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WIRED's Call to Environmentalists: True or False

*note* initially we didn't realize this, but WIRED published a counterpoint / rebuttal of their own story written by World Changing's Alex Steffan alongside the article in question. He makes many (though not all) of our points for us. */note*

The June issue of WIRED Magazine just landed in my mailbox, and the cover story is going to be an interesting one for EcoGeeks.

I'd had a bit of a heads-up from WIRED that this was going to be a feature, though I didn't know it was going to get the cover. And I knew from the start that I'd have a good time picking the article apart. And now the time has come.

The gist of the story is that, if we're going to take global warming seriously, we need to re-think environmentalism. And while I agree with the overarching theme, simply stated at the head of the article "The war on greenhouse gases is too important to be left to the environmentalists..." I'll just be taking their ten points of contention...and making my own additions.

  1. Live in Cities: TRUE
    The pastoral life has significantly more carbon impact than city life. However, I will say that city dwellers in the U.S. tend to have larger carbon footprints because they're more likely to travel on frequent plane trips. So y'all city folk shouldn't feel too good about yourselves, until you can cut back on the flying.
  2. A/C is OK: meh
    OK, yes, it takes less energy to cool a space than to heat it. But I'll bet WIRED magazine isn't going to ask everyone in the world to move to the equator. It's not as if people in cold climates have a choice about whether to heat their houses.
  3. Organics are not the Answer: True, but neither is non-organic.
    WIRED is happy to point out that organic food creates more carbon per pound than non-organic. But they don't talk about huge areas of ocean that are dead due to agricultural runoff, or ecological effects of massive pesticide use. The real answer here is to decrease meat production and de-industrialize agriculture to increase yields through care, instead of through force.
  4. Farm the Forest: FALSE
    To say that we're not harvesting enough timber in America is pure foolishness. Wood sequesters CO2, that's fantastic, and, yes, it does so faster when trees are younger. But the vast majority of forest in America is already managed as timber farms (especially where forests are most productive, in the southern half of the US) there's really nothing more we can do. To increase timber harvest in areas not currently being harvested would simply mean the destruction of the last few remaining pristine forests we have. The ecological implications far outweigh the carbon benefits.
  5. China is the Solution: TRUE, Absolutely
    That's all we're going to say, to find out what WIRED (and I) believes, you'll have to buy the magazine.
  6. Accept Genetic Engineering
    We're staying neutral on this one for now.
  7. Carbon trading doesn't work: FALSE
    The only large-scale emissions trading scheme that we have to judge with (the American cap-and-trade system for sulfur dioxide and other emissions) has been a gigantic success. The cap has been met, lowered, met again, and then lowered again and met again. To say that a carbon cap-and-trade system won't work because Kyoto hasn't worked is, once again, foolish. Kyoto has no enforcement mechanism, and was, from the beginning, an extremely inadequate cap. All proposals on the table in the U.S. right now have two things Kyoto doesn't have. 1. Real, significant reduction targets and 2. TEETH.
  8. Embrace Nuclear Power
    From day one, EcoGeek has remained neutral on nuclear. And that is where we remain.
  9. Used Cars, Not Hybrids: Only if you want a 1994 Geo Metro
    WIRED's premise here presents a problem...the only choices are a 2008 Prius, a 1994 Geo Metro, or a 1997 Tercel. In this case...the obvious winner is the Geo, followed by the Tercel. Unfortunately, these aren't the choices. People buying a new car do not want a 1997 Tercel. It would certainly be better for the environment, but they'd like something with, y'know...a CD Player? And airbags maybe? Any car containing a nickel-based battery will have a large production footprint. But as we switch over to Li-ion, the environmental costs of creating a hybrid will drop dramatically.
  10. Prepare for the Worst: Absolutely, without a doubt, really frighteningly true.

The article is definitely worth reading...critically. And I appreciate the work that went into it, and we only really disagree on three points, which is nice.

The main point of contention between WIRED and EcoGeek is that there is more to our planet than the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The cover kinda pisses me off. I mean..."Screw Spotted Owls"? For real guys, the amount of carbon that could be saved by cutting down the last refuges of the spotted owl is not going to make a dent. And the lack of mention of the success of previous cap-and-trade systems seems like a giant hole in the article as well.

