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Author Topic: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?  (Read 3865 times)

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Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« on: July 28, 2009, 03:31:07 PM »
Don't get me wrong I'm all for the Earth. It's where I live but I'm not going to get sucked in on buying a Prius (sp) anytime soon. I'm sure if you do the math to save enough money on gas to pay for the car it would take forty some odd years (Rough number from my head math mind you.), and last time I checked a Prius costs more than the Yaris which is the same model without the electric part.

I see it in other places too. Like my brother out in Texas got a notice that if he paid like an extra four cents per kilowatt hour that they would send him electricity from windmills instead of oil. He pointed out though that it was the same wire running from the power pole to his house. How is he to know? Plus it strikes me as perverse that we should be encouraged to pay more for helping the environment. It's just a sucker deal to get people to fall for it really.

Like organic food? It costs more. For something that should have technically gone through fewer processes to get to the supermarket, or the same at least.

Now I'll say it again, I don't mind environmentalism. I just think everyone's making a quick buck off it rather than really caring. If it isn't total price jacking though it's poor motivation to do the environmentally-conscious thing.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2009, 09:57:28 PM by Inkidu »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2009, 05:00:25 PM »
The reason that organic food costs more is because the farmers have to pay more for the certifications - not because it costs more to produce.  Buy at a farmer's market, or start a backyard garden, and you can be environmentally conscious without the price tag.

Offline Serephino

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2009, 07:40:20 PM »
Actually I think I read somewhere that organic foods do cost more to produce.  Pesticides are cheaper.  Organic farmers don't use them, but rather more natural methods that cost more in the long run. 

As for the windmill thing, that is interesting.  We have windmill farms up here too, but as far as I know people don't get a choice.  You get what your electric company decides to give you. 

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2009, 07:44:26 PM »
I think the headline for this thread is a bit of an overstatement.  "Environmentalism Ripe For Con Artists" would probably be a better title, IMHO, since the current title implies that environmentalism itself is inherently fraudulent (which is not the message I believe the OP wanted to convey).  Edit: Ah, the question mark clears that misunderstanding up nicely.

As a corollary, I don't think most people understand just how hard it is to truly "go green" and reduce your environmental impact.  You're looking at some rather profound lifestyle changes, not just buying different food or paying a tad more for electricity.  It's like trying to lose thirty pounds: going to the gym once or twice a week is better than nothing, but it's not really going to get you where you want to be.  A lifestyle change is required, not just forking over a couple hours a week. 

However, just like people want to be able to pop a pill or use some kind of rubber-band contraption a couple times a week and magically shed pounds, so people will want to be able to do quickie things to feel like they're "making a difference."  And that's where the con artists step in: preying on our unrealistic (but very human) desire to have have complex, longstanding problems solved on the cheap, with little effort.

(Disclaimer: I am neither "green" nor in tiptop shape...being chained to a desk in a call center 45 hours a week isn't conducive to physical fitness...but I try)   >:(

« Last Edit: July 28, 2009, 10:24:13 PM by TyTheDnDGuy »

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2009, 09:54:51 PM »
The reason that organic food costs more is because the farmers have to pay more for the certifications - not because it costs more to produce.  Buy at a farmer's market, or start a backyard garden, and you can be environmentally conscious without the price tag.
Same difference really they just hit the poor guys with an extra bit of red tape.

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2009, 09:57:10 PM »
I think the headline for this thread is a bit of an overstatement.  "Environmentalism Ripe For Con Artists" would probably be a better title, IMHO, since the current title implies that environmentalism itself is inherently fraudulent (which is not the message I believe the OP wanted to convey).
Whoops I forgot my question mark.  *Changed*

Offline Will

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2009, 10:13:55 PM »
It wouldn't be the first good intention to be marketed.  That doesn't make the whole idea garbage, does it?

Offline Revolverman

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2009, 10:18:59 PM »
I dislike the Environmental movement at large for two major reasons.

A) CO2 = Doom. It has been documented in earth's history that when CO2 goes up, so does plants, and as such, goes back down to normal. They harp on CO2, when stuff like Hydrogen Sulfide and acid rain, REAL environmental dangers, is for the most part ignored.

B) Its seemingly anti-human stance.

Offline OneOfAKiind

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2009, 02:27:33 AM »

A) CO2 = Doom. It has been documented in earth's history that when CO2 goes up, so does plants, and as such, goes back down to normal. They harp on CO2, when stuff like Hydrogen Sulfide and acid rain, REAL environmental dangers, is for the most part ignored.

I definitely agree with this. I honestly just cannot grasp why CO2 is such a danger when the environment and all of God's little green things love it.

i also find it interesting how "global warming" changed to "climate change"

Offline Zakharra

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2009, 03:30:25 AM »
I definitely agree with this. I honestly just cannot grasp why CO2 is such a danger when the environment and all of God's little green things love it.

i also find it interesting how "global warming" changed to "climate change"

  With actual global warming having ceased several years ago and this year as being one of the coldest in many years, they had to change the language or be made to look like bigger fools than they already are.

