Getting into this box is what's best for both of us. During your time in the box, you will learn so much, and yet experience so little. It's a wild ride, my friend, one well worth the time spent...and let's face it, you don't have much to do these days anyway.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Practical Environmentalism.

One of the things I like about living in Singapore is that even in the heart of the city-state, in the midst of the Central Business District, the air is reasonably fresh. I've been to capital cities like Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing before, and while I suppose it's partly because I'm used to good, clean air, I was pretty much choking most of the time in the city center, and the fringes were only marginally better. Maybe I'm also extra-sensitive to smoke - something as simple as cigarette smoke sets me off into conniptions, so it's a good thing I was born into this country, eh?

Another thing I like about living in Singapore is that there's plenty of greenery around - another the Singaporean government got right when they were doing the whole "town planning" thing. No concrete jungle for us, with only a couple parks here and there interspersed amongst the grey - the National Parks Board has made it a personal mission to plant trees along practically every single roadside in the nation, and I'll say the country is better for having some greenery around every corner. The trees cool down the urban jungle, are nice to rest one's eyes on, and freshen up the air. There's a reason this country touts itself as the "garden city", after all.

Not quite as portrayed in the photo, but close enough.

These are nice things to have, These are practical things to have. I don't think anyone is going to argue that having pure air to breathe, clean reservoirs to play in and plenty of greenery about oneself (at arm's length, of course, not up close where it's all icky and nasty and oozing stuff on you, and of course, safe plants only, nothing poisonous or thorny or...heh, I think you get my point) is a bad thing. I don't think that anyone complaining that they miss the stereotypical belching smokestacks, or plan on purchasing some prime property next to the local burning tyre dump.

There's another thing about the roadside shrubs and trees: while they're largely self-sufficient, they have to be maintained every now and then. Branches have to be pruned, old and rotten trees have to be felled, and plants may need to be watered during dry spells. It's not common, but not exactly unknown to run into one of those trucks on the roads, doing these little jobs and making sure that as pleasant as they are, the trees don't become a potential danger to the public like they sometimes do during heavy thunderstorms. Tropical island, remember? We still have those, even if we're considered a sheltered harbour.

Oh, by the by, it's quite illegal to chop down a public tree.It sure takes a lot of manpower and effort to keep the city-state cleen and green, though.

Now, over at the faculty of arts (who'da thunk it?) on campus, their canteen declares itself an eco-friendly canteen. The large, colourful banner that hangs above the middle of of the place declares this fact with hand-painted letters, and centered around a huge rendition of the globe with people holding hands ringing it. Posters constantly urge the importance of not using plastics, not just non-biodegradable ones, and smiling figures insist that all waste cooking oil from the canteen is recycled into biodiesel. At the nearby bus stop, a number of the campus' internal buses have been splashed with the message "(University) fights climate change", with yet another happy-looking globe in the middle.

I once saw a pickup truck from the biodiesel company. There were three men in it - two in the cab and one in the back - all in their late thirties to early forties, and they pulled up to the loading bay behind the canteen and began loading those huge drums of waste cooking oil into the back of the truck. It was ugly, stupid, disgusting work, and the oil smelled really bad, even at the distance from which I was standing. Now, this was part of the environmentalism, but for some strange reason, I couldn't see any of the arts students helping out at this for a day, let alone doing it for a living like these three men were doing. Come to think of it, almost all of the roadside tree maintenance is done by imported labour in the form of Bangladeshi workers.

There are also posters in the canteen cuationing us against the horrors of global warming. Their solution to global warming - oh wait, climate change? "Don't eat meat". Well, fine, I'm sure they have a good reason - oh, wait, "meat production leaves a bigger carbon footprint than plant-based products do". I wonder what's the cost in free-range chickens or grass-fed cows on land that would have been largely useless for crop agriculture anyways compared to clearing rainforest to grow corn or soybeans, but the problem with that argument is that "meat causes greenhouse emissions" is utterly and completely false, and instead, the global warmists should eat lots and lots of junk foods if they are serious about reducing their so-called carbon footprint. Yes, really.
Background: Healthy diets are supposed to be more environmentally friendly because they rely mainly on plant-based foods, which have lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) per unit weight than do animal-based foods. 

Objectives: The objectives were to estimate the GHGEs associated with the consumption of self-selected diets in France and to analyze their relation with the nutritional quality of diets

Results: MAR was positively correlated and MER was negatively correlated with diet-related GHGEs. High-nutritional-quality diets contained more plant-based foods, notably fruit and vegetables, and fewer sweets and salted snacks than did low-quality diets. After adjustment for age, sex, and energy intake, the consumption of sweets and salted snacks was negatively correlated with diet-related GHGEs, whereas the consumption of animal products and of fruit and vegetables was positively associated with them. After adjustment for energy intake, high-nutritional-quality diets had significantly higher GHGEs (+9% and +22% for men and women, respectively) than did low-nutritional-quality diets. 

Conclusion: Despite containing large amounts of plant-based foods, self-selected diets of the highest nutritional quality are currently not those with the lowest diet-related GHGEs.
Well, that trashes that theory. Break out the chips and sodas, friends, it's good for the planet!

The problem with popular environmentalism nowadays is that 1) it's spewed straight out of the mouth of The Cathedral and 2) taken up by the kind of people Cappy Cap calls "crusaders", as well as their idiot followers not because they actually care about the environment, but more as a self-validation feel-good piece of tripe.

And because of the above two points, popular environmentalism tends to twist itself into knots just to dovetail with the rest of leftist ideaology. Like feminism, which doesn't give a shit about women so long as the issue can't be leveraged or twisted to suit the purposes of The Cathedral, popular environmentalism doesn't really give a shit about the environment if the issue can't be leveraged or twisted to suit the agenda.

That's why people don't really give a damn about many cities in the US literally sinking and potholes appearing in the roads due to aquifers being drained. That's why silly folks don't realise that the tags purchased by legitimate hunters pour far more into wildlife conservation and management than any green hippie would, and achieves far more towards the long-term survival of a species than a complete ban on hunting would. It's all about the crusade, it's all about the feel-goodism, and that's why the arts canteen at my university is more concerned with complaining about meat and making it "eco friendly" than improving the maintenance of roadside trees in Singapore.

Assuming that the science was even "settled", how do, for example, the idea of carbon credits even come into the picture except as a wealth transfer scheme? Aren't we told every days that global warming is a, I don't know, global problem? You know, the whole butterfly effect thing? That the nasty, nasty things we do are making polar bears drown, and we should all feel guilty and ashamed of ourselves because we are really bad people for pillaging the earth this way.

And the nice things we like to have, like plants and green air that affect our lives directly and we can do something about? Who cares about those, global warming is the important thing! But you see, even though we're so concerned about this nebulous concept, we're going to pay other people to do all the hard, icky and gross stuff, and we're just going to sit around and raise awareness of the situation and do all the fun stuff like make hand-painted banners. Those silly folks who haul the waste drums, we'll just throw some money at them and hope they stay invisible.

You know, the more I think about it, the more I'm seeing Cappy Cap's viewpoint fall into the world around me. These people really have no inner life, so they need to fill it with something to make themselves feel useful and important. Why lower yourself to practical environmentalism and preserve your own immediate surroundings when you can do something so much more glorious and fight the global terror of climate change?

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