Environment

WPC's Center for the Environment brings balance to the environmental debate by promoting the idea that human progress and prosperity work in a free economy to protect the environment.

Environment Blog

Plastic Bag Ban Begins in Seattle: What Will Success Look Like?

July 2, 2012 in Blog

Seattle's new ban on plastic grocery bags took effect yesterday and the question is "what will success look like?"

The immediate reaction might be that success means reducing the number of plastic bags used by consumers. The law is almost certain to do that, since the bags are banned and heavier plastic bags will cost 10 cents a bag.

Surprise: GMA restrictions drive housing prices higher

July 2, 2012 in Blog

Wendell Cox, who spoke at our transportation lunch in May, has a great post about how the Green Belt around London drives home prices higher. The Green Belt restricts the supply of land available for development around the city core and is very similar to the restrictions found in our state’s Growth Management Act (GMA).

How is Creating Green Jobs Like Banning Tractors to Create Farm Jobs?

June 25, 2012 in Blog

Recently the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts released a graphic purporting to show "green" technologies create more jobs than traditional energy sources. The graphic below has been distributed widely by advocates of creating "green jobs." This is a common assertion from the environmental left.

As I note in my book Eco-Fads, this claim is made by many on the left.

The West Coast Electric Highway: Shades of the West Coast Hydrogen Highway

June 1, 2012 in Blog

Celebrating the creation of electric car charging stations along I-5 and US-2 today, Governor Gregoire offered this optimistic forecast:

Westin Makes the Free-Market Green Choice

May 19, 2012 in Blog

If you have stayed at a hotel recently, you have seen a card in the bathroom exhorting you to help the planet by reusing your towels, thus reducing the amount of water, energy and detergent used by the hotel. Such appeals are typically based on guilt - you reuse the towels and the hotel receives the financial benefit.

The success of such efforts, however, is tenuous because it is entirely contingent on the convenience and good will of the guests.

Westin Hotels, however, have harnessed the free market to find a better way.

Ecology's New Report on Climate Change Impacts Ignores 'Consensus' Science

May 2, 2012 in Blog

One of the most common mantras from the state's Department of Ecology about climate change is to note the strong "scientific consensus" regarding the impacts of climate change. The consensus science comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN agency that releases reports highlighting what it believes is the best science on climate change and the impacts.

Two Environmental Victories From the Legislative Session

April 19, 2012 in Blog

After one of the most contentious legislative sessions in recent history, there are some good stories to tell. On the environmental front, two stand out.

Car Sharing

Eco-Fads: Does Recycling Save Trees? Seattle City Light Gets It Wrong.

April 4, 2012 in Blog

We have all seen signs on paper towel dispensers and elsewhere telling us that by using less paper we are saving trees. The City of Seattle is now echoing that claim, tweeting out this claim:

Did you know?! For every household that recycles its daily newspaper, five trees are spared every year.

It seems logical enough. The more we recycle, the fewer trees we need, leaving more trees unharvested. That logic, however, doesn't hold up in the real world.

Want to Get the Science Right? Go To the Free Market.

April 3, 2012 in Blog

An excellent Reuters story featuring a former Amgen researcher highlights the important role companies in a free market play in developing new technology and avoiding scientific error.

The story highlights a disturbing trend in academic science, noting that many "discoveries" in cancer research are quite shoddy and cannot be replicated. The article tells the story:

Earth Hour is Symbolic...But What Does It Symbolize?

March 30, 2012 in Blog

Once again, environmental groups are encouraging you to turn off your lights tomorrow night at 8:30 as part of Earth Hour. Supporters understand this is a symbolic effort, so they don't make too many claims about how much energy will actually be saved. Earth Hour, however, ends up providing a nice contrast between the current green approach and the alternative provided by the free-market incentives to do more with less.