But to say that global warming is the only environmental issue is foolishness. We have a whole planet to deal with here, and while it's nice to have a unifying issue, cutting down all the tramadol no rx overnight cod forests, and poisoning the land with petrochemicals is not going to increase our long-term sustainability.

I'm glad to hear that the massive problem of global warming is being taken up beyond environmentalism. But if we end up solving the climate crisis by destroying the planet, we're all going to feel pretty stupid.

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Comments (42)Add Comment
Thanks for a well balanced and thoughtfu
written by Joel, May 17, 2008
I'm glad Eco-Geek took the time to make an editorial response to Wired. The response was thoughtful and helpful. I particularly appreciated the last point: it is completely within the natural cialis pills realm of possibility that we could manage to resolve the climate crisis but do even more harm to the planet.....
Great post!
written by etharooni, May 18, 2008
I was just reading that article a minute ago. I like the idea of it, but yeah... I agree with you.
written by Ken Roberts, May 18, 2008
I also agree with your responses. It is important that we care for the environment as a whole.
Wired's Ideological Bent
written by Christopher Mims, May 18, 2008
Here's the thing about Wired -- if it turns out that all the cell phones and video games and newfangled technology they push doesn't also come along with a few climate-saving hail Mary innovations, then their entire worldview is morally invalid.

Give them credit for even thinking about this, if only subconsciously (how many Conde Nast publications even have an ideology) but it's clear that they are techno-utopianists. (Why else would they take the somewhat bizarre step of putting switchgrass on the cover?)

Examining the net carbon impact of a thing is no easy task -- look how wrong so many were about biofuels -- and at least in being contrarian they didn't take the usual contrarian path of wondering aloud just how accurate those crazy scientist's models of climate change actually are. This is the kind of productive debate I welcome -- I hope it becomes a fixture in the pages of their generally excellent magazine.

p.s. Hank, my first impulse on seeing the article was also to critique it -- glad you did it first, and better!

Stance on Nuclear is worrisome
written by Jinks, May 18, 2008
Why do you remain neutral on the issue of nuclear power?
It seems almost irresponsible to me, because nuclear power has the most potential for eliminating one of the largest sources of carbon and that is coal plants producing electricity for the grid.
I don't know exactly, but I am almost certain that coal fired plants are the cheap canadian pharmacy number one or two biggest contributors to CO2 in the world, while nuclear would contribute close to zero CO2 if it were implemented on the same scale.
I feel that the radiological danger of nuclear is comparable to the non-CO2 related risks of coal power (mining damage, Miner deaths, heavy metal dispersion in environment, also releases radioactivity etc.).

Some would argue for carbon sequestration, however, this technology has technical obstacles to overcome, while Nuclear power only has governmental/regulatory problems to overcome. Why don't we utilize Nuclear which is available right now.
The major undertaking would be to reduce the time-scale it would take to build a nuclear plant. Most of the time is spent with beaurocratic hoop jumping, so only policy changes would be required, no technical breakthroughs.
Again, it seems unbalanced for Ecogeek to not share its opinion and insight on this critically important matter.
Wired has completed its transition to th
written by Jim, May 18, 2008
Looks like Wired has completed its transition to the Dark Side, with this endorsement of the Neo-Conn Globalist, Corporate agenda. Very sad really. Will be removing from RSS feeds.
The real problem with Kyoto
written by EV, May 18, 2008
o say that a carbon cap-and-trade system won't work because Kyoto hasn't worked is, once again, foolish. Kyoto has no enforcement mechanism, and was, from the beginning, an extremely inadequate cap.

Alas, the real problem with Kyoto is that it doesn't treat all the signatories the same. When less than a quarter of the countries signing actually have to reduce CO2 and the vast majority are free to increase CO2 infinitely, you have the recipe for failure. All Kyoto did was accelerate the export of manufacturing to countries such as India and China that had no obligations under Kyoto and a much worse environmental record. I'm confident that if you looked at Europe's carbon footprint based on what it consumes, not what it produces, it would be significantly higher due to all the imports from countries who are not required to cut CO2 and are using much dirtier power generation methods.

