Environmentalism

Environmentalism and the Fear of Disorder

Greens engage in rituals to allay their anxieties.

|

Recycling
Auburn University

Why do people recycle and buy organic foods? According to Marijn Meijers and Bastiaan Rutjens, a couple of social scientists at the University of Amsterdam, they do it to realize a sense of personal control stemming from their fear that disorder is increasing in the world. Technological optimists, meanwhile, are more likely to eschew the comfort of such rituals.

To be fair, that's not exactly how the two researchers interpret their study, which was published in the August European Journal of Social Psychology. But as we shall see, it is not unreasonable to construe their results that way.

A popular new psychological model, compensatory control theory, argues that people are highly motivated to perceive the world as meaningful, orderly, and structured. When people perceive the world as being less orderly, Meijers and Rutjens explain, they strive to compensate for the anxiety and stress this produces. Often this entails attempting to achieve personal or external control. With personal control, Meijers and Rutjens write, "it is the feeling that people are able to influence their environment that provides them with the notion of an orderly and navigable world." With external control, "it is the feeling that an external source (e.g. an intervening God or a powerful government) exerts influence over their environments and the world in general that provides similar perceptions of an orderly world."

A threat to one source of order boosts the motivation to affirm the other. Instability in government, for example, produces more efforts to achieve personal control.

Meijers and Rutjens note that scientific progress "can be viewed as testimony to humanity's increasing ability to exert control over the world, and bolstering belief in scientific progress as such can provide order." The formulation "can be viewed" is just a bit too clever. In fact, the technologies developed as a result of the processes scientific discovery have dramatically reduced a lot of the randomness and disorder that a fickle and meager nature throws our way.

For example, a 2011 Reason Foundation study reported that, as a result of the increased wealth that modern technology has created, "aggregate mortality attributed to all extreme weather events globally has declined by more than 90 percent since the 1920s, in spite of a four-fold rise in population." Not surprisingly, such a huge reduction in actual, not just perceived, randomness and disorder does indeed go a long way toward "bolstering belief in scientific progress." 

In any case, the researchers wanted to test the hypothesis that questioning the ability of scientific progress to control "environmental challenges and natural threats" would lead subjects to reaffirm personal control by engaging in behaviors that are perceived to be environmentally friendly. Specifically, they aimed to test the idea that "behaving in an environmentally friendly way may work as an order-providing psychological mechanism and thus help to alleviate feelings of disorder."

The researchers conducted four different studies to test their hypothesis. The first study involved having participants read two fake newspaper articles, one stressing the rapidity of scientific progress and the other suggesting that scientific developments are insufficient to deal with urgent problems, e.g., HIV and climate change. As predicted, the positive article reduced feelings of disorder, and the negative one increased feelings of disorder.

The second study used a test in which participants had to unscramble words into sentences designed to induce either feelings of order and disorder. Then they were told that an institute at their university wanted to know their opinions about environmental issues. Those exposed to sentences suggesting disorder more highly endorsed "environmentally friendly" sentiments such as "we have to take the greenhouse effect seriously."

In the third study, the researchers sought to probe the idea that engaging in environmentally friendly behaviors increases the sense of personal control in subjects. So half of the students began by filling out the same opinion form regarding environmental behavior as in the second study. Then they were asked to imagine that they were business managers and to say, hypothetically, how much more in costs above regulatory requirements they would be willing to bear to cut air pollution at a manufacturing plant. In the final step, they filled out a survey disguised to measure their sense of personal control. The exercise was reversed for the other students, who completed the survey measuring their sense of personal control first and then went on to the environmental behavior tasks. The researchers found that participants who engaged first the environmental tasks expressed a higher sense of personal control than the others.

In their fourth study, the researchers aimed to fully test the proposition that "questioning scientific progress enhances feelings of disorder and consequently heightens environmentally friendly attitudes, intentions, and behaviors," and vice versa. First, they had participants read newspaper articles affirming or questioning scientific progress. Next, subjects answered a questionnaire that measured their disorder perceptions (e.g., their belief that our lives are ruled by randomness) on a seven-point scale. Then, their intentions to engage environmentally friendly activities (e.g., washing clothes at a lower temperature and recycling for the sake of the environment) were measured on a seven-point scale. Finally, participants were tasked to choose groceries from six product categories, each of which featured an organic item. The products did not differ in price.