Offline Jude

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2009, 07:43:14 AM »
It's very amusing to see a large portion of the populace doubting science when what it has to say is unattractive and not in their short-term best interest, while at the same time daily reaping its benefits.  The very same process that brought you the computer you're typing on, the car you drive, almost every luxury you have also conceived the idea that global warming is going to occur.  The idea that there is a group of scientists out there, separated from the mainstream, that has a perfectly legitimate scientific view that opposes Global Warming is inane.  When it comes down to it, the science has been concluded for awhile, all of the behavior that you're observing falls within the pattern (which is why the scientists continue to back the pattern).

If you're honestly convinced that there is some sort of conspiracy with mainstream science, and that a smaller sect knows the truth; if you've really bought into global warming skepticism I encourage you to watch this:  The American Denial of Global Warming

It's not some random youtube video put together by an amateur, it's an interesting lecture attempting to explain why so many people in the United States still deny global warming in light of the evidence.  It goes through the history of the subject and analyzes what the breakthroughs were, the source of the skeptics, and how it links into Republican Politics (most directly Ronald Reagan).

Offline consortium11

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2009, 08:22:42 AM »
It's very amusing to see a large portion of the populace doubting science when what it has to say is unattractive and not in their short-term best interest, while at the same time daily reaping its benefits.  The very same process that brought you the computer you're typing on, the car you drive, almost every luxury you have also conceived the idea that global warming is going to occur.  The idea that there is a group of scientists out there, separated from the mainstream, that has a perfectly legitimate scientific view that opposes Global Warming is inane.  When it comes down to it, the science has been concluded for awhile, all of the behavior that you're observing falls within the pattern (which is why the scientists continue to back the pattern).

If you're honestly convinced that there is some sort of conspiracy with mainstream science, and that a smaller sect knows the truth; if you've really bought into global warming skepticism I encourage you to watch this:  The American Denial of Global Warming

It's not some random youtube video put together by an amateur, it's an interesting lecture attempting to explain why so many people in the United States still deny global warming in light of the evidence.  It goes through the history of the subject and analyzes what the breakthroughs were, the source of the skeptics, and how it links into Republican Politics (most directly Ronald Reagan).

1) Disliking the Environmentalist movement has nothing to do with denying or accepting global warming. One of the founders of Greenpeace left the group because of what it morphed into (mostly as the environmental movement got hijacked in the late 80's/early 90's)... did he suddenly start hating the earth or the like?

2) While there are still some out there who flat out deny global warming/climate change, from what I've observed the main debate now is about how much our way of life interacts with climate change. We all know there were large changes in the climate far before the industrial revolution... the question now is whether the climate is changing at a greater rate... and if we're influencing that.

And one can very much believe in man-made climate change while still disliking the movement. The mad rush to bio-fuel a few years back that caused mass rise shortages is a prime example. Al Gore flying on a private plane to lecture on the issue and having a mansion consuming mass amounts of electricity is another. Celebrities that buy a Prius while also running a fleet of V8 engined monsters; John Travolta was talking about saving the environment while still flying 3 planes or Paul Newman (RIP) running a race team. The whole LiveEarth fiasco.

And that's just the climate-change side of the movement. The fear of genetically modified crops is another; Norman Borlaug is possibly one of the greatest men to have ever lived... some reports have put the number of lives he saved at around the billion mark due to his work in Southeast Asia and Mexico. Yet at each step he's faced bitter opposition from environmentalists... environmentalists that led to governments stopping much of his work in Africa in the 1980's... and how many preventable deaths have their been in Africa due to famine since? The absolute fear of nuclear power as an energy source despite how safe it is now (and how green) etc etc. One can agree with many of the goals and arguments the environmentalist movement puts forward without agreeing with them. The religion of recycling without realising it's often a case by case issue.

The issue people have is that it seems Environmentalism is this years version of "make poverty history"... spend some money on a wristband, pay a bit more for something, feel good about yourself, make no real difference.

On the organic food price issue, yes the loopholes you have to jump through up the price, but it also costs more to produce. Pesticides are cheaper than the "natural" ways and more effective, growth stimulants can make produce grow bigger and gm produce can grow faster, larger, quicker and in worse conditions... all of which make something cheaper to harvest and sell.

And of course, back during the boom people were willing to pay outrageous prices for organic goods. Now that money's tight the market for organic food has been completely destroyed.

