Friday, April 22, 2005

The Problem with Environmental Groups

I'm a pretty outdoorsy person. I like to hike, hunt, fish, and camp, and I just generally enjoy being in the woods or the mountains. So you would think that I would belong to, or at least support, the usual suspects, such as Sierra Club or the WWF. But I don't, because I find environmental groups very frustrating. Their view of the problems with the environment, mainly that there will be an environmental armageddon if we don't do something NOW, and the solutions, massive federal spending and regulations, are etched in stone as if Moses himself had carried them down off the mountain. Because of this, anyone who dissents from this dogma is abused and reviled well beyond any civil limits -- as in the case of Bjorn Lomborg. To me, it seems that these groups have no real interest in actually solving environmental problems -- of which there are some, even if they are not always what WWF says they are. I would rather see a focus on specifically identified problems and creative solutions. In other words, not an assertion of impending general doom and a demand for a massive increase in taxpayer dollars to be thrown at it.

Here is one example of the kind of resistance to critical thinking that environmentalists employ. A new study recently came out about some shrinkage (not in the Seinfeldian sense) of the glaciers on an Antarctic peninsula, reported on here and here. Of course, this is supposedly data in support of "climate change." Who knows? It may be. But what the first article makes clear is that these glaciers, while large in number, occupy a peninsula that is actually only a very small part of the whole of the continent. The scientists in the article specifically state that the data from the rest of the continent show that some of the ice is shrinking, while some is growing. So the data are mixed at best (after all, what if the majority of the ice on the rest of the continent was growing? Would we be in danger of a new ice age, and not global warming at all?). But what does the WWF spokesman have to say? How about: "This is another piece of evidence showing that climate change is real and happening and all governments should prioritise emissions reduction." Sigh. That statement is not even logical. "Climate change" is so amorphous -- it could mean the climate's getting warmer, it's getting colder, or even that our atmosphere is being sucked into space like in Spaceballs. And what's the deal with the jump to the prioritizing of emissions reduction? If we're in danger of a global ice age, maybe we should be trying to warm the air! All joking aside, the statement just shows that groups like WWF are pushing an agenda using whatever ambiguous data they can. And that's what frustrates me.

Do I have any useful suggestions, or just more whining? Personally, I'm interested in a lot of the free market ideas such as the ones you can find on this blog. At the very least, I'd like to see environmental groups get to the point where they can openly discuss alternative solutions without the hostility.


Blogger Norris McDonald said...

Well you points are on point. We agree with you

8:21 PM  

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