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What the hell happened to the environmental movement?

April 21, 2009

473px-rachel-carsonForty-seven years ago, a brilliant, passionate scientist who understood the power of public outreach, noticed a decline in songbird populations, discovered a trend of decreasing egg shell thickness, and correlated this effect with the increase in the use of DDT as a pesticide. After thoroughly and rigorously verifying her results and conclusions, she did something revolutionary; she wrote a book. The publication of Silent Spring in 1962 marks the beginning of the modern environmental movement in America. Its simple, elegant prose made the complex interaction between humankind and the environment accessible to a public that had limited exposure to scientific writing. Like other works of literary science, Silent Spring, wove the scientific method into a narrative; observations, questions, conflicts, discoveries, joy and sorrow. To struggle and to understand, never the last without the first. The beauty of her words still echo with that same power today.

And the public responded, how could they not? Her work was so thorough, so clear. All the evidence meandered downstream, building momentum as the floodwaters rose towards a conclusion that could not be ignored: natural systems are failing and the fault is ours.

And so, from such auspicious beginnings, the environmental movement was born. What the hell happened?

It seems that every year, the environmental ethic becomes more and more mired in the pseudo-scientific woo that Rachel Carson would have found absurd. Complementary and alternative ‘medicine’, organic food, consumer product branding, anti-pharm, anti-business, anti-government fear mongering. Forgive the incorrigible pun, but we no longer see the forests for the trees, and the environment is dying because of it.

To be absolutely clear, when I say environmentalism, I mean the realization that the human species is causing long term harm to ecosystems at a local and global scale and that solutions to this problem must be based on the best available scientific data and implemented under multi-source observation with the understanding that all proposed solutions will not succeed and a willingness to continuously observe and adapt these solutions to new data until a lasting solution is found.

Yet I look at self-identified environmentalist today and I see them praising practices – ethanol fuel, corn starch-based disposable plastics, all-natural organic products – as the solution, even though the data show these to have no real lasting effect. I see them damning progress that I know to be effective – genetically modified foods, nuclear power, centralized recycling – for dogmatic reasons that have no basis in environmentalism. It’s almost as though the movement has written a codex, a set of beliefs that we must all agree on, that are not part of the environmental ethic at all. We refuse to look at data and instead latch on to feel-good, reason free woo that allows us to validate our ideals without doing anything.

In part, it’s societal. As a culture, Americans have become more and more detached from scientific knowledge. Somehow we’ve developed an innate mistrust of science. I’ve talked about this phenomenon before. David has gone to great length to explain how some perceived environmental positives are actually net negatives. The peddlers of environmentalist woo are just as guilty of ignoring real science as global warming denialist.

usda-organic-logo-main_fullThe organic food movement particularly irks me, not because there’s anything wrong with growing organic food, but the way it’s now presented is noxious. Organic food has become enmeshed in the “all natural is better” paradigm, a paradigm which simply does not hold up under scrutiny. There are definite pros to organic farming – limited pesticide use, better care of livestock, less waste production – but these are often outweighed by the negatives – more land required, more expensive crops, lower crop yields. Using exclusively ‘organic’ practices, the planet only has enough arable land to feed 4 billion people. And while organic food may be healthier for individuals (and that’s a qualified maybe), cheap, commercially grown produce is healthier for society, because it makes produce available to people who couldn’t otherwise afford it.

Which raises a critical point. The ability to turn down food is a luxury only the richest in the world have. And that’s fine. If you have the ability to chose what kind of food to eat, more power to you. But don’t assume that gives you the right to tell other people what to eat.

I couldn’t hope to say it better than Nobel Peace Prize winner and agriculture expert, Norman Borlaug, when asked if organic farming is better for people or the environment:

borlaugharrar1943That’s ridiculous. This shouldn’t even be a debate. Even if you could use all the organic material that you have–the animal manures, the human waste, the plant residues–and get them back on the soil, you couldn’t feed more than 4 billion people. In addition, if all agriculture were organic, you would have to increase cropland area dramatically, spreading out into marginal areas and cutting down millions of acres of forests.

