Thursday, June 19, 2008

Too much environmental doom and gloom

Susan Nielsen thinks enviros have won, but we didn't notice. She thinks every day is Earth Day, and it's time to back off from the Daily Dose of Doom that we enviros deliver to the world. She has a point.

"Now that every day is Earth Day, we need a new kind of holiday. We need an annual break from bad environmental news.

The year-round glumfest about drowning polar bears, dying honeybees and the general futility of it all is raising consciousness but crushing spirits (or at least mine). We need a day of rest — a time to pretend, as we did in the 1990s, that the party could last forever.

The other 364 days we can stick to the new normal, flogging ourselves about carbon and fretting about an uncertain future."
Now I can hear the chorus of objections rising...

"...but wait, the problems aren't solved yet..."
"...people don't know how bad things really are..."
"...we need to get serious and implement stronger actions..."

All of them true, but all unfortunately delivered as dire doses of doom. What drives this gloomy approach? Is it a desire to infect everyone with the sad pessimism that pervades the environmental movement? (I know about that pessimism, I'm part of the movement and I hear it every day.)

She says we've won and we don't realize it. Everyone now knows that we're right, and it's time for a new strategy to get people moving towards solutions.

I can see the merit in Nielsen's point, and I like her idea. For just one day, it would be a good idea to try to deliver all environmental news with optimism and a sense of hope.

There's nothing wrong with optimism. Try it, you just might like it.


FoulHooked said...

My freshman biology prof comes to mind. He held and shared the "humans are a virus" mentality, but somehow balanced it with overwhelming optimism that we could overcome our inherent destructiveness, and that we were indeed doing so. I'm still to conflicted to hold much hope for the human race long-term, but a daily dose of optimism helps keep the sanity. There is a lot of good in this world, after all.

Rob said...

Ok lets be positive. This is about plans. Who actually has one? It had to be Google for the US of course. As Eric Schmidt says. “Quit grousing and come up with a plan if you don’t like mine. After all what’s the alternative? Death?” So here is his plan

In short: A crisis is an opportunity (financial crisis).

Q: Why are we spending so much money on military security? A: Oil security

Premise: Total fundamental failure of political leadership based on:
1. Vested interests 2. Lack of understanding of value of; global alliances, best available technology and the great opportunity we are being presented with to restructure inefficiency.

A - Efficiency first: This is the cheapest and easiest with the fastest payback e.g. Google investing $5 million for a two year return!
B - Investment in Solar thermal, wind and geothermal mainly with incentives(as there are so many subtle subsidies for fossil fuels)
C - Restructure the old decaying grid: Old grid has 9% efficiency loss. Mathematical modelling using renewables mix across US show a smart grid to be very stable, in fact more stable than current one. Investigate V2G(vehicle to grid) with plug in hybrids i.e. charge in off peak, download in peak as most cost is at peak power(and taxpayer makes money not driving).
D - Regulation: Price on carbon, new building efficiency standards, ZEVs and plug in hybrids(electric/ethanol)

Cost: 2.7 trillion Savings: 2.1 trillion (in efficiencies) 8% discount rate = $200 million in net present value

1 Security
2 Price of energy
3 Jobs and investment (yes millions of home based jobs and export revenue)
4 And by the way, CLIMATE CHANGE