Friday, January 1, 2010

The Green Movement: Feeling good without doing good

This green kick has been a fad for a while now. Being green is the newest status symbol. In their own little world, the greener you are, the better a person you are.

As it has been said many times before, the proof of climate change is far from undisputed. In fact, there has been some debate on whether some green items are any better for the environment. That is for another post though. This post is focusing on the things that are being ignored by the green scene.

Honestly, I feel a lot (not all) of the folks who are passionate about being green are willing to do so, as long as they are not significantly inconvenienced. Priuses, compact florescents, composting, recycling...These are all ways for people to feel good about themselves without going too far out of their way.

Everyone also is vocal about the big issues - Coal burning power plants, nuclear power, SUV's. But there are a few things that are potentially a lot worse for the environment that nobody seems to talk about.

1 - Fireworks. At first glance, fireworks don't appear to have that much of an impact. Individually, fireworks displays do not have a whole lot of impact. However, add up the thousands of firework displays that are fired off every year and you get a significant amount of nasty stuff exploded in the atmosphere. One of these compounds, perchlorates, are responsible for inhibiting the thyroid from absorbing iodine. Because fireworks are often exploded over water, the perchlorates end up in the water supply. Yet, despite the environmental impact, you don't hear anything about a call for banning of fireworks. Why?

Before you start calling me unpatriotic, I enjoy a good firework display as much as the next guy. However, if I have to choose between a fireworks display and infant retardation from iodine deficiency...Well...that should be a no brainer.

2 - Ethanol. Now, I know that this is the baby of environmentalists, but ethanol is no answer. It is expensive, requires a lot of land and water, and can even cause worse air pollution and CO2 emissions than 100% gasoline exhaust. Unfortunately, those of us who know that ethanol isn't the answer are fighting an uphill battle on two counts. We are shouted down as being unfriendly to the environment and supporting "countries that wish us harm". That's a good phrase, except for the fact that 65% of the US crude imports come from friendly countries. Only one of the top 5, Saudi Arabia, is in the middle east. So, in an effort to save the environment, we could be making it worse. Yep...good job greenies.

3 - Recycling. Now this is a hard one to attack. Recycling programs have been around in our country for over 30 years. A lot of people who wouldn't consider themselves environmental believe in recycling programs, so hearing the truth is unsettling. However, considering most communities that recycle have two different crews collecting garbage and recycling, and that most items can be made from raw materials as efficiently as from recycled materials, the environmental impact is greater than if we tossed everything. The only exception are metal cans. Those items are far better all around if they are recycled. For aluminum cans, it can be as high as a 95% savings. Don't believe me? There are plenty of examples here.

These are but a few examples. The environmental movement is attacking all aspects of modern society with shaky pseudo-science. They push for changes in the name of the environment before they even know if what they want is good for the planet or not. To me, that's just plain wrong.

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