At the present time, approximately 80 million tons of nitrogen nutrients are utilized each year. If you tried to produce this nitrogen organically, you would require an additional 5 or 6 billion head of cattle to supply the manure. How much wild land would you have to sacrifice just to produce the forage for these cows? There’s a lot of nonsense going on here.

If people want to believe that the organic food has better nutritive value, it’s up to them to make that foolish decision. But there’s absolutely no research that shows that organic foods provide better nutrition. As far as plants are concerned, they can’t tell whether that nitrate ion comes from artificial chemicals or from decomposed organic matter. If some consumers believe that it’s better from the point of view of their health to have organic food, God bless them. Let them buy it. Let them pay a bit more. It’s a free society. But don’t tell the world that we can feed the present population without chemical fertilizer. That’s when this misinformation becomes destructive…

There is a much darker side to the organic food movement, and that is the irrational resistance to genetically modified crops. Reason # 7 to go organic on, a pro-organic food website, is avoid hasty and poor science in your food. This is an absurd claim that shows they either don’t understand the science or are committed to propaganda.

The human population is expanding at an exponential rate, and our food output will only be able to keep up with that growth if we are willing to adapt our crops to the demand for food. Genetic modification is the only way to keep up with this growing demand.

GM crops are better for the environment. Drought resistance means there’s less demand on fresh water supplies. Pest resistance means fewer pesticides need to be applied. Improved nutrient uptake means fewer fertilizers need to be used, less nutrient run-off into aquifers, less eutrophication in water bodies. There’s an environmental cascade that happens when crops are more efficient that benefits all aspects of the biosphere.

And the downside to GM – mutant frankencorn that will reap havok throughout the world – is the same issue facing all agriculture, organic or otherwise, and facing all industry that specializes in transplanting species. You see, all crops are genetically modified. Wild corn, wild wheat, wild bananas look nothing like the food we’ve come to expect. They were genetically modified over hundreds to thousands of years trough selective breeding, choosing the best and culling the worst.

As far as ecosystems are concerned, a thousand years is no time at all. Evolution works on much longer time scales, so whether you genetically engineered your crops through 500 years of selective breeding or overnight in a lab, the ecosystem response is the same. When talking about environmental impacts, there is functionally no difference between organic crops and GM crops.

Finally, consider this: organic food feeds the rich, genetically modified food  feeds the poor.

600px-nuclear_symbolsvgThe biggest environmental crisis of our time (apologies to David) is energy. Much like arable land, our current reserves of fossil fuel are limited. The exploitation of these fuel sources has caused more damage to the biosphere than any other human endeavor. There are alternative energy solutions coming down the pipeline, and in the end, solar power has to be the answer, but the technology is not there yet, and we can’t afford to wait.

There is an alternative energy already developed, able to replace our dependence on fossil fuels now. The technology is here, today. Not tomorrow, not in a decade, but now. We look at nuclear power and we are terrified. Why? On a whole it is safer, cleaner, and more efficient the fossil fuels. The waste produced is minuscule compared to the vast plumes belched out by fossil fuel burning power plants. Yes, nuclear waste is hazardous, persists for thousands of years, and causes long term damage to human health, but the same is true for carbon dioxide.

Nuclear power will not be the ultimate solution, that title must go to solar power (which is, in itself, simply the harnessing of nuclear power produced by the biggest reactor in our solar system), but we need a stop-gap, and we need it now. Until cleaner alternative energy sources become efficient enough to power the world, we need to replace fossil fuel with nuclear energy.

The harm from fossil fuels is being done, now, and we have the technology to stop it. We are prevented only by our own unwillingness and fear.

recycle_logoMy final example may seem like a minor one, in the grand scheme of things, but it demonstrates an important point. The environmental movement has become focused on the individual: this is what you can do, here’s how your actions help, think locally act globally. In the abstract these are good ideals to hold, personal responsibility is the root of civic responsibility, but when this edict gets in the way of environmental progress, we have a problem.

Central sorting facilities for recycling and trash is the most efficient way of recycling waste for communities larger than 100,000 people (author’s disclaimer: this statistic was presented to me in a talk given by a highly respected conservationist whom I trust, I have no text document to back it up, grain-of-salt rules apply). That includes most counties in the United States. But how many of your have centralized plants and how many have curb-side recycling?

Most counties with recycling programs in the U.S. require each person to sort their trash and recycling. Why? Because it’s a personal action. It let’s you be the one taking doing the work, fighting the good fight, saving the earth. But if you didn’t have to sort you trash, if the county did it for you, what would that mean for you? That is precisely the mentality behind curb-side recycling, and many other individual action edicts that permeate the environmental movement. But it is flawed. It is flawed because centralized recycling does a better job. It’s more efficient, catches more recyclables, and doesn’t care what you think. Because, while you may loyally sort your trash every week, your neighbor might not.

Centralized recycling removes that variable, and does a better job sorting trash than you do. It is better for the environment. But it’s bad for your ego. And that’s where we went wrong.

Dawn Redwood

Dawn Redwood

Somewhere between 1962 and today, this became an us against them movement. We are fighting to save the world from polluters, big business, big industry. We’re the planeteers, they are the bad guys. But guess what? That’s not the way it is. We’re all the bad guys, we’re all the polluters. We’re big business, big industry. We are all in this together. We live or die by our ability to come together as a species and decide yes, we value the planet we live on. We value it for many different reasons, but we all find value in it.

Throughout this post I have presented various reason for and against several practices, most of these reasons have been environmental, but some have been issues of human health, poverty, and economics. Because, in order for us to come together, we have to find common grounds. You motives may mean nothing to someone struggling to feed their family, keep their job, make the right health decision, and their motives may mean nothing to you. In order to achieve a common goal, we have to be willing to understand and address all sides of the issues, otherwise we all fail.

Dogma, pedantry, arrogance, and ignorance have no place in the environmental ethic. We cannot afford to let ideology usurp knowledge in affecting change.

Happy Earth Day.

~Southern Fried Scientist

32 Comments leave one →
  1. Harlequin permalink
    April 22, 2009 10:10 am

    Thank you for this excellent post!! Well said! “Environmentalists” who discount GMC and nuclear power have been a big pet-peeve of mine, but you’ve said this far better than I could. Well done!

  2. April 22, 2009 11:47 am

    You bring up an interesting point about individualism and environmentalism, and I’ve never thought about that. However, it makes much more sense to have some sort of analogue to street sweeping (a company, not the actual street sweeper trucks) on the beaches and in the oceanic trash heaps than to have a group of volunteers doing it, or as you said, centralized recycling. Thanks for the post!

  3. April 22, 2009 1:14 pm

    Awesome call for a return to scientifically informed environmentalism instead of ideology!

    All excellent points and well presented.

    Part of our food issues (crop failures, need for increased fertilizer etc) are from loss of diversity of crops. The interesting question becomes how much food can we grow sustainably (re: population, dead zones, monoculture vs. polyculture etc) I think it does involve chemical fertilizers and GMC’s and have no problem with that, but how do we prevent the dead zone issues while maximizing sustainable food production? It comes back to the 800 pound Gorilla in the room. The mother of all hockey stick graphs.

  4. April 22, 2009 1:19 pm

    Andrew, let me just start by saying this was beautifully written….

    The vast majority of people don’t even understand the innate details of meat labeling in grocery stores. Organic doesn’t necessarily mean humanely treated, free range doesn’t necessarily mean healthier or hormone-free. And with so many labels (organic, cage free, grain fed, grass fed, free range, no added hormones, no added antibiotics) it’s no wonder people are getting confused. I personally like my milk without a side of recombinant bovine growth hormone and antibiotics.

    You bring up a good point about all crops being genetically modified….I don’t know if you ever read my post, but bananas today lack genetic diversity and are all basically clones of the first mutated bananas that had desirable traits (lacking big, hard seeds). Not to mention that if farm A uses genetically modified seeds and farm B is next to farm A–well, seed dispersal happens. GM seeds just aren’t going to stay in one place…

    The last administration did a good job of fostering a mistrust towards science and pitting man against nature. People need to focus on how we need the environment and how man is part of the circle of life, and that it’s not man vs. the environment. I believe people forget that we are united with nature and our futures are inextricably linked….and although nature would survive without us, we would not survive without nature.

  5. April 22, 2009 2:10 pm

    Your analysis may be right or wrong on the different topics you raise, and you’re of course right that unthinking adherence to a set of beliefs is a bad thing. But for me, it’s interesting to note that the same criticisms you aim at those opposed to GMOs and pesticides/fertilizers are the same kinds of “wrong-headed science” criticisms aimed at Rachel Carson herself. There are still people defending DDT and blaming Carson and enviros for malaria outbreaks.

    Is it unscientific to be concerned about society’s ability to safeguard nuclear waste for thousands of years? Sure, improvements may have been made in nuclear operation and waste storage, but the track record here, even with low-level radioactive waste, is not good.

    Is it unscientific to be concerned about modified genes spreading to wild plants or animals, or to crops that a farmer has been planting and re-planting with saved seeds for decades? Is it anti-business to criticize Monsanto when it sues that farmer for planting seeds that have been infected with its patented genes?

    The dividing line between science and non-science is not quite so bright as you claim.

    • whysharksmatter permalink*
      April 22, 2009 3:28 pm

      I’m concerned about people using hybrid cars. What are we going to do with the giant batteries that are full of noxious chemicals once the individual hybrids aren’t in use any more?

      By your logic, society shouldn’t use hybrid cars.

    • April 22, 2009 3:38 pm

      Harlequin beat me too it, but yes, there are legitimate concerns raised with every possible scenario. And there are exploitative companies and industries taking advantage of people. But these are not good reasons to disregard a possible solution out of hand.

      As for nuclear waste, I’m arguing that even with our current track record, even assuming one Chernobyl level event every 50 years, it’s still less damaging to the environment and human health than the waste producing by conventional fossil fuel burning power plants. Compare the ecosystems in the Northern Ukraine and Bikini Atoll to West Virginia top mines or regions downwind of coal power plants.

  6. April 22, 2009 2:31 pm

    “Dogma, pedantry, arrogance, and ignorance have no place in the environmental ethic. We cannot afford to let ideology usurp knowledge in affecting change.”

    None of these personality faults have a place in any scientifically-based discussion. The problem is that facts give way to emotions, and emotions can be swayed by ideology. There has to be a new way of discussing these very important issues that can get past our human failings.

  7. Harlequin permalink
    April 22, 2009 2:42 pm

    Larry, there’s nothing wrong with having concerns. The problem comes when people completely discount an option because of concerns instead of researching to see if those concerns are justified or if there are ways to safeguard against them.

  8. student permalink
    April 22, 2009 6:32 pm

    I agree with this post where is the motives everyone had to move forward with the environment. Now that the economy is a problem no one is facing a problem that could potentially be bigger in the future.

    • April 22, 2009 7:36 pm

      ummm, what?

  9. April 22, 2009 11:30 pm

    who do you think you are, criticizing people just because they’re wrong?

  10. Philip permalink
    April 23, 2009 11:04 am

    Thank you for talking sense! I have spent the last 30 years in production agriculture, and at times despair over the ignorance and selfishness of the self appointed guardians of nature. Relying on quacks with all the scientific authority of astrologers, they have not just wasted time while problems went unsolved, they alienated large swathes of the general public and business community.
    Science is hard stuff, and does not treat those with a priori attitudes in a warm and kindly way.

  11. Steve Bloom permalink
    April 25, 2009 4:31 pm

    Centralized recycling (referred to in the business as “single stream”) is very effective at discouraging source reduction and reuse, which are the practices consumer particpation is intended to encourage. More often than not, centralized operations are run by the same companies whose more important business is burying or burning trash. Try proposing a law in your locality that bars the disposal (burying or incinerating) of any material with a market and your eyes will be quickly opened. Attempts to require producer responsibility for excess packaging get similar strong resistance. Another point to bear in mind is that a large proportion of single-stream material ends up buried or burned due to contamination from commingling wet materials (compostables) with dry.

    Re hybrid batteries, the present technology seems to be an issue mainly because of the nickel content, and that seems to be a relatively limited problem (see numerous links here). Lithium-ion, which until very recently had seemed to be the likely follow-on technology, has definite toxicity issues but only if the battery is ruptured. An interesting development is that a Chinese company has gotten the jump on the rest of the industry with a much-superior iron-based battery technology, although for the moment they seem much more interested in using it to leverage their entry into the U.S. car market than in licensing it to anyone else. Among other implications, the GM Volt would appear to already be toast.

