November 23, 2014

Big-foot-sized carbon footprints in store for 2014

Danedri Thompson
Columnist
With the new year right around the corner, I’m making plans to lessen my carbon footprint to approximately the size of Al Gore’s carbon footprint. If I’m lucky the Nobel Peace Prize voters will take notice.
Former Vice President Al Gore once received the Nobel Prize for sounding the alarm over global warming with his movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” For his efforts, he won a gold medal, a diploma and $1.6 million. And it’s long overdue.
When he’s not inventing the Internet or inspiring films like, “Love Story” he’s using fuzzy math to warn that “We have just 10 years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tailspin.”
Next year’s Nobel Peace Prize voters should take into consideration how hard I’ll have to work to equal Gore’s carbon footprint as it’s a rather large one. In fact, he’s sort of the Sasquatch of the environmental movement.
His carbon trail includes two homes. One is a 10,000 square foot, 20-room, 8-bathroom home in Nashville, and a 4,000 square-foot-home in Arlington.
According to www.carbonfootprint.com, my footprint is about half that of the average American. I use approximately 10.855 tons. (Whatever that means.) The average U.S. citizen uses 20.4 tons. And for the record, I guesstimated high.
Gore’s Tennessee utility bills are public record, so I can report that his utility bills equal close to $30,000 per year. Mine aren’t quite as grand. He used approximately 221,000 kilowatt-hours in 2006 compared to the average Americans’ 10,656 kilowatt-hours that year.
Gore uses private jets to fly him all over the world. I used trips I hope to take to New York City, an away K-State football game, and Carribbean vacation in my estimate for the upcoming year. Unfortunately, I probably won’t be utilizing a private jet. I intend to go commercial. As you can see, I have a lot of work to come close to Gore’s carbon foot trails.
I drive a PT Cruiser. It gets decent mileage. I go from work to home and back. Many days, I ride my bike or walk to work. Occasionally, I jaunt to a friend’s house for an organic dinner. (The carbon footprint test asks about diet, too, and I freely admitted to eating as much red meat as possible. Cow is good.)
Gore probably only eats vegan and then, only organic and local, so it’s quite possible I’m outpacing him in the diet category. And still, my CO2 footprint is to Gore’s as a swimming pool noodle is to the Titanic.
So much CO2 to emit, so little time in 2014.
To broaden my trail, I’ve decided to throw recyclables into fields and streams.  I’m also buying one of those turbo-flush toilets the government outlawed several years ago. I plan to eat red meat exclusively. I’ve changed back to environmentally unsound light bulbs that I will leave on night and day. And, I’m in the market for a commercial-size moving truck that gets fewer than 10 miles a gallon. I intend to make that my primary vehicle for the upcoming year.
For the record, and those who aren’t capable of detecting sarcasm, I don’t really plan to match Gore’s carbon footprint next year. Even if I wanted to, I don’t have the means. I’m all for doing what we can to protect the environment, but not at the cost of human lives. We have to strike a balance, which in most environmental policy we fail to do.
The most obvious and glaring example was the U.S. ban on DDT. The chemical was used successfully in the 1950s and 1960s to kill mosquitoes that spread malaria. By 1967, the disease was all but eradicated worldwide.
Then environmentalists banned DDT’s use in the United States. Like a rabid virus, the ban spread to developing countries, where unfortunately, the disease had yet to be eliminated. Malaria deaths skyrocketed. The DDT ban, in the name of environmental protection, resulted in a mini-genocide in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Latin America. It’s a mini-genocide that continues today.
The DDT ban was spear-headed by author Rachel Carson, who wrote a passionate, although scientifically unsound book about birds and other animals dying as a result of DDT’s use.
And now we’re regularly asked – and occassionally – legislated into changing our lifestyles. The environmentalists are always promoting wacky ideas like limiting toilet paper use to one square per trip to the ladies’ room, and dining sleeves that can be washed instead of using napkins. We have them to thank for barely-flushing toilets that limit water usage and for spiral light bulbs that can’t be thrown away for fear of contaminating ground water.
Their ideas are ridiculous on their face, but once we travel that road, we could see legislation that result in consequences more serious than dirty drawers and food-stained sleeves.
And if those wacky environmentalists want me to cut my carbon emissions, they need to cut theirs to my level first.

