Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is Reducing CO2 Emissions Bad for the Environment?

Many of us have noted for years that the green movement seems to be governed by those out either for power or money. They have paid off scientists, left wing ideologues, global power brokers, an educational establishment wanting a new social organizing force, and corporate manipulators joined to empower and enrich one another under the cover of environmentalism.
Which leaves me wondering why I haven't cashed in yet, as mentioned by my friend liberalgeek in this entertaining post on April 1.
Anderson says that reducing carbon emissions could (I am not making this up)
hurt the environment:
The resources redirected to combat so called global climate change will actually comprise [perhaps he means compromise] other objectives. If we avoid converting trash to energy for fear of CO2 then we end up land filling it which may compromise our water supply.
Actually, burning trash to generate electricity is a bad idea in several respects. First, waste-to-energy is not the only way to reduce landfill accumulation. Much flammable trash can also be recycled, which can reduce landfilling without toxic air emissions. Second, a waste-to-energy plant emits more than CO2. Municipal waste contains lots of nasty stuff that most people wouldn't want to see coming out of a smokestack.
Third, waste-to-energy facilities are far more expensive to build than recycling facilities. I've actually done the math on the financial value of recycling compared to burning trash:
What about building a waste-to-energy facility? Cost estimates of a facility that would achieve 40% diversion are hard to come by, but the capital cost is likely to be $100 to 200 million—20 to 40 times that of a comparable recycling facility. With such a large capital outlay, a waste-to-energy facility would have to generate revenues on the order of $10 million to 20 million annually to break even.
Here again, financial analysis tools can guide us. When facing a decision between a modest capital investment and a large capital investment, the magnitude of the risk must be considered. The enormous financial risk associated with a waste-to-energy facility should caution us against moving hastily in that direction.
I know it's hard for free market fundamentalists to imagine that environmentally sound policies might be economically sound as well. It's a topic I've covered many times over, most recently two days ago.


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4:39 AM, May 22, 2009  
Anonymous pandora said...

I've pretty much decided that debating David Anderson only encourages him. :-)

8:14 AM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger Tom Noyes said...

Who's debating? He hasn't even tried to offer a rebuttal.

4:16 PM, May 22, 2009  

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