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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19 Responses to ““Green” groups are giving me Deja Vu…”

  1. 1
    Dave G Says:

    Good point. There is definitely an element of the unabomber in the rhetoric but it comes down to this idiotic campaign that has been going on of “natural is good” and “it’s all the bad chemicals and stuff we have today. we need to get rid of that to be healthy”

    It trys to tap into people’s current feelings. Modern society and technology is bad. Why? Because their car just cost them a lot of money when it dropped the transmission. The fax machine at work jammed. The DVD was scratched. There’s celeb gossip on the news that is so shallow and pointless.

    These are the things which frustrate people these days and so it seems like it’s a technology and society problem. But they do not take the time to realize that worrying about the jammed fax machine is far from worrying if you’ll catch a shrew so you can eat at night or how you’ll survive a cold spell or whether or not your child will ever recover from smallpox.

    We have it so easy these days that people start thinking that their small problems are larger than they are and blame society and technolgy. They would have a rude awakening without all we have!


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  2. 2
    Sovietologist Says:

    Thanks for the plug!

    The problem with environmentalism is not that the environment is irrelevant. In fact, quite the opposite- we humans need a functioning biosphere to live in. It’s that the concept of environmental protection was hijacked by people whose outlook actually hindered them from promoting effective policy. And today we’ve come to a vital juncture- between climate change and the political and social realities of global economic development, there is no room for counterproductive energy and environmental policy. And people within the lower levels of the environmentalist movement are starting to realize this, precisely because they care about the earth and mankind’s relationship with it.

    What I find so fascinating about the article is that it is a discussion of how this debate is playing out within the Green movement. For most of the “old school,” this is something akin to the apocalypse- particularly for those for whom the anti-nuclear movement was their greatest triumph. Now, the article is rooting for the old thinking- a sort of romanticist anti-technology worldview that has roots well in the 19th century. (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a good example of it.) The “new environmentalists” are, by contrast, rationalists- they understand that science and reason are the best, and indeed only, tools that we have to protect the environment. They also understand that wishful thinking is counterproductive, and that pleading for negative lifestyle changes is a recipe for failure. The mainstream environmental organizations are actually run by older people now- many of them are in their 60s- and so far they are trying their best to resist the ongoing shift. The article is a good example of that. But once the younger set takes over, things will probably change, and fast.


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  3. 3
    DV82XL Says:

    Dave, it goes beyond that. Look at the cross section of mouth breathers that showed up in the ’10 Things’ thread. They are not frustrated with technology, they are diminished by it. Ignorance begets fear, and they are ignorant of how everything they depend on is too complex for them to understand. The dream of a simple world where they can feel equal to those around them, and valued for some simple skill they exercise.

    Of course it’s not going to be like that if they ever get their way. They don’t see starvation and disease, they see Middle Earth out of Harrowsmith. That’s why they are foaming at the mouth. In some deep recess of their minds they know they can ever have what they want and lash out at those that point this out.

    Kaczynski just took it to the next level.


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  4. 4
    Sovietologist Says:

    As a side note, one of my father’s colleagues was on the receiving end of one of Kaczynski’s letter bombs.

    He survived, but it wasn’t pretty.


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  5. 5
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I remember it being a HUGE story where I was located. It was a big national and international story but I happened to live in upstate New York not far from where his brother lived and where he had spent time. I remember they spoke a lot to his friends and acquaintances and to his brother’s family on the local news (hounded them actually.)

    The message was often the same: “Oh he was a very nice guy but always so frustrated about how the world was going in the wrong direction and talked about how society or this or that was to blame… didn’t think he’d be violent though”


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  6. 6
    Paully Says:

    When you believe that you are fighting for the most important thing imaginable (the very survival of the species and planet) and that your position is not only the correct one but all others are inherently evil and indefensible and that all information and organizations opposing you are somehow fabricated by an all-powerful evil entity (IE: The rich white guys at the big powerful evil nuclear companies). Well, then it’s not a big leap to outright terrorism, is it?


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  7. 7
    DV82XL Says:

    It was quite a circus over at MetaFilter when I linked to the ’10 things’ post, more against than for of course, but it definitely shook the cage. +130 comments before I stopped contributing. In typical fashion for that place, it degenerated into character assassination against me, dredging up my activities on websites I haven’t contributed to in years. They also accused me of posting the brain-dead submissions in this blog and the supporting posts over there! All-in-all a very successful Saturday afternoon.

