Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Future environmental trends for the Rochester, NY region: Doublethink


Doublethink is the word George Orwell used in his world famous book “1984”to describe the absurd (yet, all too humanely possible) notion that you can hold two opposing ideas to solve the same problem. I suspect as we move into a warmer future because of Climate Change that there will be a lot of doublethink: thinking we can understand that Climate Change is a clear and present danger (militaries around the world acknowledge and plan for Climate Change flare-ups due to stressors, like water shortages between nations) while at the same time increasing the very practices that contribute to Climate Change, like burning fossil fuels.

Two news items today in our local media point to this absurd trend. At the same time we are beginning to acknowledge that our region, along with the rest of the world is warming up, and will experience likely changes like ‘extreme weather events’ because of Climate Change:

Experts: Future holds more extreme weather For a world already weary of weather catastrophes, the latest warning from top climate scientists paints a grim future: More floods, more heat waves, more droughts and greater costs to deal with them. A draft summary of an international scientific report obtained by The Associated Press says the extremes caused by global warming could eventually grow so severe that some locations become "increasingly marginal as places to live."  (November 2, 2011) Home - Canandaigua, NY - MPNnow

We are also considering to massively increasing ethanol production by burning solid waste, which is burning more fossil fuel:

Development council proposes 10 major projects for Rochester region The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council has tentatively proposed 10 multimillion-dollar projects that, if approved by the state, could generate thousands of jobs in the nine-county region. Virtually all key economic sectors in the region are represented on the project list, with an emphasis on advanced technologies such as next-generation battery research, biomedicine and life sciences, and alternative energy. Largest of the proposals, in terms of money, is the Clean Technology Initiative. The investment firm U.S. Renewables Group has proposed two projects at Eastman Business Park. In one, a California company, Fulcrum BioEnergy, would build a $300 million biofuel generating plant with the capacity to convert 250,000 tons of solid waste into 30 million gallons of ethanol. (November 2, 2011) Democrat and Chronicle

Maybe we can make doublethink clearer if we say that we ‘want to have our cake and eat it too.’ We want to be responsible citizens and look at our world with clear and adult eyes, but we also want to have all the energy we want producing the same old jobs producing that energy and we want it all at the lowest cost. To really understand why land-filling and burning our waste is such a bad idea for addressing Climate Change, you really should read this report: “This report, Stop Trashing the Climate, makes the case that working to prevent waste and expand reuse, recycling, and composting — that is, aiming for zero waste — is one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective strategies for reducing climate change in the short term.”

Some experts have suggested a carbon tax, where we charge those mining and burning fossil fuels to pay a tax back to the public for using their natural resources—like coal and our atmosphere—which is presently that space between land and the troposphere that we use to breathe and dump our greenhouse gases and other ‘stuff’. It maybe a realistic (in terms of preserving our present economic system) way to address Climate Change, but I suspect as we continue to ramp up greenhouse gases we are going to need more radical measures to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in something so large as our atmosphere. Climate Change, after all, is a problem of physics, not something the liberals cooked up.

As for our present, media I also suspect that they are going to continue to Doublespeak and report to the public that our Climate is warming and at the same time herald new jobs in burning the fossil fuel industries—like burning garbage for energy and Fracking. This means that our media wants their cake and eat it too: Our present media wants to sell their news to a public that wants to learn that their planet is warming, but at the same time the media doesn’t want their readership to worry because they will continue to pander to a world view where fossil fuel rules. This is probably why, in our area, that Fracking has become so prominent (and inevitable) while the effort to greatly increase our renewable energy [the Great Lakes Off-shore Wind Project, GLOW] was allowed to die in the press, a quiet an uneventful death.

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