Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Environmentalism and the Skeptical Mind, Part 4

Two organizations, whose websites can be found here and here, both claim that Greenpeace uses unlawful and dishonest tactics to promote a far-fetched message. They rail against genetically engineered foods, ignoring the fact that foods and animals have been cross-bred for millenia. They put fake "warning labels" on foods in stores. They participate in anti-corporate activism, to include having members arrested in the 1999 Seattle WTO riots. Additionally, they've become a shakedown organization.

My favorite example of their extremism combined with lack of science is "golden rice". Golden rice is a genetically engineered product that takes a daffodil gene and implants it into rice. So what, right? Well, this golden rice has vitamin A. Lots and lots of vitamin A. About a half million children in the world go blind each year due to vitamin A deficiency, most in Africa and Asia. What food could these children be eating? Golden rice. The creator of this food has offered to give it away and let people plant it. Greenpeace and its belief in "Frankenfoods" fought the idea and convinced governments not to allow it, and golden rice still isn't grown. Children still go blind. All for a political cause.

But enough about those yahoos. Let's talk about the Kyoto Protocol.

I'll bet if you asked 10 people on the street what the Kyoto Protocol is, none would know. If you asked 100, only a few would know. Yet, this is the biggest thing going in environmental circles--and fortunately the US has nothing to do with it.

The protocol, agreed to in Kyoto, Japan, aims to curb the air pollution blamed for global warming. Over 140 countries, accounting for 55% of greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified the treaty--but developing countries like China, Brazil, and India, not known as bastions of environmental care, are exempted. For those that have signed on, the protocol demands a 5.2% reduction in greenhouse emissions (from 1990 levels) by 2012. Each country set its own specific reduction amounts, and the US, though not a signatory, has agreed to reduce emissions by 7% between 2008-2012.

Interestingly enough, there's no clear plan how to do this. Canada and Japan have both said they are unsure if they will be able to meet their targets. In fact, Canada's emissions are currently 20% higher than they were in 1990, making their hurdle that much higher. Kyoto dictates goals, which may or may not be met. There's no roadmap given to achieve the goals, and no reward for meeting them or sanction for failing to meet them. Kyoto is just words on paper.

An attempt to extend Kyoto past 2012 was made last December--and this was before the protocol even went into effect!--met with failure. India and China refuse to negotiate, and the US still will not sign. Italy, an EU member, also refused to consider limits past the 2012 date. Kyoto is dead in the water, and it's just begun.

Bjorn Lomborg, discussed in Part 3 of this "series" I'm writing, also addresses Kyoto. He thinks the costs of implementing Kyoto will far outweigh the benefits. For the $150 billion to $350 billion annually that Kyoto would cost--in dubious "renewable energy" projects and doubtful technologies--Lomborg says we could provide everyone in the world with basic health, education, water, and sanitation. Where would the money be better spent?

Two "events" marking the implementation of the protocols are worthy of mention due to their humorous content. On February 16th, 35 Greenpeace protesers stormed the International Petroleum Exchange in hopes of paralyzing oil trading at the London exchange. But they themselves were attacked by the traders, many of whom were under age 25! The Times Online had this quote from one of the protesters:

"We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs," one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. "I've never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view."

Well maybe, jack***, if you were talking instead of blowing whistles and foghorns and releasing rape alarms tied to helium-filled balloons so they couldn't be easily silenced, maybe if you weren't trespassing and trying to disrupt what to these people was very important business, maybe you might have found someone more amenable to listening to your point of view.

Oh, the trading continued and 27 of the protesters were arrested. :-)

The 2nd funny event comes to us from Belgium. Dang, have the Belgiques ever done anything worthwhile? Well, Belgian schools were asked to support "thick sweaters" day to celebrate the implementation of the protocol. Live From Brussels reports, via Joanne Jacobs:

"The idea was to turn off the heating in the school buildings for the day, to save energy, and to have everybody wear extra clothing instead, including thick sweaters." (Darren says: Jimmy Carter, anyone?)

"So far, so good. My wife follows the lesson plan, explains it all to the kids and turns off the heating in her building. But then, for some classes, her pupils need to go to the other, larger school. There, they also have 'thick sweater day'. But they didn't manage to turn off the thermostat.

"Result: super hot classrooms. Talk about global warming.... And to make things even worse, because everybody was wearing extra clothes and things were getting really unbearable, apparently some teachers even opened the windows of their classrooms, with the heating still on full-blast...."

You gotta love this symbolic crap.

The earth's climate has been changing naturally since the place was created. We know that during dinosaur times, areas that are non-tropical today were pretty tropical. We know there was an ice age several millenia ago. We also know that Europe experienced a mini-ice-age as recently as a few centuries ago. We don't know for sure if any temperature changes are the result of man-made action, Mt. Pinatubo, or natural cyclical variations of climate.

Heck, we don't even know if it's going to rain next Sunday. And these people want to tell us what the climate will be like a century from now?

Update: Here is some environmentalism I can get on board with.

Update #2, 3/6/05 9:52 am: An article from the Detroit News about the end of government-imposed environmentalism and the success of wealth-created environmentalism.

Update #3, 3/18/05 5:18pm: Here's more on the worthlessness of the Kyoto Protocol.


Quincy said...

Darren -

Great series you've got going here. Keep up the good work.

Also, if you get KGO 810 AM, which broadcasts out of San Francisco, they've got a great host on Sat. and Sun. Nights 10PM-1AM, Dr. Bill Wattenburg. He's been shedding some much-needed light on the environmental movement for a long time. (I've been listening for almost 14 years.)

Darren said...

Geez. How ignorant. You don't know how to spell or capitalize.

And yes, I do know that the US is the biggest polluter. I also know that we're the largest economy in the world, the one that drives the world economy. You know that economy, don't you, anonymous? The one that helped manufacture that computer you used to type in your pathetic comment?

How clean do you think US companies are compared to those in China? or India? or Taiwan? or Korea? You think maybe that with affluence comes the desire as well as the ability to preserve the environment? Could that possibly be that that's why the developed world has pollution controls and environmental regulations that are significantly more stringent than those of the developing world?

If you're going to make a comment as ridiculous as you did, expect the spanking that comes with it. Please try to be a little more intellectual and a little less emotional here.

By the way, how well are the Kyoto signatories doing at keeping within their treaty limits? Find out and get back to me; I already know the answer :-)