Monday, May 19, 2008

Rethinking environmentalism

If you haven’t read it already, be sure to check out the short but powerful cover story in the June issue of Wired. Through a series of brief but powerful critiques of traditional environmental rallying cries, the magazine clarifies and reiterates the single most important thing we can do to mitigate climate change – reduce carbon.

Environmentalism has been around for decades, but many of its key tenets and focus areas might actually be counter-productive to reducing carbon. For example, according to Wired:

  • Per kilowatt-hour, a nuclear plant emits just six percent as much carbon as a plant fired by natural gas
  • Cooling a house produces 93 percent fewer CO2 emissions than warming a house
  • A single family member taking public transportation to work reduces the household’s carbon footprint by 30 percent
  • An organic chicken creates 45% more greenhouse gases than a non-organic bird
  • Pound for pound, making a Prius contributes more carbon to the atmosphere than making a Hummer, due to the nickel in the hybrid’s battery

The article’s main premise isn’t that traditional environmental concerns are bad or necessarily wrong in intent, but that their aims pale in comparison to how important carbon reduction is to the preservation of our world.

This article won’t be online for another month, but it’s worth picking up or borrowing a copy of this month’s issue for the quick read.

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