Is this the ultimate greenwash?

A recent study finds that manufacturing processes used to make a lot of stuff, apparently especially tech stuff, is incredibly inefficient when it comes to energy consumption. [LINK] A particularly painful example is the manufacture of solar panels, which is so inefficient that it diminishes the long-term payoff of using renewable energy.


Earth Hour coming tomorrow

Well, Earth Hour is coming up tomorrow, (28 March, 8:30PM). It's an hour when people voluntarily turn out the lights to mark awareness of the link between energy generation/use and climate change. Last year, Google joined in the fun by making their front page black (I don't remember if it was just for an hour or a whole day). The event is organized through an official web site at earthhour.org.

An article on Yahoo! news cover the "event." Toward the end, they quote Bjorn Lomborg (infamously of the skeptical environmentalist), saying Even if a billion people turn off their lights this Saturday the entire event will be equivalent to switching off China's emissions for six short seconds." This followed a sentence saying, "Critics said the initiative was little more than empty symbolism."

Um, yeah.

The whole point is to make a gesture. It's like wearing an AIDS ribbon (back in the days before it lost all meaning). The ribbon doesn't cure AIDS, and turning out your lights doesn't change global warming. But if the Las Vegas strip is dark for an hour (as planned) and the Sydney Harbour is dark for an hour, and now even China is joining in, that is a meaningful gesture. It shows how far we are coming (despite my previous post) in educating the public about the dangers of climate change.

Plus it reduces light pollution, which is a good cause unto itself.


Americans still don't want to believe

Gallup has a new poll out, conducted using 1,012 Americans over the phone over three days early in March 2009. The results?

First the positive:

  • 60% of Americans are personally worrying about global warming a "great deal" or a "fair amount."
  • 53% of Americans believe the effects of global warming have already started.

Just as a reminder, the symptoms of global warming have been diagnosed from observations (and observations"), and this has been true for many years. Also, the impacts of global warming are also being felt already. Examples include the extinction of some species (notably the golden toad), the steady decline of artic sea-ice (which endangers the polar bear and other arctic species), melting permafrost, changing migration patterns, etc.

What else does the poll say?

  • 60% of Americans don't think global warming will pose a serious threat to themselves or their way of life.
  • 41% of Americans think the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated by the media.
  • Global warming ranks 8th out of 8 environmental issues Gallup asked about in terms of how much people are worried, including 40% of people who worry "not at all" or "only a little" about global warming.
  • Trends for all these show that people are worried less about global warming and think the seriousness is exaggerated than in previous years. All age groups except the 18-29 year olds show the trend in thinking the threat is exaggerated.

I'd like to insert a big sigh here.

Well, here's a prediction, then. There won't be significant political action to tax carbon emissions in the United States until a majority of Americans think global warming does pose a serious risk to their way of life. When this happens (and it will happen), it will be far too late to stop dangerous climate change from occurring. That is, unless the mainstream media starts covering the issue in a truly unbiased way (i.e., no longer presenting the big issue as controversial). That might convince the majority of Americans that they need to be concerned.

UPDATE:This just goes to show why some Americans still don't get it:

"We are cooling. We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I use my fingers as quotation marks, is part of the cooling process."

-- Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, filling in for radio host William Bennett