The researchers found that participants who read the article questioning scientific progress expressed greater intention to recycle, reduce washing temperatures, and buy organic foods than those who read the version affirming scientific progress. Why the difference? Because, the researchers report, "questioning scientific progress results in a relative increase in disorder perceptions, which in turn triggers the motivation to restore order via personal actions such as engaging in environmentally friendly behavior."

A reasonable reading of these results is that a lot of environmentalists experience many aspects of the modern world as chaotic and thus seek to compensate for their perceptions of disorder by engaging in ritual behaviors that make them feel like they are exerting more personal control. It is not much of a leap to conclude that by imposing those rituals on others, some environmentalists seek to reduce their dread of disorder even more.

Why call them rituals? Because it is not all that clear that they actually do anything much for the natural environment. For example, the costs of curbside recycling often outweigh purported benefits, and lower organic crop yields mean more land taken from nature. But as Meijers and Rutjens have shown, partaking in such rites is much like reciting the Rosary, in that they, too, reduce participant anxiety.

Of course, being social scientists and sharing the customary prejudices of their tribe, that's not how Meijers and Rutjens look at their findings. Instead they write, "Our findings have important practical implications for understanding how environmentally friendly behavior can be increased and encouraged." How? By "looking more critically at the power of science and the limits of progress," that is, by casting doubt of the efficacy of people to solve problems using science and technology.

Meijers and Rutjens also cannily observe that rapid progress in various scientific and technological endeavors can be framed as sources of disorder. This is precisely how many environmentalists portray biotech crops, nuclear power, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology. Advances in science and technology are constantly remaking entire industries and ways of earning a living. So anxious environmentalists alleviate the stress induced by these perceived sources of disorder by trying to exercise personal control—including activism that, ironically, demands increased external control by government.

Disclosure: I have long sought reduce my anxieties about disorder by personally promoting scientific and technological progress.

Advertisement

NEXT: IRS Doesn't Know Who Owes Obamacare Medical Device Tax, Collects Less Than Expected

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Isn’t recycling usually pointless? So it does beg for an explanation.

    I think people are adapted to a world with scarce resources, and “wasting” anything, at all, is psychologically painful.

    1. There are markets for particular materials that sustain themselves. Collection costs are always the big variable. The most successful companies that I am familiar with use a portion of the profits from recycling to offset general trash collection costs.

      1. There are many low-level entrepreneurs who support themselves by collecting aluminum cans to recycle, ie the street person with the shopping cart full of cans.

        1. Like I said, collection costs matter

        2. Additionally, that shouldn’t be legal since those street persons don’t get paid the minimum wage. I propose a regulatory regime that will determine the minimum price paid for an aluminum can based on the average number of cans collected in a district within a standard 8 hour shift in line with the prevailing wage for that industry.

          1. Around where I live, it IS illegal to pick up recyclables, or even garbage. Can’t have anyone interfering with the State monopoly.

            1. the last time i recycled brass they gave me close to six hundred for it.

    2. Recycling metals and plastics often isn’t pointless. Recycling paper is probably counter productive in most cases. Glass doesn’t usually get recycled into new glass products these days, but it does get used as aggregate for paving roads and things sometimes. You can tell when it isn’t pointless because there are people willing to pay for such recyclable material.

      I think you are right about the psychological causes of recycling. I really don’t give a shit about how much landfill space my garbage takes up. But I still like to recycle metals and plastic and glass at least because it’s perfectly good stuff still that seems like could easily be put to productive use.

      1. I recently watched the Penn and Teller “Bullshit” episode concerning recycling (I think it’s several years old). They claimed metal was the only recyclable that made economic sense. Very believable, since that seems to be the only material that there is a market for.

        Bailey’s article is red meat to me since I think most recycling and all organic propaganda is senseless.

        1. I saw that too.

          From talking to people in the waste business, I gather that there is sometimes a market for PET plastic as well, but it is much more variable. Sometimes you can find someone who will buy it and sometimes you have to pay to get rid of it.

        2. It all depends on cost of acquisition and the target market. For a while, there were Chinese gathering every scrap of cardboard they could find. I remember asking a Chinese contractor why they demolished buildings using hand labor. His answer was that they collect every possible thing for recycling.

