Sunday, March 20, 2011


Germany's Eco-Trap

Is Environmentalism Really Working?

Germany is among the world leaders when it comes to taking steps to save the environment. But many of the measures are not delivering the promised results. Biofuels have led to the clear-cutting of rainforests, plastics are being burned rather than recycled and new generation lightbulbs have led to a resurgence of mercury production. A SPIEGEL survey.

Some highlights:

Regarding biofuels:

Many haven't yet fully realized that E10 [gasoline with 10% biofuel content] is an ecological swindle.

Rainforests are being clear-cut in Brazil and Borneo to make room for sugar cane and palm oil cultivation.  At the same time there is a shortage of arable land for food production, which is leading to the threat of famine in parts of the world.

A single full tank of bio-ethanol uses up as much grain as an adult can eat in a whole year.

Environmental groups say that across Europe, farming for bio-fuels would create up to 56 million tons of additional greenhouse gases-an environmental crime they say must be stopped immediately.

The energy-saving bulbs that replaced them emit blue light and induce stress because they disrupt the body's production of the sleep hormone melatonin.  In addition, they contain mercury-to the point that consumers are advised not to use them in children's room.
The energy-saving bulb is a pretty dirty affair if one takes a look at the production process.  Eighty percent of the bulbs are made in China where safety standards are so lax many workers suffer from mercury poisoning.  In Germany, the bulbs are classified as special waste and the poisonous substance they contain has to be dumped in underground sites.

Furthermore, the new bulbs don't live up to their promise of energy efficiency either. When the magazine Okotest tested and array of the bulbs recently, half of them didn't last longer than 6,000 hours, well below EU estimates of 10,000 hours.
The article concludes:

Not everything that looks green serves the environment.  The ecological principle of proceeding with care doesn't seem to apply to environmental policy.  The more, the better, seems to be the principle.  No one is calculating whether all the billions being invested in protecting the environment are actually being spent wisely.  Ordinary citizens can't judge it and many experts have no interest in shedding any light on this aspect because their livelihoods are at stake.

The frequency with which environmental policies backfire should give pause for thought. 

The worst aspect: some major environmental policies aren't just ineffective -- they are counterproductive.,1518,druck-751469,00.html

No comments: