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OK, Go Green

February 1, 2012

No, I’m not being fickle.  The last post was about envy; this one is about being environmentally friendly.

It is true that the world is warming up.  We’re .07 degrees warmer on average than we were in the 1800s.  You’re thinking I’m being sarcastic, because “so what,” right?  We can’t even feel .07 degrees.  But it is a big deal.  Earth is a very complicated system and the greenhouse gases produced by people are a sliver of what the world itself produces (a few million tons a year).  Yet a sliver can be dangerous when stuck in the right place.

Is global warming solely on us?  No, but we contribute.  Our energy discharge and depletion of the O2-consuming plants and trees has an impact, albeit a small one.

And even if it didn’t, even if we had nothing to do with global warming, we should go Green anyway.  Intelligently, of course, I still think using non-renewable resources like coal to power recycling is silly (send it all to Washington for hydro-electric processing).  But we should be aggressively looking for alternative energy and better building materials.

If you can’t get behind the good-for-the-Earth motive, how about good old technological advancement?  When we started racing for the moon, technology jumped forward across America due to spin-off tech.

Spin-off technology is pioneered discoveries with more applications than what it was intended for, and I don’t just mean Tang.  The space race produced tons of spin-off tech, and so is the Green movement.  Existing solutions that aren’t productive enough for America, for example, are being deployed to third-world communities.  Other ideas on the drawing board and in prototype at integrated technology companies are going to change the world.

No matter your feelings about global warming, embrace the Green.

And if none of those motivations work for you, alternative energy will be cheaper (one of the drivers for tech companies is not only must it be more efficient, it has to be less expensive to ease market entry).  Just don’t let the government fund it.  Please.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2012 7:18 am

    Whew, I am relieved to see you’re not a card-carrying member of the anti-science right. 🙂 The way I describe the anthropogenic global warming debate is thus:

    Imagine you are a parent, and your child begins to exhibit some alarming but unclear symptoms. Naturally you take her to a doctor, who offers his diagnosis as to the ailment, its cause, and what should be done about it. Being a concerned and thorough parent, you decide to get second opinions–99 of them. Of the rest of the doctors you take your child to, all but 3 agree on what the issue is, what the cause is, and what should be done about it. The other three agree that something’s wrong, they just aren’t so sure about the cause so they can’t offer a treatment. Would you or any responsible parent fail to follow the advice of those 97 doctors who all agree? What if you found out that the 3 who disagree were on the payroll of the insurance or pharmaceutical company with a vested financial interest in your child not having that particular ailment? That is essentially the situation with AGW.

    Anyway, needless to say I agree with you almost entirely. Even if there’s valid debate over exactly how much humanity is contributing to climate change, the potential consequences are dire enough to merit action on our part to mitigate anything that might be causing it. And to beat my dead horse just a little more, it seems obvious that the main reason we aren’t doing much of anything but debating AGW is because the petrochemical industry has happily poured money into swaying our politicians, as well as the public debate by means of their influence over the media (see: Koch Industries, who are pretty much the entire driving force behind the Tea Party and conservative, anti-science think tanks like the Heritage Foundation).

    Where I disagree with you is on the government piece. Just like the government’s investment in the space program–which was money thrown at a challenge almost for that challenge’s own sake, not to solve any particular problem facing the whole of mankind–spurred scads of new technology, government investment in all sorts of new energy and environmental research and technology would do the same. The United States could once again become a leader in technology and manufacturing, in a market that is crucial not just for us but for the rest of the world as well. We’re already losing that race to China too, because they have so much more brainpower and manufacturing capability than we do, and because their government IS happily subsidizing green tech. If we’d step up, there would be new jobs galore. Even so, as you said, the price of any new tech is generally the first and foremost barrier to adoption–if I have a gasoline-powered car that works just fine, why should I buy a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf when they’re so much more expensive? We can’t expect the companies that make them to sell them at a loss unless that money can be made up somehow, and that somehow is via government subsidy. Once the tech catches on and gets cheaper to manufacture, so we see EVs selling competitively with gas vehicles, then we won’t need that extra encouragement. But this is one industry that not only should thrive but absolutely MUST–and I’m perfectly okay with government spending to ensure it does.

    For what it’s worth, I’m way more okay with spending billions on the development and adoption of green technology than I am with spending trillions to kill brown people who happen to be living on top of fossil fuels.

  2. February 2, 2012 7:14 pm

    Not sure I want to emulate China…

    I just don’t see a need for subsidies. If i’m not willing to buy a more expensive electric car, I don’t think the government should take my money to fund it. Incentives? Okay.

    Not crazy about the term “anti-science.” There are certainly some people on the right who don’t know much about science and their BS meter looks at .7 degree rise and says “huh?” And the same on the left who look and say “whatever those guys say must be true!” But to say someone who makes predictions and pose hypotheses that bear out and so come to a different conclusion isn’t “anti-science.” First principles guide us all and determine how we interpret data.

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