Offline Will

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2009, 08:25:28 AM »
I definitely agree with this. I honestly just cannot grasp why CO2 is such a danger when the environment and all of God's little green things love it.

i also find it interesting how "global warming" changed to "climate change"

We're also cutting down those little green things as fast as we can, thus strangling the earth's ability to cope with our stupidity. >.>  Also, CO2 levels clearly began to soar around the beginning of the industrial revolution, rising to levels that we haven't found duplicated anywhere else in the record.  Of course, correlation =/= causality, but sometimes there's just no better explanation.

Offline Jude

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2009, 11:14:41 AM »
We're in complete agreement Consortium, I was just addressing the people on the thread who specifically commented on global warming.

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2009, 02:47:51 PM »
It wouldn't be the first good intention to be marketed.  That doesn't make the whole idea garbage, does it?
Did not say it did. I don't think people should be duped into buying environmentalist behaviors like designer clothes though. 

Offline Vekseid

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2009, 08:06:47 PM »
Actually I think I read somewhere that organic foods do cost more to produce.  Pesticides are cheaper.  Organic farmers don't use them, but rather more natural methods that cost more in the long run. 

As for the windmill thing, that is interesting.  We have windmill farms up here too, but as far as I know people don't get a choice.  You get what your electric company decides to give you. 


Oil supply is a very real worry, we have about six years before we need to start seriously ramping up alternatives. Ironically, if in a good way, organic farms and free range animals are a big part of this, because of the amount of waste that pesticides, runoff, factory-farming and such generates. Organic and free range work is complimentary, however, requiring far less oil to produce. So it may in fact eventually become cheaper.

I think, ten years from now, we'll be seeing a lot more gardens, a lot more farms, or possibly a lot of algacultured foods.

I dislike the Environmental movement at large for two major reasons.

A) CO2 = Doom. It has been documented in earth's history that when CO2 goes up, so does plants, and as such, goes back down to normal. They harp on CO2, when stuff like Hydrogen Sulfide and acid rain, REAL environmental dangers, is for the most part ignored.

70 million years ago CO2 levels were an order of magnitude higher. Of course, the thing to note is that sea levels were also a few hundred meters higher.

Global warming or cooling is itself not a concern, it's the rate at which it occurs. Forests move at the rate the wind carries their seeds, for example. If average temperatures change too fast, they die off.

That said, I'm a big fan of algae farming. It seems like such a blatant 'duh' that it will seriously begin to take off - it makes complete sense. Take waste, take excess CO2 and then some, return the most efficient and abundant food and fuel source known.

Quote
B) Its seemingly anti-human stance.

Some of them are. The more influence we have over Earth, however, the more we want to mind the ecosystem for as long as we are dependent on it.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2009, 01:35:36 AM »
That said, I'm a big fan of algae farming. It seems like such a blatant 'duh' that it will seriously begin to take off - it makes complete sense. Take waste, take excess CO2 and then some, return the most efficient and abundant food and fuel source known.

You would think.

However, I would urge caution in evaluating the claims of the algaculturalists.

In order to be a viable substitute for crude oil, the end result of algaculture must:

1) be burnable in existing fossil-fuel fired engines with little or no modification.  The reason for this is we haven't the time or resources to build a whole new generation of internal combustion engine to run on a special new fuel.  We're going into the oil crash with substantially the infrastructure we have today.  From what I understand, the initial results of this are promising...but unconfirmed. Then there's also the matter of whether existing storage and transportation infrastructure can be used.

2) The oil substitute must also fulfill the numerous non-energy uses of crude oil: plastics, petrochemicals, fertilizers, pharma, etc.  I haven't read anything on whether algaculture does this or not.

3) The end product of algaculture must have an EROEI (Energy Returned On Energy Invested) of at least 5 to 1, preferably 10 to 1 or better.  This has been the hobgoblin of oil alternatives thus far.  Crude oil has an EROEI of between 10 to 1 to as high as 25 to 1 (used to be nearly 100:1 early in the 20th century when it was so abundant and cheap to access).  What this means is that, if you have a quantity of refined algae that, when burned, yields a kilojoule of energy, it isn't of much use if you had to invest 600 joules to obtain it.  You're coming out a little ahead, but not far enough ahead to have an abundant, profitable source of energy.  This is where tar sands, oil shale, and ethanol all fall short: you have to put in almost as much energy into obtaining the oil or ethanol as you get from burning it. 

If you invest a joule of energy in the manufacture and refining of algae into fuel, you need to be getting at least five joules of energy for that joule you invested when you burn the final product.  (Because sunlight is free, I'll exempt solar input from the calculation.)  I haven't read anything on what the EROEI for algae-derived fuels is.

4. The fuel must be producible on a mass scale (current oil production is 35 million barrels per day) without crowding out the production of other essential products.  This is another criteria by which ethanol earned a big fat FAIL, as to scale ethanol production up to anything near what we would need for a true oil substitute would mean mass starvation as farmland was used to grow fuel.

