Saving the Environment and Economic Consequences

Dear Grant,

Just read your email to your mom. At first I was going to buy “The Skeptical Environment” because I do not believe you can make changes to how the world operates without understanding and taking into consideration the economic consequences – good or bad. However, after reading your review I am no longer inclined to read this book.

Based on your review this book is a different – conservative or middle of the road, spin to what is reported in the mainstream press. Each side on any environmental issue has a spin to bolster their position so that when it comes time to compromise each side can say they gave up something they truly didn’t want to begin with – except for the truly radical environmentalist. And in the case of the press, sensational stories about 40,000 disappearing species sells advertising space (in order to make a profit). A new study two years later saying “you printed a mistake” doesn’t sell and therefore isn’t printed. Good news doesn’t sell papers (advertising).

Yes, it is too bad that everyone doesn’t read at least one scientific journal a month. Then again, its also too bad that many people don’t read at all.

I like to discuss environmental issues with you. You typically provide missing facts to the news media’s coverage of an issue. I would go so far as to say I would like to debate environmental issues with you but this would end in a massacre worse than the Little Big Horn. In addition, I do hate arrows puncturing my body!

As a side note, the only logic course I ever took in school was a freshman introductory course. I went into the final with a D- and waited until the night before the Final to read the book. About 10:00 pm I dropped a black bird (smuggled across the Mexican border by a fraternity brother), outlined the book over the next 9 hours, took the Final, and within two hours could not remember a single thing I had read the night before. I did get a C for the course. I do remember my mom coming out to wake me up, finding me not only awake but even more amazing in a cheerful and chatty mood at 6:30 am!

Having said I do not like arrows, I will go ahead and set myself up as a pincushion.

“is very much a believer that economic progress can go hand in hand with environmental improvement. This is in fact a very contentious view, and is opposed by many in the field of sustainable development.” P 4 of 5 of your email

Without economic progress there is very little chance for a large majority of the world population to move out of poverty. Moreover, without economic progress there is a very big chance that most of us not in poverty will fall into poverty. I want my environment to be better than it is today. However, I do not want to live in a cave in order to see a better environment. I am one of those people who doesn’t think the world was a better place before:

a) modern transportation which is fuel by large industrial complexes and fossil fuels for both the mode of transportation and the production of the transportation mode

b) modern housing that requires the production of cement, the cutting of trees, the mining of copper (indoor water), the production of plastic (indoor sewer), etc.

c) modern food production and distribution – the thought of eating a dozen types of home grown foods year after year rather than using my fossil burning SUV to go to a modern building housing foods from all over the world doesn’t thrill me

d) modern university/learning centers which can’t survive without corporate and private donations (money made from a growing economy), government grants (tax money derived from a growing economy), etc.

e) enough already, you probably can get my naive point about living in a growing economy versus a sustainable/replacement only economy

I do believe we have serious environmental problems:

Polluted water
Acid rain
Unhealthy air
Wetland destruction
Encroachment of wildlife habitat
Ocean pollution
Over fishing of the oceans
Global warming
And more

Identifying a problem is a first step. A second step is identifying solutions. The final step is putting into action a solution that is bought into by those who will be affected by the solution. I know no one, not even you, who will allow a major “negative” change in their life style – economic or other, to be imposed on them who will not reject, disregard, and sometimes fight to their death to defeat this negative change.

I am not against a CO2 reduction. However, I am only willing to give up so much for this reduction. For example: I may be willing to pay an extra penny per kilowatt-hour for electricity for every product I use (factories run on electricity) or am billed for on home usage and as a reduction in salary so my company can pay for lights, computers, phones, coffee makers, copy machines, etc so that I may work. I am not willing to pay say a quarter for every kilowatt or rolling blackouts, no HVAC, or other major changes to my life.

In summary, you can’t expect change to occur if you look at it without considering the economic consequences.