Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thinking won’t kill you, you know.

I was accused recently of 'not caring about the environment'. That's wrong. I do care about the environment…I'm just not incredibly stupid about it.

You see, most of these so-called 'green' things that have become so popular over the past few years just aren't all that green at all.

For example, the Toyota Prius. I hate these cars because they're slow and downright ugly, but that's just the start. These 'green' cars have actually done more damage to the environment before they're driven off the lot than a Landrover Discovery does over an average operational lifetime.

How? Well, the nickel for the batteries is pulled out of an open face mine in south America, then shipped all the way to Europe where it's refined, then put on big polluting trucks and trucked all the way to Japan where it's put in the batteries and into the cars…and then the cars are shipped all the way back around the world to America. Oh, and once the batteries need replacing, those toxic chemicals and non-biodegradable plastic spend eternity in a landfill.

Not so 'green' now, right?

This is the biggest part of the problem. People are jumping on the green bandwagon and not taking into account the damage these 'green' things have already done…or the things they do by proxy.

Sticking with cars for a moment, let's look at the purely electric cars like the Tesla. Firstly, these cars are ridiculously impractical. For example, the Tesla has a supposed range of 200 miles. Even if we forget that this 200 mile range is incredibly optimistic, this means that this is a car that you can never drive more than a hundred miles from your home.

You see, you can fill a regular car with fuel and carry on. Even if gas stations became electricity stations, the Tesla takes over eight hours to fully charge, meaning you need to stop overnight for every 200 miles you drive.

But that's not the most important point about electric cars. Sure, electric engines have zero emissions themselves, but where do you think all that electricity come from in the first place? That's right, the highly polluting coal-burning power station down the road. Claiming electric engines don't pollute is like claiming you're a vegetarian because you buy your meat at the grocery store where no animals are harmed. In many ways it's like nuclear power. Nuclear power stations don't pollute at all, no carbon, no nohing, no pollutants whatsoever…as long as you don't count the spent fuel rods that stay radioactive for millions of years.

It's not that I love gas-guzzlers. The problem is simply that you can get better mileage (and therefore do far less environmental damage) in a bog standard diesel car than you can in a Hybrid, and electric cars are ridiculously impractical. However, all we need to do is wait until Hydrogen cars are perfected, something we're well on the way to doing. Hydrogen cars have the same range and performance as gas cars, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and you can refuel just as quickly and easily as you can in a gas car.

The problem here is that all the money and research that could give us hydrogen powered cars in the next ten years is being wasted on electric cars because they're fashionable and all the Hollywood stars drive them. We're basically spending all our time and effort on working out more efficient ways to drag things along the ground while ignoring the guy who's trying to perfect the wheel.

Then we come to the things that really annoy me.

Take Britta and the 'Wottle'. Britta decided to release a whole line of refillable plastic water bottles, supposedly so people would reuse them and stop buying bottled water. When I heard people praising Britta and going on about what an awesome idea this was, I felt like I was the only sane person left in the nuthouse.

Think about it. In a world where there are already millions of perfectly reusable plastic bottles sitting on supermarket shelves with water in them, Britta 'combat waste' by manufacturing hundreds of thousands more non-biodegradable plastic bottles. Why didn't they just tell people to keep hold of and reuse the plastic bottles they already have?

Answer, because he 'Wottle' has nothing to do with saving the environment. It's about Britta making a profit by latching onto this popular 'green' trend.

It's the same with the reusable shopping bags that have become so popular now. Firstly, people own tote bags anyway, so manufacturing more just for shopping is already a waste. Secondly, they're not manufactured locally, meaning they're shipped halfway around the world on a nice big polluting cargo ship…and thirdly, regular, plain old plastic shopping bags are just as re-usable. I've been using the same Aldi freezer-bags for well over six months now, not because I want to save the environment, but just because I don't like throwing perfectly good things away for no reason.

Basically, all I'm asking of people is to think before they open their mouths. The people who champion the Prius are people who are getting their information from a business that wants to sell them cars. Britta just wants to make a profit and Wal-Mart wants to show how 'green' they are with their new bags because it's good for business.

Just think about it. The reality of the situation is that you can pull up at the traffic lights in your big 4X4, with plastic shopping bags in the back, drinking from a plastic water bottle and you are doing significantly less damage to the environment than the dude next to you sitting in his Prius, drinking water from a re-usable 'wottle' with the back of his car filled with those hemp shopping bags.

Well, not filled with bags, obviously…he'd never be able to pull away from the lights otherwise.

1 comment:

Evan 08 said...

"...but where do you think all that electricity come from in the first place? That's right, the highly polluting coal-burning power station down the road..."

THANK YOU! Been preaching that for years.