Wired's Inconvenient Truths
The latest issue of Wired (which some people think should be called Weird), has a series of articles that actually take cutting carbon emissions seriously. Their recommendations:
In short, these are the sort of suggestions that will make the Greens summarize that issue of Wired in the phrase “We have to destroy the Earth in order to save it.”
Live in Cities:
Urban Living Is Kinder to the Planet Than the Suburban Lifestyle
A/C Is OK:
Air-Conditioning Actually Emits Less CO2 Than Heating
Organics Are Not the Answer:
Surprise! Conventional Agriculture Can Be Easier on the Planet
Farm the Forests:
Old-Growth Forests Can Actually Contribute to Global Warming
China Is the Solution:
The People's Republic Leads the Way in Alternative-Energy Hardware
Accept Genetic Engineering:
Superefficient Frankencrops Could Put a Real Dent in Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Carbon Trading Doesn't Work:
Carbon Credits Were a Great Idea, But the Benefits Are Illusory
Embrace Nuclear Power:
Face It. Nukes Are the Most Climate-Friendly Industrial-Scale Form of Energy
Used Cars — Not Hybrids:
Don't Buy That New Prius! Test-Drive a Used Car Instead
Prepare for the Worst:
Climate Change Is Inevitable. Get Used to It
I have no great objection to most of the platform — it avoids the usual objection that cutting carbon is an excuse to suppress capitalism — but I'd like to nitpick one of the planks:
Local agriculture means farms in urban or suburban areas. That in turn means lower population densities and thus more sprawl.
But even organic fruits and veggies are a mixed bushel: Organic fertilizers deliver lower-than-average yields, so those crops require more land per unit of food. And then there's the misplaced romanticism. Organic isn't just Farmer John; it's Big Ag. Plenty of pesticide-free foods are produced by industrial-scale farms and then shipped thousands of miles to their final destination. The result: refrigerator trucks belching carbon dioxide.
Organic produce can be good for the climate, but not if it's grown in energy-dependent hothouses and travels long distances to get to your fridge. What matters is eating food that's locally grown and in season. So skip the prewashed bag of organic greens trucked from two time zones away ߞ the real virtue may come from that conventionally farmed head of lettuce grown in the next county.
In any case, there's a simple way to tell if lots of fuel is being used for your food: Look at the price. If enormous amounts of land or fuel really are used for your dinner, the price will be enormous as well.
By the way, is there any actual evidence that organic food is healthier on the whole? The claim is regarded as so obvious that the proponents are relieved of any need for evidence. There are isolated results for one or two types of food but there are isolated results in the other direction.
It is a bit amusing to read the comments. Many of them sound like “Stone the heretics!”
Addendum: I just remembered I came up with another anti-green solution to a possible global-warming problem: styrofoam.