Stop fighting, start planting trees


Is anyone else out there exhausted by ridiculous environmental arguments?

The topic isn’t ridiculous, but the entrenchment is. We’re getting nowhere and everyone is just getting more riled up. It’s like an argument about the best sushi, except that the loser loses his job forever.

The green side sees fossil fuels as the ultimate enemy, and wages constant and often irrational guerilla warfare against them. What makes the position usually irrational is the decision to attack what they see in front of them, mercilessly, even if that isn’t the problem at all. Or, more accurately, what they attack is insignificant in relation to the global problem.

For example, how many hours and dollars have been spent fighting pipelines in North America in the past 5 years? I can’t even guess, but I can tell you that if those dollars were spent removing the world’s (not North America’s) worst polluters, the benefit to the climate would be 100-fold higher. Stopping pipelines does absolutely nothing to stop pollution, because consumption remains unchanged regardless (it actually keeps growing). If all that money and effort went towards an international effort to eliminate, say, the worst-polluting coal facilities in China or third world countries – ones that have little or no environmental governance – perhaps a serious dent would be made in GHG emissions. But, it’s far easier and more interesting and more profitable to get in a war with North American corporations. Wars are much easier with obvious villains.

Fossil fuel proponents, if they bother to speak up at all, ineffectively remind people how impossible it would be to live without them and maintain our lifestyle. This is undoubtedly true, but the industry is so completely outgunned in the discussion that it has been unable to even get this simple truth across effectively. In the coldest winter months, nowhere is there to be found an article in defense of natural gas, which kept us all alive through these months. Nowhere is there to be found an analysis of the environmental benefits of using that gas as opposed to coal or burning wood – the only two realistic mass alternatives.

Energy industry people need to grab the reins and steer the ship elsewhere. The social media war is not a war at all; the green movement owns it. That doesn’t mean capitulation, but it should mean a reset, and a new direction that would be impossible to denigrate.

One suggestion: mass reforestation, or creation of new forests, on government or private land as available. Think about the possibilities and effects of such a campaign. First, it would be, from any perspective whatsoever, environmentally friendly. Environmentalists used to dismiss these efforts as industry led for various predictable reasons, such as that the new forests were too uniform, or whatever. But that is hardly a hurdle anymore with the advanced forest management knowledge available now.

From the energy industry’s perspective, it is a cost-effective program that would have more than a few benefits: it could provide jobs in areas where they are much needed; it would create GHG credits and goodwill, and it would show that real progress can be made environmentally without going through the ridiculous motions of pretending that fossil fuels are bad. (Whether they are good or bad is irrelevant as long as the world is hooked as bad as it is, and there aren’t enough government subsidies in the world to end the habit any time soon.) If governments were unwilling or too slow, companies can easily and cheaply purchase marginal land almost anywhere in the world and set to it themselves. No regulatory hurdles, no battles, just get on with it.

Someone somewhere will come up with a reason why it won’t work, but the same can be said for anything. If the energy industry wants to really help itself, why not join the environmental movement as well, but on its own terms?

And environmentalists – if you care about the environment, you can help too!

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1 Comment

  1. david m lewis says:

    great observations


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