The previous post, Radical Environmentalism, was not something to be lightly posted. Yes we may rant and rave on the internet, and blogs are spontaneous and raw, but EcoWorld is more than a blog. Since 1995, EcoWorld has been a global editorial brand, presenting news, analysis, commentary, features, information resources, on anything and everything green to a worldwide audience. If we’re going to rant, we’d better have given it some thought.
Green is suddenly the big rage.
Back in 1995 environmentalism as a media genre, if you will, was in decline, and it stayed pretty much under the radar until about a year or two ago. All of a sudden it’s the biggest thing going. And as a result it’s a lot like the internet boom, a burgeoning, exploding, brand new sector where there are new entrants filled with passion and little else.
EcoWorld went online in 1995 partly because we wanted to promote, through education, information and advocacy, a doubling of the timber mass of the planet in 50 years, and we still do. But all I see in 2007 is people cutting down rainforests in South America to grow sugar cane, cutting down rainforests in the Congo to grow cassava and jatropha, and cutting down rainforests in Indonesia to grow oil palms. And the jaguars and the gorillas and the tigers are being squeezed tighter, and the biofuel barons crow that they are going to stop global warming.
We might be better off to tear up (at most) 50,000 square miles in Athabasca to extract their heavy oil, which at $40 per barrel contains a 50 year supply of oil for the whole world (this is more than 100 times the amount of oil reserves in the ANWAR refuge). For tropical biofuel crops to replace crude oil you’d have destroy 5.0 million square miles of rainforest. And excuse me, but 5.0 million square miles of tropical rainforests are a hell of a lot more crucial to global climate than 50,000 square miles of frozen wasteland in the extreme north.
In my opinion, deforestation, (especially tropical deforestation) combined with depleted water tables (which increases the thermal conductivity of the earth) has more to do with global warming than greenhouse gas. We should develop super-efficient, clean burning, hybrid powerplants that still emit CO2 and greatly increase the world’s energy production so we can desalinate seawater and pump it into every basin on earth, and refill all the aquifers, everywhere. This will lower the thermal conductivity of the planet and facilitate more vegetation.
In my opinion, we should stop all tropical biofuel production, and on every biofuel operation within a formerly tropical rainforest, we should pump in fresh, desalinated seawater and replant rainforest trees. Restoring all tropical rainforests from 3.0 million to 8.0 million square miles will decrease regional droughts by restoring transpiration, and it will decrease global droughts and extreme weather by restoring a more constant monsoon cycle. And I don’t care if I burn CO2, which is only 2-3% of total CO2 emissions (the rest is natural). I love trees, I don’t mind a good campfire, and leave my incandescent lights alone. This is what I believe. Of course we should minimize air pollution – but if anything, reducing CO2 emissions is a distraction from this important goal.
It offends me that we already have “carbon crisis trainers” who are going to tell us how to lower our carbon footprint. Don’t be surprised when they arrive at your front door, wearing badges, to confiscate your incandescent lightbulbs. But CO2 is not pollution – it is an important greenhouse gas, and it is also necessary for plants to grow. Should we lower CO2 emissions? Maybe, but even so, under no circumstances should we prioritize this over preserving and restoring tropical rainforests. Right now, as the rainforests burn anew, the environmentalists are looking the other way because they want to encourage biofuel production, and to ignore this destruction is as presumptuous and negligent of them as anything they might allege any automaker or oil company ever did.
Our answer to the radical environmentalists is supply side environmentalism. And even if we accept that CO2 emissions are harmful, we must attack the problem in ways that avoid tyrannical rationing, or punitive resource pricing, and embrace energy production as well as greater energy efficiency, and always do rational cost/benefit analysis.
So dialogue is necessary; debate is necessary; dissent is necessary – not only to establish what is, but also what to do about it. That the radical environmentalists cannot accept this, even with global warming, is a mistake. It is a mistake that will not only undermine our freedoms and liberties, but possibly the environment itself, and should be challenged.