Sunday, March 30, 2008

Solutions that aren't

Why do I not look to government to solve environmental problems? Two recent news items should help explain.

First, Time Magazine is reporting on the disaster that is ethanol.
Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.


[T]he basic problem with most biofuels is amazingly simple, given that researchers have ignored it until now: using land to grow fuel leads to the destruction of forests, wetlands and grasslands that store enormous amounts of carbon.
What has been a dirty little secret for years is finally becoming common knowledge. Yet, we still subsidize and encourage ethanol production.

The second item appeared today in the Raleigh News & Observer and deals with the disposal of Compact Fluorescent (CF) light bulbs (those new bulbs that you will be forced to purchase in a few years).
Disposal options: Don't throw fluorescents in the trash. The light will break and release mercury. In a landfill, it could contaminate the ground. If you must throw a burned-out CFL into the trash, seal it first in two plastic bags to prevent leakage.

The preferred method is to take CFLs to a recycling facility or hazardous waste facility.
So let me get this straight, I'm not supposed to dispose of the bulbs in the usual way because I will be contaminating the environment with mercury. Instead, I should drive to a central recycling facility to dispose of these bulbs, thereby contaminating the environment with carbon dioxide from my car.


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