Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Consideration of Environmental Poltiics

I understand and appreciate the goals of the environmental movements out there, but I also fear that while they put plenty of time into research of the environmental problems and the long term effects of those problems if they remain unchecked, they don't put the same amount of time and energy into researching both the positive and negative effects of their possible "solutions."

It sometimes seems they don't often research the possible solutions quite as thoroughly as they research the problems themselves. There's a bit of a knee-jerk reactionism to environmental problems that I believe could lead us to even greater problems down the road than the environmental problems/issues themselves. I believe that as a culture we're too prone to rush into solutions to our problems far too rashly and it gets us into even bigger messes.

The attention spans of society as a whole are too short. We're a fast food culture that want results NOW. As a result our leaders (in both parties) knowing that their re-electability is often only as good as their next political success often rush headlong into "solutions" without adequately researching the adverse effects of those solutions.

The biofuel issue is just one example of putting solid and sound research into defining a problem and its long term effects and then rushing into a solution without fully evaluating the possible costs and drawbacks of that solution. Using food items as an alternative fuel source that supposedly leaves a smaller carbon footprint and reduces our dependence on foreign oil-- sounds great, doesn't it? But what effect does it have on worldwide food shortages and the out of control upward spiral of food prices? By going "green" with bio-fuel aren't we essentially making world hunger an even greater problem than it already is? And while biofuel may be cheaper than gasoline, what is the net effect on our bank ledgers? We pay less for fuel, but more for food? Are we really balancing things out? Are we really saving money? Are we possibly even spending more?

Doing what's right isn't always popular and in a culture as coddled as ours has become there's an overwhelming want/need to be well-liked/popular which goes all the way up to the highest echelons of power in both parties, and sometimes that desire comes at the cost of doing what's actually right or taking the time to figure out what is actually right as opposed to following what seems like the easiest path at the time.

We're also a mass-marketed culture. Slap a "green" label on a product and we'll fall over each other to purchase it, but how many people actually research how "green" the product actually is? And even if products ARE actually green by conventional wisdom, are they REALLY "green?"

Just some mental cud to chew on...


Susan as herself said...

I rarely believe those "green" labels to the extent that they would like you to believe.

The only folks who live truly green are the ones who are totally off the grid and generate their own power thru wind and solar panels and grow or breed everything they consume. I have often wondered how hard their lives are, and if they have time to do anything else. Still, I respect their choice.

Jeff said...

Good post, bio-fuels are far from the answer. In the end they are not really helping the environment. It's a smart political choice for candidates, especially those who are running for president to endorse bio-fuels so they are able to get a boost in those early primary states which rely on farming. The energy it takes to actually make bio-fuels is almost equal to using fossil fuels. In my oppinion the answer is solar energy, if we can efficiently harness the energy of the sun then we would be set. The sun produces a ridiculous amount of energy, it's just a matter of finding out a way to use it properly.