Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category
Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky proclamation of a doomsday cult, apocalypse bible prophecy sect, or conspiracy theory society. Rather, it is the scientific conclusion of the best paid, most widely-respected geologists, physicists, and investment bankers in the world. These are rational, professional, conservative individuals who are absolutely terrified by a phenomenon known as global "Peak Oil."
"While population increases geometrically, the food supply increases incrementally."
I read the MSNBC article, and didn’t see much new there, except that Chinese provinces are re-thinking their policy of discouraging small cars.As far as your note above, here is something from the eminent Canadian right wing whacko Mark Steyn, excerpted from his recent article, "It’s the Demography. Stupid" OpinionJournal – Extra , which was in the Reactionary Rag AKA the Wall Street Journal:The Western world has delivered more wealth and more comfort to more of its citizens than any other civilization in history, and in return we’ve developed a great cult of worrying. You know the classics of the genre: In 1968, in his bestselling book "The Population Bomb," the eminent scientist Paul Ehrlich declared: "In the 1970s the world will undergo famines–hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." In 1972, in their landmark study "The Limits to Growth," the Club of Rome announced that the world would run out of gold by 1981, of mercury by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead and gas by 1993.
None of these things happened. In fact, quite the opposite is happening. We’re pretty much awash in resources, but we’re running out of people–the one truly indispensable resource, without which none of the others matter. Russia’s the most obvious example: it’s the largest country on earth, it’s full of natural resources, and yet it’s dying–its population is falling calamitously.I was taught much of the above, at Fairfield University, in 1972 and 1973, by the late ecology specialist Dr. Salvatore Bongiorno, who I did ecology courses with, as well as a senior research project. I read "The Limits of Growth".Now here’s some more bad news, unless you’re a member of ZPG (or you’re a diehard Republican). Again it’s from Steyn’s opinion piece:the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they’re running out a lot faster than the oil is. "Replacement" fertility rate–i.e., the number you need for merely a stable population, not getting any bigger, not getting any smaller–is 2.1 babies per woman. Some countries are well above that: the global fertility leader, Somalia, is 6.91, Niger 6.83, Afghanistan 6.78, Yemen 6.75. Notice what those nations have in common?
Scroll way down to the bottom of the Hot One Hundred top breeders and you’ll eventually find the United States, hovering just at replacement rate with 2.07 births per woman. Ireland is 1.87, New Zealand 1.79, Australia 1.76. But Canada’s fertility rate is down to 1.5, well below replacement rate; Germany and Austria are at 1.3, the brink of the death spiral; Russia and Italy are at 1.2; Spain 1.1, about half replacement rate. That’s to say, Spain’s population is halving every generation. By 2050, Italy’s population will have fallen by 22%, Bulgaria’s by 36%, Estonia’s by 52%. In America, demographic trends suggest that the blue states ought to apply for honorary membership of the EU: In the 2004 election, John Kerry won the 16 with the lowest birthrates; George W. Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest. By 2050, there will be 100 million fewer Europeans, 100 million more Americans–and mostly red-state Americans.When your daughter is my age, the world is going to be even more transformed than it has been since the early sixties – but it wont be for lack of energy sources.
Pollution may be slowing global warming, researchers are reporting today, and a cleaner environment may soon speed it up.
Writing in the journal Nature, an international scientific team provides evidence suggesting that a reduction in haze from human causes may accelerate warming of the earth’s atmosphere. The researchers said pollutants had held down the rate of global warming by absorbing and scattering sunlight.
"If people clean up the air, more warming will come blazing through," Jim Coakley, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis, said yesterday in a telephone interview. Nature selected Dr. Coakley to write a commentary on the study.
It isn’t that cut and dried, but that may say more about the convoluted science around the issue than anything else. Draw your own conclusions.
More thoughts at Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of…
AS an environmentalist, I support wind power, including wind power on the high seas. I am also involved in siting wind farms in appropriate landscapes, of which there are many. But I do believe that some places should be off limits to any sort of industrial development. I wouldn’t build a wind farm in Yosemite National Park. Nor would I build one on Nantucket Sound, which is exactly what the company Energy Management is trying to do with its Cape Wind project.
Environmental groups have been enticed by Cape Wind, but they should be wary of lending support to energy companies that are trying to privatize the commons – in this case 24 square miles of a heavily used waterway. And because offshore wind costs twice as much as gas-fired electricity and significantly more than onshore wind, the project is financially feasible only because the federal and state governments have promised $241 million in subsidies.
Cape Wind’s proposal involves construction of 130 giant turbines whose windmill arms will reach 417 feet above the water and be visible for up to 26 miles. These turbines are less than six miles from shore and would be seen from Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Hundreds of flashing lights to warn airplanes away from the turbines will steal the stars and nighttime views. The noise of the turbines will be audible onshore. A transformer substation rising 100 feet above the sound would house giant helicopter pads and 40,000 gallons of potentially hazardous oil.
The Yosemite Park example is a straw man. I wouldn’t build a homeless shelter in Hyannis Port either. Big deal. And the concerns about whirling turbines and potentially dangerous oil would happen anywhere they put these things. This is absolutely no different from the limousine liberal outrage you’d get from building low income housing in Chappaqua. If you build it, they will howl. Utter hypocrisy.
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