Two Wrongs Do Make a Right

Perhaps its trivial, but there was this study, see. In the UK. By scientists. And they published the startling conclusion that reusable diapers, long touted by the Government as a great weapon in the holy war against environmental damage, in fact “have a higher carbon footprint” than disposable diapers, because of the laundering necessary. The Government of Great Britain (also known as “The Opinion of Anyone Except an Intelligent Brit”), according to this article is dutifully covering up these findings, so as to avoid embarrassment I suppose. Perhaps Al Gore has stock in some British cloth diaper manufacturer.

Anyway, its all moot as far as I’m concerned. The whole concept of “carbon footprints” is a sham, and anyone who honestly cares about the health of the creation around us should be ashamed of ever using the phrase with a straight face. And the Lords of Britain, through their predictable butt-covering, have managed to inadvertently thwart stupidity. So there you go. Huzzah.

Scribblative Agincourting

Sadly, Scribblative Agincourting has closed for the nonce. Doug Jones and his fellow contributers have compiled in less than a years time some of the most important and influential reading for Christians who give a damn that I have ever seen. If you have ever found yourself babbling about the greater good when asked what you think about the practice of water-boarding, or have ever used the words “market forces” with a straight face, you’d best follow the link and get busy.

You can Bet that “Climate Skepticism” will become a Hate Crime Soon

Apparently, the film “The Great Global Warming Swindle“, a documentary produced in the UK and broadcast on their Channel Four, is causing a bit of a stink.

Seems the folks who produced “Swindle” had the almighty gall to suggest that the increase in atmospheric temperatures observed over the last few decades are not primarily caused by greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, but rather on changes in the sun’s output, and that the Global Warming frenzy is based on politics rather than science.

Of course the cries of “heresy” were legion (though Channel 4 reports a startling number of supportive emails and calls from scientists), and the Inquisitors at Ofcom have handed down their verdict, not surprisingly, against Channel 4.

While a watchdog group nailing a TV station for daring to question the reigning dogmas is hardly even newsworthy anymore, there was one part of the ruling that I found fascinating:

Turns out, they (Channel 4) could not be found guilty of failing to show “due impartiality” on “matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to the current public policy” on the issue of Global Warming because human-caused global warming is no longer a subject of controversy but established fact. From the BBC News article:

The last segment of the programme, dealing with the politics of climate change, broke this obligation, Ofcom judged, and did not reflect a range of views, as required under the code.

But the main portion of the film, on climate science, did not breach these rules.

Ofcom’s logic is that “the link between human activity and global warming… became settled before March 2007”.

This being so, it says, climate science was not “controversial” at the time of broadcast, so Channel 4 did not break regulations by broadcasting something that challenged the link.

Talk about assuming the center.


Houses aren’t the only ones Losing their Value

The value of Human Life seems to be depreciating as well, according to the EPA. In fact, you just lost nearly a million dollars in value: from 8.04 million to 7.22 million (we use decimal values because this is science stuff, and science stuff is precise. Just trust us.). Remember that monologue about auto manufacturer recalls in Fight Club? This from an article originally appearing in the Washington Post:

To grasp the mind-bending concept of a Blue Book value on life, government officials say it is important to remember that they are not thinking about anyone specific…They might know, for instance, that a new cut in air pollution will save 50 lives a year – though they don’t know who those people might be. Still they want to decide whether saving them is worth the cost, officials say, and it helps to assign a dollar value to each life saved.

This apparently is not the first time the EPA has tried to lower the value of human life. “In 2003, it tried to count senior citizens’ lives as worth less than those of other adults. After a loud outcry from seniors, the agency backed off.” Which is a fun mental image.

From the same article, we have the best research suggestion of the year:

But how do you put a dollar value on a life, even in a generic sense?

It wouldn’t work for researchers to survey Americans at gunpoint and ask how much they would pay not to die.

I disagree. That idea is categorically awesome. I once again want to be a scientist when I grow up.

But hey, don’t knock the EPA too much. According to the article, “their value for life remains one of the highest. Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation raised its value – but even after the increase, it stood at $5.8 million…”. Which explains a lot, really.


In Which Scientists do not Recommend that We Eat Food

“…We should understand and engage with food and our bodies in terms of their nutritional and chemical constituents and requirements – the assumption being that this is all we need to understand.” This reductionist way of thinking about food had been pointed out and criticized before…but it had never before been given a proper name: “nutritionism.”…

The first thing to understand about nutritionism is that it is not the same thing as nutrition…It is not a scientific subject but an ideology…The widely shared but unexamined assumption is that the key to understanding food is indeed the nutrient. Put another way: Foods are essentially the sum of their nutrient parts…

Since nutrients, as compared with foods, are invisible and therefore slightly mysterious, it falls to the scientists…to explain the hidden reality of foods to us. In form this is a quasireligious idea, suggesting the visible world is not the one that really matters, which implies the need for a priesthood. For to enter a world where your dietary salvation depends on unseen nutrients, you need plenty of expert help.

– Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food, pp. 27-28

In Which We Declare War on the Front Lawn

Condo-living has made this sort of a moot-point for me at this juncture, but architect Fritz Haeg’s Edible Estates concept is such a good one that I must share now, and once we get the coveted place in the ‘burbs, we’ll let you know from experience how it goes.

The general idea is that front lawns are a waste of space and energy, of little aesthetic value, and can even have an isolating, anti-communal effect. They consume resources and time, and yet return no practical or social benefit (unless you count “having the best lawn” bragging rights).

Mr. Haeg has suggested that we get rid of our front lawns and replace them with productive gardens. His first prototype front-garden in Salinas, Kansas now produces everything from strawberries and peaches to Swiss chard and green chilis. And, according to the homeowners, “We probably met more of the people on the block, and had more interaction with them, because of the garden”. And while the owners say they spend about the same amount of time weeding and tending their garden as they did mowing and fertilizing the lawn, that time spent is much more rewarding and communal. After all, its much easier and pleasant to chat with family or passing neighbors as you harvest green beans than it is to holler over the roar of the lawn mower.

The front-garden not only makes useful a formerly useless space, but also changes for the better the life of a family and even to some extent the community at large, creating a nurturing, productive, aesthetically satisfying space that gives people the opportunity to reconnect to the seasonal rhythms of labor and harvest that our good God has given to us.


In Which We Rock Green Apples

This Sunday, 20 April (that’s right, 4/20. witty) is the Green Apple Festival America:

Live Music, Environmental Action, Green Technology Exhibits, and Fun

We’re planning on hitting the celebration on the Mall in D.C. The highlights of the bill are as follows:

The Roots with Doug E. Fresh, Ne-Yo, Talib Kweli,, Chrisette Michele
Gov’t Mule
Chevy Chase
Ed Norton
Random Politicians and Activists (lunch time)
Thievery Corporation
Toots and the Maytals
DC Boys Choir
and the Rev. Yearwood, President of the Hip Hop Caucus (that’s right)

Also in New York, Miami, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, L.A., and San Francisco. Seattle got shafted somehow.