Monday, April 24, 2006

Environmental Hysteria: Happy Belated Earth Day

Apparently it was Earth Day this weekend. Naturally, there is a plethora of stories about what horrible shape the planet is in and schoolchildren being indoctrinated into believing that the world as they know it will essentially end in their lifetime; just as I was taught when I was in school. Take a look as the essays some of these Arkansas teens have written.

Anecdotally speaking, I remember growing up with this stuff since the 1980's, thinking that after 2000 I'd be living in some weird, post-apocalpytic, Mad Max-style nightmare. Doesn't anyone remember Star Trek IV: Save the Whales? What about Men at Work, Fern Gully, Waterworld? Captain Planet? Tank Girl? Seaquest DSV*? Superman IV is on par with these, but was about nuclear proliferation. I did like how it showed us not to get rid of nuclear weapons by throwing them all into the sun because Lex Luthor might use the huge explosion to create a supervillain; but I digress. So many movies, TV shows and cartoons that I saw when I was a kid were about People Killing the Planet. Now I'm 30 and I'm still waiting for my dune buggy. These kids will be, too.

Thirty seems to be a magic number for environmetal science, however, because when thirty years of data has built up, it seems there is no alarming trend. The Earth may be warming, but does so steadily, by fractions of degrees. Most of the panic about climate change is usually over weather. But, we've talked about this before, haven't we? All the computer models predict the end of the world, but the computer models can't possibly recreate exactly what's happening in the environment when we ourselves don't understand it. Complex systems, man.

It seems like the only folks that remembered Earth Day this year are the people who know that people who observe Earth Day are full of crap, the National Anxiety Center, for example has a deluge of unlinked, but verifiable, information. Additionally, Junk Science debunker Stephen Milloy had a good piece in his column. Al Gore is still playing environmental Nostradamus, but we're on to him.

I thought the most interesting bit of info I got over the weekend was from Steven Hayward and his Index of Leading Environmental Indicators (available in either HTML or PDF). I'm still going through it, but it seems well-researched and he and his team have been putting this information together for the last eleven years. Previous Indexes are also available online if you search "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators".

Previous environmental hysteria:
Environmental Hysteria: Ocean-front Property in Worcester
People Covered in Fish: Environmental Hysteria: Moral Vanity
Environmental Hysteria: When Scientists Attack
It's Not Easy Being Green
Unnatural Selection
This Is All Your Fault
And I Still Can't Get My Feet Warm
Jumping GOP On A Pogo Stick!!
Unquestioning Belief In Works Of Fiction

*Worst. TV. Show. Ever.
I defy you to name a worse one.
Besides Full House.

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Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon bloody well said...

This year it coincided with Lenin's birthday - fittingly.

25 April, 2006 22:05  
Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden bloody well said...

04 26 06

Hello there:
I am not sure of the point of your post. Is it to say that the environmentalists doom and gloomers are incorrects? I am confused because I read some of the stuff by Steven Hayward (what is his area of expertise?) and he is basically saying that across the board emissions have decreased and ozone levels in LA haven't gone to harmful levels in several years. But what is he attributing these changes to? Could it be the environmental policies that made us take notice of things like smog checks and the like? After all, they are saying that emissions have decreased...

After my mini vacation to Mexico and smelling the foulest oder s on the beach from dead animal carcasses to raw sewage, some environmental regulation is clearly needed, lest we go there. It was truly foul in some parts!

My question is, so the environmentalists preach doom and gloom. You don't think they have a reason to be concerned? There is no doubt that anthropogenic activity affects biodiversity in our environment. Good post, but curious as to Mr. Hayward's field of expertise and what his goals are. Despite some of the San Francisco wackos who would like all of us to stop eating meat, I really think it makes sense to look after our environment.

Where I live in the Valley, it is California's bread basket. Over the years, there has been a massive influx of people that cannot afford to live in the Bay Area due to supply and demand issues and a reached carrying capacity. I enjoy all of the open space in the Valley and would hate to see it built up like Southern California, where there is no water to support the population etc. I think Teddy Roosevelt was right to set some land aside for our appreciation and biodiversity. Do you have an issue with that concept? If so why?

26 April, 2006 15:17  
Blogger Robosquirrel bloody well said...

Here's the thing. I consider myself a conservationist. I enjoy the wilderness and fresh air as much as anybody. It really chafes me when I see beaches and harbors strewn with garbage and filth. I'm totally onboard with cleaning up pollution like that and have done so myself. Mexico, I think, is probably closer to the rest of the world's mentality on environmentalism (that is, everybody besides us, Canada and Western Europe). But when we try to impose our superior environmental sensibilities on others, we end up with quiet disasters like the ban of DDT in Africa (that's a PDF file). Saving people from cancer and letting them die of malaria instead. Well, it's faster, anyway.

And, yes, people driving less is most likely the direct cause of reduced smog in L.A. Which is great, because L.A. is oppressively hot and smells bad. It's also huge and spread out and you have to drive to get anywhere, like a lot of American cities. But L.A. is not an indicator of conditions all over the world.

But saying, "Look, you shouldn't toss your Big Mac wrappers out the window of your vehicle," asking people to be responsible about their use of resources and consider the sort of world they want to live in is a far cry from regulating businesses to the brink of bankruptcy, killing people because of inconclusive scientific studies or saying we have ten years left to save the world from climate change.

Environmentalists need to be as responible as they're asking others to be. The politics needs to be extracted from the science.

I haven't gotten all the way through the Hayward thing yet, due to priorities. A poor excuse, but it's mine. He goes through all environmental indicators, and as I've said, I don't think much of climate change Chicken Littles, but not all environmental consciousness is bad.

Heck, I recycle. I'm not even positive that it does any good. It seems like a good idea, though, at least until I find a reason that I shouldn't. Did you know some cities charge you to recycle? Not the one I'm living in now, but the one before that.

I started this post thinking of climate change and lost focus due to frustration with the topic, and what have you, so if you don't see my overall point, I don't blame you. I think it was to express that exasperation.

26 April, 2006 16:05  

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