Monthly Archives: September 2013

Response to Week 5, Prompt 1, Anti-Environmental

Standard

That video was a clear depiction propaganda for the close-minded. An ecofriendly government, if done right of course, will not cause economic downturn. Carbon taxes placed on big businesses will allow for redistribution of money needed for the market to circulate. Not only would it deter excessive use of fossil fuels, the money the government received from such taxes can be put into education and other public needs. As for guilt, we should educate people and make them more aware. They may feel bad for their past actions but in the same sense that ignorance is only truly wrong when done knowingly, people should be able to forgive themselves for their lack of knowledge. Only after they become informed participants in the destruction of all living organisms should they feel irreconcilable remorse for their actions. In place of a negative method, Americans should feel a desire and be praised for using renewable resources. Wind power and other such resources are not perfected but they’re better than our use of fossil fuels. In this video the man suggests that being like Europe will cause America to fail. Sweden and Norway actually import trash to continue their program of turning wastes into energy. “In a country where only 4 percent of waste goes to landfills, officials have had to start importing trash so they can keep making heat and electricity,” as stated in an article by Charlie Wells of  the New York Daily New. “There are worries that burning rubbish may discourage recycling. Julian Kirby, of Friends of the Earth, says: “Waste for energy isn’t as green as it’s made out to be. We estimate that 80% of what’s in the average waste stream is easily recyclable.” Kirby argues that the incineration system creates confusion: “If you think your waste being burned is a good thing then you are more inclined to just chuck things away rather than recycling them.”” quoted from Helen Russel’s article in The Guardian. These two contrasting views show that although this is not the final solution, it is a step in the right direction and that Europe, whether the man in the video likes it or not, has something right.

Sources:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/sweden-imports-trash-norway-heat-electricity-article-1.1192661

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jun/14/norway-waste-energy

Response to Promp 2 Native Traditions

Standard

I believe the values held by the Native American we’re very special and evolved as well.  I Particularly enjoy the last element you mentioned, “a set of rules of duty and standards of character.” I believe this is the most important of all as well as having morals in relation to the health of nature. However, although these are such beautiful visions I do not think they will ever be possible in this day and age. I am one of those people that has not a shred of hope for humanity in regards to the environment. I believe our population has exploded to the point at which there is no way to reverse our way of living and the ecological damage we have inflicted. I think people could become enlightened by these ideas and moved by them, but I do not think people are willing to sacrifice their comfortable ways of living mentally and physically. People are so caught up in their own illusion, their own way of staying huddled in a hole of happiness and blinded by the media. So how can you awake someone from a dream that is eternally comfortable, especially if they don’t wish to be awoken from it? We were born into this world, when it was already on its road to destruction. With how large the population is, how do we expect people to drastically alter their lives when they have been so content? Our community’s view on nature is always influencing us in many ways. Some views revolve around “evolving” with technology and genetic crops, and others around starting from square A and reaching back towards older ways of living where the environment was safer from our negative influence. 

Response to Week 5, Promt 1: Anti-Environmental

Standard

Anyone who sincerely argues that efforts to protect the environment can only hurt the economy has not been paying attention. The EPA reports that the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 alone prevented “160,000 premature deaths, 130,000 heart attacks, millions of cases of respiratory problems such as acute bronchitis and asthma attacks, and 86,000 hospital admissions,” just in 2010. The 1990 amendments also prevented 13 million lost workdays and 3.2 million lost school days due to respiratory illness and other diseases caused or exacerbated by air pollution, also in 2010. That same study, commission in 2011, estimates that economic benefits of the law in 2020 are expected to outweigh benefits by a factor of about 30-to-1.

 

Arguments against environmental policy are not fact-driven; they are driven by ideology. In spite of a legacy of bipartisanship on environmental legislation, most notably in the early 1970s, the current political climate regarding environmental policy is characterized by gridlock and stalemate. Environmentalism, once a bipartisan issue, has now been transfigured into a sharply divisive issue, splitting the parties as readily as social issues or healthcare policy. The primary reason for this is the influence of powerful interests, with a profit motive for undermining environmental policy, funding Republican candidates. These candidates then have an invested interest in stifling environmental protection legislation, and that ethos proliferates throughout the party.

 

The proposition, made in the “If I Wanted America to Fail” video, that environmentalists are “guilting” Americans into using renewable energy is hypocritical at best. The video itself uses charged language, asserting that environmentalists want America to “fail” without sufficient reason. It guilts its viewers into using fossil fuels because only then can America avoid “failure.” It leads its viewers to believe that renewable energy is inherently un-American, regardless of the opportunity for American renewable energy companies to create jobs and grow into a thriving industry. The narrator in the video, like Michael S. Berliner from the Ayn Rand Institute, uses a straw man argument to mischaracterize the position and ideology of environmentalists, attacking them and their goals as un-American.

 

A middle ground is not possible as long as these types of arguments persist and powerful lobbies continue to fund Republican (and certainly some Democratic) candidates. Until then, we will fail to create new, effective environmental policy.