Related to that, Kyoto should have used as the CO2 measurement the consumption of the country. Such as if I export something from Germany to France, the CO2 bill goes to France and not Germany, anything produced and sold in Germany still stays on Germany's tab. It would be interesting to see European countries CO2 based on consumption instead of production.
written by jake3988, May 18, 2008
Organics are an answer. Sometimes there's more to the climate than just co2. The destruction of our waters due to pesticides and real viagra pharmacy prescription all the other nasty health effects FAR trump releasing a bit more carbon dioxide into the viagra generic on line atmosphere.

To solve that, instead, we genetically engineered plants to not even need pesticides. In some ways this can be done through naturally selecting plants through evolution. Some plants develop genetic mutations that allow them complete resistance to things that you use the pesticides for. You then select those and only those for replication and thus eliminate the need for pesticides.

Why people find this disturbing boggles the mind. Why anyone would be against that is just silly.

The bad thing is that, like evolution, it takes a long time to happen. Fortunately, we can solve these things in the lab now too.
written by jake3988, May 18, 2008
And yes, we should embrace nuclear power.

.07 cubic inches of uranium provides the same power as nearly a ton (1780 pounds) of coal.

And when it's done, 60% of it can be reused! And there's no carbon emissions! Think about that!
written by Andy, May 18, 2008
I disagree with your view on city life. While it seems better to be supported by public transportation and efficiency of scale, you have to remember that almost everyone in American cities is completely dependent on non-local, non-local goods, and an extremely heavy infrastructure. That can in no way be sustainable, whereas rural life can be sustainable, but often is far from it as well.
written by Andy, May 19, 2008
i meant to say non-local food and non-local goods
few points
written by Mark Bartosik, May 19, 2008
Coal: Will definitely kill us.
Oil: Already is killing us.
Oil sands: Will kill us quicker.
Nuclear: Might kill us.
Coal with CO2 capture: Might kill us (if it escapes)
Renewables: Requires real change.

City life: Where can I install 13KW of solar power in the city? That's what I have in the suburbs. Once I get a GM Volt I'll be using no fossil fuels directly. Where can I grow my own veggies in the city?

What is required is CHANGE, and on a much grander scale that the politicians talk about.
some more points
written by Eric Sandstrom, May 19, 2008
Power generation must devolve back to the community level. Small, cheap coal fired local generators can provide sufficient power for up to a thousand households.

There is no fuel crisis. There is plenty of coal for conversion to gasoline. At the current cost of oil it is economic to synthesize gasoline from coal instead. Countries like Australia, Russia have sufficient coal resources for a thousand years of synthetic gasoline production.
written by Patrick, May 19, 2008
"There is no fuel crisis. There is plenty of coal for conversion to gasoline. At the current cost of oil it is economic to synthesize gasoline from coal instead."

Sorry, but this is insane in a world conscious of CO2 emissions.
Cities do not equal non-local goods
written by Greg, May 19, 2008
In response to Andy, I'm not completely sold that living in a city entails non-local food and goods. Maybe it's just Boston, but I was buying in-state grown produce and locally made goods all the time. They were readily available at local vendors and in weekly farm markets. I now live in the 'country' in Ohio, and the only place for most 'goods' is Wal-mart. A lot of the country is Wal-mart culture driven, whereas cities are not (closest Walmart to Boston is half hour drive w/ traffic). Although individuals can be more sustainable in the country if they are committed, the average individual probably has more local exposure in a city.
written by DBX-1, May 19, 2008
The above two comments proudly brought to you by your local coal industry :-(

The 16 ton elephant in the roon that no one REALLY talks about is overpopulation. Our population rate is not sustanable at the current level. It will take some bold vision and bying viagra online cheap us sacrifice by all citizens of this earth to avoid future catastrophie when resources are simply not enough for the ever-expanding population.
Population Just a Copout
written by Richard Campbell, May 19, 2008
Population is just another copout people use to justify continued consumption. True, at some point there will be more people on the planet than the planet can support, but the problem right now is that people in developed countries are consuming way, way too much. Time to get rid of the car and show some leadership for the rest of the world.
Urban and Rural can not be seperated.
written by Rick, May 19, 2008
I disagree with your conclusion on rural vs. urban carbon footprint. The cities are quite efficient at what they do, but they rely on the rural areas in order to do it. They rely on rural America for their food and the rural Middle East and rural Pennsylvania for their energy. Since they need the rural populations to survive any true accounting of their carbon must therefore include the just try! cialis fast delivery carbon emitted by their rural support staff. The rural dwellers on the other hand owe a smaller carbon debt to the cities that they rely on due in part to the efficiency of the cities. One could argue that since A owes B and B owes A they have the same amount of carbon debt because it is the same carbon debt.
Don't be mad about the sensationalism of
written by jackie, May 19, 2008
Back to the Wired article, don't be mad about the spotted owl bit. The headlines were meant to be controversial in order to sell magazines and turn pages. Personally, I'm pleased by any effort to turn global warming into a global conversation.
Nuclear is NOT a solution
written by albert ip, May 20, 2008
Nuclear is NOT a solution and never will be.

