Second thoughts on Green dogma -- from a surprising source

Germany has long been the titular and emotional leader of the "Green Movement" in Europe.  No country has adopted more so-called environmental friendly policies.  The German population has obediently gone along with environmental measures; in fact they have been the model people when it comes to green living.

So it is doubly startling when Der Spiegel, the leading left-wing publication in Germany publishes an article entitled: "Is Environmentalism Really Working?" openly questioning the viability and cost of a myriad of green initiatives.

Some highlights:

Regarding biofuels:

Many haven't yet fully realized that E10 [gasoline with 10% biofuel content] is an ecological swindle.

Rainforests are being clear-cut in Brazil and Borneo to make room for sugar cane and palm oil cultivation.  At the same time there is a shortage of arable land for food production, which is leading to the threat of famine in parts of the world.

A single full tank of bio-ethanol uses up as much grain as an adult can eat in a whole year.

Environmental groups say that across Europe, farming for bio-fuels would create up to 56 million tons of additional greenhouse gases-an environmental crime they say must be stopped immediately.

Regarding water conservation:

Germans are obsessed with saving water.  You won't find many countries north of the Sahara that are as water-conscious as Germany.  They save water while washing dishes (a modern dishwashing machine uses only six liters per cycle, while going to the toilet (many toilets have a setting that allows only a brief flush) and even while washing their cars.

Yet Germany is one of the world's most water-rich countries -- it could consume five times more water than it does now.

And water conservation in Germany can be harmful -- particularly when it comes to sewerage systems beneath German cities.  The lack of waste water flowing through the canalization means that fat, feces and discarded food aren't getting flushed out enough, and are corroding the walls.  To compensate, utilities are forced to pump hundreds of thousands of liters of fresh water through the system to keep it operable.

The result, not surprisingly, are higher water bills.  And consumers respond to those higher bills by saving more water.  Paradoxically, the vicious cycle can only be broken if consumers start using more water.

Regarding garbage recycling:

When it comes to garbage, the Germans are a nation of gatherers and sorters.

Once the rubbish is collected, the sorting continues.  Special machines with infrared sensors discern six different types of plastic.  But then something strange happens -- more than half the yogurt cups, plastic juice bottles and packing foils are incinerated.  Under German law only 36% of plastic rubbish has to be recycled.

The remainder can be sold for a profit, for example to plants that burn rubbish to produce heating or power.  Such facilities are everywhere in Germany.  Municipalities across the country built them in response to a ban on storing garbage in landfills.  Indeed, now there are far too many of them in Germany -- and there is a shortage of burnable waste.

The result is that firms are buying up as much plastic waste-which burns well due to the high quality of oil in plastics-as they can get their hands on.  Indeed, some companies have even resorted to importing plastic waste to burn-hardly a contribution to an environmental utopia.

Regarding light bulbs:

Most [Germans] didn't see the need to scrap conventional light bulbs when the simplest way to save electricity was just to turn off the light.

As of Sept. 1, 2009, all 100 watt bulbs vanished from European Union store shelves.  A year later, it was the turn of 75 watt bulbs.  This year, 60 watt bulbs will go the way of the dodo bird.

Many people already miss them.  The energy-saving bulbs that replaced them emit blue light and induce stress because they disrupt the body's production of the sleep hormone melatonin.  In addition, they contain mercury-to the point that consumers are advised not to use them in children's room.

The energy-saving bulb is a pretty dirty affair if one takes a look at the production process.  Eighty percent of the bulbs are made in China where safety standards are so lax many workers suffer from mercury poisoning.  In Germany, the bulbs are classified as special waste and the poisonous substance they contain has to be dumped in underground sites.

Furthermore, the new bulbs don't live up to their promise of energy efficiency either. When the magazine Okotest tested and array of the bulbs recently, half of them didn't last longer than 6,000 hours, well below EU estimates of 10,000 hours.

The article concludes:

Not everything that looks green serves the environment.  The ecological principle of proceeding with care doesn't seem to apply to environmental policy.  The more, the better, seems to be the principle.  No one is calculating whether all the billions being invested in protecting the environment are actually being spent wisely.  Ordinary citizens can't judge it and many experts have no interest in shedding any light on this aspect because their livelihoods are at stake.

The frequency with which environmental policies backfire should give pause for thought. 

The worst aspect: some major environmental policies aren't just ineffective -- they are counterproductive.

In the fight to protect the environment, it may be time to pause and ask oneself: what is really helping, and what isn't?  And to admit at times: sorry, we were wrong.  But it doesn't work like that.  Environmentalism knows no doubt.  The idea is never wrong, the problem is always in the implementation.

For Der Spiegel to publish an article like this is a monumental and watershed moment in the ongoing environmental follies forced upon the world and the United States.  It was only a matter of time before reality and evidence would win out even among the most die-hard of countries committed to the "green" agenda. 

Now it is time for the Republicans to force the EPA, Obama, the Democrats in Congress and the environmentalists in America to listen to their soul mates in Europe and give up their foolish agenda before any more damage in done here.

