Are enviromentalists opposed to everything ?

Leifer

Senior Member.
I am not quite sure why many environmentalists seem to find fault in nearly every (new) energy technology.
Wind Power
Nuclear
Solar
GM foods
...more.

Is there a trend to rebel against anything that leaves a positive footprint on the planet ?.....no matter how small ?
Where is their cost/vs/benefit analysis ? Where is the reality check ?
Where do the activists draw the line ? ...and is there a line they will be happy with ?

Is protest habitual ?

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/why_are_environmentalists_taking_anti-science_positions/2584/
 

Nessa Celery

New Member
Both Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are very much in support of wind power. I think it's fair to say most British environmentalists are.
Don't know of any environmentalists opposing solar power.
George Monbiot, one of the most prominent British environmentalists, is vocally pro-nuclear.
GM, yeah, I can understand people not trusting Monsanto, in particular. But yes, a lot of anti-GM rhetoric is not terribly well informed.

I guess it's not just one homogenous group.
 

Jay Reynolds

Senior Member.
I am not quite sure why many environmentalists seem to find fault in nearly every (new) energy technology.
Wind Power
Nuclear
Solar
GM foods
...more.

Is there a trend to rebel against anything that leaves a positive footprint on the planet ?.....no matter how small ?
Where is their cost/vs/benefit analysis ? Where is the reality check ?
Where do the activists draw the line ? ...and is there a line they will be happy with ?

Is protest habitual ?

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/why_are_environmentalists_taking_anti-science_positions/2584/

There was some good advertising designed to elicit an emotional response. Whoever paid for it got what they wanted. The world suffered.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
Wind farms have been criticized to "killing birds", "raising temperature", "oil leakage", and a blight on eyesight and earsight.





I agree...wind is a better source of power than other options. Some don't agree.

Battery power......deemed toxic.

Then there is the association with Green Power to the corporate giants, who may own, guide, and implement such technologies....and the whole monopoly debate that might ensue.
...you get my (wind) drift.

 

MikeC

Closed Account
wind is pretty much useless as a "base load" option - it cannot be guaranteed to generate the normal load that exists all the time in a modern industrialised society. Therefore you have to build extra capacity to take the load when wind is not generating.

however it is obvious and politically acceptable - hence it gets a lot of press.
 

Clock

Senior Member.
Wind isn't reliable energy, so they have reasons to not like it.

Nuclear energy is also dangerous and hazardous.

Not sure why they would hate Solar energy, but whatever...
 

Met Watch

Moderator
wind is prety much useless as a "base load" option - it cannot be guaranteed to generate the normal load that exists all the time in a modern industrialised society. Tehrefoer you have to build extra capacity to take het load when wind is not generating.

however it is obvious and politically acceptable - hence it gets a lot of press.

Depends on where you focus the wind energy - folks in my area use wind energy to the highest extent and are getting decent returns.
 

MikeC

Closed Account
As long as wind generation is in an area where the wind sometimes does not blow, then someone, somewhere, has to construct (or retain) "base load" generating capacity to cover the gaps.

The wind energy itself can be as economical to generate as you like - but if you are not factoring in the cost of duplicating the generation requirement then you are not identifying the true cost of it to the economy - you are just looking at the marginal cost to the wind tturbine owner.
 

Fogcityroller

New Member
I strongly consider myself an environmentalist and wonder how you came to these conclusions. I've a B.S. in environmental sciences and have worked in habitat restoration and urban sustainability for years. I am not a member of Greenpeace and disagree with many of their approaches to activism and promotion, as do many scientists in my field. Considering them to be a substantial component of the environmentalist movement is incorrect. The lunatic fringe is always the loudest.

You've basically listed all the well-known forms of renewable, intermittent energy, which are endorsed by almost everyone I know. Every form of energy is going to have a pros and cons list. Most environmentalists I know (avoiding all-inclusive since I never took a survey) seem to primarily oppose coal and mountain-top removal, fracking, and poorly researched nuclear installations.

Any "environmentalist" who strongly opposes solar energy sounds like they're talking out of their ass. When we remove finance from the argument (which is where most the cons and unknowns concerning solar power reside), we're left with what exactly? a) Reduced effectiveness from cloud cover and b) Increased ground cover and all relevant aspects. The net impact of ground cover with elevated panels appears to be minimal. It has been shown that temperate vegetation is still capable of growing underneath the panels and the impact of runoff seems to be negligible (if in the positive).

I was once an opponent of wind farms when they became rather popular in Europe, for the sole purpose that they didn't require environmental impact reports or completely botched it, because the original installations of the large turbines caused significant loss of bird life. I've never actually been opposed to the implementation of wind power generation, and believe integrating all renewable intermittent energies is a solid step towards sustainable society. I don't condone of blanket statements that forms of renewable energy are bad when it's only basis is the current technology.

