More Fundies

I’m getting a bit tired of the so-called ‘Environmentalists’. They’ve become blinkered, dogmatic and mindless. Somewhere along the way they got confused and are now no different to me than the people who blow themselves up in the name of religion. Enviro-Fundamentalists.

Like all Fundamentalists, the Enviro-Fundies seem to want to send us back to a time in our mythical past where everything was ‘good’ and ‘clean’ (when exactly was that?). They insist that everyone view the world through their eyes and will accept absolutely *no* questioning or debate. Also, they have confused ‘energy’ with ‘pollution’ and seem to base all of their proclamations and demands on this mistake.

I have already stated that insisting that the only way we Humans can Save the Planet is by ‘Conserving Energy’ will be the end of our civilisation. I genuinely can’t see how conserving energy can be good. If we don’t continue exploring space and learning about the Universe, WE WILL DIE OUT. End of. As ‘they’ say: If the dinosaurs had a space programme, they’d still be here. Conserving energy is not the way to ‘boldly go’.

Let’s use the human body as an analogy. The Enviro-Fundie want us to be someone who eats only beans and pulses (solar and wind power only with no thought of a clean baseload energy source) and is therefore so weak that they can’t actually do anything other than sit indoors and tell each other stories lit by an ugly energy-saving light bulb. If they tried to go for a run, they collapse out of exhaustion within 10 minutes. So, they just sit indoors, wear jumpers and do pretty much nothing. Except maybe juggle by candlelight.

I, however, want us to be a person who had an unlimited amount of high quality fresh and varied food (a nuclear baseload with personal solar or wind sources so that people can cut their bills a bit), who is fit, runs 30 miles a week, has 2.4 kids and a gorgeous partner, sends their elderly parents to ‘warmer climes’ for the summer, takes their family on at least two big holidays a year, throws great parties AND is the CEO of a multi-national company. You can’t do that living off beans.

Conserving energy is for losers.

Now, I’ve got a question: why did everyone go so crazy over the heatwave in 2003 which killed 30,000 across Europe? It was seen as a ‘taste of things to come’ when Global Warming really takes hold. But every winter in the UK alone there are approximately 40,000 deaths due to the cold. Why are deaths due to heat in the summer deemed as far worse than the far more deaths due to cold in the winter? Oh yea. ‘Dying from the cold’ doesn’t fit in with their fundamentalist views of the risk of Global Warming…

I assume that Enviro-Fundies are equally concerned about preventing deaths due to cold, too, right? So I wonder how they propose to keep old people in the UK warm during the dark, cold winter months in order to keep them from dying? Solar power?

14 Responses to “More Fundies”
  1. ourman says:

    Sorry. Can’t agree. As for space exploration – it’s rather like not fixing your house and then just buying a new one when it falls down.

    Or to put it another way – in essence the disposable culture that got us into this mess in the first place.

    The sad thing is that by the time this kind of thinking is shown up it will already be too late. By which time the anti-green brigade will blame a lack of information on why they chose to ignore the warnings.

    In the end though, it is the anti-greens who have chosen to ignore that warnings and, for the most part, are the ones putting out the own counter-arguments.

    Unfortunately this is muddying the waters and causing untold damage to the overall aim of educating the population.

  2. giagia says:

    I’ve been reading quite a bit of research into Global Warming and, though economics isn’t my strong point, about 30 cents of benefit for every dollar invested into following the Kyoto agreement is considerably less than $40 of benefit for every dollar spent on condoms and HIV/AIDS education (far fewer deaths, sick people, psychological problems etc). And that benefit is seen immediately and has a long lasting effect on the world as a whole.

    4 million people die from malnutrition every year, many, many more are physically, mentally and emotionally ‘damaged’ by malnurtition yet survive. We could spend $12 billion a year and at least halve the malnutrition rates. Next year.

    Following the Kyoto agreement means we’d spend $180 billion every year… the effects wouldn’t be seen for at least 100 years and the number of lives we’d save is debatable. The path we’re on right now is kind of like someone in the early 1900s saying, ‘Cancer death rates will continue to rise. We shouldn’t bother looking for a cure for infection though until we find the cure for cancer.’… I wonder exactly how many doctors and scientists working in the fields of cancer research and care *today* have had their lives saved by penicillin?