        3. The trouble with Penn and Teller is that they are often full of shit themselves. I was always struck by how 95% of the time on their show they would follow up an assertion of skepticism with a naked appeal some *other* authority who happens to agree with them.

          That said, recycling of things that are worth recycling has always happened, because people will pay for the materials that can be reused.

          1. The same way it is an utter myth that “capitalist” society only uses some parts of an animal, while aboriginals use every part that can possibly be used, when in fact the exact opposite is the case.

            1. In the past the aboriginals, that I know, did use every part that could be possibly used. In modern times, not so much. It probably depends on what aboriginal you are discussing.

              1. Sooo… mechanically separated meat? Pink slime? pre-synthetic insulin pancreas processing? I bet they used what they were capable of, but we use more of the animal because we’ve developed the means to economically recover these marginal pieces.

                1. It’s not so hard to recover those marginal parts on a smaller scale, anyway. Take your bones and simmer them is water for a while and you’ll get all of that waste meat, marrow, etc.

              2. Didn’t Paleo-indians used to drive huge herds of buffalo off of cliffs?

                1. I’m sure that when certain resources were available in abundance, they were less particular about using every part of every animal.

              3. When you are dealing with stone age technology, people used every bit of the animal because every bit of the animal had a use.

          2. Bullshit is not exactly a rigorous program. I enjoy it, but some of their claims and characterization are pretty bullshitty. Examples that come to mind are the one about Yoga, which they described as “just stretching”. Say what you want about the spiritual aspects of the practice, but the exercise part of Yoga is very well conceived and effective.
            The mineral water one was also kind of silly. I can’t see any good reason to buy it, but a lot of mineral waters do have distinctive flavors. That one is probably better seen as a look at how suggestible or gullible people are.

            1. The one about the lie detector is half bullshit because even though the actual lie detector machine is total bullshit in as much as it really doesn’t detect lies at all, the show led the audience to believe that if you just clench your asshole you can beat it, but that’s not entirely true, and now they have ass clench sensors that you sit on. If you set off the ass clench detector you fail. In a polygraph session for getting some kind of security clearance they are looking for any hint of a sign of deception. That’s all they care about. If they think that you are trying to deceive them, you fail and don’t get clearance, and you don’t get the job.

            2. “That one is probably better seen as a look at how suggestible or gullible people are.”

              I only drink tap water, just as God intented.

        4. Back when NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC was willing to occasionally examine deeply held lefty beliefs, they ran a story on recycling that pointed out that only #1 plastics could survive being heated enough to sterilize them and still be useful. So recycling other plastics is less practical, and may be impractical.

          I have no idea what progress may have been made in he intervening years.

          The thing about recycling plastics that gets me is that (unless I’m completely off base, which is all too possible) they are made from the sludge left over after refining gasoline. So a) the are already about as biodegraded as matter can get and b) the plastic represent in improvement over the alternative.

      2. Sure it is not. And when it isn’t, someone will pay you for your trash.

      3. Mining landfills is a future business I support.

      4. Would you not care about that landfill if it were next door to you? Or perhaps you’d support a zoning ordinance to ban it from being there in the first place?

      5. “But I still like to recycle metals and plastic and glass at least because it’s perfectly good stuff still that seems like could easily be put to productive use.”

        You might also consider separating organic kitchen waste and saving it in a compost heap to recycle its nutrients into your own garden. In some of the more ‘unscientific’ parts of the globe, even human waste is kept for its potential as fertilizer.

        1. ” human waste is kept for its potential as fertilizer.”
          It’s called nightsoil.

    3. Recycling isn’t about saving scarce resources, it’s about diverting stuff from landfills.

      Remember the trash barge? Well, ever since then people started to believe that there’s no more room in any of the landfills. That’s when recycling because really popular. So popular that it has to be mandated by the government, since it’s more economical to use raw material than recycled.

      1. Can I assume you’ve seen the Penn and Teller show “Bullshit” on recycling as well?

        1. Yeah, but I knew most of that already. My bullshit detector went off when after switching from plastic to paper to save the trees, suddenly everyone wanted to use paper or reusable bags to save on landfill space. And they were totally “We were always at war with Eastasia” about it. But yeah, I’ve seen it.

          1. I asked only because you mentioned the garbage barge.

            Even the term “biodegradable” makes me uneasy. I read that the whole purpose of a properly constructed landfill is to encase the garbage so that it does not degrade and get into the ground water. So what good does biodegradable stuff do? Does everyone intend to throw their paper plates and brown paper bags out into the woods and let them dissolve?

