Counterintuitive Green "Advice" from The Guardian

Counterintuitive Green "Advice" from The Guardian

Jonathan B.
Feb 7, 2008

It seems someone always has to be the contrarian. We're not too impressed by this article, which ran in the UK paper The Guardian. It lists six "myths" that "distract" people from the real problems of global warming. That's a valid viewpoint, but the "myths" aren't presented with enough data to make the case. For example:

Myth 1
Forget the CFLs -- just hold off on the purchase of a plasma TV and keep your old (presumably tube) TV instead.

Our response: this reflects confusion between plasma TVs, which use lots of energy, and LCD TVs, which are relatively efficient. Better advice: change the light bulbs to CFLs and switch to an LCD TV.

Myth 2

Flying is responsible for only 2% of carbon dioxide emissions.

Our response: as the article admits, this is actually true, although it's still a problem. (Put another way: 2% of way too much is still too much.) But why present a fact as a myth? Again, this muddles the issue by shifting the discussion to the global warming impact of jets. We can't argue with the facts, but the strategy seems designed to confuse, rather than clarify.

Myth 3
Disposable plastic bags aren't really a problem -- it's the 30% of food we waste.

Our response: saying disposable plastic bags aren't a problem because wasted food rots and produces methane (a potent greenhouse gas) just doesn't make sense. Can't they both be problems? The plastic bag issue is certainly easier to fix with legislation.

We're a bit more on board with myths 4, 5, and 6, which advocate for increasing home insulation to cut energy use. But is is really necessary to cut down one green strategy in order to advance another? This doesn't seem right to us, especially when what's played down is something simple that gives one a real a feeling of empowerment, such as changing a light bulb or carrying a reusable tote.

image by busangane via

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