It looks something like this:
Rather provocative, I thought. I mean, I had to read it to find out whether they were actually saying what they appeared to be saying – and while sure, they juiced it up for the cover to make us flinch, inside the magazine it’s not quite as bad as it appears. The article is called “Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means To Be Green,” and comprises 10 “Environmental Heresies.
Some of these “heresies” are way outdated (like “Live in Cities” – come on Wired! Of course! No real greenie thinks that living in the country on 25 acres is better for the earth than living in 500 s.f. in an urban center where you can walk or take public transit almost everywhere!)
Others, however, offer interesting points to consider. Like the “buy used cars instead of hybrids” solution. I can certainly see the sense in that, just as long as the used car is in good enough condition that it’s not belching black gas out of its exhaust pipe and leaking oil out of its underside…and as long as it gets at least decent gas mileage…and my my my, but it all gets complicated. And the nuclear power option, which is of course the most climate-friendly energy solution, if you don’t take into account all the other stuff that could go wrong.
What it all comes down to is whether the smart thing to do is to focus on our carbon emissions and climate change before – and in many of these ideas, at the expense of – other serious environmental problems. For example, one of the most bizarre of the ten heresies is the “Farm the Forests” solution (which sounds like some sort of Orwellian or maybe Soylent Green-esque proclamation of progress): it states that old-growth forests contribute more CO2 to the atmosphere than they remove, supposedly because after 55 years, a tree’s carbons intake slows, and eventually when it rots or burns, all the CO2 gets released.
The solution? Cut down trees continuously and plant new ones. The problem? Well, there are many, but one major one is that I truly cannot imagine that cutting down thousand year old trees, which would destroy the thousand year old ecosystems they are a part of, could resolve any issues without creating a host of new, and taken together, perhaps even scarier, environmental problems. Plus, who wants to live in a world in which forests become mere tree farms, rather than living, breathing, complex organisms? You sure wouldn’t be seeing things like this anymore:
Of course, this article has already inspired all kinds of dialogue, some of it pretty contentious – the best response, however, is published right on Wired’s website, by Alex Steffen of worldchanging.com. He takes the opposite view of the authors of the “Inconvenient Truths” segments, saying that focusing solely on carbon emissions is just as dangerous as Wired’s environmental heresies say it is NOT to focus solely on carbon emissions. If you’re interested in some third-party opinionating (besides mine, of course), treehugger.com has a post on the dialogue, as does Hank Green on Ecogeek.
So what’s your rating of Wired’s “all of you are wrong” piece? Are you for, against, or as Mr. Green puts it quite nicely, “meh” on these points? Tell us!