Sunday, September 13, 2009

Global Warming Hysteria Distracting From Real Environmental Problems

I have a confession to make: I'm an environmentalist. I'm not the kind of environmentalist that pushes for international bans on DDT production based on weak science, allowing millions of African people to die of malaria, but I am an environmentalist. I think governments have a fundamental responsibility to promote responsible use resources and protect habitat and shared resources from contamination. I'm glad that I live in the most environmentally responsible major industrial power in the world. Now I haven't bought into the global warming hysteria, so I've been accused of being anti-environmentalist. But now, more and more environmentalists are realizing that the Global Warming religion has distracted environmentalists from major environmental problems in our world. From the BBC (Read the whole article, it's interesting):

As the UN climate summit in Copenhagen approaches, exhortations that "we must get a deal" and warnings that climate change is "the greatest challenge we face as a species" are to be heard in virtually every political forum.

But if you look back to the latest definitive check on the planet's environmental health - the Global Environment Outlook (Geo-4), published by the UN two years ago - what emerges is a picture of decline that goes way, way beyond climate change.

Species are going extinct at perhaps 1,000 times the normal rate, as key habitats such as forests, wetlands and coral reefs are plundered for human infrastructure.

Aquifers are being drained and fisheries exploited at unsustainable speed. Soils are becoming saline, air quality is a huge cause of illness and premature death; the human population is bigger than our one Earth can currently sustain.

Now some of that is overstated hysteria, especially the last clause, but a lot of that is true. Deforestation and habitat loss, especially in Central America, is causing more environmental damage right now than all the carbon dioxide that humans have ever produced. Fresh water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, and the air quality in China and India (among others) is becoming dangerously bad.

With all of these very real problems, why do environmentalists, especially government environmental regulators, seem so focused on whether the world is 1 degree warmer or 0.8 degrees warmer in 100 years? None of the real issues offer them governments the kind of opportunities for control that Carbon Dioxide emissions control does. Free enterprise, with developments in desalination technologies, can make a major dent in the fresh water shortage. Governments can preserve habitats, but landowners often do a better job, and land preservation doesn't offer government much behavior control. Western governments can't do much about China's and India's air quality. But humans emit carbon dioxide everywhere they go and with every thing they do, so carbon dioxide regulations offers governments control over everything in everyone's life.

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