The major issue with nuclear energy is the waste it produces. The nuclear waste has half-life longer than any living material (longer than even the oldest tree). There is NO safe and permanent method to handle the waste. Full stop. Do not leave a problem to our grand children and canada cialis generic their grand children!

The world has switched from coal to oil as the major source of energy in about 50 or more years. We can switch to another form of energy in less time than that. With the current rate of technology development, the world should be able to switch to a combination of renewable energies in much less than 50 years. The question is whether we have sufficient time if we do not act NOW!
Nuclear and GE?
written by Josh, May 20, 2008
The Wired article is anti-environmentalist link baiting crap.

But how can you be "neutral" on major, critical issues like nuclear power and genetic engineering?

Nuclear power creates nuclear waste and ends up putting radioactive materials (like recycled contaminated metal) into consumer products, not to mention the risk of accidents.

Genetic engineering is dangerous, unpredictable experimentation with the building blocks of life. It's not motivated by a desire to make the world a better place -- because there are a lot of ways to feed the order tramadol without prescription world without GMO. GMO is going to be used as a way to enslave farmers, not feed people. Food distribution is politics and logistics, not science.
I'd like to find out why WIRED thinks Ch
written by Paige, May 20, 2008
I won't be buying the magazine. I don't like to support unnecessary uses of paper like magazines, newspapers, etc, especially when I only want to read one article. Sorry, nope, won't do it. No amount of recycling could relieve my guilt if I bought a magazine.

Maybe you could just tell us what #5's all about? Paperlessly? Please? ;D
Enviro fear mongering?
written by Ken Roberts, May 20, 2008
This discussion is a good illustration of why people do not trust environmentalists. Every possible solution has been ruled out except for 'renewable' technology that doesn't actually exist yet! People want wind power and solar power, but at current prices these are not economical in many areas. Monetary cost vs benefit roughly correlates with energy cost vs benefit, in that you have to not only burn coal and oil in order to have the energy to build solar and wind plants, but you also have to feed all of the workers and provide them with CO2-emitting comforts of modern life.

Wind power also kills a lot of bats and birds, don't forget about that!

There is no magical solution. A Kyoto-like system may help balance the playing field, but it will only shift economic production to non-bound countries that have trade agreements with bound countries.

Nuclear is a real alternative, and needs to be examined, but can also only realistically be a small part of the solution. Nuclear plants are also incredibly expensive, relatively dangerous, water-intensive, and do create nasty byproducts. Coal, oil, and natural gas plants work well, but they are of course very dirty.

American's energy future is going to have to include all of the above. If we take the approach of many communities and ban the construction of new non-renewable sources of power, then we will face of future fraught with rolling black-outs.

There are no silver bullets on the horizon, so lets not hold our breath. The best thing we can do for now is to encourage cheap sources of renewable energy. Recent advances in solar technology may prove to beneficial, but we're still a decade or two away from a technology that can produce more than a few percent of the US's energy needs.

Looking optimistically, the best scenario would probably be for every home to have cheap solar panels and a cheap wind turbine, reducing power bought from the power company by maybe 50%. Power companies in turn can generate perhaps 10% to 20% of their power needs from renewable sources. We can also maybe save another 20% of our per capita energy use through efficiency advances. That still leaves a hell of a lot of power that will need to be produced by non-renewable sources, especially given our growing population.

