I brought up the topic of hypocrisy last week in regards to an article from Newscientist praising China for being a paragon of clean energy development, even though they refuse to sign any new climate treaties (the U.S. would never get such treatment). A couple other recent articles made me think of hypocrisy again this week. This article – “Canada’s tar sands may be just too dirty” is an interesting look into the potential for Canadian tar sands to help provide the world with cleaner fossil fuel energy (another is this article about arctic sea ice). The more interesting aspect is that the analyses came from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Should there be a caveat in the article stating that WWF worked on the study and thus it might be biased? I ask because whenever a climate or energy study is funded and released by the energy industry, it is typically immediately and savagely derided as suspect because it was funded or somehow associated with “big oil” or “big energy”. How come studies supported or funded by environmental groups are not printed with caveats? I think it has to do with image instead of the actual data. The WWF has done a good job portraying themselves as the “good guys” vs. the “evil oil companies”, so of course, because their motives are “pure” they must be correct, right? This is not the case. What should matter is the data. Does it make sense? Has it been properly reviewed? I don’t care who does the study, as long as the process is transparent and the data adds up, then it should be factored into future policy decisions on energy and climate. If nearly every study presented by the “evil energy companies” is rejected and derided no matter the quality of the data or the soundness of the conclusions, then the same should happen with the WWF. What a minute, you say, maybe the WWF is not biased and has no ulterior motives. Although their mission is perceived as “good” they are squarely on one side of the AGW argument as can been seen in this post from the worldwide blog action day. It would seem they are completely convinced that humans are destroying the planet and that economic activity should be curbed very soon. The WWF has some good intentions but this does not automatically translate into unbiased science.
Another article that reveals hypocrisy is this one about “the right to dry“. This article discusses the energy savings that can be had by drying the laundry on an outdoor line. It is very environmentally friendly (and most likely good for health as well), yet it is banned in many U.S. communities. Typically these are communities like Malibu and Marin County California that claim to be environmentally conscious. It makes it look like their environmentalism goes no deeper than their vanity and pocketbook. Drying clothes on a clothesline is banned because they are afraid their property values will decline. I don’t care if a community wants to ban outdoor clothesline (and I don’t think creating a “right to dry” is necessary) but the communities that ban such energy saving methods should not be heralded as saints of environmentalism.
On the topic of energy and pollution here is something interesting: Ecuador is offering to not drill for oil in the amazon rain forest if “the world” pays them 3.5 billion. It appears capitalism is alive and well. That being said, it seems unlikely that this would happen or that it would not work without some strict conditions. What would prevent future Ecuadorian leaders from reneging on the deal? Could they police the area of the rain forest slated for protection? Might they mine these areas for other raw materials? Still, it is an interesting proposition that some world leaders are contemplating. Leaders in Ecuador have correctly taken the temperature of world sentiment and figures to profit.
A follow up on Cassini’s Monday flyby of Enceladus. No definitive analysis of the chemical composition of the geysers yet, but a couple of cool pictures have been released -check here.
Have a nice Thursday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on November 5, 2009