    The point here is that Doc’s list has the green supporters foaming at the mouth and that only happens when you hit a nerve and hit it deep. The best thing is that it hit into a more intelligent group and the fact that they were by in large unable to do nothing but nit-pik bodes well for the usefulness of ‘The Ten Things’ as tool in the fight.

    Of course there were some who’s arguments gave me a giggle. One dismissed the list as useless as it ‘was based on commonsense” which he went on to assert was ‘worth Jack Squat’.

    Indeed


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  8. 8
    A true scottsman Says:

    Based on common sense? The sad thing is that everything on the list is obvious and seems like everyone would know. And yet… they don’t seem to.

    It’s brutally simple and easy to understand, but nobody seems to. Perhaps the list is not going to help some who have failed to see these things for themselves. it is a compellingly well written argument against the hypocrisies of most “Green” groups however.


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  9. 9
    Ochressandro Says:

    I’d like all the people (in America) who think what we need is radically lower technology expectations to go live in Mali for a year.

    At least once they had experienced the crushing weight of subsistence dirt farming, I could take their thoughts on the subject more seriously.


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  10. 10
    DV82XL Says:

    The thing is Ochressandro they don’t have to go that far. There are places in the US Southeast, and places on Quebec’s Upper Northshore that would do just as well. Strangely enough the people I’ve met from those regions never talk of how fulfilling their lives were there.


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  11. 11
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Well I’ve traveled enough to realize at least a few things about the world. When I was in Fiji that was probably some of the most low standard I’ve seen on parts of that country. It’s a great place and generally the people are great and nobody is starving or dying in the streets, but the standard of living and life expectancy is much lower. There are whole families who live in small concrete huts. It varies and there are a few who do okay. Again, it’s not *that* bad compared to a lot of places, but it’s a rough way to live. Anyone over 40 seems to be missing half their teeth. Cars spew out smog because they don’t have the money to maintain them. It’s funny because it’s the way a lot of greens think is the best way to live: With few possessions in a simple small dwelling. Not starving to death or dying of rampant disease, but on the edge of it.

    Also I have family in Ireland. Ireland is kinda unique in that it is doing extremely well now but it was at the bottom of the barrel in Europe until maybe the 1950′s and it really did not come full circle until the 1980s or so. Before that there were people still without running water and such. Thus, any adult can remember back before it was so prosperous.

    You hear the reminiscing sometimes about the old days. “You know the pubs aren’t like they were. Back before everyone had a car you had the pub in every village and you knew everyone there.” “It’s too bad that the kids these days don’t tend to stay in the same area and keep the family land like they used to. Now you never know where they’re going to get a job.” “I miss the days when you used to get the milk that was always local and not homogonized..” “You can’t get any peace these days with the cell phones”

    That sort of thing. Back 30 or 40 years ago when Ireland still had a lot less technology and was a bit behind the rest of the world. But then bring up the question “Well would you want to go back?” “Oh god no! Things are better now then they’ve ever been. Those were much harder times and a much harder life. No I’d absolutely never want to go back to that!”


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  12. 12
    mlp Says:

    @Ochressandro: as an example, some pictures a friend of mine took of the largest data centre in Dakar, Senegal. Here‘s their central power feed.


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  13. 13
    Lisa Says:

    When I have been able to question Greens into actually verbalizing their proposed end state of a decentralized, “more local” society I continue the conversation down another path. Data from the past century show that as electricity consumption in a region increases, life expectancy increases and infant mortalilty decreases. Those correlations shouldn’t be surprising as access to electricity means better health care, a more efficient agricultural system, better protection from severe weather, and a more literate society, which all in turn improve overall health, individual living conditions, the opportunities for jobs and occupations that allow people to rise above subsistence living, etc.

    It follows logically that Greens are looking for population reduction. Some, like Kaczynski, state this quite clearly. Others are more obtuse. In any case, when the goal of population thinning comes up, I can’t help but conclude that they basically want to weed out ME…and others like me.

    I have chronic health conditions that, had I been born 25 years earlier, would have killed me by now. But, thanks to the breakthroughs of modern medicine, I live a mostly healthy life and expect to have a normal life span. The tests, procedures, equipment and medications that properly diagnosed my conditions and that now keep me a healthy, contributing member of society could not have been developed in a decentralized society. Small, local economies could never have afforded it. And they could not afford to administer them in the future.