Comments

  1. A few errors of history that really need some correction.

    The most obvious and glaring example was the U.S. ban on DDT. The chemical was used successfully in the 1950s and 1960s to kill mosquitoes that spread malaria. By 1967, the disease was all but eradicated worldwide.

    Peak DDT use years were 1959 and 1960; malaria killed 4 million people annually, then.

    By 1965, the World Health Organization had to suspend its program to eradicate malaria using DDT to temporarily knock down mosquito populations, then curing all the human cases. Abuse of DDT in Central Africa had bred populations of mosquitoes that were resistant and immune to DDT; unfortunately this resistance also helped the mosquitoes’ resistance to other, potential substitute pesticides. WHO had hoped to eradicate malaria by 1970. Estimates are that about 4 milllion people still died annually by 1965. WHO officially shuttered the eradication campaign in a worldwide meeting of WHO officials, in 1969.

    At no point was malaria nearly eradicated worldwide.

    Then environmentalists banned DDT’s use in the United States.

    DDT was banned under 1950s, Eisenhower-era rules on pesticide safety. The ban was ordered by two federal courts in separate litigation, those bans stayed on the promise that Agriculture, and then EPA, would review the safety. EPA’s several months of hearings produced nearly 10,000 pages of testimony, and the dangers of DDT were clearly established.

    In 1971 EPA banned agricultural use of DDT out of doors, in the U.S. By that time, about the only use of DDT left in the U.S. was on cotton. Bedbugs had become wholly immune in the 1950s, and the stuff was so destructive to beneficial wildlife in other uses, cotton treatments for boll weevil were about all that was left.

    In a compromise to keep the chemical companies solvent, EPA’s Administrator William Ruckelshaus let U.S. manufacturers keep producing DDT for export to fight malaria and other insect-borne diseases. That production continued for more than a dozen years. Immediately, of course, this multiplied the amount of DDT available in Asia and Africa. But, as noted, seven years earlier DDT resistance had established itself in Africa. Demand for DDT slacked dramatically as its effectiveness faded.

    Like a rabid virus, the ban spread to developing countries, where unfortunately, the disease had yet to be eliminated.

    DDT was banned in several European nations, but it has never been banned in Africa nor Asia. People in those nations aren’t completely stupid, you know. If DDT worked, they’d have used it. India remains a major producer and user of DDT — but mosquitoes there are resistant, too, and malaria has made dramatic rebounds in some areas that relied on DDT.

    Malaria deaths skyrocketed.

    Actually, malaria deaths have declined every year since the U.S. banned DDT use on cotton. Improved medical care cut the worldwide death rate to just over 2 million annually by 1974; today the death totals are the lowest in human history, fewer than 700,000 per year. Malaria infections increased for a time in the 1980s, when the malaria parasite developed resistance to pharmaceuticals. But the introduction of relatively new drug regimens kept the death rate in decline; today the infection rate is also dramatically reduced.

    Malaria deaths never “skyrocketed” after the U.S. banned DDT use on cotton.

    The DDT ban, in the name of environmental protection, resulted in a mini-genocide in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Latin America. It’s a mini-genocide that continues today.
    The DDT ban was spear-headed by author Rachel Carson, who wrote a passionate, although scientifically unsound book about birds and other animals dying as a result of DDT’s use.

    Carson didn’t advocate a ban on DDT, let alone “spearhead” a movement to ban it.

    If you read Silent Spring — and it’s a classic every high school student should read, as well as any other adult who hasn’t read it yet — you’ll read Carson’s pleas for rational use of DDT in order to preserve it as an agent to fight communicable diseases. In other words, she advocated reducing indiscriminate use of DDT in order to keep insects from evolving resistance to it, rending DDT useless.

    Rachel Carson died with breast cancer in 1964. The suits to stop DDT use were filed more than five years later by Environmental Defense Fund and other citizens. The first court decisions came down in 1970 and 1971. EPA’s hearings took most of 1971, and the ban on DDT use on cotton took effect in early 1972.

    To claim that Rachel Carson “spearheaded” an effort she argued against, that didn’t get underway until five years after her death, and bore fruit eight years after her death, is calendar abuse at best.

    Not a single citation of scientific evidence in Carson’s book in 1962 has been found faulty. Not a single piece of research she referred to has been found to be in error with later experiments. Her book is a model of science accuracy, even cutting her no slack for being published more than a half century ago.