Live in cities???
written by CommonDavid, May 20, 2008
Could someone explain to me how city living causes less of a carbon impact then rural? I lived in LA for 5 years and just can't see any way that this could be true? I think my impact in New Hampshire is so much smaller just based on all the trees on my property, where as in LA I lived in an apartment, and spent 5x as much time stuck in traffic. It would take me 30 minutes to an hour to go 8 miles, but in NH I can go 20 miles in a half hour easily.
nuclear no alternative
written by ron, May 20, 2008
nuclear isnt a real alternative just like corn based ethanol isnt. nuclear is one of the most expensive energy generating options despite billions in subsidies and is only getting more expensive. wind and solar technologies dont exist on large scales right now but neither does storage of nuclear waste.

going down the nuclear road is the same as going down the fossil fuel road -- both are dead ends.
Or read online
written by MaxBliss, May 20, 2008
Why are you buying and telling others to buy a print magazine when you can read it online for free? Wired article.
Environmentalists should be pro-nuke
written by Spiff, May 20, 2008
The biggest anti-nuclear hurdle is the waste management, and huge half-lives are often quoted. Here are two points to consider:

1. For well over 30 years, deep geological repositories for nuclear waste have been acknowledged as a sound technical solution. Several years ago, this was acknowledged by an $10 million commission in Canada over siting one such survey. However, the facility was not approved, because while "technically safe", the "public perception of safety" was not sufficiently high to justify the facility.

It is not in the anti-nuclear movements interest to have these facilities built, as this "straw-man" argument will disappear. Every time proposals for a repository are sited, anti-nuclear protesters parachute in and set up a NIMBY campaign. Due to poor sociological management practices, few repositories have been successfully sited. Hopefully this will change.

2. Highly radioactive spent fuel is not "waste". Reprocessed spent fuel can be burned in natural uranium reactors, such as CANDU, and provide future electricity. It is currently more cost effective to simply dig uranium out of the ground. However, the idea that there is all this dangerous material for thousands of years is not technically true. The reason waste is not considered fuel is political, and perpetuated by anti-nuclear movements. Moreover, Fission reactors are not isolated to the Uranium cycle. Plutonium and thorium cycles are also possible, as is breeder technology.

Finally, if you're looking for a backyard for all that spent fuel, I will happily take it and use it to heat my home for the next few centuries.
Council Chair
written by Pete, May 22, 2008
The most efficient way of moving energy is still by wire and that means the Grid. Putting power to the grid from coal means an enormouse downwind plume of carbon and radioactive waste. Where there are mountains and water we can generate hydroelctric power, where there a winds we can generate wind power, and where the sun shines solar. But that still leaves the levitra bayer healthcare east coast of the US burning coal. We need the coal gone and save pebble bed reactors for clean power and Kandu reactors to eat up all the radioactive waste generated by the last 60 years of light water reactors. With clean safe electric power we can have plug in electric cars. With coal and oil being used for construction not fuel we do not have to worry as much about pollution because the other bad things we do will kill us before we can kill the planet.

PS: The army does not use gasoline, it uses diesel. The aircraft use jet fuel. Only the arabs are burning gasoline. Pete
nice ad...
written by ralph, May 24, 2008
anyone else get a shell advert under that article?
written by Leonard, May 24, 2008
The specious arguments against genetically engineered plants are as ludicrous as those offered 30 years ago against the use of recombinant DNA derived therapeutic drugs. Doom sayers, self-proclaimed ethics experts and good choice cheapest prices for cialis environmentalists trotted out the same uninformed opinions on the disastrous planetary consequences of modifying microbial genes to create human, animal and vegetable proteins in E. Coli. Three decades later ,literally hundreds of life saving & life extending therapeutic drugs & vaccines have been genetically engineered and mass produced. Also, the human genome has been sequenced allowing better understanding of healthy and diseased cells. EcoGeek's "neutral" stance on GMOs is ignorant, baseless and gutless. Man has been genetically modifying plants for thousands of years. Only the tools employed and time frames have changed.

Ditto for EG's neutral position on Nuclear power. France implemented a Nuclear Power Program (NPP) 30 years ago which now supplies 75% of their electrical power. The French NPP is both safe and now profitable as it sells excess capacity to its European neighbors. Advances in spent fuel rod recycling technology have greatly reduced the need for long term storage facilities. Efficiency and safety improvements in NPP reactor technology over 3 decades now allow for less nuclear fuel safely producing more clean energy.

