13 January 2011

The Truth About Environmentalism

Strangely, there's still a debate in the public discourse about climate change, and whether or not it's happening. A lot of people, I find, react with naked skepticism, as if to say “I don’t really have to believe ANYTHING you say.” They aren’t adamantly against climate change, their just against believing anyone’s claims about anything. The “statistics can say anything” and “that’s just a theory, they don’t really know” crowd.

I like to say this:

Forget for a moment about global warming and climate change and sea levels and all of that. Think about what we can see around us every day, things that have happened in our lifetimes or the lives of our parents.

The industrialists told us all the smoke didn’t matter, the world was a big place, it would all disappear. But they were wrong – go to any big city and in spite of the fact that most of them have lost a lot of their manufacturing they’re STILL full of smog on hot days, sometimes bad enough that its dangerous to exercise. 
We thought we could throw our garbage in the ocean forever, because it’s so big. But we were wrong, we’ve poisoned the great lakes and the Gulf Coast and there’s a floating plastic dump the size of North Dakota in the Pacific Ocean where no fish can live anymore. 

We thought we could keep fishing forever, because there’s “always more fish in the see”. There’s plenty of fish in on-line dating, but we’ve destroyed fish (and whale and shark) stocks from the grand banks to the Antarctic. 

People have always wanted to tell you that the crap they did doesn’t make any difference, so that you would leave them alone and they could continue to make their profits by downloading the costs of pollution onto the general public. And although they've usually gotten away with it, they’ve been wrong every single time. 

We can SEE the impact we are having all around us, in the air, in the water, in the wildlife, and now even in the economy.

I don’t want you to accept any specific predictions about the future of climate change, or any specific prescriptions of what we need to do. All I want you to admit is the certainty that our actions have consequences and have done great damage to our world, and that they continue to do great damage and that we have a moral obligation to think about what kind of effect we are having and what we can do about it. 

All I want you to admit is that the only irrational position in this debate is denial.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm denial?

Pollution levels in cities are much better than they used to be.In many cities white clothes were blackened with soot after just one day. Not anymore.You assertions on that point are wrong.

Part of the problem is that for over a decade we were warned that terrible things would happen. They didn't. It was oversold and blown out of proportion.

So far the cost of the fixes is way out of whack with the benefits.

Others believe that it is too late. Any reduction in GHG's will not alter the path.

Ultimately the damage done to the environment is directly tied to ones income. Earn less pollute less.Too many so called "environmentalists" are in denial of that fact.

January 13, 2011  
Blogger Gavin Magrath said...

Strange how frequently this kind of comment comes from someone who wishes to remain anonymous.

"Pollution levels in cities are much better than they used to be"
Absolutely - compared to London in the 19th Century when people died of black lung at 45, much better. What a totally irrelevant comment.

\"Part of the problem is that for over a decade we were warned that terrible things would happen. They didn't."

Which is EXACTLY why i started and finished this post with the statement that I DO NOT WANT to try to convince you of any of those things. Why would you suddenly hold me to a standard from twenty years ago that I specifically rejected? I know you don't beleive those things. I don't want you to believe those things. We agree. Don't bring those things up as if they are contrary to my point, they're EXACTLY parrt of my point.

"So far the cost of the fixes is way out of whack with the benefits."

Of course that's a lie for which you have no evidence, but again, I was specifically saying that I did NOT want to defend or promote any particular solution. I agree many of them may be stupid. Pointing out that some are stupid is NOT a refutation to my position.

"Others believe that it is too late. Any reduction in GHG's will not alter the path."

Well that's ignorant defeatism. We break, we buy.

"Ultimately the damage done to the environment is directly tied to ones income"

Not only is this a lie, but it directly conflicts with your very own point! You CORRECTLY noted in your VERY FIRST comment that today's cities are much cleaner than those of 100 years ago. They're also much richer. So you prove yoruself totally wrong.

In fact additional wealth enables us to make responsible decisions. It's only irrational deniers like you that refuse to make those decisions and instead because you're ten times as rich you're just ten times as wasteful. And you have to tell not only lies but self-contradicting lies in order to defend your point. Shame on you!

January 13, 2011  
Blogger Gavin Magrath said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 13, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not deny. I just doubt the extravagant claims made by a few.I should have been clearer that greater wealth leads to higher GHG output. The environment and GHG's are not the same thing.