Nuclear reactors is a very divisive topic for obvious reasons. Japan unfortunately became a model for more thorough assessments of risk. In a discussion with environmentalists, it would be difficult to persuade everyone in one direction, though most might oppose based on history of human error and oversight. I understand its efficiency and that has always put it far ahead other forms of energy, but a repeat of Japan is unacceptable and could kill nuclear support globally.

Now when it comes to GMO's, I speak primarily from the viewpoints of environmental health, business ethics, and my own bioethic conviction that life prevails over money. There is mounting evidence that Big Agra's behavior reflects no regard for the environment or individual. The potential benefits they extoll can just as quickly become disasters if mismanaged, and keeping the integrity of an ecosystem in the hands of a single human makes me queasy. I'm not entirely sure how a person can be surprised about the opposition towards GMO corporations or the organisms they engineer. Let's divide the opposing parties based on the values with some basis in fact.
1) Personal health (not knowing is unacceptable), belief in right-to-know, environmental impact concerns (biodiversity, ecological stability, invasive species)
2) Money.
I'm not including the conflated bag of bologna that GMO's will eliminate poverty and solve world hunger. Boastful yet brilliant claims to round up the millions of people who prefer false hope to harsh realities.

To me there is no debate on financial gain vs. global health. Halting all specifics so I can wax poetic: Jeff Goldblum became the most quoted actor in science when in stunning brevity he summarized nature at it's core: "life will find a way." Plants are very dangerous to toy with, because they reside at the lower areas of the food chain and don't require sexual reproduction. If you give one variety of plant extremely high resistances to every agricultural poison and complement that with high tolerance to drought and cold, you're engineering an armor-plated vegetable that can survive in some of the harshest climates and will out-compete organisms in areas with high biodiversity. We don't get a redo if we screw this one up.

Cross-pollination is not necessary for reproduction in all plants, so Big Agra is simply clouding people's vision with the false notion that Terminator technology is a reliable sterilization technology. Shouldn't we be questioning a corporation that overlooked a basic concept taught in first year biology? How can you be billionaires and not realize the alternatives to pollination. They manufactured Terminator, knowing darn well it's useless, simply as a PR move to show they tried.

Maybe it will be X years before a super-crop poses a threat to the natural environment, but even if X=200 why should making that decision be in any way acceptable?

Remember America has no law concerning unwanted seed dispersal, which are effectively intellectual property even when molded into the poop of an insect. Good luck in the job market if that turd of doom is dropped on your plot. They will either force you to sign over your farm under extreme pressure involving court fees and the strength of their legal team. There's really no point in fight a losing battle regarding intellectual property. There are no laws against unwanted seed dispersal, you possess their intellectual property, congratulations on being royally screwed. But hey let's support corporations that do this to innocent workers because my Safeway bill is cheaper.

Now to address the widespread misconception that GMOs are inherently good for the consumer. For basic points let's refer to this study: http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agri...tic-engineering/environmental-effects-of.html
It's dated but the environmental impacts are unchanging and abundantly clear:
1) GMO crops have much higher resistances than naturally occurring plants. This increases their potential to become weeds. This is especially problematic because crops are domesticated varieties and rarely representative of the naturally-occurring species, so while finding ready-to-eat crops in the wild sounds nice, it poses a threat to other species as well as the genetic integrity of the naturally occurring variety, which brings me to numero dos.
2) Genes developed in laboratory are purely artificial and should not be allowed the risk of transferring to the natural species under any circumstances. This compromises the genetic code of a unique organism, putting it under serious threat, and reclassifying what was once naturally-occurring plants as invasive pests themselves.
3) Skipping since it's self-explanatory.
4) Increased defenses does not just pose risks to other plants, but to animal species as well. Since there is no guarantee that these crops will never spread, you're essentially saying it is okay to gamble as long as Monsanto benefits right now.
5) The most important bioethical question. Do you find it acceptable to play a game of Risk with the already fragile state of many ecosystems over pennies on the dollar?

One of the most significant events was the impact of Bt corn on honeybee colonies in Europe and the United States. Bt corn was linked to Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder. Incredibly strong insecticides kill pollinators too, what a shocker. Why didn't Monsanto employ some sort of selective poison for pest control management if they started losing pollinators? Oh that LOL, well in the 90s Monsanto and Bayer came together to completely dismantle how corn's integrated pest management (IPM) enforced principles of control, not eradication. More Bio 101: it is unwise to completely eliminate pests, because they undergo increased selective pressures when the small population of survivors are all resistant. Individuals with no resistance or very low resistance must survive to dilute the gene pool and keep the pest population manageable. Pulling a Monsanto & Bayer by employing your strongest poisons and aiming for eradication is environmentally unsafe, which is explicitly stated in IPM's principles. It also directly led to a staggering increase in the price of honey. Economic wizards they are not.

