Thought it worth posting this thoughtful and civil discussion between Kate Sinding of NRDC and Michael Shellenberger of The Breakthrough Institute on the debate over energy policy and fracking in the U.S.. Some agreement, but mostly disagreement. As you’ll gather from the interview, NRDC is opposed to fracking primarily because the natural gas boom keeps the U.S. economy hooked on a carbon-based fuel source, an obstacle to more renewable energies. Shellenberger takes the more balanced approach, arguing that natural gas is better than coal in all respects, including environment impacts, worker safety, and the economic benefits. Sinding argues “better is not good enough.” Interesting exchange beginning about 26:05 where Shellenberger points out NRDC’s about position on fracking nearly five years, having previously strongly supported natural gas. He notes politics and Hollywood hypocrites, rather than environmental concerns, have inflamed the fracking debate. Good primer for those who haven’t followed the complex and nuanced political debate.
I admittedly grow weary at times with all the dour, long-faced, gloom-and doom stuff of my fellow environmental friends. While truth is paramount even when the news isn’t always rosy and cheery, increasingly some environmentalists seem unwilling to serve up good news when good news indeed exists. Can’t explain the phenomena, and I know they mean well, but it’s almost as if many believe that pointing out good news is bad and will only detract from the mission of saving the planet. So kudos to Brad Sewell over at NRDC on a new study that reveals positive trends on efforts to restore fisheries once on the brink of collapse, as reported by Brian Handwerk over at National Geographic.
Two-thirds of the closely monitored U.S. fish species once devastated by overfishing have bounced back in a big way thanks to management plans instituted 10 to 15 years ago, a new study says. And fish aren’t the only ones celebrating. Recovering populations can mean more revenue and jobs for some fishermen—but unfortunately success hasn’t been universal.
This good news doesn’t mean we’ve crossed the finish line; rather, it means we’re simply on the right course. But let’s give credit to the lawmakers, resource managers, conservation groups and others who have worked tirelessly to adopt laws and programs that appear to be working.
(Update: A reader sent me this link to a humorous yet enlightening Youtube clip by Penn & Teller Bullshit: Environmental Hysteria.)
A recent WSJ article highlights an increasingly important issue with which society is slowly grappling, drugs in our water. The story talks about the mellowing effect of anti-anxiety drugs turning our rivers into a modern-day Woodstock for pisces, an undersea counter-culture seeking escape from the pressures of a world filled with big scary predators. Come to find out, however, some fish are so mellow, they apparently aren’t too concerned about getting eaten. Big problem if you’re not a predator. Continue reading