Response to Week 5, Prompt 4

Standard

The arguments against environmentalism on an economic basis have not been convincing. Although there has been a general push for deregulation in many areas of the economy recently, it has yet to be shown that this is the best direction in which the country should go. Environmental concern and regulation probably has less damage to deal to economic productivity as a whole than to certain wealthy and empowered economic institutions which heavily influence energy policy in the US. If you’ll agree that first and foremost, environmentalism is concerned with energy policy – renewables over fossil fuels – then it isn’t much of a stretch to see how biased these arguments against environmentalism are. The Ayn Rand piece stands out as pure propaganda, but the real arguments from Republicans, Democrats, and oil companies alike can be seen as institutions looking out for their own self-interest. It is as unsurprising as it is infuriating.

Often it seems that environmental concern cannot be combined with the strive for infinitely increasing profit. But the EU, specifically Germany, provides a great counterexample – one where businesses and politicians argue for the benefit of environmentalism. In Germany, Solar power and other renewable energy has been heavily subsidized by the federal government since the passing of the Renewable Energy Act in 2000. As a result, solar power has become economically viable, even in a place as cloudy and rainy as Germany. Compared with the potential of the vast, calm, and sunny deserts of the US southwest, Germany’s solar potential is laughable. If this overcast country can make renewable energy economically viable in the span of a decade, it begs the question about the US’s ability to do the same or better. It also gives strength to the argument that anti-environmentalism in the US is heavily influenced by the economic interests of the fossil fuel industry.

Businesses in Germany and the EU are even beginning to call for self-regulation and to point out that perhaps not only governments, but businesses themselves should take on the responsibility of looking after their environmental impact. Those that believe in the ability of the private sector to innovate see an even greater potential for environmentalism in businesses themselves. If this perspective can exist in economies just as strong, if not stronger, than the US, then how can it be that environmentalism must have adverse economic impacts? More and more, the argument from US politicians that environmental regulation would adversely impact the economy seems dishonest and self-interested. At best it is a misguided and narrow perspective, but at worst it is willful advocation of environmental destruction for profit.

Blog Promt 5 Response Justice

Standard

 

I disagree with Wenz’s of the use of the word “racism to describe the flaws of how toxic waste is managed, and who it really affects. According to Wenz, Environmental racism takes place when toxic waste is placed in areas that are predominately occupied by minorities. While it is true that most waste is disposed in low income areas, and it is also true that many low income people are from minorities, in the case of disposal of toxic substances, race plays no part. The issue of environmental classism, as I believe it should really be called, is real, and it should be dealt with. The other main issue I have with Wenz argument is that it tries to simplify the issue by saying that those who consume the most, should have the most waste buried next to them. Most products go halfway around the world before making it to consumer’s hands. From a mine in Africa where the raw materials are exploited, to a processing factory that turns them into industrial grade materials in Asia, to factories that create components in the United States, and back to Asia for the final assembly, the path a product follows is a complex one, and the waste, most often than not, is nowhere near where consumers are. This would make it even harder for an agency to implement his plan.  I won’t presume to know the answer to this issue, and while Wenz is in the right track, by trying to make the negative externalities not negatives, I believe plan to be extremely impractical at best. 

Week 4 Blog Promp: Justice

Standard

As consumerism increases in developed nations, more waste is created. The dilemma of where to throw this toxic waste is constantly being debated. In modern society, the location of waste disposal seems to be near areas where the poor live. Peter Wenz believes this is environmental racism because individuals who live in poor areas, generally people of color and racial minorities, are exposed to disproportionate portions of toxic wastes. Congress, however, has implemented the Superfund law in 1986 to create relationships with communities so that they can have an opportunity to contribute to the cleanup process of waste disposal sites. Do you agree with Wenz’s belief of environmental racism, where we are placing our burden of toxic waste on the poor?  If not, why do you believe poor communities tend to be located next to hazardous waste sites?

Another aspect of environmental racism articulated in Earthcare is the idea that developed countries ship their toxic wastes to lesser developed countries. This creates a disregard for the safety of poor individuals living in these countries. One case occurred in Nigeria, where workers storing drums in bins for retransportation suffered chemical burns. Prohibiting these shipments would require developing countries to deal with the wastes they generate. What do you think should be done about the waste that is generally shipped to developing countries?

http://www.epa.gov/superfund/accomp/17yrrept/report4.htm

http://ban.org/library/lipman.html

Week 4 Prompt: Climate Deniers and the Case Against Environmentalism

Standard

Climate deniers are everywhere. From the marble halls of Capitol Hill to the radio waves (…Rush Limbaugh) they hold powerful positions in politics and the media. Many believe that environmentalism is a value that is exclusive to the liberal left wing. Many politicians do not take environmentalists’ case for climate action seriously because they are concerned with the partisan repercussions of such actions. Many climate deniers argue that increased environmental regulation to improve air and water conditions will lead to slowed economic growth. In the Ayn Rand Institute piece, this argument is hi-lighted. Therefore, they choose to deny the scientific evidence supporting the argument that climate change is real and, at the very least, influenced by mankind.

 

In recent history, environmental issues have been championed by the Democratic Party and rejected from the Republican platform time and time again on the basis that it would lead to increased government control over industry. When hurricanes strengthen over warmer waters, they will not discriminate between Democrats and Republicans once they reach the coast. Do you think that these concerns of increased environmental regulations reducing job creation and inhibiting economic growth in the U.S. are legitimate? Must we choose between the environment and the economy or can these entities have a symbiotic relationship? Furthermore, what do you think caused the extreme partisanship on a scientific issue?