So, the true test of algaculture will be whether it meets those four conditions.

Offline SleepyWei

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2009, 02:17:11 AM »
Well if I remember correctly, another good source of energy would be Hydrogen. It's pretty clean, the machine that converts hydrogen into energy is quite safe, and it only releases water vapor. The only problem it seems is storing the energy that it makes.

Then there are nuclear energy.

Hot and Cold fusion seems to be making quite some interesting reaches so far. I think I read on a magazine somewhere that cold fusion might actually be the single cleanest and most powerful source of energy available. The memory's foggy though so don't put a lot of weight on it.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2009, 03:43:26 AM by SleepyWei »

Offline The Overlord

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2009, 02:57:41 AM »


A) CO2 = Doom. It has been documented in earth's history that when CO2 goes up, so does plants, and as such, goes back down to normal. They harp on CO2, when stuff like Hydrogen Sulfide and acid rain, REAL environmental dangers, is for the most part ignored.


CO2 has fluctuated many times over; an elevated CO2 level will not kill the planet all by itself, only a true runaway event like on Venus will do that. Given the natural disasters that the planet has endured, for BILLIONS of years and still remaining the habitable paradise it is, Im not convinced at all we could irreversibly wreck the biosphere, not even with nuclear winter.

However, it IS unwise to push the limits of the system when were not really sure what those limits are. Especially when we know it would be much easier to force in changes that would just end human civilization; I think we have a very high probability of doing that before the 21st Century is out, we have to decide whether or not were going to do what we have to do.

Offline Caeli

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2009, 04:05:28 AM »
Like Vekseid and Overlord both mentioned, CO2 levels are not higher than they've ever been before, and have fluctuated up and down in the past. Some of that is actually addressed in this post that I made in a discussion about global warming.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam
« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2009, 04:54:42 AM »
*snip*

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/03/AR2008010303907.html

The number given there - 15,000 square miles, uses an estimate with a rate of return a bit less than an order of magnitude higher than what has been shown. However, as algaculture is best used in conjunction with a co2 source (sewage, coal...), and that it can even be grown in a home, it will not be replacing farmland.

And I don't know why you harp on the existing infrastructure. I have told you before, all modern diesel engines can run biodiesel. Biogas is also possible, as are foods and other fuels - the challenges largely revolve around monoculture and co2 supply issues. Most of the rest is infrastructure investment.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2009, 08:44:00 AM »
 Diesel engines? hhmm.. Most engines in the US are gasoline. Diesels being used in the heavy haulers like tractors, tractor trailors and train engines. I'm not sure of the persentage in the rest of the Americas, north, central or south. Nor in the Asian landmass. I think diesels are more commonly used in Europe. For us to switch to diesel engines in place of gasoline would be very expensive. I also recall that diesel tends to gel when it get's cold, making it much less palatable for the common person to use in winter.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam?
« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2009, 09:19:08 AM »
My parents used to have a diesel station wagon, and I don't remember any particular difficulties in the winter.  I think I remember some issues discussed on 'Ice Road Truckers', but a) they seemed to be something that could be dealt with, b) it doesn't prevent people in comparatively warm-weather climates (like Maine  :P) from using biodiesel, and c) we already have factories that make diesel engines - making the only issue one of distribution.  Already, there's a program going on where if you trade in a car of over a certain age, it's scrapped (recycled) instead of being re-sold, which is taking the lower-efficiency engines out of circulation.

Offline consortium11

Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam
« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2009, 05:24:32 PM »
And I don't know why you harp on the existing infrastructure. I have told you before, all modern diesel engines can run biodiesel. Biogas is also possible, as are foods and other fuels - the challenges largely revolve around monoculture and co2 supply issues. Most of the rest is infrastructure investment.

Biofuels also have to deal with the issue about nearly causing mass starvation in the east before they become a real subsitutute.

On the general energy side of things, Desetrec looks fairly good, and there's been recent movement on setting it up. It's got flaws, but then, what doesn't?

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Re: Enviromentalism is the next big scam
« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2009, 10:16:49 PM »
Biofuels also have to deal with the issue about nearly causing mass starvation in the east before they become a real subsitutute.

On the general energy side of things, Desetrec looks fairly good, and there's been recent movement on setting it up. It's got flaws, but then, what doesn't?
The problem is biofuels aren't logical in the U.S. Countries that use them have lots and lots of sugarcane. We have Louisiana and Hawaii, that's not a lot. From what I've heard using a lesser source (Wheat, corn, etc) actually costs more to produce than it would alleviate. I don't know if I believe this but I do think we've just not got enough of the right stuff. Plus the U.S. has a lot of cars. More so than the other biofuel countries.

I believe the real strain on the fossil fuel came from India and China when they all started wanting cars. I'm not saying that's a bad thing but when billions of people suddenly want cars, there is strain on the resources.