Environmentalism: A Long View

 

“Sustainable.” People seem awfully fond of that word, using it more and more to the point where the XKCD guy figured out when the English language becomes only the word “sustainable” over and over and over again.

The problem with sustainability is that it assumes that, well, things can be sustained. That there exists a possible steady-state future where the environment isn’t harmed by mankind. We assume that, left to it’s own devices, the environment stays the same. The environment will change, and it will change in spite of our attempts to sustain it.

Species Will Go Extinct

Let’s face it, the pandas are doomed. If we stopped the habitat destruction; if we conjured new bamboo forests for them, they’d still die out. A species which is so singularly apathetic about reproduction isn’t going to win the natural selection Olympics. If you buy evolution at all then you know that species have been going extinct long before Homo Sap came on the scene. If we conserve nature as if it wasn’t touched by man, we’re consigning those species to die. Even cute and fuzzy species like the panda bear.

On the flipside, the theory of evolution predicts that new species will evolve. Conserving the environment as it exists now means we’ll have to root out those new species as well as preserve the old ones. This will only get harder as time goes by.

Long story short, pandas are unsustainable.

Litter is Only Temporary

Yes, even the bad kinds of litter. Look, it ain’t pretty going along the highway and looking at discarded plastic bottles. I’m embarrassed by it, the way you’re embarrassed if your dog piddles on someone else’s floor. And they tell us that plastic doesn’t decay. That might even be true right now. In the future?

Again, if you take the theory of evolution seriously then you should be keeping an eye on all those long chain hydrocarbons. Those things hold a lot of energy. Sooner or later something’s going to take advantage of that. There’s a great deal of difference between splitting sugars apart to regenerate ATP and chewing through PVC, but the existence of that much available energy creates options much like a fool and his money creates economic opportunity.

By creating huge piles of polyethylene, mankind has wedged another niche into the survival game. Sooner or later we’ll find a bacteria strain taking advantage of all that underutilized energy. And plastics will decay like anything else.

Glass too? Not glass. Silicon dioxide is about as burnt as anything can possibly be. There’s very little energy to extract. On the other hand, what’s the difference between a glass bottle and a rock? Aesthetically, a glass bottle looks uglier when it’s tossed in the ocean. But it’s still made of sand; eventually, the ocean will wear it back into sand.

Landfills Are Not Permanent. Neither Is Nuclear Waste

Landfills are, however, disgusting. Stuff that’s tossed into them doesn’t decay quickly. But more things than biodegradables get tossed into landfills. Think about any old and busted piece of electronics that ended up in the trash. All those aluminum cans that missed the recycling bin. All the stuff we toss out is also all the raw materials we need to build civilization. What’s the difference between a landfill and a mine? The price of aluminum.

And nuclear waste? Radiation can be nasty stuff. But every bit of radiation comes from an atom decaying into another element*. As it marches down that decay chain it eventually reaches a stable endpoint. That can take a real long time. However, every bit of radioactivity comes from an atom decaying; if it takes ’em a real long time to decay they’re going to emit less radioactivity on a minute-by-minute basis. The more dangerous the isotope, the more quickly it goes away.

And there are uses for nuclear waste. I mean aside from generating superheroes. I’ll save you the reading, and link to a talk by Kirk Sorensen about the useful things you can find in nuclear waste. Bottom line, if you filled Yucca mountain with fresh, piping hot nuclear waste, in about three hundred years you could open a plutonium mine.

The Broader Problems with Environmentalism

The problem with words like ‘sustainability’ isn’t really that people haven’t thought them through. It’s that they don’t feel it necessary to think them through. Hey, maybe I’m wrong about these things. Maybe plastics will never decay, maybe the pandas are on the cusp of staging a comeback tour. Maybe a plutonium mine is a really, really bad idea. The problem I have with this is that these questions aren’t even being asked.

If you’re going to set the environment as your highest good, if you’re going to sacrifices the freedom of your fellow man in order to ban plastic straws and whatever else in pursuit of that ideal, then you should at a bare minimum understand what that ideal is and what it implies.


*You can also have atoms decay into a different configuration of the same element, but that hardly matters to the larger discussion.

Published in Environment
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  1. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    As my micro-economics professor said, the right amount of pollution is not zero pollution.  It is a trade off.

    All of this hysteria over global warming has completely skewed the debate into insanity.

    You make excellent points.

    • #1
  2. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    The problem I have with this is that these questions aren’t even being asked.

