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Published July 03, 2009, 05:48 AM

The costs of going green

“Much environmentalism,” my brother-in-law remarks, “falls somewhere between a fad and a good idea, but there is a lot of muddled thinking that goes into the entire movement.” Wayne Weidlich is a professorial type with a Ph.D. in botany from Duke University. His current peeve is the incandescent light bulbs that have been foisted onto the public by environmentalists and even power companies, such as NorthWestern Energy in Montana.

By: Bernie Kuntz, Outdoors , The Jamestown Sun

“Much environmentalism,” my brother-in-law remarks, “falls somewhere between a fad and a good idea, but there is a lot of muddled thinking that goes into the entire movement.”

Wayne Weidlich is a professorial type with a Ph.D. in botany from Duke University. His current peeve is the incandescent light bulbs that have been foisted onto the public by environmentalists and even power companies, such as NorthWestern Energy in Montana.

“They contain mercury,” Wayne explains, “And if you’ve ever seen a demonstration on how to clean up a broken bulb … well, it is daunting. You cannot vacuum the broken residue because of the mercury. Of course, the bulbs are all made in China and their longevity has been exaggerated.”

It is not the only example of muddled thinking among environmentalists. The push for bio-fuels is a classic example. The government subsidized an industry that burns oil-based fuel to plant corn to produce a vegetable-based fuel. Half the ethanol plants in the U.S. have gone broke, but corn farmers have generally fared well. My wife even brought back a yogurt container from Yellowstone that is made of corn rather than plastic. Where is the benefit?

The latest questionable idea is the climate bill that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last week with the blessing of President Obama and liberal Democrats. It is an absurd form of taxation that will force higher prices on electricity, gasoline and other oil-based and coal-based energy sources in a supposed shift away from the use of fossil fuels and toward greater use of renewable energy. Backers of this so-called “cap-and-trade” bill fail to admit that these alternatives — wind and solar energy sources — do not exist in enough quantity to address even 10 percent of the country’s energy needs! But if the bill passes the Senate and is signed by the President, it will give Congress what it really desires — another tax on the U.S. public.

And then we have 15 dairy farms in Vermont that are feeding their cows flaxseed, alfalfa and “grasses high in Omega 3 fatty acids” to cut down on flatulence and burping of cows. The movement’s ambitious claims is questionable at best — “to reduce the dairy industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent — the equivalent of removing 1.25 million cars from U.S. roads every year.”

A related question: How did North America survive when there were 40 to 60 million bison, 60 million pronghorn antelope, and tens of millions of other big game animals roaming the continent? Were all these animals eating grasses high in “Omega 3 fatty acids?” I think not. This flatulence idea is simply more nuttiness from The Left.

As Wayne observes, “Most issues are complicated and multi-faceted.” Take the issue of auto fuel efficiency and CAFÉ standards. Cars that get 30 mpg are certainly desirable, but is it sensible to scrap a 15-year-old vehicle and buy a new one simply for better fuel efficiency? What about the enormous amount of energy needed to create a new car versus keeping the old one?

I am somehow “less pure” in driving my 1991 Chevy Suburban 5,000 miles a year at 16-17 mpg, than someone who drives a Honda Civic 30,000 miles a year? My Suburban has only 80,000 original miles on it. Do I get any credit for driving 65-70 mph instead of blasting along at 80-85?

By the way, did you ever try to take your gear on a week-long hunting or fishing trip in something like a Honda Civic? You’d need a parade of Civics to transport all your gear! When you haul coolers, fishing outfits, tackle boxes, clothing bags, grocery boxes, tents and canned goods you need a vehicle up to the job. The same goes for most hunting trips. Anything else won’t work, and to believe it might is simply more muddled thinking.

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