The Rationale for Green Policies

It seems that many people are blaming green policies for high energy costs and all our present economic woes. Green policies seem to be a convenient scapegoat. However there are good reasons why green policies should be continued, but I write those words on the basis that not all policies that pretend to be “green” are in fact useful or helpful for environmental protection.

If our starting point is that we should protect the environment because that is where we live and where our children and their children will live then it cannot be controversial to enact policies that protect our environment. Unfortunately many politicians who devise policy implement policies either genuinely believing that they will help the environment or genuinely believing that their electorate will believe them when they say that these policies will protect the environment. Politicians often speak with forked tongues and more often speak from ignorance, being advised by those who are ignorant but assured of their faulty knowledge.

I believe that the environment should be protected and I think that the rate of climate change that we are experiencing and will continue to experience has its fundamental causes in human activity. I could be wrong. I think that greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating natural climate changes and will continue so to do until humans will no longer be able to cope with the new environment that they have created, I could be wrong.

However, on the basis that I am likely to be right I would enact green policies but with the warning that not every policy expressed to be green is in fact green. There are many soi disant green policies that I would consign to the dustbin. I would sweep away the whole process of emission trading and emission bonds. If businesses want to gamble let them “invest” their money in a casino. I would not subsidise photovoltaic panels, especially by a long feed in tariff. That is a disaster waiting to happen both financially as PV deteriorates over its lifetime and investor returns diminish but it is also not particularly energy efficient to have PV panels made in China using polluting coal and rare metals which take so long to recover the energy used in their production. I would look carefully at the subsidies given to onshore wind farms; I wonder if many of those subsidies are simply largess for the wealthy landowner from the taxpayer.

Not all green policies fall into these categories. Recycling is important, and the avoidance of landfill with waste is also important. We keep our homes clean and we should keep our land clean. We should understand that finite resources must not be wasted. We should construct goods to last, not to be replaced after short periods. If you buy an expensive item why should your guarantee that it will last be limited to a year or two? That makes no sense, environmentally.

We should also keep our air clean. We all breathe it and it should be free of pollution and particulates, even if that means our energy costs more. We should insulate our homes, to avoid using energy unnecessarily. We should where possible use light to heat our water, rather than fossil fuels. We should limit the size and power of vehicle engines to sizes and power that is actually necessary. We need to require aviation and shipping to clean up their acts. In our own lives we should not indulge in mindless consumption; it harms us and it harms the environment.

We should support the principle of green policies while remaining careful to ensure that the policies designated as green are genuinely green. For example, I think that the green policy of building wood fired power stations as it presently exists will cause more environmental damage than it prevents.

Good housekeeping is necessary in the home and on the plant; our health and well-being depends upon it and there is too much to lose if we do not implement green policies but we must be careful that those policies are genuinely green.

2 Responses

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