    Because the Science is settled! Too bad these little science acolytes were all sociology majors.

    • #2
  3. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member
    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw
    @MattBalzer

    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power: Look, it ain’t pretty going along the highway and looking at discarded plastic bottles. I’m embarrassed by it, the way you’re embarrassed if your dog piddles on someone else’s floor.

    If you’re going to make that analogy it better be your discarded plastic bottles.

    • #3
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    • #4
  5. Al French, sad sack Moderator
    Al French, sad sack
    @AlFrench

    The word “sustainable” has no legal or scientific definition. All claims to sustainability are meaningless.

    • #5
  6. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    The problem I have with this is that these questions aren’t even being asked.

    Because the Science is settled! Too bad these little science acolytes were all sociology majors.

    Worse, they have degrees in, wait for it, sustainability.

    • #6
  7. Sweezle Member
    Sweezle
    @Sweezle

    Even if we were to develop lots of “clean” energy, keep our water sources pristine and stop using things that just end up in landfills we cannot control the pollution or bad practices in China, India and the rest of the world. What difference can we actually make even if the “science” on global warming was even 5% correct?

    • #7
  8. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power:Litter is Only Temporary

    Yes, even the bad kinds of litter. Look, it ain’t pretty going along the highway and looking at discarded plastic bottles. I’m embarrassed by it, the way you’re embarrassed if your dog piddles on someone else’s floor. And they tell us that plastic doesn’t decay. That might even be true right now. In the future?

    Again, if you take the theory of evolution seriously then you should be keeping an eye on all those long chain hydrocarbons. Those things hold a lot of energy. Sooner or later something’s going to take advantage of that. There’s a great deal of difference between splitting sugars apart to regenerate ATP and chewing through PVC, but the existence of that much available energy creates options much like a fool and his money creates economic opportunity.

    By creating huge piles of polyethylene, mankind has wedged another niche into the survival game. Sooner or later we’ll find a bacteria strain taking advantage of all that underutilized energy. And plastics will decay like anything else.

    Glass too? Not glass. Silicon dioxide is about as burnt as anything can possibly be. There’s very little energy to extract. On the other hand, what’s the difference between a glass bottle and a rock? Aesthetically, a glass bottle looks uglier when it’s tossed in the ocean. But it’s still made of sand; eventually, the ocean will wear it back into sand.

    Hmm, this sounds familiar.  Didn’t someone make similar points about this here awhile ago?  Oh, yeah, I remember, Hey Everybody!  Let’s Save the Planet!

    GMTA

    For years, most cities just dumped most of their garbage into the ocean.  A lot of cities in Asia and Africa still do.  Has anyone studied the sites off New York, Boston, Atlantic City, etc. to see what the actual environmental impact has been?  My guess is somewhere between didley and squat.

    • #8
  9. Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power
    @HankRhody

    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power: Look, it ain’t pretty going along the highway and looking at discarded plastic bottles. I’m embarrassed by it, the way you’re embarrassed if your dog piddles on someone else’s floor.

    If you’re going to make that analogy it better be your discarded plastic bottles.

    If I drive down the road in my city and see trash on the side of the road then odds are it was put there by my neighbors. I’d be embarrassed to show it to Illinoisans if they showed any remorse at all for Chicago.

    • #9
  10. Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power
    @HankRhody

    Sweezle (View Comment):
    Even if we were to develop lots of “clean” energy, keep our water sources pristine and stop using things that just end up in landfills we cannot control the pollution or bad practices in China, India and the rest of the world. What difference can we actually make even if the “science” on global warming was even 5% correct?

    Regardless of Global Warming, I’m not happy that China, India, and the entire third world are dumping their garbage wherever. I’m even less happy when people near me do so. I like the Wisconsin woods just the way they are, thank you.

    However I refuse to buy into the religious aspects of environmentalism. You want to tell me that coral reefs are dying out? Expect some pointed questions before I believe you, much less agree that the government is the only possible solution.

    • #10
  11. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Stop it already with all this thoughtful, intelligent Big Picture optimism. Keep this up and soon you’ll allow the sun to burst through the clouds, for goodness sake.