Germany has long been the titular and emotional leader of the "Green Movement" in Europe.  No country has adopted more so-called environmental friendly policies.  The German population has obediently gone along with environmental measures; in fact they have been the model people when it comes to green living.

So it is doubly startling when Der Spiegel, the leading left-wing publication in Germany publishes an article entitled: "Is Environmentalism Really Working?" openly questioning the viability and cost of a myriad of green initiatives.

Some highlights:

Regarding biofuels:

Many haven't yet fully realized that E10 [gasoline with 10% biofuel content] is an ecological swindle.

Rainforests are being clear-cut in Brazil and Borneo to make room for sugar cane and palm oil cultivation.  At the same time there is a shortage of arable land for food production, which is leading to the threat of famine in parts of the world.

A single full tank of bio-ethanol uses up as much grain as an adult can eat in a whole year.

Environmental groups say that across Europe, farming for bio-fuels would create up to 56 million tons of additional greenhouse gases-an environmental crime they say must be stopped immediately.

Regarding water conservation:

Germans are obsessed with saving water.  You won't find many countries north of the Sahara that are as water-conscious as Germany.  They save water while washing dishes (a modern dishwashing machine uses only six liters per cycle, while going to the toilet (many toilets have a setting that allows only a brief flush) and even while washing their cars.

Yet Germany is one of the world's most water-rich countries -- it could consume five times more water than it does now.

And water conservation in Germany can be harmful -- particularly when it comes to sewerage systems beneath German cities.  The lack of waste water flowing through the canalization means that fat, feces and discarded food aren't getting flushed out enough, and are corroding the walls.  To compensate, utilities are forced to pump hundreds of thousands of liters of fresh water through the system to keep it operable.

The result, not surprisingly, are higher water bills.  And consumers respond to those higher bills by saving more water.  Paradoxically, the vicious cycle can only be broken if consumers start using more water.

Regarding garbage recycling:

When it comes to garbage, the Germans are a nation of gatherers and sorters.

Once the rubbish is collected, the sorting continues.  Special machines with infrared sensors discern six different types of plastic.  But then something strange happens -- more than half the yogurt cups, plastic juice bottles and packing foils are incinerated.  Under German law only 36% of plastic rubbish has to be recycled.

The remainder can be sold for a profit, for example to plants that burn rubbish to produce heating or power.  Such facilities are everywhere in Germany.  Municipalities across the country built them in response to a ban on storing garbage in landfills.  Indeed, now there are far too many of them in Germany -- and there is a shortage of burnable waste.

The result is that firms are buying up as much plastic waste-which burns well due to the high quality of oil in plastics-as they can get their hands on.  Indeed, some companies have even resorted to importing plastic waste to burn-hardly a contribution to an environmental utopia.

Regarding light bulbs:

Most [Germans] didn't see the need to scrap conventional light bulbs when the simplest way to save electricity was just to turn off the light.

As of Sept. 1, 2009, all 100 watt bulbs vanished from European Union store shelves.  A year later, it was the turn of 75 watt bulbs.  This year, 60 watt bulbs will go the way of the dodo bird.

Many people already miss them.  The energy-saving bulbs that replaced them emit blue light and induce stress because they disrupt the body's production of the sleep hormone melatonin.  In addition, they contain mercury-to the point that consumers are advised not to use them in children's room.

The energy-saving bulb is a pretty dirty affair if one takes a look at the production process.  Eighty percent of the bulbs are made in China where safety standards are so lax many workers suffer from mercury poisoning.  In Germany, the bulbs are classified as special waste and the poisonous substance they contain has to be dumped in underground sites.

Furthermore, the new bulbs don't live up to their promise of energy efficiency either. When the magazine Okotest tested and array of the bulbs recently, half of them didn't last longer than 6,000 hours, well below EU estimates of 10,000 hours.

The article concludes:

Not everything that looks green serves the environment.  The ecological principle of proceeding with care doesn't seem to apply to environmental policy.  The more, the better, seems to be the principle.  No one is calculating whether all the billions being invested in protecting the environment are actually being spent wisely.  Ordinary citizens can't judge it and many experts have no interest in shedding any light on this aspect because their livelihoods are at stake.

The frequency with which environmental policies backfire should give pause for thought. 

The worst aspect: some major environmental policies aren't just ineffective -- they are counterproductive.

In the fight to protect the environment, it may be time to pause and ask oneself: what is really helping, and what isn't?  And to admit at times: sorry, we were wrong.  But it doesn't work like that.  Environmentalism knows no doubt.  The idea is never wrong, the problem is always in the implementation.

For Der Spiegel to publish an article like this is a monumental and watershed moment in the ongoing environmental follies forced upon the world and the United States.  It was only a matter of time before reality and evidence would win out even among the most die-hard of countries committed to the "green" agenda. 

Now it is time for the Republicans to force the EPA, Obama, the Democrats in Congress and the environmentalists in America to listen to their soul mates in Europe and give up their foolish agenda before any more damage in done here.

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