    This doesn’t mean I don’t think we should cut down on pollution – I want clean air – it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to develop more energy efficient technology – I don’t want to pay as much for my energy bill-, it does mean that we really do need to think about what *exactly* we are supposed to be saving when we say we need to ‘Save The Planet’…

    Exploration has ALWAYS provided considerable benefits to the world as a whole. Always always always.

  3. jonah says:

    Nuke baseload is all well and good but what do you do about all the radioactive waste? To (over)extend your analogy, wanting a nuke baseload without addressing the waste problem is like wanting to be a person who had an unlimited amount of high quality fresh and varied food, and a septic tank in the back garden that never gets emptied.

    I mean yeah, I can see your point: I’m with Charlie Stross when he says “I’m all in favour of preserving the environment, but I want to preserve it because I want to live comfortably in it, not because “preserving the environment” is an end in and of itself“. However, pretending that nuclear power represents some kind of downside-free panacea without addressing the nuclear waste problem is just intellectually dishonest.

    Sorry, I’m nitpicking really, but a solution with results in big lumps of radioactive shite is the kind of nit that needs picking …

  4. giagia says:

    From one of my Potential Energy pieces: “A large reactor will produce about 3 cubic metres of vitrified waste per year. That waste isn’t allowed to contaminate the water in the way that heavy metals and various other toxic materials have done when leached from landfill sites. That waste doesn’t add to the Greenhouse Gases in the way that landfill methane does. That waste doesn’t cause asthma and breathing problems in the way the waste from coal-burning does. When that nuclear waste is reprocessed, it is vitrified, then encased in steel and buried underground in a cement bunker, the radiation unable to escape.

  5. jasmine says:

    While I sort of kind of agree… there’s a difference between energy conservation and stopping energy wasting. People who run propane heaters outdoors so that they can wear teeshirts in December? Wasters. People who fly across the world so that they can make and do things they couldn’t otherwise? Entirely different fishkettle.

    I also don’t think nuclear (at least, fission) is the answer unless we can reverse the trend we’ve had in that industry- unimaginative designs, inadequate thought, government capital projects (which inevitably go far astray). We need a generation of interesting, powerful technology development in this field, because just building more light-water reactors is not the answer.

    I also strongly dislike the fact that we seem to have had the technical basis already chosen for us. Apparently we’re going to have American PWRs and BWRs, with all their attendant misfeatures, lack of facilities, massive capital costs, need for expensive servicing, etcetera. Why can’t we have Canadian CANDU reactors? There has never been a major incident at a CANDU reactor and the design is far closer to inherent safety than any of the modular PWR schemes I’ve seen.

    As for the waste problem, well, we’re better off there than the Americans; we can reprocess our waste, which generally reduces the volume of really long-lived waste (since the reprocessed fuel does not contain the very high-activity elements from the waste, and the waste does not include the long-lived plutonium or uranium isotopes). I would still like to see more research into transmutation and fast breeder designs, though; just as the plot of Sunshine pointed out, fissile material is finite and it will run out eventually.

    Hopefully ITER and DEMO will come up with the goods and in a century we’ll all wonder what the fuss was about.

  6. giagia says:

    Re: ITER… It’s expected to cost US $13 billion over the next 30 years paid for by several different countries. British ID Cards are expected to cost between US$10 -40 billion

    Think just maybe ITER might benefit from the UK spending that $10-40 billion on science education and “inspiration” rather than some hokey card scheme? On the one hand the UK could be a world leader in fusion research. On the other, the UK would, well, just be pretty much the same as it is now, except we’d all have another card to carry with us.

    Investing in non-fossil fuel/Mid-Eastern oil based energy sources should be our priority… but no, the UK is tossing some change towards it and, instead, is under the impression that somehow *cards* will keep us all safe.

    These are the kinds of things I mean… Our priorities are in the wrong place.

    Also, re: nuclear… we need *something* to bridge the gap between the decommissioning of current coal and nuclear plants, and fusion reactors. Wind farms and solar panels just aren’t going to cut it.

    Also, I doubt enviro-fundies *want* fusion reactors… what do they have in mind *after* everyone has moved onto wind and solar power? Stasis?

  7. Penny says:

    Well, I consider myself a very ardent environmentalist, but I don’t advocate ‘energy conservation’ either (what the hell *does* that term mean anyway?? I believe people are using it interchangeably with ‘energy efficiency’, which is an entirely different thing, as you point out). I agree that, in the long term, space exploration and colonization are vital to humanity’s survival. I agree that nuclear power is a viable option for carbon-neutral power generation and have said so many times on this blog.

