Archive for June 26, 2008

How do people this dumb make it into newspapers?

[ music | Four Non Blondes – What’s Going On ]

Tom shared this gem of an article at the Telegraph. Wow. I can’t believe this article made it past a fact checker, or an editor, or anyone without an extreme eco-agenda. Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-environmental activism, but this is just crazy.

First all, if you pay to pollute, then the stigma of polluting is gone. There is no incentive not to pollute.

First all, wrong. This would only be correct if money was infinite. This statement is blatantly incorrect in that carbon credit purchasing/trading make pollution a fiscal issue, rather than purely an environmental or moral issue. Pollution now directly affects the bottom line.

Imagine that someone came up with a plan for you to cheat on your spouse, say by paying someone else not to cheat on their spouse!

Again, wrong. Cheating on your spouse is binary, either you’re cheating or you’re not. Polluting is binary, either you are or you’re not, but the point is to pollute less. I doubt anyone’s husband or wife will be happy that their spouse now only cheats three times a week rather than four times a week, but I think everyone would be happy if we could reduce emissions of power generation plants by 25%.

Do they ever mention that the only trees that make a difference are the ones planted inside the tropics? Or that some trees actually increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere? Or that mass tree planting to satisfy our ravenous energy appetites reduces biodiversity, displaces people and causes social disruption.

No, no one ever mentions that because it’s not true. Apparently this gentleman has never heard of temperate rain-forests, for example. I haven’t the faintest idea what his second statement is based upon. I’ve never heard of trees increasing atmospheric carbon without burning them. Also, planting trees does nothing to biodeversity because forests aren’t usually made up of thousands of different types of trees, there’s usually a few dominant species in various stands, and a number of different stands. Trees aren’t planted in places people currently live, so there’s no displacement, and certainly not more displacement than would occur if sea levels rise by only a single meter. And when is the last time a tree disrupted anyone doing anything? That one’s just absurd.

And do any of them guarantee that they will actually plant that tree on your behalf? Do they send you a picture of the thing? Can they guarantee you that the tree in question will live long enough to absorb the carbon you dumped in the atmosphere, you naughty boy, before being chopped down?

Actually, reputable ones do just that. They promise a minimum lifespan for the trees, and yes you can ever see the stands they create.

I have no clue how articles like this can make it into a newspaper with any intelligent people behind it. Apparently the standards for the Telegraph have dropped dramatically in recent times. This kind of nonsense isn’t even fit for “letters to the editors” pages.

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