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The UnGreening of America
August 27, 2003 1:32 PM   Subscribe

The UnGreening of America.

So much for "the Homeland".
posted by fold_and_mutilate (21 comments total)

 
Never fear, our new head of the EPA will save us all.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:42 PM on August 27, 2003


Couldn't you have just linked to the "main" page?
posted by hobbes at 2:02 PM on August 27, 2003


(for the first line)
posted by hobbes at 2:03 PM on August 27, 2003


I like the way Ufez Jones mocks Mike Leavitt. He's really quite an asshat.

Leavitt, that is. I haven't formed an opinion as to Ufez's asshattedness yet.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:10 PM on August 27, 2003


I'm getting a lot of sparks from the grinding going on.

The new EPA guy is bad, the old one was originally thought to be bad too when she was nominated, but turned out to be level-headed and so smart she bailed after being scapegoated a couple times.

I'm surprised the current administration continues to push so hard away from environmental regulations that have any effect whatsoever on business. It seems that many indicators make it obvious something should be done to swing things back the other way in favor of environmental regulation (forest fires, hottest temps on record worldwide, overfished oceans, massive fish die-offs in streams, etc).
posted by mathowie at 2:11 PM on August 27, 2003


I haven't formed an opinion as to Ufez's asshattedness yet.

Oh, it's prevalent. Pasty and a size 7 1/4", although I prefer FlexFit™ where available.
posted by Ufez Jones at 2:19 PM on August 27, 2003


What on earth does f&m's posting history have to do with anything? Either this is new and interesting stuff found on the web or it's not. Pretend it was posted by Anonymous User and discuss. So far, only Ufez and mathowie have said anything remotely on topic.

mathowie: I'm surprised you're surprised. Isn't it abundantly clear by now that this administration has no interest in anything that doesn't benefit big business? And it hates regulation above all things; environmental regulation is just one annoying subspecies to be gotten rid of.
posted by languagehat at 3:04 PM on August 27, 2003


I'm surprised the current administration continues to push so hard away from environmental regulations that have any effect whatsoever on business

is it that the entire concept of environmental regulation is so tie-dyed in their eyes?

i would really like to think that opposition to a clean, sustainable ecosystem wouldn't be so closely attached to profit margins and the "god takes care of even the lillies in the field so i don't have to" mindset, but i just can't. What is so wrong with caring about the environment? (whats so funny about peace love and understanding?)

need to find balance.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:13 PM on August 27, 2003


I can't help but recall what I was told by Nader supporters; their view that it didn't matter if Al Gore or Bush were elected, that they were essentially the same.

Whether Nader cost Gore the election or not can never be proved, but the idea that Al Gore would have carried out the same type of policies as Bush has carried out is just asinine.
posted by jonah at 3:32 PM on August 27, 2003


th3ph17:

i would really like to think that opposition to a clean, sustainable ecosystem wouldn't be so closely attached to profit margins and the "god takes care of even the lillies in the field so i don't have to" mindset

I used to go down to Arkansas on business a lot. The head engineer down there used to have something like a "dumping party", where the whole department rented out a bobcat for the weekend, dug a big hole in someone's property, and dumped all their junk (broken TV's, building materials, whatnot) in the hole. I wondered aloud about the ethics of this, as he seemed like pretty conscientious fellow - we'd had a number of surprisingly polite and respectuful (as opposed to loud and dismissive) discussions (on company time) about the historical factualness of Noah's Ark and other religious themes. He told me that humans could do whatever we wanted to the planet, because God put us here, and God would take care of it. I just sat there dumbfounded, and didn't get into the whole "stewards of the earth" concept that I remember from my childhood reading of the bible.
posted by notsnot at 4:44 PM on August 27, 2003


I'm still convinced that the current administration shares the views of James Watt: We don't have to protect the environment - the Second Coming is at hand. "

Sad, really.

I'd also like to point out how it's ironic that Bush II is trying to do to the environment what the communists did in eastern Europe. Capitalism and communism both end up with the same outcome in this case.

Oh, and on preview: Joeforking - you suck.
posted by bshort at 4:53 PM on August 27, 2003


I really see the problem of the environment vis a vis Bush's policies as a conflict between long-term and short-term profits. In the short-term, it makes sense to plunder resources and weaken prohibitions on what junk you can spew from your plant. Taken to its logical extreme, if we junked all environmental laws, we could probably cut the unemployment rate in half.

However in the long term, there is a huge cost attached to such greed, that comes in many forms. Long-lasting, sustainable businesses that work with and not against the environment will enrich America for generations and seem to have the habit of creating more wealth for more people, as the greediest types are usually attracted to the slash-and-burn style of business.