That's why more than a half dozen countries have banned Bt corn, but they must be overreacting and glorious America has it all figured out, right? :p

The most recent arguments concerning GMOs came in the recent California ballot initiative (Prop. 37). It asked voters if they wanted some food products labeled for GMO content. The Big Six spent over $35M to defeat the initiative and saying your grocery bill will increase by a fabricated amount, predetermined by a sham firm that corporations hire to falsify numbers. The $400 figure was courtesy of the bullshit extraordinaires at Northbridge Environmental Management Consultants. They specialize in fabricating numbers to oppose initiatives that increase environmental awareness. In case you're wondering, since the Big Six couldn't bother with a reputable source for hard numbers on this issue, at least someone else did: http://www.anh-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/GE-Food-Act-Costs-Assessment.pdf

Why not cap their political contributions on Prop. 37 at twice what the proponents spent? Five times the oppositions amount just reeks of paranoia. It would have been a tactical and noble move to use that $35M temper tantrum in a good way, like redirecting that money to foreign aid funds and doing what you tell the people you should be able to do.

They prey on the hopes and dreams of Americans by saying their miracle crops will alleviate world hunger and eliminate poverty. No one ever mentions that the rehashed financial arguments in favor of GMO's are the ones of greatest concern to environmentalists because they pose the greatest potential environmental risks. All of these risks have irreversible and catastrophic results on biodiversity. Increased herbicide resistance, increased cold tolerance, increased drought tolerance, etc. these all have the potential to turn crops into buzz-saws with the potential to destroy not only wild species but other important crops too.

If Big Agra was so genuinely good, why are their lobbyists getting favorable corporate legislation sneaked in by shmoozing House pols: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/08/biotech-gmo-deregulation
There are plenty of valid reasons why we need to be cautious about the operations of the Big Six and their miracle crops. There are bans or regulations on GMO products in over 60 countries, but not America. Instead of employing the no-questions-asked, blind nationalism that has gotten us into environmental trouble before (the Dust Bowl), maybe we should err on the side of caution? It wouldn't kill us, but the other option might.

In closer, if they spend their afternoons canvassing and proudly exclaim that they would launch missiles at illegal whaling ships, they are not true environmentalists. Fanatics aren't deserving of that word. Non-violent but incessantly pro-active, OR BUST!
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I am not quite sure why many environmentalists seem to find fault in nearly every (new) energy technology.
Wind Power
Nuclear
Solar
GM foods
...more.

I think it's because there ARE faults and problems in every new technology. None of them are perfect. Wind is better in many aspects, and worse in others. If you were to compare any two technologies, you'd get pros and cons for both. You can't ignore the cons of one just because it's on balance better than another. You still need to deal with the problems. Sure it's "better" but it does not get a free pass to do whatever.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/46145831@N00/1345239056/
 
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Fogcityroller

New Member
I might add that when dealing with concerns about biodiversity and gene pollution, it's a bit difficult to publish definitive studies on the issue in such a short period of time. It often takes generations for the impact of drastic change to be measurable or even observable. Therefore, Monsanto gets a "Get out of Jail" on the basis that they haven't contaminated anything yet.

The author of the article in the top post demands evidence in a condescending manner, as if it must be presented or he has every reason to believe there is no threat. He articulates that economic support of GMOs is abundant, while the scientists have yet to publish something that supports our claims about environmental integrity. I can't be the only one who sees something wrong with this. Aside from the reckless attitude, he shows a blatant disregard for well-known and established facts concerning gene pollution and invasive species, even going so far as to accuse gene pollution of being of little importance due to lack of evidence.

The problems associated with eradication attempts are when they fail, they propagate a highly resistant population of descendants. Do we really continue allowing the Big Six to keep corn's IMP under the rug, so this behavior remains acceptable until a bee's genome is mapped and we can confirm the presence of engineered genes? Suddenly the burden of proof relies on scientists reaffirming widely-observed phenomenon and not the corporations trying to rush their genetically engineered to foreign countries? Do we get access to drugs first and wait for the FDA trial results to be released later? The world is effectively Monsanto's laboratory, we're just living in it.

We should be requiring Monsanto to prove lateral gene transfer is insignificant or easily controlled in every major crop.
 

Clock

Senior Member.


Well that's a side of Wind Energy you never hear about.
 
