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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Seven points

This is Al Gore's 7 point pledge that he wants us all to take.

The seven-point pledge announced by Al Gore to rally support against global warming:

I pledge

1. To demand that my country join an international treaty within the next two years that cuts global warming pollution by 90 percent in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy earth;

Wow. A lot of open ended stuff here.

What, exactly, is "global warming pollution?"
How, exactly, would cutting this "pollution" by 90% be accomplished, and at what cost?
What, precisely, would cutting this "pollution" actually accomplish towards creating a "healthy earth?"
For those who live in First World nations, our children are already inheriting a healthier earth (unless we screw it up for them by implementing some of the more drastic suggestions to battle global warming). For those who live in Second and Third World nations, these treaties are more likely to increase environmental damage than reduce them.
I could go on, but that's fodder for another post.

2. To take personal action to help solve the climate crises by reducing my own C02 pollution as much as I can and offsetting the rest to become ''carbon neutral'';

CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 has a limited ability to effect climate. Cutting our personal CO2 "pollution" will have no effect at all on climate, because we are responsible for such a tiny fraction of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, anyhow.

3. To fight for a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store the C02;

From what I understand, this technology does not yet exist. Therefore, this point is actually a pledge to fight *all* new generating facilities. Considering the costs of such action (and I don' t mean just in dollars and cents), I would much rather have new plants with scrubbers, as well as scrubbers being added to existing plants, that will remove or reduce the *real* pollutants they emit.

4. To work for a dramatic increase in the energy efficiency of my home, workplace, school, place of worship, and means of transportation;

Just what, exactly, would that be? How would we accomplish this? Who will pay for it? Who decides what these changes entails? What unexpected consequences might there be? I'm all for increasing energy efficiency, so long as it actually *is* an improvement. A prime example of unexpected consequences is the switch to CFL bulbs, which may be more energy efficient, but are much more expensive, have limited functionality, and have greater environmental risks associated with them. Oh, and I just recently learned that when they do burn out, they can become extremely hot and start smoking. I wonder what's in that smoke, considering what's in the bulbs themselves.

5. To fight for laws and policies that expand the use of renewable energy sources and reduce dependence on oil and coal;

These are things that should be part of a free market - supply and demand. If customers demand other energy sources, suppliers will meet those demands. I would be willing to accept reasonable regulatory controls (with limitations placed on them, as regulations seem to breed excessively in dark corners, when we're not noticing. *L*). I'm also all for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels - actually, I am all for reducing our dependence an a whole lot of things, but especially governments. I have serious reservations to instituting laws. What if these "renewable energy sources" turn out to be a cure worse than the disease? The more I learn about large scale solar and wind generation, the more I disagree with going that route. The environmental costs are incredibly high, while at the same time, they are unreliable and incapable of meeting our energy needs *now,* never mind in the future.

6. To plant new trees and to join with others in preserving and protecting forests; and,

I'm all for planting trees! Growing up on the prairies, planting trees went a long way to protect our homes from the winds, reducing soil loss, and as a side benefit, increasing local wildlife. Many of us took advantage of the free seedlings given out by the government and using them to plant shelter belts. One of my brothers alone has planted over 400 trees on his property through this program. I can't even guess at how many trees my parents have planted in the almost 50 years they've lived on our farm.

Keeping in mind, though, that encouraging one type of habitat will always be at the cost of another. The First Nations created and maintained the prairies through the use of fire for over 5000 years, preventing the growth of forests for a reason. By planting trees, we're encouraging one type of ecosystem at the cost of another.

Industrial nations have been steadily increasing their total forests quite dramatically, some for over 300 years! Where my alarm bells start to go off is with the words "preserving and protecting." What would that entail? Who decides which forests need to be preserved and protected? Why? How?

7. To buy from businesses and support leaders who share my commitment to solving the climate crises and building a sustainable, just and prosperous world for the 21st century.

I'm all for supporting good businesses and community leaders. However, since I think "solving the climate crisis" is a massive diversion of funds and resources away from real problems that need solving, to a problem we have little to no control over (and a problem that is largely exaggerated and falsified in the first place), other things will influence my decision to support a business. Any business or leader that has jumped on the climate crisis bandwagon will *not* be getting my support. Any business or leader that is trying to solve actual problems in regards to pollution controls (real pollution, not CO2), waste reduction, efficiency, etc. will have my full support. These are among the reasons I like our local grocery store. They have a public recycling bin for plastic bags (though most customers use it as a garbage bin), as well as recycling their own waste products, from cardboard and plastic, to composting vegetable wastes. They are also supporters of the local community, providing sponsorship and volunteers for numerous local events.

Aside from all this, following Gore's pledge will accomplish nothing when it comes to affecting global warming, one way or the other. While we have some influence and control over our regional environment, the globe will do what it does, regardless of our actions. We have no control over the sun, our magnetic field, the Earth's path around the sun, and cosmic events, many of which we were just learning about now. We have no control over our oceans, and little ability to effect them, though some proposals to fight global warming have the potential to dramatically damage them. We can control what we put into our atmosphere to a pretty good extent, but we can't control how the atmosphere behaves - again, we're still just learning how it works, and there's still huge gaps in our knowledge.

In the end, about the only thing Gore's pledge will do is deceive a few good people into believing they're actually making a difference, and provide more publicity and accolades for himself.


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