The person/family that has twice the wealth of another (not saying that either is poor) will have a higher standard of living. They will likely have a bigger house, car ,boat, cottage,office and fly more etc.Their GHG output is greater.The arguement that the wealthier person might have more efficient appliances and furnace etc. may be true but that is a drop in the bucket in terms of their grand total of GHG output. The wealthier person will eat out more and eat better (steak instead of a burger), they own bigger tv's more computers.It is endless. It is a false sense of guilt free consumption.

I would use the example of Ontario's clean energy strategy as one that is profoundly inefficient at reducing GHG's per cost.It has cost billions and the reduction is trivial. I would ask you to figure out the cost /tonne and tell me if it makes sense. It is not a lie.

I would suggest to you that there are a lot of people who think they are doing great things for the environment but are really just in denial. It cuts both ways.

January 13, 2011  
Blogger Gavin Magrath said...

"I should have been clearer that greater wealth leads to higher GHG output."

No it doesn't. Again that was exactly my point: London today is both richer AND cleaner than London 100 years ago. That is a NEGATIVE correlation. It frequently leads to greater waste, because most wealthy people are selfish and short-sighted, but it doesn't HAVE to lead to greater waste.

"I will use the example of Ontario's green energy strategy..."

And for the third time I will tell you that I have no interest in or intention to defend it. I wasn't supporting it or recommending it. Please, STOP attributing other people's ideas to me and then attacking them. That's irrational.

What I posted: "I don’t want you to accept any specific predictions about the future of climate change, or any specific prescriptions of what we need to do. All I want you to admit is the certainty that our actions have consequences and have done great damage to our world, and that they continue to do great damage and that we have a moral obligation to think about what kind of effect we are having and what we can do about it. "

Now, instead of picking on someone else's plan that you don't like, why don't you just respond to my post and my point. I want you to admit
1) Our actions have consequences, and the world is not an infinite garbage can
2) our actions have had and continue to have negative consequences
3) we therefore have a moral obligation to consider the effects of our actions, and a corresponing moral obligation to not only reject but pupblicly and clearly contradict those who pretend our actions have no consequences and that we have no obligation to consider them.

That's what I want you to admit. Not Dalton McGuinty's Ontario strategy or anything else. Three simple, and in my view, NECESSARY logical propositions, and NO specific predictions or prescriptions.

If you actually spend even ONE reply responding to my actual point, then I will be happy to discuss a particular plan you hate and why you hate it.

"It cuts both ways."

No, it doesn't. The people who think they are doing good but are wrong have good intentions but fail in their acts. The deniers do NOT have good intentions, they are overtly selfish and short-sighted, and when they succeed in their views they make us all worse off, and that makes them morally inferior to those who wish to do good but fail to do so.

It's the difference between benevolence and malevolence. Surely you don't equate those?

January 13, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are confusing GHG's with pollution.

Eg. Pouring mercury into a lake is bad. In fact it could be described as a disaster. This however, has little or no impact on GHG's.

The focus on GHG's in my view has been a poor strategy for those who think they are concerned for the environment.

You called some of my points a lie and then deny defending the points I attacked.

January 13, 2011  
Blogger Gavin Magrath said...

"You are confusing GHG's with pollution."

No, I'm not. You keep trying to bring up specific things you don't like and talk abotu them, and I keep insisting you respond to my actual article and not a bunch of strawmen in your own head.

I didn't mention GHGs, not in my post, not in a single comment. Never. I'm not confusing them, I'm just not talking about them.

I put three direct questions to you point blank twice, and twice you have refused to even engage on the issues I'm posting about. What's up with that?

"The focus on GHG's in my view has been a poor strategy"

And that's why TWICE I have said I don't agree with that strategy and am not making that argument. And now for the third time you want to raise an argument I'm not making and have never made, and attack that instead of the point I am making. What's up with that??

"You called some of my points a lie and then deny defending the points I attacked."

And that just doesn't make sense

January 13, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

American’s are starting to wake up, would crush Mitt Romney 51% to 38%,Mike Huckabee by a similar margin, 50-38 percent and And he’d crush Miss Palin by 56-30 percent http://bit.ly/fN1ULr

January 17, 2011  

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