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Leifer

Senior Member.
I might add that when dealing with concerns about biodiversity and gene pollution, it's a bit difficult to publish definitive studies on the issue in such a short period of time. It often takes generations for the impact of drastic change to be measurable or even observable. Therefore, Monsanto gets a "Get out of Jail" on the basis that they haven't contaminated anything yet.
So you automatically put companies like Monsanto,"in jail" ........on the basis "that they haven't contaminated anything yet" ?
I thought our system worked the other way around.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
.......

The author of the article in the top post demands evidence in a condescending manner, as if it must be presented or he has every reason to believe there is no threat. He articulates that economic support of GMOs is abundant, while the scientists have yet to publish something that supports our claims about environmental integrity. I can't be the only one who sees something wrong with this. Aside from the reckless attitude, he shows a blatant disregard for well-known and established facts concerning gene pollution and invasive species, even going so far as to accuse gene pollution of being of little importance due to lack of evidence.
Absolutely, there is little evidence. Should I(we) put fears before evidence ?

The problems associated with eradication attempts are when they fail, they propagate a highly resistant population of descendants. Do we really continue allowing the Big Six to keep corn's IMP under the rug, so this behavior remains acceptable until a bee's genome is mapped and we can confirm the presence of engineered genes?
Surely we do (wait to confirm)....before guilt is blamed.
Suddenly the burden of proof relies on scientists reaffirming widely-observed phenomenon and not the corporations trying to rush their genetically engineered to foreign countries? Do we get access to drugs first and wait for the FDA trial results to be released later? The world is effectively Monsanto's laboratory, we're just living in it..

If Monsanto was not engineering GM seeds, some other company would. So your quibble is not with a brand company, but with the science and regulations that makes it possible.
GM foods are the most tested "new breeds" of agriculture.
In early times, if x"A" was hand crossed with x"B".....and worked well....it was planted. No lab testing. We still have many of those plant crosses in use, today.

We should be requiring Monsanto to prove lateral gene transfer is insignificant or easily controlled in every major crop.

I believe they have already done so, but not nearly to your satisfaction. Buffer zones are needed around crop-to-crop plantings.
Say for instance I have an heirloom corn crop, and I want to save some seed.....but my neighbor has a different corn variety. It's possible my corn will get pollination from my neighbor's corn crop.
 

David Fraser

Senior Member.
I am not quite sure why many environmentalists seem to find fault in nearly every (new) energy technology.
Wind Power
Nuclear
Solar
GM foods
...more.

Is there a trend to rebel against anything that leaves a positive footprint on the planet ?.....no matter how small ?
Where is their cost/vs/benefit analysis ? Where is the reality check ?
Where do the activists draw the line ? ...and is there a line they will be happy with ?

Is protest habitual ?

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/why_are_environmentalists_taking_anti-science_positions/2584/

After a career change I fell into University and study and work in Marine Biology and post grad in environmental science. I have worked on projects from water recycling systems to offshore windfarms (I did my Phd arond that).

I dont know any "environmentalist" that is against green energies but they are well aware that there will be a carbon and ecological cost to them. Off shore windfarms seem ideal but do have there own environmental impacts like changes in sedimentation, changes in current or the effect on migrating marine animals. When it comes to energy I feel that most people would prefer to see a reduction in energy usage alongside increased introduction of green technologies. I for one think that rather than a top down approach, i.e. Government and legislation we need to change our thinking to bottom up and concentrate on forming sustainable individual behaviours. For my part we need nuclear as a stop gap while we develop better green technologies over the next 50 to 100 years.

When it comes to cost/benefit analysis there is an entire area called Environmental Economics. It does look at the fiscal value of the environment, and often comes up with unexpected answers to green issues.
 

lotek

Active Member
i always get a kick out of the sierra club and friends closing down yukka mountain only to have waste sit in fields outside power plants for decades. way to go...
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
Sorry, I did not mean to suggest that the majority of environmentalists feel this way, just that I see it as a growing trend....part of the "everything man-made is bad" camp.
 

Cairenn

Senior Member.
I have seen the allegation before that GM corn is responsible for 'colony collapse disorder'. I see a major problem with that, corn is wind fertilized, it does not need bees to pollinate it. It is not a crop they would visit, no nectar. Most of the primary GM crops are not bee fertilized crops

In my reading, I noticed that colony collapse disorder has been reported in many countries, even in those where GM crops are rare. Native bees do not seem to be having as much of a problem. There are some researchers that feel that in breeding in our 'domesticated' bee stock may have reduced their immunity to disease and pests. It also seems that bees that feed on a variety of crops (like many urban bees do) are healthier and less likely to be effected by disease and pests.

Bees are moved from one single nectar source to another.

Just something to consider.
 
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