As the governor and legislature debate various environmental proposals for 2013, here is one fact they should keep in mind: many of the State of Washington's climate policies waste about 99 percent of the money spent to cut carbon emissions. Even those policies that perform better than that standard are only slightly better, missing huge opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.
Pointing to a recent television news story, the House Democrats yesterday touted the Washington state law requiring that school buildings meet "green" building standards, claiming "taxpayers pay less for electricity every month." There are several problems with this claim, however, and stubborn support for this failed law despite the evidence has resulted in less money for schools, an actual increase in energy use and more environmental damage.
The Seattle Times recently featured a story on climate change with a sub-headline that declared "Scientists analyzing the effects of climate change say they are surprised to see how much winter has already changed and the cascade of effects that unleashes, from outbreaks of pests and diseases to fewer days of skiing."
A report in the USA Today found that "green" schools in other states don't actually perform as promised. The report, "Green Schools: Long on promise, short on delivery," gave this example from the Houston Independent School District:
A couple weeks ago, solar energy company SunPower announced a new agreement to provide the U.S. Navy with solar power, claiming it would save the military branch $13 million. One solar energy blog wrote this about the announcement:
Today is World Food Day, a day designed to focus on reducing worldwide hunger and poverty. According to the United Nations, more than 800 million people worldwide are undernourished. While that number is tragically large, it is a dramatic improvement on where we might have been.
There are still three months left in the year, but the chances of anyone saying something more anti-science than today’s nominee is pretty small. And that includes those who cite the Mayan calendar as evidence the world is coming to an end this Dec. 21.
The 2012 Award for Most Thoughtless, Anti-Science Comment goes to Trudy Bialic of Seattle-based PCC Markets. Congratulations!
With any luck, Seattle's urban forests will soon be certified dolphin safe. That may seem strange, but it would be just about as meaningful as the city recently receiving a forest certification it promises it will never use.
One of the consistent issues we address here is the gap between the science and Washington's environmental policy - even as policymakers and politicians claim to be following the science. Now there is a great book from the editor of Real Clear Science highlighting the many ways left-wing environmentalists ignore the science when it is inconvenient to their ideology.
As a Husky, I should be glad when anyone these days ranks the University of Washington 4th in the nation in anything. I would, however, prefer it if the ranking was actually legitimate.
In the Sierra Club's ranking of the top 10 green schools, or "Cool Schools," it ranks the U Dub at number four. They note the "UW pays compulsive attention to buying local: More than half of the school's food is produced within 250 miles of campus." There's only one problem: this might actually do more harm to the planet than good.
The Seattle Times recently ran an excellent piece on an effort to prevent asthma in children and reduce attacks for those already living with asthma. The article, "Program uses home visits to help asthmatic kids breathe easier," highlights efforts to reduce the incidence of asthma among children by reducing the risk factors in homes. The article tells the story of one boy whose symptoms have disappeared...
When Greg Nickels was mayor of Seattle, he released a study of Seattle's carbon emissions, claiming the city would meet the emissions reduction targets in the Kyoto Protocol. When the report was released in 2007, Nickels announced "A new inventory of Seattle’s greenhouse-gas emissions shows we are meeting our Kyoto Treaty targets — reducing climate pollution to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012." The goal of the report was to highlight his leadership on reducing carbon emissions.
In my book Eco-Fads, I argue that many politicians and policymakers actively oppose auditing their policies because the benefit of the policies isn't environmental improvement, it is the good feeling associated with publicly supporting the policy. I wrote:
Auditing the results of a policy serves only as a tool to point out the shortcomings of favored environmental approaches. Data that are not collected cannot be used to show whether elected officials made a mistake.
On Monday, the Washington Toxics Coalition announced that the Department of Ecology would begin the process to list a flame retardant known as Tris as a "chemical of high concern." They announced the decision on Twitter, writing "WE WON! @ecologywa is starting the process to list chlorinated Tris as a chemical of concern to kids!"