    In an early draft of the treatment, the pre-script of “2001”, Arthur C. Clarke had a brief (discarded) aside that has always stuck with me. The enigmatic monolith was made from unknown materials with unbelievable exactness, the kind of thing that we might never figure out how to do. The basic technology was unlike anything in our science. So how much more advanced were the beings who created it and somehow buried it beneath the Moon’s surface so long ago? At that time were they a million years beyond where we are today? The rough guess was, surprisingly, maybe no more than a few hundred years. The main body of today’s scientific knowledge is no older than that. If we can go from the transportation tech of “Master and Commander” to sending a sports car into solar orbit in less than 300 years, we ought to be able to figure out how to transmute nuclear waste.

    I appreciate your patience with transient, man-made messiness, though as someone who saw the Seventies, I can tell you there are degrees of smog, industrial waste and litter that are harder to put into the Big Picture than others.

    • #11
  12. Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power
    @HankRhody

    JosePluma (View Comment):

     

    Hmm, this sounds familiar. Didn’t someone make similar points about this here awhile ago? Oh, yeah, I remember, Hey Everybody! Let’s Save the Planet!

    Good post; I missed it last time around. Interesting comments too.

    • #12
  13. Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power
    @HankRhody

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    I appreciate your patience with transient, man-made messiness, though as someone who saw the Seventies, I can tell you there are degrees of smog, industrial waste and litter that are harder to put into the Big Picture than others.

    My mind flashes to Rick in Casablanca: “Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.”

    I’m not advocating going out and throwing your stuff wherever, I just refuse to ride the environmental guilt trip.

    • #13
  14. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Stop it already with all this thoughtful, intelligent Big Picture optimism. Keep this up and soon you’ll allow the sun to burst through the clouds, for goodness sake.

    In an early draft of the treatment, the pre-script of “2001”, Arthur C. Clarke had a brief (discarded) aside that has always stuck with me. The enigmatic monolith was made from unknown materials with unbelievable exactness, the kind of thing that we might never figure out how to do. The basic technology was unlike anything in our science. So how much more advanced were the beings who created it and somehow buried it beneath the Moon’s surface so long ago? At that time were they a million years beyond where we are today? The rough guess was, surprisingly, maybe no more than a few hundred years. The main body of today’s scientific knowledge is no older than that. If we can go from the transportation tech of “Master and Commander” to sending a sports car into solar orbit in less than 300 years, we ought to be able to figure out how to transmute nuclear waste.

    I appreciate your patience with transient, man-made messiness, though as someone who saw the Seventies, I can tell you there are degrees of smog, industrial waste and litter that are harder to put into the Big Picture than others.

    What’s important is that we should be focused on real environmental improvement.  In the 70s and 80s, you would never see the mountains in Los Angeles in the summer.  Now you see them all the time.

    Then there was, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” We worked hard and cleaned up our mess.

    The problem now is that we have solved most of our environmental issues.  I’ve been to India, they haven’t.   But now our political class is focused on the non-issue of global warming.  That distracts everyone from continuing to focus on fixing the real problems that exist.

    • #14
  15. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Sweezle (View Comment):
    Even if we were to develop lots of “clean” energy, keep our water sources pristine and stop using things that just end up in landfills we cannot control the pollution or bad practices in China, India and the rest of the world. What difference can we actually make even if the “science” on global warming was even 5% correct?

    But if we try extra, extra hard, maybe Earth will forgive us.

    • #15
  16. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    If you’re born yesterday it’s easy to imagine there might not be a tomorrow.

    • #16
  17. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member
    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw
    @MattBalzer

    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power (View Comment):

    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power: Look, it ain’t pretty going along the highway and looking at discarded plastic bottles. I’m embarrassed by it, the way you’re embarrassed if your dog piddles on someone else’s floor.

    If you’re going to make that analogy it better be your discarded plastic bottles.

    If I drive down the road in my city and see trash on the side of the road then odds are it was put there by my neighbors. I’d be embarrassed to show it to Illinoisans if they showed any remorse at all for Chicago.

    Yeah, if they were ever going to stop in that area. They were probably the ones who trashed it anyway.

    • #17
  18. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member
    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw
    @MattBalzer

    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power (View Comment):
    I’m not advocating going out and throwing your stuff wherever, I just refuse to ride the environmental guilt trip.

    I know who does.

    • #18
  19. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Stop it already with all this thoughtful, intelligent Big Picture optimism. Keep this up and soon you’ll allow the sun to burst through the clouds, for goodness sake.