It is too bad that too many people on both sides of the issue are so short-sighted, there is a compromise to be made that would both make the capitalists richer in the long run, and preserve the environment for unfettered tree-hugging.
posted by cell divide at 4:57 PM on August 27, 2003


there is a compromise to be made that would both make the capitalists richer in the long run, and preserve the environment for unfettered tree-hugging.

Pay per hug?
posted by namespan at 5:01 PM on August 27, 2003


jonah: I can't help but recall what I was told by Nader supporters; their view that it didn't matter if Al Gore or Bush were elected, that they were essentially the same.

Whether Nader cost Gore the election or not can never be proved, but the idea that Al Gore would have carried out the same type of policies as Bush has carried out is just asinine.


Actually part of the problem is that Gore promised a continuation of a Clinton legacy of measures that looked really good in soundbites but when you actually read the fine print were pointless. For example, while Bush actively campaigned against Koyoto, the Clinton approach was to push for it in the American press, while trying to negotiate a toothless treaty. British magazines such as New Scientist were already calling Koyoto dead on arrival, with no-one other that the EU nations interested (many of which stand to make greenhouse gas reduction into an economic win-win outcome by transitioning from imported energy sources to home-grown renewables.)

Koyoto was just one example of a case where the Clinton administration attemted to parade big steps forward while not making much progress at all. Clinton threatened a trade war with the EU over the "proven safe" vs. "not proven harmful" standards for both GMOs and chemical products. Fisheries treaties were quietly submarined in favor of American businesses over environmental concerns. American stonewalling of treaties to maintain UN seedbank stocks that had been in the public domain resulted in an auctioning of those stocks to biotech (who have a nasty habit of turning around and suing the indigenous producers of those cultivars for copyright infringement.) The role of the WTO in considering local environmental laws violations of free trade, and the World Bank in insisting on the kinds of big development projects that are most harmful to the environment was also an issue.

Basically, the Clinton administration was doing a lot of talk about how green it was, while pandering to business interests whenever he could get away with it. Gore responded to dissatisfied environmentalists with an apalling level of arrogance that resulted in, at best, lukewarm endorsements.

cell divide: However in the long term, there is a huge cost attached to such greed, that comes in many forms. Long-lasting, sustainable businesses that work with and not against the environment will enrich America for generations and seem to have the habit of creating more wealth for more people, as the greediest types are usually attracted to the slash-and-burn style of business.

One of the periodicals I try to read on a weekly basis is the British popular science magizine New Scientist. It amazes me the differences between British views of energy policy and American views of energy policy. The British seem to be well aware of the possibility that the economic turning point where oil production can't keep up with oil consumption is expected in the next 50 years. As a result, investment in renewable energy sources is seen as a vital part of their economic future.

This is where I think that the U.S. is missing out. The development of the next energy technology will do for the country that develops it, what coal did for Britian in the 19th century, and oil did for the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century. There are dozens of new technologies for energy production prototyped, that only need a market to be developed into cheap production. There are prototype solar cells that are much more efficient than existing flat semiconductor cells, solar power plants based on a stirling engine that allready are projected to break the magic barrier for investment, flexible cells that can be wrapped onto any surface and are much more durable. All it needs is a market to develop the mass fabrication technology. A government mandate that, for example, all government carpool vehicles smaller than 1ton must get 50mpg, or that all new government office building construction must be capable of functioning off the grid indefinitely, would do for green technology what the space race did for electronics.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:42 PM on August 27, 2003


Notsnot, isn't it cool how people appropriate the name and powers of an invisible being, in order to avoid coming to terms with the shamefulness of their own utter stupidity?
posted by Jimbob at 8:49 PM on August 27, 2003


"It is too bad that too many people on both sides of the issue are so short-sighted, there is a compromise to be made that would both make the capitalists richer in the long run, and preserve the environment for unfettered tree-hugging." ( cell_divide ) - You mean recycling, energy efficiency, production efficiency, and so on - right? -

It's a pretty simple concept, really: cut out waste in the manufacturing process, encourage both the reuse of materials which are currently just thrown in holes in the ground or incinerated, and promote products and designs and ideas which lead to "closed loop" cycles which, ideally could eliminate the need for most "extractive" industries - mining, logging, and so on.