    BTW, don’t blame environmentalists for corn-based ethanol.

    • whysharksmatter permalink*
      April 26, 2009 8:16 am

      You’re critical of centralized recycling because “evil corporations” are involved? I think, sir, that you might be one of the folks that Andrew was talking about in this post.

    • April 26, 2009 9:04 am

      Your basic argument that single stream recycling discourages source reduction and reuse is exactly the point that keeps being made. The thing is, I’ve never seen a case where making any green effort easier discouraged people from doing it. You’re assuming that 100% of the population is going to sort through their trash every week to separate out all the recyclables, when, of course, that’s simply not the case. Single stream recycling guarantees 100% participation.

      And I’m not so cynical to think that people will stop thinking about protecting the environment just because their trash is taken care of. The same people who conscientiously sort their trash every week will find other outlets. The result is a net benefit for the environment.

      Did you ever wonder why these ‘big businesses’ do more work burning and burying trash? Could it be because people like you have discouraged the generation of a market for alternative practices?

      And the statistics for how much recyclables end up in landfills due to contamination is the same across the board, centralized or curbside.

      Finally, your statement “don’t blame the enviros for corn-ethanol” is the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy. You’re trying to say that no real environmentalist would support corn-based ethanol, when, of course, that’s false. There are plenty of self-professed and genuine environmentalists who think corn-based ethanol is part of the solution. That’s the whole point of this post, right? We need to look at the data, not the dogma.

  12. whysharksmatter permalink*
    April 26, 2009 8:26 am

    Forget the environmental movement… what the hell happened to YOU, Andrew? You signed up for TWITTER? REALLY?

  13. Steve Bloom permalink
    April 26, 2009 4:04 pm

    wsm, I said “the same companies whose more important business is burying or burning trash” and you translated that to “evil corporations.” If you want to define “evil” as a tendency to want to continue making money in a familiar way, sure. FYI, generally there are yet other corporations available who specialize in recycling rather than disposal. Of course the “evil” corporations fight like hell to keep the contracts away from these “good” (or is it “less evil”?) corporations. Once you’re done figuring out the right terminology, perhaps you could respond on the substance of what I said.

    SFS, it’s a matter of what’s being made easier. With single-stream, the action from the point of view of the consumer or business isn’t recycling any longer, it’s just trash disposal. As behavior is not changed, it’s hard to see how source reduction and reuse are encouraged.

    “Did you ever wonder why these ‘big businesses’ do more work burning and burying trash? Could it be because people like you have discouraged the generation of a market for alternative practices?” Say what? Example: “People like me” favor banning from disposal (landfill or burning) materials that have an existing market. In most places in the country, this includes metals, glass, compostables and most types of paper. Disposal companies generally fight such proposals tooth and nail.

    “And the statistics for how much recyclables end up in landfills due to contamination is the same across the board, centralized or curbside.” Source for that?

    Re corn-based ethanol, as there are millions of environmentalists it’s not too hard to find some who support any given bad idea. What I object to is the broad-brush blaming of the entire movement. While there certainly were environmentalist supporters of corn ethanol, it’s very clear that the big push came from the farm lobby (who of course were happy to use environmental arguments, however insincerely). As for support of corn ethanol in the present (your actual claim), I would simply point to the strong environmentalist advocacy for Friday’s low carbon fuel standard action by California.

    • April 27, 2009 5:00 pm

      You said “With single-stream, the action from the point of view of the consumer or business isn’t recycling any longer, it’s just trash disposal. As behavior is not changed, it’s hard to see how source reduction and reuse are encouraged.”

      I say, so what if it’s just trash disposal? Instead of changing behavior, you guarantee that even those whose resistance to recycling won’t change are still recycling, at a lower cost (i.e. lower taxes) than with curbside recycling. Does that mean we won’t still be encouraging people to reduce and reuse? No. You really think we’re going to give up on environmentalism just because we’ve made one aspect of it easier? I’m too young to be that cynical.