    So if energy and other local infrastructure is limited, who decides which people get their needs met? Who decides what very limited research to pursue? I may have lupus and severe allergies but I’m also an engineer, so maybe the powers-that-be would decide it’s worth it to keep the diagnostic and other equipment running and the medication produced so that I stay alive. But does that mean the diabetic gardener doesn’t get his insulin? What about the carpenter that could continue to work if only he receives a prosthetic leg? The production of all these things take a lot of energy and a stable, committed society large enough to dilute the cost per person.

    Sorry to ramble on, but I think that the Green movement’s vision of population reduction and the implications of such reduction are two more aspects to which most people need greater exposure.


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  14. 14
    BAW Says:

    To those who argue for population reduction, I say, “You go first.”


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  15. 15
    George Carty Says:

    Paully,

    I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a pro-nuclear terrorist campaign against anti-nuclear activists and fossil fuel execs, which sees itself as fighting to prevent a mass human die-off (which Peak Oil would cause in the absence of nuclear energy). I hope I’m not giving anyone ideas though…


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  16. 16
    Scottar Says:

    I was a Zero Population advocate. Our advocacy was not a soilent green type solution or planned obsolescence termination. It’s was bring the population growth into a more manageable figure.

    It’s a numbers game. If population grows faster than a government or environment can adequately support then it can become regressive. My main concern is can the energy industrial system support future growth and how much growth. You also should check out a website called: The story of Stuff. I think our current infrastructure is unbalanced

    I find it regressive when people build McMasions only to either become disenchanted with them or loss of income makes them no longer affordable. That’s called living beyond means and poor planning. Equally regressive is people who have irrational fears of technologies like nuclear just because of a mismanagement or minor accident. Chernobyl and TMI where mostly mismanagement and safety problems.

    I agree with Doc that most renewable solutions are not cost effective over either coal or nuclear. But I am not against research of them or against those who personally want to use the technology, just don’t try to force them on the rest of us via mandates or screwy regulations.

    I hope someday a truly more permanent solution is found over nuclear fission or fossils cause, if humans don’t then it back to the agri- culture. But right now advocating some common sense and making best use of what is available should be emphasized. That goes for both sides of the fence.

    Back before the days of the INTERNET I was inclination toward the ecologists. But there came all kinds of radical literature and media spawned by the radicals and the liberals saw another tool at their disposal. What made it worse is a bad attitude by some developers that had a BORG attitude towards development. Mixed in with them are evangelicals that take the bible passage: “Be fruitful and multiply” way beyond it’s context. Now we have “Green Evangelicals” that say God put us here to take care of the “creation”. People just succumbed to a cheap infrastructure of oil and coal based infrastructure. Things where build around the cheapness of the auto and manufacturers exasperated the problem. Now people are being hoodwinked again over the Green propaganda. It’s the NewAge religion of the 21st Century! Landru good, feed Baill!

    My take: I’m a deist, I don’t adhere to any organized religion nor the Gaia culture. If science can’t support it then God can’t be rationalized to justify it. The Earth is not here for us nor is it for “Gaia”. Gaia is not here for us, we just happen to exist in a most opportunistic period. If we don’t become masters of our destinies then we are slaves to the planet and whatever it harbors. (By master I don’t mean to rule, but by right thought, action and perception, one can become a master of intelligence and life. So in religions their is good wisdom and philosophy.)

    It’s the big game of life in the cosmos. Are humans intuitive and wise enough to pursue it or just lapse into a state of vegetative existence? I can’t exist like that, I came from the Star Trek generation.


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  17. 17
    Moses N Says:

    Greetings, just wandered by. Gotta love google, cool site. Thank you.


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  18. 18
    Seamus Caulfield Says:

    Hey Doc,
    I live in Monaghan, what part of Ireland did you live in?


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  19. 19
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Seamus Caulfield said:

    Hey Doc,
    I live in Monaghan, what part of Ireland did you live in?

    I didn’t live there myself. I have relatives there that I have spent some time with and my family is originally from the country, but I’m third generation born in the United States.

    My family is mostly in Kerry on the Dingle Peninsula. The cousins I am closest to and have spent the most time with are on the old family homestead in a little town called Castlegregory. It’s on Brandon Bay not far from the Connor Pass and Brandon Mountain. I also have some family just on the other side in Dingle.


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