    However, we are not at present capable of constructing and populating a self-sustaining, long-term space colony. There are a lot of obstacles imposed by human physiology that must be overcome, and we don’t at present have the infrastructure (cheap, re-usable launch vehicles; orbital construction platforms; etc) to do the large-scale, heavy-duty construction required to build, say, a lunar outpost, that could be self-sustaining in a short period of time (~10 years). Yes, we have the ability to put a space station in orbit and man it on a rotating basis for short period of time. However, the crew must be rotated out frequently and EVERYTHING (O2, water, food) must be shipped from Earth to the space station.

    Space colonies must be self-sustaining in order to be a viable alternative to an earth-bound existence, and they must also be able to support large numbers of people and/or high capacity industry, else these endeavors will do nothing to ease to crowding and resource crunch on Earth. I believe we *will* get to this point eventually and that we should devote a large chunk of our resources to getting to this point, but we cannot dig ourselves out of the current crisis we are in using the space program.

    Moreover, a viable space program depends upon the economic health of the supporting country or countries. Economic health is critically-dependent on political and societal stability, which is, in turn, dependent on, among other things, the ability of that society to provide the necessities of life (food, potable water, shelter, safety) to the majority of its citizens for the majority of the time. When that ability is lost for whatever reason, chaos follows, and all of the ‘higher functions’ of that society–science, space exploration, construction of buildings and public works–fall by the wayside.

    Gia, I too have studied Global Warming–extensively, in fact. GW threatens the very foundations of a technologically-advanced society *because* it threatens the ability of that society to provide for the basic needs of its citizens as outlined above. The predicted effects of GW (increased frequencies of droughts and flooding, rising sea levels, migration of tropical diseases to higher latitudes and altitudes, higher frequency of extreme weather events) threaten the the abilities of governments to provide for the basic needs of their citizens in many ways (disruption of agriculture, destruction or inundation of habitable land, increased disease burden, decreased potable water supplies, etc).

    Increased ‘energy’ generation via nuclear fission or fusion power plants will do little to solve these crises, as people cannot eat or drink electricity. Moreover, I doubt that nuclear-powered desalination plants would have the capacity to provide sufficient potable water for drinking AND for agriculture AND for industrial uses for countries with large populations such as India or China. Should this generated energy go towards amelioration of the effects of anthropogenic CO2 on the climate or, preferably, towards *removal* of excess CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, then that will be energy well-generated and spent. However, we cannot just say ‘Piss on the environment’ and ‘generate’ our way out of this crisis. The climate instability we’ve induced via CO2 emissions must be either reversed or controlled–one way or the other. This is not only crucial to our ability to continue as a technologically-advanced civilization, it is vital to our survival. We are looking at extinction if we don’t get this thing under control.

    As for Kyoto–*fuck* Kyoto. It doesn’t do enough to lower emissions, and the worst offenders (US, China, India) are taking a shit on the whole thing.

    As for going back to living like the Indians (in tepees, bathing in streams, hunter-gatherer existence)–fuck that too. I don’t own a tent–and never will. And nobody had better mess with my laptop, my AC, my washer and dryer and dishwasher, my cable modem, my car, my motorcycle, my microwave oven, my lovely new cell phone that takes pix, my IPod Nano, or my ability to travel all over the world whenever I damn well feel like it. High technology and *green* technology are not mutually exclusive.

    So, does all of the above blather make me an enviro-fundie? ;)

  8. giagia says:

    I only have a moment, but will come back to this later. No, you don’t sound like an enviro-fundie. Mainly because you quite clearly understand that society need to progress, not go backwards in order to survive. Oh, and that they would have to drag your energy-using tech from your cold dead hands. ;)

    The thing is, *I* am not saying that we shouldn’t lower CO2 emissions – it’s clear that thing will go very, very wrong if we don’t – it’s just that it’s not clear that the best course of action for the whole entire planet is to ‘live in teepees’ etc in order to attempt to do that.

    As for ‘extreme weather’… no one has been able to say conclusively that the weather is getting more “extreme”. They *have* been able to say conclusively that the *cost* of fixing extreme weather damage has gone up dramatically…. That’s cos there are a) more people (twice as many on the planet than there were in the 60s) b) people are richer so have more stuff to lose.