    Consequently, it is erroneous to call Carson’s ideas “ridiculous on their face.” It’s dead wrong to claim Carson’s work was “scientifically unsound.”

    All of this could be cleared up with the information one could get in reading her book.

    Where else does historical and scientific error sway the views of the author, the wrong way?

  2. Oops. Probably a formatting error.

    Starting with “Carson didn’t advocate a ban on DDT,” my post above should not be quoting.

    Corrected, it would read:

    The DDT ban, in the name of environmental protection, resulted in a mini-genocide in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Latin America. It’s a mini-genocide that continues today.
    The DDT ban was spear-headed by author Rachel Carson, who wrote a passionate, although scientifically unsound book about birds and other animals dying as a result of DDT’s use.

    Carson didn’t advocate a ban on DDT, let alone “spearhead” a movement to ban it.

    If you read Silent Spring — and it’s a classic every high school student should read, as well as any other adult who hasn’t read it yet — you’ll read Carson’s pleas for rational use of DDT in order to preserve it as an agent to fight communicable diseases. In other words, she advocated reducing indiscriminate use of DDT in order to keep insects from evolving resistance to it, rending DDT useless.

    Rachel Carson died with breast cancer in 1964. The suits to stop DDT use were filed more than five years later by Environmental Defense Fund and other citizens. The first court decisions came down in 1970 and 1971. EPA’s hearings took most of 1971, and the ban on DDT use on cotton took effect in early 1972.

    To claim that Rachel Carson “spearheaded” an effort she argued against, that didn’t get underway until five years after her death, and bore fruit eight years after her death, is calendar abuse at best.

    Not a single citation of scientific evidence in Carson’s book in 1962 has been found faulty. Not a single piece of research she referred to has been found to be in error with later experiments. Her book is a model of science accuracy, even cutting her no slack for being published more than a half century ago.

    Consequently, it is erroneous to call Carson’s ideas “ridiculous on their face.” It’s dead wrong to claim Carson’s work was “scientifically unsound.”

    All of this could be cleared up with the information one could get in reading her book.

    Where else does historical and scientific error sway the views of the author, the wrong way?
    – See more at: http://gardnernews.com/big-foot-sized-carbon-footprints-in-store-for-2014/comment-page-1/#comment-14970

  3. L.Ledbetter says:

    Ed,

    You miss the point. This is emotive plea to readers to to come to a sweeping, all encompassing conclusion to the difficult subject of protecting the planet.

    Its clear that Danedri wants to leave the reader with the impression that people that care about the environment are hypocrites and reckless. THEY aren’t like US. Don’t you get it?

    While it may seem hypocritical to bash somebody as reckless while making such reckless generalizations, you need to know that their recklessness and hypocrisy is different than Danedri’s.

    Danedri has bravely taken on a the task of convincing the Citizens of Gardner that broad generalizations based on anecdotal evidence is a perfectly acceptable formula for a newspaper column. Trying to handicap her by insisting that she be factual too? That make you a bully.

  4. In 1962, citizens of Gardner agreed with Rachel Carson. Hunters, fishers, ranchers, farmers and others knew the outdoors, knew the forests and rivers, and had seen the destruction.

    I’ll bet that’s still true.

  5. L.Ledbetter says:

    “Where else does historical and scientific error sway the views of the author, the wrong way?”

    I am glad you asked. I had always taken the Gore hypocrisy as true and in the strictest intellectually dishonest way, it is. It appears that while Al Gore’s house has a greater carbon footprint than the average American home (primarily because it is larger and operates as offices for Tipper and himself), he manages to offset his carbon footprint by utilizing carbon free energy sources among other things.

    Since it appears that Al Gore’s carbon footprint is offset to “nearly zero”, for Danedri to achieve this goal of matching Gore, we will need to know how much the author does to offset their 10,000 + tons. Luckily Danedri can find out more on the same website that was cited in the article:

    http://www.carbonfootprint.com/carbonoffset.html

  6. Thank you Mr. Darrell for this factual, reality based and informative rebuttal to this baseless diatribe. It is amazing to me that despite the modern conveniences and standard of living we enjoy because of science, the ignorant continue to make things up and are the leaders of the opposition to science.

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