      As far as a broad brush blaming of the entire movement, re-read the original post, my whole issue is not with any one feature (seriously, corn-ethanol got 2 words in the whole shebang), my issue is that we don’t look at the data and instead latch on too feel-good, ultimately ineffective, and dogmatic responses (like thinking that sorting your own trash makes you a better environmentalist that supporting a more efficient process that’s BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT) just because, gosh darn it, you’re doing it yourself.

      We need to move beyond the ‘individual-is-the-solution’ mentality and start accepting that we need massive societal changes if we’re going to solve these problems.

  14. Eofhan permalink
    April 27, 2009 11:19 am

    Too infrequently, I encounter an argument so persuasive as to make me aware of my mental inertia. Thanks for this disruption! 🙂 Seriously. I’ll be reconsidering my organic-produce purchases.

    Whenever someone uses the Chernobyl disaster as an example of why nuclear-power is too dangerous, I like to remind the audience that the reactor’s design was archaic, and the safety-systems at Chernobyl were deliberately shut-off for experimental purposes. That’s not to say that I like the current state of U.S. nuclear power. For example, as I understand it, U.S. crisis-management-systems are designed around human response, rather than software. And, from what I’ve read, the amount of nuclear waste requiring storage could be vastly reduced by switching to fast-breeder reactors. Granted, that carries the cost of increasing the accessibility of weapon-grade plutonium.
    (But fer cryin’ out loud, the plant-workers already have access to refined uranium! Is it really that much more dangerous?)

    Clearly, I need to read more about recycling.

    A few words about the BYD batteries, and the Volt — It’s seems to me, though I’m not an expert, that BYD’s ‘iron’ battery is actually Lithium-Iron-Phosphate. The linked-to article doesn’t specify, but an LFP is a reasonable assumption based on the description. The batteries in the Volt are built by A123, who does make an LFP meant for the Volt (don’t know time-to-market, though). I suspect, but don’t know, that the Volt will get Li-ion batteries initially and LiFePO4 subsequently.

  15. Steve Bloom permalink
    April 27, 2009 4:47 pm

    Eofhan, power reactor-grade uranium is too low-enrichment to be used for bombs. Re the organic produce, if I were you I wouldn’t give it up before seeing a better case than the one that’s been made here. Thanks for the battery info.

  16. Nick permalink
    April 28, 2009 2:57 am

    I agree to some extent with your views. I also believe conservationists and environmentalists have forgotten that real solutions do not leave people jobless, homeless and without a future: there is problem with their all or nothing policy particularly when it comes to fisheries. The use of scientific data, well we can only agree that it should be used. Nevertheless the reality is that this information is ignored in favour of monetary profit. This should change, but will it… I wonder! Just look at ICCAT’s recommended tuna quota for this year: almost double of the scientifically recommended tonnage!!!

    However I cannot agree completely with you regarding our use of crop land. Of course people should have the choice whether they want to eat organic or intensively grown crops. However, I find it hard to believe the argument about making enough food for the world when every year the western world throws away hundreds of thousands of tons in grain! Surely this should be distributed rather than produce more to throw away. As for manure and fertiliser: it is a fact that most western countries have more manure than they know what to do with! Also in terms of nutrient value between organic and intensive, I have heard (I emphasise HEARD) of studies that have shown highly significant difference in the nutrient levels of organic food compared to intensive and genetically modified. Also, not long ago there was a published study in one of the scientific journals highlighting the loss of crop genetic diversity. Many regions have local crops that grow very well in their environment. However these have been fazed out in favour of our modified strains with the result that this diversity is lost! Surely a crop available from the region where it is needed should be favoured over our lame attempts at improving nature.

    Finally the recycling issue: I do not know how things work in the US, however in Europe most places waste goes straight to the land fill. Without people recycling at home there would be a dramatic increase in landfill. Centralised would be great and probably should be. If it does a better job by all means, and furthermore it employs people! However, I think that it is good to leave some responsibility with the people. IF they dont have to think twice they wont care. IF you give people a sense of responsibility they may also change their ways rather than relying on the government to sort their problems.