Do your homework EG!
written by ken upton, May 25, 2008
Our rivers and cheap levitra generic seas never stop moving ,they cover 70% we have the first tidal generator with out effecting of our world > this is where the real clean energy is
and very few to want to know this fact . At long last the try it viagra online in canada tidal flow ,just collecting passing free energy. Our org have two other ways which are far cheaper and more versatile . Aureola and the Hapcab but getting investment for R&D into the unknown DIY systems for local comunities is almost impossible. The other major problem for our world is there are just to many of us , perhaps we should clone in a lemming factor. ;)
Cities = Efficiency
written by CJ, May 26, 2008
Just to tag on to the city/rural debate. From my understanding, city living is much more efficient *per person* than "country" living. When people are living in close proximity to each other, their jobs, services, etc, it requires less energy to transport things (including people). Higher population density also makes it immensely more efficient to provide services to citizens. Think of how much less infrastructure (e.g. water lines, power lines, sewage, roads, etc) is required to build and maintain for 100 people living on the same block, vs. 100 people spread out across a suburban development. It's not even a comparison.

Secondly, as David observed, when you live outside of a city, you get to have more property. Unfortunately, this means that you are now occupying all of that land in an unnatural and almost certainly less ecologically productive way than it would be otherwise. Yes, you might plant some trees and feel good, but this is hardly a comparable substitute for the native ecosystem. Again, 100 4-person families living on 25 2 acre lots in the subdivision (or 4 acre plots in NH?) is incredibly more destructive *per person* than 25 4-person families sharing a city block (or less in a high-rise).

Well that's my short answer to the debate, hopefully I've supported myself clearly. Cities are theoretically more efficient. The problem is we are defining "cities" to include not only the urban metropolis, but the web of urban sprawl around them. Clearly "downtown living" is substantially and importantly different than the lifestyles of those in the farthest suburbs.

Higher population density is a good thing ecologically. Less space occupied by us means more room for nature, and that's good.

I was intrigued by the line of argument whereby cities and only now buy fioricet rural areas exist symbiotically and cannot be separated. I think there is some validity to this idea, that urban life undoubtedly does depend on rural-dwellers, at the very least for food. However, I think the rural food growers/producers and the so-called "support staff" or community needed to support their lives defines a relatively small subset of those who live outside of cities. I find it unconvincing that those living in Suburbia are doing any more for the population than they would if they lived closer to their neighbors, much less enough to justify all the extra energy such a lifestyle demands.

Those are some of my thoughts, what are yours?
No time for greediness.
written by frisbee, May 26, 2008
There is by far enough solar and wind that can be harvested with mainly a short initial extra demand of (fossil) energy. Once operating solar and wind take only little (still fossil?) energy in maintenance and repair.
The initial financial costs are higher than fossil and (maybe) nuclear, but while saving our climate they will save us a hell of a lot of money!

So please let's not only consider the cents per watt price, because our grandchildren will still be paying for this greediness.

Nuclear sounds great in terms of climate-efficiency, but here we have also costs spread out over our future generations. Even if we reuse part of our nuclear wastes, as some of you propose.

But we definitly need to urge! Climate change is happening at an allarming rate. We can still temper this rate by lowering our own consumption at every level and telling our neighbours they can.
Nice work Hank
written by Nick Aster, May 26, 2008
I'm surprised they don't tout efficiency as much as they should. Restructuring incentives to reward efficiency (energy and fuel etc) can buy us tons of time toward addressing the bigger problems that our mass consumption causes.
No stand on Nuclear?
written by ErikL, May 28, 2008
To move into anything that we know is lethal and have absolutely zero idea on how to fix is insane. Already advances in wind, solar and tidal energy capture are sufficient proof that we can arrive at a workable clean solution to energy along these lines. Yes we do need dramatic changes in housing (especially multi-story) design in order maximize the energy capture potential of current technologies but if the same money was spent on these lines as is spent on nuclear we would already have the solutions. Let's not condemn future generations with trying to find a solution to nuclear waste - that would be even more irresponsible that to ignore the carbon issue now. There are plenty of clean energy solutions that require nothing more than development money which can be easily gotten from instigating a carbon tax on all those who are causing the current problem (petrol powered cars, industries, coal power stations etc). Say NO to Nuclear Power until there is proven safe way to convert the waste to inert product.
not enough to just decrease meat product
written by rickdog, May 28, 2008
I remember reading in 1971 in Lappe's seminal book Diet for a Small Planet that the fish fed to livestock would be enough to bring the entire world up to a minimal level of protein in the diet. We won't reduce animal reduction much under the current situation but we should become more aware of what is fed to livestock worldwide. Fish going directly into human diets instead indirectly through land mammals would reduce negative environmental effects while simultaneously feed the human craving for animal protein.
cost of war
written by rickdog, May 28, 2008
there's an interesting blog post going around that purports that if we borrow over 30 years the cost of the Iraq war that we would have enough capital to exchange every vehicle in the US over to electric and also replace every power plant with renewable energy sources and still have money left over. Our priority is war, to grab the last of the light crude, a pitiful last gasp of the oil-centric powers.
written by Elizabeth Pandolfi, May 30, 2008
Cited your blog posting here:

