Author Options:

"Your Environmentalism Sucks!" Says WIRED Answered

The cover story of WIRED this month has been published online and you can read their 10 "heresies" about the environment. They're clearly trying to shake things up by telling people stuff that sounds so wrong, but is obviously right according to them.

The gist of WIRED's philosophy is that it's all about the carbon dioxide emissions and that every discussion should be framed entirely by this. After that setup, each article is a quick hit against some supposedly sacred cow.

The full list of articles is below and here's a response from ecogeek that continues the discussion. So what do you think?

Live in Cities: Urban Living Is Kinder to the Planet Than the Suburban Lifestyle

A/C Is OK: Air-Conditioning Actually Emits Less C02 Than Heating

Organics Are Not the Answer: Surprise! Conventional Agriculture Can Be Easier on the Planet

Farm the Forests: Old-Growth Forests Can Actually Contribute to Global Warming

China Is the Solution: The People's Republic Leads the Way in Alternative-Energy Hardware

Accept Genetic Engineering: Superefficient Frankencrops Could Put a Real Dent in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Carbon Trading Doesn't Work: Carbon Credits Were a Great Idea, But the Benefits Are Illusory

Embrace Nuclear Power: Face It. Nukes Are the Most Climate-Friendly Industrial-Scale Form of Energy

Used Cars - Not Hybrids: Don't Buy That New Prius! Test-Drive a Used Car Instead

Prepare for the Worst: Climate Change Is Inevitable. Get Used to It

Counterpoint: Dangers of Focusing Solely on Climate Change


Hey fungus amungus:
You may be very right in what you say here, and I hate to say it, but, this is not the fourm for a political view.  This is where you show how to use recycled items for something new.


10 years ago

I wish people like the ones likely to be influenced by this article could get out of the habit of treating complex issues as one-dimensional, or worse as black and white good/bad. You can't just give something a "this is 73% environmentally good" label, and trying to do so reminds me of the "Love/Fear" thing (if any of you have seen D.D.). Most often there are at least two factors involved, so there are plain good and plain bad alternatives but more often there is a trade-off involved. "Newsflash- cutting down trees is now A-OK because old growth forest releases methane" or "Biofuels are a ridiculous idea that will never work because we need more land for growing crops" are prime examples of what I'm talking about. Thinking about issues like this, I think in diagrams so my head is full of images like this one, put together (in Paint, sorry for the crappy rotated text) to illustrate the factors affecting whether organic food is "good", influenced by Doctor What's point below. The key to properly understanding an issue like how "environmentally sound" something is is to find the factor influencing it and the tradeoffs that may be implicit. It could be particle emissions and CO2 (bicycle vs. petrol engine vs diesel engine vs coal powered steam engine, for instance), or raw material use and energy use (think recycling)- if there was a one-dimensional good/bad spectrum there would be no "debate" as we would all be using the good option.


Honestly, I think of organics as gimmicky. And it's a ton of hassle to process them. More man hours, more costly shipping, and a crapload of ladybugs. All it does is make for a more expensive product.

Lots of people believe the (Smoke) coming from the Cooling towers of nuclear power plants is dangerous. Lol, its steam!


10 years ago

Yeah, I just read that piece in Wired last night. They were obviously trying to be controversial and push buttons. But they did have a bunch of good points to make!

The fact that Air Conditioning is much cheaper than heating a house in the winter was one that I hadn't thought off before. Makes sense, though. Of course, the correct take-home message from this fact is not "Go ahead, crank up that AC"!

"Used cars, not hybrids" is another good one. But it's really just one small instance of re-evaluating your consumption needs, rather than trying to maintain the same lifestyle through high-tech solutions. A more complete picture would be:

bike > public transport > used car > new hybrid > new non-hybrid

or, reuse an old car and a forklift to make your own hybrid!

The AC argument is interesting. Sure it takes less energy, but there's more to a location than just temperature. By that measure we should all move to Las Vegas and continue to suck in water from the outside. Another problem is that if it's hot, then everyone is trying to use up a lot of electricity at exactly the same time. The math on the hybrid car issue is a little hazy and there are only so many affordable, safe, and fuel efficient used cars out there. A comparison of a super-efficient new car and a hybrid would be more useful. The organic issue is interesting, but the conclusion is bizarre. After finding out that organic is more resource-intensive, the logic is to say screw it and just buy factory-farmed food. What the hell? How about cutting down on the meat and buying local while staying organic and keeping pesticides out of the water supply?

I've noticed that every environmental argument eventually gets sidetracked into the global warming debate. Personally, regardless of my stance on GW, I believe the whole debate on GW has been the greatest triumph for industry against envronmentalist since it can be used to dismiss or twist any environmental concern, or perverted into feel good, and extremely profitable enterprises like biofuels. Jut to grab the three that stick out wired says we should Urbanize, deforest and factory farm to save the environment. Sounds Orwellian, we must destroy it to save it.

Every green issue can be used to sell more products to make people feel good. This is nothing new. The hope is that the right causes get pushed along with the misguided ones. I have to agree with the urbanize thing, though. I like cities.

I suppose it really comes down to people having different opinions about the world in which they'd like to live. I for one enjoy old growth forests and a little room to breath.