    In an early draft of the treatment, the pre-script of “2001”, Arthur C. Clarke had a brief (discarded) aside that has always stuck with me. The enigmatic monolith was made from unknown materials with unbelievable exactness, the kind of thing that we might never figure out how to do. The basic technology was unlike anything in our science. So how much more advanced were the beings who created it and somehow buried it beneath the Moon’s surface so long ago? At that time were they a million years beyond where we are today? The rough guess was, surprisingly, maybe no more than a few hundred years. The main body of today’s scientific knowledge is no older than that. If we can go from the transportation tech of “Master and Commander” to sending a sports car into solar orbit in less than 300 years, we ought to be able to figure out how to transmute nuclear waste.

    I appreciate your patience with transient, man-made messiness, though as someone who saw the Seventies, I can tell you there are degrees of smog, industrial waste and litter that are harder to put into the Big Picture than others.

    What’s important is that we should be focused on real environmental improvement. In the 70s and 80s, you would never see the mountains in Los Angeles in the summer. Now you see them all the time.

    Then there was, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” We worked hard and cleaned up our mess.

    The problem now is that we have solved most of our environmental issues. I’ve been to India, they haven’t. But now our political class is focused on the non-issue of global warming. That distracts everyone from continuing to focus on fixing the real problems that exist.

    That’s the thing: in the early Seventies the pollution problem was really bad. Cleaning up 90% was not all that expensive and the results were great. But cleaning up 9/10 of the remaining 10% was quite costly by the Nineties, with far fewer visible improvements and a marked increase in impact on human activity in general, not just industry.

    Now we’re dealing with an astronomical estimate to deal with the remaining 1%. Something’s gone wrong with the arithmetic.

    • #19
  20. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Stop it already with all this thoughtful, intelligent Big Picture optimism. Keep this up and soon you’ll allow the sun to burst through the clouds, for goodness sake.

    In an early draft of the treatment, the pre-script of “2001”, Arthur C. Clarke had a brief (discarded) aside that has always stuck with me. The enigmatic monolith was made from unknown materials with unbelievable exactness, the kind of thing that we might never figure out how to do. The basic technology was unlike anything in our science. So how much more advanced were the beings who created it and somehow buried it beneath the Moon’s surface so long ago? At that time were they a million years beyond where we are today? The rough guess was, surprisingly, maybe no more than a few hundred years. The main body of today’s scientific knowledge is no older than that. If we can go from the transportation tech of “Master and Commander” to sending a sports car into solar orbit in less than 300 years, we ought to be able to figure out how to transmute nuclear waste.

    I appreciate your patience with transient, man-made messiness, though as someone who saw the Seventies, I can tell you there are degrees of smog, industrial waste and litter that are harder to put into the Big Picture than others.

    What’s important is that we should be focused on real environmental improvement. In the 70s and 80s, you would never see the mountains in Los Angeles in the summer. Now you see them all the time.

    Then there was, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” We worked hard and cleaned up our mess.

    The problem now is that we have solved most of our environmental issues. I’ve been to India, they haven’t. But now our political class is focused on the non-issue of global warming. That distracts everyone from continuing to focus on fixing the real problems that exist.

    That’s the thing: in the early Seventies the pollution problem was really bad. Cleaning up 90% was not all that expensive and the results were great. But cleaning up 9/10 of the remaining 10% was quite costly by the Nineties, with far fewer visible improvements and a marked increase in impact on human activity in general, not just industry.

    Now we’re dealing with an astronomical estimate to deal with the remaining 1%. Something’s gone wrong with the arithmetic.

    It’s that there is no arithmetic. It’s a religion, and there is no limit to the nonsense that a religion can support; machines for praying, indulgences, extreme mortification of the flesh.

    • #20
  21. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    That’s the thing: in the early Seventies the pollution problem was really bad. Cleaning up 90% was not all that expensive and the results were great. But cleaning up 9/10 of the remaining 10% was quite costly by the Nineties, with far fewer visible improvements and a marked increase in impact on human activity in general, not just industry.

    Now we’re dealing with an astronomical estimate to deal with the remaining 1%. Something’s gone wrong with the arithmetic.

    Pareto Principle

    • #21
  22. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    That’s the thing: in the early Seventies the pollution problem was really bad. Cleaning up 90% was not all that expensive and the results were great. But cleaning up 9/10 of the remaining 10% was quite costly by the Nineties, with far fewer visible improvements and a marked increase in impact on human activity in general, not just industry.

    Now we’re dealing with an astronomical estimate to deal with the remaining 1%. Something’s gone wrong with the arithmetic.

    Pareto Principle

    I should have known that Arahant would have a perfect example at the ready.

    • #22
  23. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    I should have known that Arahant would have a perfect example at the ready.

    Any consultant would. That simple 80/20 rule is often our bread and butter, one way or another. Companies wanting to get that last 20% done? That’s where 80% of the money comes from.

    • #23
  24. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    I should have known that Arahant would have a perfect example at the ready.

    Any consultant would. That simple 80/20 rule is often our bread and butter, one way or another. Companies wanting to get that last 20% done? That’s where 80% of the money comes from.

    In my business I had a less intuitive grasp of the numbers, but the concept wasn’t too different. “Let’s spend the first third of the time getting two thirds of the job done, and it’ll be good for morale when the going gets slower”.

    • #24
  25. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Stop it already with all this thoughtful, intelligent Big Picture optimism. Keep this up and soon you’ll allow the sun to burst through the clouds, for goodness sake.

    In an early draft of the treatment, the pre-script of “2001”, Arthur C. Clarke had a brief (discarded) aside that has always stuck with me. The enigmatic monolith was made from unknown materials with unbelievable exactness, the kind of thing that we might never figure out how to do. The basic technology was unlike anything in our science. So how much more advanced were the beings who created it and somehow buried it beneath the Moon’s surface so long ago? At that time were they a million years beyond where we are today? The rough guess was, surprisingly, maybe no more than a few hundred years. The main body of today’s scientific knowledge is no older than that. If we can go from the transportation tech of “Master and Commander” to sending a sports car into solar orbit in less than 300 years, we ought to be able to figure out how to transmute nuclear waste.

    I appreciate your patience with transient, man-made messiness, though as someone who saw the Seventies, I can tell you there are degrees of smog, industrial waste and litter that are harder to put into the Big Picture than others.

    What’s important is that we should be focused on real environmental improvement. In the 70s and 80s, you would never see the mountains in Los Angeles in the summer. Now you see them all the time.

    Then there was, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” We worked hard and cleaned up our mess.

    The problem now is that we have solved most of our environmental issues. I’ve been to India, they haven’t. But now our political class is focused on the non-issue of global warming. That distracts everyone from continuing to focus on fixing the real problems that exist.

    That’s the thing: in the early Seventies the pollution problem was really bad. Cleaning up 90% was not all that expensive and the results were great. But cleaning up 9/10 of the remaining 10% was quite costly by the Nineties, with far fewer visible improvements and a marked increase in impact on human activity in general, not just industry.

    Now we’re dealing with an astronomical estimate to deal with the remaining 1%. Something’s gone wrong with the arithmetic.

    If they accept reality and declare victory they will have to get real jobs so this is just easier. 

    • #25
  26. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Stop it already with all this thoughtful, intelligent Big Picture optimism. Keep this up and soon you’ll allow the sun to burst through the clouds, for goodness sake.

    In an early draft of the treatment, the pre-script of “2001”, Arthur C. Clarke had a brief (discarded) aside that has always stuck with me. The enigmatic monolith was made from unknown materials with unbelievable exactness, the kind of thing that we might never figure out how to do. The basic technology was unlike anything in our science. So how much more advanced were the beings who created it and somehow buried it beneath the Moon’s surface so long ago? At that time were they a million years beyond where we are today? The rough guess was, surprisingly, maybe no more than a few hundred years. The main body of today’s scientific knowledge is no older than that. If we can go from the transportation tech of “Master and Commander” to sending a sports car into solar orbit in less than 300 years, we ought to be able to figure out how to transmute nuclear waste.

    I appreciate your patience with transient, man-made messiness, though as someone who saw the Seventies, I can tell you there are degrees of smog, industrial waste and litter that are harder to put into the Big Picture than others.

    What’s important is that we should be focused on real environmental improvement. In the 70s and 80s, you would never see the mountains in Los Angeles in the summer. Now you see them all the time.

    Then there was, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” We worked hard and cleaned up our mess.

    The problem now is that we have solved most of our environmental issues. I’ve been to India, they haven’t. But now our political class is focused on the non-issue of global warming. That distracts everyone from continuing to focus on fixing the real problems that exist.

    This, 100%  (FYI – I have a degree in the field, actually ran environmental compliance professional for several year, and set up a successful, money-saving recycling program)

    The environmental movement has dropped all of the older issues I grew up with:

    Acid rain ruining ancient marble and devastating forests  Remember that?

    Remember the ozone hole and the problem with Freon?

    What about deforestation?  Loss of biodiversity?  Old-fashioned clean air and clean water advocacy?

