Wednesday, May 17, 2006

When I lost Faith in all environmental activists

It was in third year University, at the refectory, watching a debate about a hydro-electric dam proposal somewhere in North Queensland. My primary interest was that because it was the World's most popular and effective type of renewable energy, we may turn the corner and have a bias towards these type of projects and away from coal and gas powered stations. I was sadly mistaken. The local environmental speakers pointed out that we should be reducing demand by using less electricity in the home by turning off lights etc. etc. and not building new power stations (oh yeah, and not needing them anyway). The scheme was shelved - Not one single hydro power project has been built in NQ. Several gas power stations have been built. Coal fired stations that had been out of commission for years were re-started. Meanwhile, electricity demand has increased steadily by about 8% per year. Since that time I would estimate our (NQ) CO2 emmissions have doubled. Meanwhile at the university, virgin wilderness surrounding it has been built on for new accommodation and general expansion. Surely the environmental activist movement could have picked a different project to pick their fight on. Environmental activists are still aiding fights against wind farms, tidal energy projects and the list goes on. Any project that is "big" and "new" is automatically seen as bad and fought tooth and nail - but the gradual but certain expansion of existing facilities is completely ignored.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you're tarring all environmentalists with the same brush there. In my time as a member of the Greens I've found most people advocate wind and tidal generation, but nobody thinks a dam is a good idea - they flood one end of a valley and starve the other end. Its all habitat.
Its not wrong to campaign against rampant consumerism, but the economic fundamentalists in power believe consumption = economic stimulation = good. So its a hard sell.
Sure some environmentalists have some weird and even wrong opinions. They stand out against a backdrop of major party voters who think normal but wrong things, like: there's not much we can do, or the environment isn't in such dire straights.
The majority of environmentalists quietly wince along with you when an extremist makes a wrongheaded point.

Marco said...

Maybe I am, but you must confess that you are tarring economic fundamentalists with a rather nasty brush that makes me completely wince. After all it was economic fundamentalists that came up with carbon trading, something that is now praised by almost all environmental groups. Higher energy prices seem to have done most of the legwork in improving western practices, yet environmental groups want to take credit for their "measures" that they have pushed for.