    To end this, I would like to point out that there is a very exciting international project (I think the USA might be involved too) running in France currently to finally create fusion reactor power plants. While this is not likely to be finished before 2050 I think there is hope that in the future we will be able to have power with the only by product being water!

  17. April 29, 2009 7:01 am

    I wouldn’t worry too much about car batteries – they’re compact, transportable, and too valuable to landfill. Catalytic converters are already recycled and the batteries will be, too. Even current car batteries are recycled.

    I would like to see a cultural change toward muscle-powered transportation, but have no idea how to make that happen. Meanwhile, if people could just get the idea of living closer to where they work it would help a lot. A huge chunk of transportation is simply commuting. But I don’t know how to make that happen, either.

    Thanks for this outstanding post.

    • Daryl permalink
      September 30, 2009 6:38 pm

      Hmmmm recycling of car batteries at the local plant here (in Wellington NZ) has apparently resulted in serious environmental and health issues…

  18. Daryl permalink
    September 30, 2009 6:35 pm

    Thank God somebody out there is talking sense!

    the “group think” mentality of most environmental organisations seems to blind them to real and achievable outcomes. Instead of reasoned and clear arguments environmental debates have become about who can generate the most propaganda on facebook

    research suggests organic food is no better than non-organic… yet the myths persist and grow…

  19. Scotty permalink
    October 16, 2009 1:13 pm

    I’ve been following these debates for a couple weeks and would like to comment. Any time we resort to personel attacks to make our point we loose credibility. Your may be 100% correct but you’ve weakened your position and any group you represent. A large percentage of the human population no longer takes the movement serious because of the claims and actions of people that should have stayed home. As long as there are people pushing both ends of this broken down car we are getting nowhere. Gung Ho.

  20. Rach permalink
    December 1, 2009 6:44 pm

    I completely agree with almost all the points brought up in this article. I am a firm believer that humans were put on this earth for a reason to experience life, but we were not put on this earth to destroy it and that is what this world has come too. I agree with the article that everyone is a bad guy. Whenever people are faced with a problem they like to scapegoat it and put the blame on others and can not take responsibility for their own actions. I will admit I have helped to destroy the environment also by driving a car and there have been times where I have thrown products out that could have been recycled. Humans are the reason the environment is becoming destroyed. Humans need to admit to their faults and help fix the problem before it becomes any worse. However, I do not agree with the point of using nuclear energy instead of fossil fuels. I do agree that another energy source should be used because fossil fuels are damaging to the environment and in the next 50 years humans will have depleted all the fossil fuels if we continue using them at rapid rate. I believe there is an alternative source of energy instead of using nuclear power or fossil fuels. Humans should turn to using Biomass energy. It has been researched, but completely developed yet. I think the government should spend the time and the money so humans can turn over to using Biomass. Biomass has many advantages such as it barely causes any pollution, it is cheap, it keeps the dollar circulating in the economy to provide jobs for people, and it can be replenished very fast unlike fossil fuels. Fossil fuels can take hundreds of years to replenish itself to the full amount that humans need for their cars, planes, and buses. Overall I say we should go green!


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    The Southern Fried Scientist

    Andrew is a graduate student in North Carolina studying deep sea biology. When not in the lab, he spends his time out on the water, usually swearing at his boat while simultaneously sacrificing some important tool to Poseidon in a desperate attempt to make the motor start. That is, assuming he can get his truck running long enough to actually put the boat in the water. He enjoys long walks on the beach, by necessity. Follow him on Twitter @SFriedScientist.


    David is a graduate student in South Carolina studying shark conservation. He is the author of the upcoming book “Why Sharks Matter: Using New Environmentalism to Show The Economic And Ecological Importance of Sharks, The Threats They Face, and How You Can Help”. His time is divided between educating the public about sharks, spending days at a time at sea playing with sharks, and eating horribly unhealthy foods. Follow him on Twitter @WhySharksMatter.

    bluegrass blue crab

    Amy is a graduate student in North Carolina studying local ecological knowledge within the blue crab fishery. She spends half her life studying the most charismatic of organisms - humans - and the estuaries on which they depend. While not contemplating grand social theories, she enjoys a good jam session and watching sunsets over the estuary. Follow her on Twitter @bgrassbluecrab.

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