    Now it is all climate change all the time.  Climate change causes everything bad in the world.  No matter how many predictions fail to come to pass, no matter how the models are shown to rely on nothing but bovine fecal matter, it is Climate Change.

    But God forbid you suggest using ultra-low carbon nuclear power to replace coal.

    • #26
  27. DonG Coolidge
    DonG
    @DonG

    The Pacific Ocean garbage page is a hoax.  A hoax being that something is made to sound dire, when it is not.  Have you seen pictures of it?  No, because the reality is underwhelming.  They make it sound like a landfill twice the size of Texas.  The reality is there is two boat loads of glitter-sized plastic spread across a large area.  Nature will consume it and you can use your straws without guilt.

    We should modify the Endangered Species Act.  We should only concern ourselves with species that are mascots for professional or D1 schools.  There are estimated 1,000,000,000,000 species in the world and 10% go extinct every year.  Another 10% emerge.  Nature is dynamic!

    • #27
  28. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Stop it already with all this thoughtful, intelligent Big Picture optimism. Keep this up and soon you’ll allow the sun to burst through the clouds, for goodness sake.

    In an early draft of the treatment, the pre-script of “2001”, Arthur C. Clarke had a brief (discarded) aside that has always stuck with me. The enigmatic monolith was made from unknown materials with unbelievable exactness, the kind of thing that we might never figure out how to do. The basic technology was unlike anything in our science. So how much more advanced were the beings who created it and somehow buried it beneath the Moon’s surface so long ago? At that time were they a million years beyond where we are today? The rough guess was, surprisingly, maybe no more than a few hundred years. The main body of today’s scientific knowledge is no older than that. If we can go from the transportation tech of “Master and Commander” to sending a sports car into solar orbit in less than 300 years, we ought to be able to figure out how to transmute nuclear waste.

    I appreciate your patience with transient, man-made messiness, though as someone who saw the Seventies, I can tell you there are degrees of smog, industrial waste and litter that are harder to put into the Big Picture than others.

    What’s important is that we should be focused on real environmental improvement. In the 70s and 80s, you would never see the mountains in Los Angeles in the summer. Now you see them all the time.

    Then there was, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” We worked hard and cleaned up our mess.

    The problem now is that we have solved most of our environmental issues. I’ve been to India, they haven’t. But now our political class is focused on the non-issue of global warming. That distracts everyone from continuing to focus on fixing the real problems that exist.

    This, 100% (FYI – I have a degree in the field, actually ran environmental compliance professional for several year, and set up a successful, money-saving recycling program)

    The environmental movement has dropped all of the older issues I grew up with:

    Acid rain ruining ancient marble and devastating forests Remember that?

    Remember the ozone hole and the problem with Freon?

    What about deforestation? Loss of biodiversity? Old-fashioned clean air and clean water advocacy?

    Now it is all climate change all the time. Climate change causes everything bad in the world. No matter how many predictions fail to come to pass, no matter how the models are shown to rely on nothing but bovine fecal matter, it is Climate Change.

    But God forbid you suggest using ultra-low carbon nuclear power to replace coal.

    Amen, brother!  Like you I ran environmental compliance programs.  Began working in the field in the 70s.  We solved concrete problems – reducing air pollution, cleaning up waterways, stopping groundwater contamination.  Then, things got more and more conceptual, and more and more expensive for less and less return.  All topped by sustainability, an intellectually bankrupt concept; sheer nonsense.

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  29. Sweezle Member
    Sweezle
    @Sweezle

    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power (View Comment):

    Sweezle (View Comment):
    Even if we were to develop lots of “clean” energy, keep our water sources pristine and stop using things that just end up in landfills we cannot control the pollution or bad practices in China, India and the rest of the world. What difference can we actually make even if the “science” on global warming was even 5% correct?

    Regardless of Global Warming, I’m not happy that China, India, and the entire third world are dumping their garbage wherever. I’m even less happy when people near me do so. I like the Wisconsin woods just the way they are, thank you.

    However I refuse to buy into the religious aspects of environmentalism. You want to tell me that coral reefs are dying out? Expect some pointed questions before I believe you, much less agree that the government is the only possible solution.

    Speaking of woods isn’t there a plan to save our parks & rivers from being overwhelmed by homeless encampments? A non-religious plan.

    • #29
  30. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    I’ve wondered for some time how it is that great pandas hadn’t already gone extinct, as lackadaisical as they are about breeding.

    • #30
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