It ain’t easy being green

Now you know how it feels!

It has always been a problem. Humanity by its nature is destructive to the environment, but we can by our nature help protect it. It’s a fine line we must tread between using natural resource and preservation of the environment. 

None of us can blithely say that the rest of the world does not deserve the development that we have. We cannot fault India and China for their pollution as they are simply doing what developed nations did during the industrial revolution. However what we can do is encourage them to not make the same mistakes by giving them a leg up on renewables and other systems that do not impact nature as much. We can also help reduce the draw of their nation’s resources by encouraging family planning schemes and responsible growth. 

Recently the GOP gave us the joy of reading out their actual environmental platform as condensed into a plan. This makes it easy to achieve (and equally easy to make fun of!)

Nope! No risks here!

1. Put oil and natural gas leasing on the Outer Continental shelf on a fast track, holding lease sales every nine months and making them dependent on commercial expressions of interest to determine what parcels should be leased.

Because if the BP tragedy has taught us one thing that drilling out in the middle of the ocean is without risk. Yes I understand our need for oil but let’s keep these risky areas as a reserve for when we run out rather than using them up. Not to mention there is no provision for ecosystem based decisions on drilling. Sometimes profit does have to take a back seat to the issue of keeping our environment safe to preserve ecological diversity.

It’s not leaking, it’s overflowing!

2. Open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to an “environmentally sound program for the exploration, development and production of the oil and gas resources of the Coastal Plain.

There isn’t an environmentally sound scheme to do this. Oil by it’s nature is kind of thick black stuff that gets everywhere and makes a mess. Oil is by it’s nature environmentally unsound because even if you do not damage the alaskan wilderness you are still burning fossil fuels. Also any sane person would want to maintain a strategic reserve of the stuff just in case it is needed (Other things come from fractions of crude oil too. No fossil fuels just means less profit from oil. The stuff is pretty marvellous though considering how useful it is as a whole.)

3. Expedite lease sales for companies seeking to extract oil and natural gas from complex geologic formations like oil shale and tar sands in the West.

It is believed that the mining of oil from tar sands is one of the dirtiest in the world. One day we may need to do that if we are unable to find alternatives, but that day is not today. We should try and avoid as much unnecessary destruction to the environment. And where necessary we should take steps to reverse the damage.

4. Set a nine-month deadline for the environmental review of any federal action like such leasing.

The entire point of environmental review is to decide and debate the cost benefit analysis of the mining. Having deadlines simply means that you can waste time until the deadline is over pushing the legislation through. Why have review when anyone can waste time for 9 months!

5. Prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from classifying carbon dioxide or methane from agricultural activities — like manure-waste ponds filled by livestock in confined feedlots — as a pollutant. No statecould get federal permission to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from passenger vehicles.

CO2 from cattle tends to be carbon neutral coming from plants, however methane has a greater greenhouse gas quotient and so should be considered as such. The usage of such manure-waste to run fermenters which produce methane in usable quantities for power generation. If a piece of regulation provided carbon neutrality for such efforts then I would accept that manure waste ponds are relatively carbon neutral. Although a more interesting question is whether or not rice fields are considered as pollutants since they produce methane and CO2 too due to the anaerobic marshy conditions needed.

Also it is a giant pit of cow faeces! It’s a pollutant! If I poured that into your drinking water you would not drink it! It is however useful if used in fermenters in producing power via methane while cutting down on lost methane. It also is extremely good fertiliser post ferment and that is a better scheme to introduce than simply not regulating them.

6. Allow state governors to declare emergencies, which, once declared, require federal officials to ignore the provisions of the Endangered Species Act w
hen dealing with the emergency.

 Understandable in some cases but what constitutes an emergency? No this should be done on a case by case basis as I feel there can be some cases where the fish cannot be protected without actual physical human harm. The ESA exists to save endangered species, not to sacrifice them if you think you are going to lose some money.

7. Allow mountaintop removal mining to proceed at Spruce Mine in Logan County, W. Va.

Depends on what is being done to the mountain tops afterwards. I would allow this if the rules state that the mountain top must be returned to its previous state and the debris not be just dumped in a river or left in spoil heaps.

8. Reinstate the oil and gas leases in Utah that were purchased in the last years of George W. Bush’s administration.

One of the things the rest of the world figured out was that Bush Jr. was not an environmentalist.  And these bills probably were illegal or done on the sly.

9. In California’s dry central valley, ensure that no federal scientific report requiring water for endangered fish be allowed to interfere with farmers’ rights to their historical maximum allocations.

 Yes, because why should they listen to science! Also we can encourage farmers to reduce water loss and thus use less water rather than relying on primitive water levels which just encourage waste.

Most of the platform seems to be to make it easier to use the natural resources of the earth without any fear of the repercussion. There are repercussions to our resource use and we must try and mitigate that rather than revelling in the short term gains. Remember we humans are in it for the long game and I for one would like my children and grand-children to live in an earth where nature has not been demolished solely for the profit of my generation. Be it in America or indeed in the rest of the world. How can we press China and India for change if we ourselves do not? 

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