It's towards the end, but I promise it's there. I really enjoyed your in depth explanations here.
GMOs top my list
written by Micah, June 02, 2008
Of the most worrisome trends today, GMOs are at the top in my book. They have gone through virtually no testing or regulation outside of the companies who own them, Monsanto (the leading perpetrator and beneficiary from GM crops) has knowingly subjected thousands to the effects of their chemical products (PCBs in particular), and is making an effort to control seed production around the world.

Genetically modified organisms are NOT a continuation of thousands of years of human tinkering with crops, they are a radical departure that involves crossing lines nature has never crossed. The fact that these crops can reach the market with less testing than a new food coloring is only one item on the long list of problems with GMOs - please investigate this issue and take a stance on it EcoGeek!
It's all about the ecosystem services
written by Peter McDougall, June 02, 2008
I think the point-by-point discussion is a good way to address many of the issues raised by the folks at Wired. I found their story interesting, but as has been pointed out here and in many other places, I believe they missed the boat on many of their arguments, including their primary point.

The idea that everything else should be put on the back burner until we find a solution to our growing carbon problem is wrong. There is no arguing that greenhouse gasses in general, and CO2 in particular, are a significant threat to the state of the entire planet. But the reality is that the world isn’t going to end if we keep pumping CO2 into our atmosphere. The world as we KNOW it, however will be fundamentally and permanently changed (at least on a timeline appropriate for humanity). All of the services that our planet currently provides for free (including things like food, fuel, flood regulation, air quality, production of topsoil, climate mitigation, etc) will no longer be available.

The folks at Wired say that if we don’t solve the Carbon Problem, it won’t matter if we save the Spotted Owl. While they are right, the opposite is equally true—if we finally curb our carbon output, but have lost most if not all of the major ecosystem services in the process, we are no better off than if we kept burning coal with abandon.

The ecosystem services provided by a healthy and functioning planet would cost us trillions of dollars to replace. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, an international research effort initiated in 2000 by the United Nations, reported in 2005 that many of the ecosystems that provide these services are in rough shape or a missing altogether. The assessment even included a business-related section detailing the financial impact on our economy if we further compromise these ecosystems and canada viagra online lose the services they provide.

Climate change will result in a catastrophic loss of these services. But our primary goal shouldn’t be to avoid climate change at all costs; it should be to avoid the end result of climate change at all costs—i.e. the loss of our ecosystem services. If we cut down all the forests, contaminate the drinking water and empty the oceans of fish (in short, make it so that Nature can’t provide any of the ecosystem services anyways) all for the sake of becoming carbon neutral, then we are still in the same boat—a planet that can no longer support us, and only ourselves to blame.

The Wired article wasn’t all wrong, it was only half right. We need to protect the ecosystems as well.

A quick PS
written by Peter McDougall, June 02, 2008
PS We wrote a post about organic versus non-organic cows in response to this Wired article on our blog at
Sitting on the fence is not a nuetral position
written by Chris, May 28, 2010
genetic modification almost elusively exist so big ag can force more pesticides into the food system. this is bad for farmer independence, top soil, our water supply and genetic engineering is based on monocrop systems of production which deplete biodiversity in rural ecosystems... you should stop sitting on the fence and decide your with or against Monsanto

nuclear energy is not only dangerous and part of an industry prone to spills, leaks and contaminated ground water in order to lower operating costs and maximize profit, it is so expensive and takes so long to build that it is money wasted that could go to building a bright green future right now. you should stop sitting on the fence and decide whether your for or against the nuclear industry

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