    Perhaps the money enviro-fundies are proposing we invest in their theories would be better spent on encouraging people to move away from coastal areas or at the very least, throw away all their stuff so that they don’t have much to lose.

    I just found this yesterday…

  9. Penny says:

    Must definitely agree that leaving the coastal areas alone, particularly the hurricane-prone coastal regions, is a good idea. I get sick of perpetually throwing taxpayer money at cleaning up the wreckage of people’s beach houses, retirement homes, etc at the end of each hurricane season.

  10. giagia says:

    I will point out right now that I have been living a fairly ‘green’ lifestyle for many, many years (I’m basically a hippy at heart) and have only recently started questioning the information we are being given.

    I have no idea if any of my thoughts on this are actually “correct”, but I think it’s *extremely* important that we question these things.

    In the developed world we have all been conditioned to believe that we should cut down on energy use, that we should stop flying in planes, stop our general progress and that we should all simply feel absolutely guilty for living.

    In the developing world they are simply trying to *live*.

    In 100 years’ time, looking back, will it have been a good idea to have spent billions upon billions of dollars trying to change the weather in order to save a bit of land loss in Holland and to try and keep rich Floridians’ homes from being ruined… or might it have been better to have spent that money on finding ways of providing clean water to the 20% of the world who don’t have access to it or to stop malnutrition and starvation around the world or to halt the spread of AIDS in Africa…


    Exactly what is the aim of ‘Saving the Planet’?

  11. Mark says:

    Gia, tell Brian to pull his finger out, stop wasting time talking about reading people’s minds on Heroes Unmasked, and come up with a zero point energy module now.

  12. toby says:

    Without science, technology and space exploration our future is bleak. You are right in every detail. Except… it is possible to be a vegetarian and have enough energy to run a marathon! But I wouldn’t want to do it again; the veggie bit, I mean.

  13. giagia says:

    One thing that disturbed me was this quote by Al Gore (and, again, I will point out to anyone who doesn’t already know, I am a Democrat and very anti-Bush. So this isn’t ‘party politics’):
    The climate crisis offers us the chance to experience what few generations in history have had the privilege of experiencing: a generational mission; a compelling moral purpose; a shared cause; and the thrill of being forced by circumstances to put aside the pettiness and conflict of politics and to embrace a genuine moral and spiritual challenge.

    It sounds like he’s missing the Vietnam Protests…

    Being emotionally blackmailed into having a compost heap isn’t ‘a thrill’. Being ‘fined’ for not being rich enough to buy a new hybrid car is not ‘a compelling moral purpose’. Feeling guilty for buying tropical fruit during the winter months isn’t a ‘spiritual challenge’.

    ENDING THIRD WORLD STARVATION is a ‘generational mission’. PROVIDING WATER FOR THE WHOLE WORLD is a ‘generational mission’. HALTING THE SPREAD OF AIDS IN AFRICA is a ‘generational mission’. INVESTING IN EDUCATION and INSPIRING SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS is a ‘generational mission’… ALL of those things will create a healthier, wealthier world which will have many, many more educated people all over the world who will be able to come up with solutions to our planetary problems.

    As it stands, in order for ‘the West’ to assuage their guilt, we will have to prevent the developing world from developing any further. Keep people starving, ill and dying.

    I, for one, am not happy with that choice.

  14. Jonah says:

    I just found this yesterday

    Oh, wow, now *that* is a thing of beauty! Let’s summarise the rules of the contest:

    A) We bet that you can’t disprove these two hypotheses, which even we have to admit are so vaguely worded and subjective that your success will depend entirely on how that wording is interpreted.

    B) We and we alone will interpret the wording, not a disinterested third party. So there is no way of winning this contest if we don’t want a winner.

    C) Any entries must be entirely your work, specifically done for the contest. This stipulation is sufficiently vaguely worded that you can be disqualified for even referencing any of the existing body of scientific evidence. So, you have to prove everything to our satisfaction from very first principles, further stacking the odds against any possible success.

    D) Having set up a contest that is basically impossible to win, we will then charge you for the privilege of entering it!

    E) If you enter, then we own all your work!

    The beauty of it is that when nobody signs over the rights to their work and pays to enter the competition that’s impossible to win, anti-science right-wingers who want to deny the mass of scientific evidence that human activity is causing climate change can say:

    “Well, we offered a prize and nobody has won it yet. Ergo, there is no scientific evidence that we are affecting the climate at all.”

    You’ve got to admire it for its purity.