The technology to implement this already exists. What a shame that the Bush Administration doesn't give a rat's ass - about species diversity, or of beautiful ecosystems getting turned into fields of oozing toxic slag pools, or of the 100,000 or so Americans who will die from the relaxation of Federal clean air regulations. Or of overfishing, Global Warming, old growth forests turned into roofing shingles and porch furniture which gets thrown away after 5 years in the yard.......the track record of this Administration on the environment is a great demonstration of what the "Wise Use" movement is about.

George W. Bush, the Christian? - I'll quote Jesus here - "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into Heaven."

I'm imagining George W. Bush at the Gates of Heaven, with St. Peter standing there asking, "Well, George, what were your priorities in life? Human beings, animals, plants, life itself? Or was your sole priority your self and those green pieces of paper you called money? ..........Sorry George."
posted by troutfishing at 12:59 AM on August 28, 2003


KirkJobSluder - Right on. And (I bet you know this, but...) for that matter, the cost of electricity produced by wind power has dropped almost to the cost, per kilowatt hour, of that of coal.

And that doesn't even factor in the fact that the use of coal involves strip mining and mass death and illness from air pollution.

George W. Bush is actually a North Korean mole who is intent on destroying the US from within - from pollution, huge deficit and trade surpluses, technological obsolescence......One day (when it's too late) he will tear off his rubber mask on national TV while cackling, in best James Bond villain fashion "Fools! Capitalist swine! It's too late now........you and your pitiful country are finished!" (laughs maniacally)
posted by troutfishing at 1:09 AM on August 28, 2003


The British seem to be well aware of the possibility that the economic turning point where oil production can't keep up with oil consumption is expected in the next 50 years. As a result, investment in renewable energy sources is seen as a vital part of their economic future.

As somebody who researches in UK & European Renewable Energy (RE) policy I think you may be seeing UK policy through rose tinted glasses. The UK is currently 14th out of the 15 EU countires for the % of electricity it gets from RE sources, despite having the best wind and wave resources in Europe. Prior to the 1990 privatisation of Electricity, the UK had been slow to recognise the future beenfits of RE and had focussed its efforts on large scale wind and geothermal, both of which failed to lead to any successful technologies. Following privatisation the UKs market based NFFO mechanism was a ten year experiment which failed to meet most of its goals, including
•Stimulated only a very low level of R&D investment from the private sector;
•Stimulated less than 1000MW of installed RE capacity by 2000 against a target of 1500MW;
•Failed to create a broad group of investors, developers, technologies or size of schemes;
•Failed to stimulate competitive domestic manufacturing industry (and indeed, with regard to wind turbine manufacturers can be said to have helped to stimulate the industries of non-domestic companies to the disadvantage of UK companies.

Following a change in electricity trading arrangements the UK has set a target for RE of 10% by 2010, most experts in the field regard this target as unlikely to be met until around 2013 at the earliest. The government declined to set a target of 20% by 2020 despite being advised to do so in the Energy Review Document commissioned by the Prime Minister the previous year. Providing this target would have meant increased security for renewable generators, something which is largely missing from the new RE central support mechansim, the Renewables Obligation. It would also have benefitted long term network planning, and thus costs to the consumer for such a target to be set earlier rather than later.
While there are positive signs of movement in UK RE policy, many more can be found in the much more progressive policies of Germany, Denmark and Spain (Semi-self links, as its a project I worked on). A significant number of other barriers also exist to the growth of RE in the UK, some of which are being addressed more than others. (Definite self-link)

Finally, it may be of interest to you to learn that when George W. Bush was governor of Texas it instituted a very enthusiastic Renewable Portfolio Standard programme which stimulated a 1000MW of wind turbine capacity in Texas in a very short time, more than currently exists in the entire UK.
posted by biffa at 2:44 AM on August 28, 2003


KirkJobSluder - I don't disagree with anything you said. I do think that Gore would have done nowhere near the damage that Bush is doing though, and that's the idea that I'm bringing up.

I don't buy into the idea that we should let Bush run wild just because Gore would have been half as bad and Nader would have been 5% as bad.
posted by jonah at 7:49 AM on August 28, 2003


biffa - wasn't that Texas wind turbine program being implemented through Enron? ( what a shame )
posted by troutfishing at 8:12 PM on August 28, 2003


wasn't that Texas wind turbine program being implemented through Enron?

Enron Wind to be precise, which was sold off as a going concern to GE Power systems and now operates as GE Wind. IIRC correctly, they are now putting a large amount of turbines in Texas and elsewhere. They are also the manufacturers of the World's largest commercially available wind turbine, the 3.6 MW Series Wind Turbine, designed primarily for offshore use.
posted by biffa at 1:35 AM on August 29, 2003


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