            1. I asked only because you mentioned the garbage barge.

              I remember it. I was a teenager at the time.

              So what good does biodegradable stuff do?

              There was this big thing about how trash was going to still be intact after a million years, and how the world would turn into a big trash heap. So this biodegradable craze started, where everything that went into the landfill was supposed to turn into dirt after a month or something. It’s all stupid shit that’s based on emotional reactions instead of rational thinking.

              1. The properties that make styrofoam “bad” for the environment also make it awesome for insulation and water proofing. It lasts forever.

                1. George Carlin says Gaia created humans because she wanted to be covered in a layer of plastic.

                    1. -1 Zombie Carlin

                2. ” It lasts forever.”

                  I bet if you checked, you’d find traces of styrene in every cell of your body.

                  1. mtrueman|8.22.14 @ 4:32PM|#
                    “I bet if you checked, you’d find traces of styrene in every cell of your body.”

                    Yeah, it’s called “carbon”, idjit.

                    1. carbon is an element. styrene a chemical. Couldn’t tell you why exactly but there are scientists who tell us the distinction is meaningful.

                    2. Styrene occurs naturally in small quantities in some plants and foods (cinnamon, coffee beans, and peanuts), and is also found in coal tar. In the nineteenth century, styrene was isolated by distillation of the natural storax balsam.[2]

                    3. Styrene is a natural, organic, chemical, mostly made out of carbon. You were almost right mtrueman.

                    4. “You were almost right mtrueman.”

                      Where was I wrong?

                    5. One of theses days the Authorities are going to get called to take me away because I tee’d off on some nitwit, and am belaboring him about the head while screaming, “Arsenic is natural! Botulism is natural! For humans, natural is living naked in trees and picking fleas off our relatives! F*ck natural!”

                    6. arsenic is exactly the example i use! “natural” is NOT synonymous with “good for you”, unless you want to be hungry all the time and die when you’re 30

                    7. i remember when i was in culinary school in like 2010 or so, right when gmos were starting to become a big issue, our “gastronomy” teacher asked the class of 30 or so what we thought of gmos and I was the ONLY person who thought they were cool, everyone else was just regurgitating luddite bullshit. do these people just not think what they’re advocating all the way through? im quite happy that im not living like my stone age ancestors. and gmos are awfully cool. we can reprogram life now, what’s not cool about that?

              2. Actually, it wouldn’t turn into dirt, but it would turn into the dreaded CO2. DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNNN

      2. People have a really bad sense of scale when it comes to the size of things like landfills. They really don’t take up a significant amount of land.

        As an added bonus, landfills will make for some really interesting sedimentary rock formations for paleontologists of the distant future to discover.

        1. I’ve wondered if/when people will start to mine landfills.

          1. They have started to for metal reclamation.

          2. I could see that being worth while at some point if the predictions about the depletion of accessible deposits of certain metals come true. There’s probably a lot of copper and other metals in landfills, especially older ones.

            1. Aluminum density is higher in most landfills than it is in a typical bauxite mine.

          3. I’ve wondered if/when people will start to mine landfills.

            Remember when methane was going to be mined from landfills. The environmentalists are against that now.

            1. Really? Landfill methane would count as “renewable”, I would think. No pleasing some people, I guess.

            2. The environmentalists are against that now.

              WHY? It replaces CH4, a very potent greenhouse gas, with CO2, a weak greenhouse gas.

          4. They already do in the poorest third-world countries.

        2. hey, if it saves just one centimeter…

      3. And if I remember the trash barge was actually a contract issue – didn’t have anything to do with not having landfill space.

        1. Yeah. The guy who owned the barge was getting paid like eighty bucks a ton by NYC to dispose of it, and thought he’d make some quick cash by burying it some southern state for tenth of that. But then like you said it turned into a contract issue. On top of that, due to new EPA rules, finding a place to bury it became a big hassle. The lack of landfill space is purely a government construction.

    4. Isn’t recycling usually pointless?

      For paper, yes, but not for metals and plastics.

    5. Hmmm… I think people want to exert power over other people because they are a*shole control freaks and if it wasn’t environmentalism it’d be healthcare or the minimum wage or paying your fair share or some other excuse to steal from other people.

      1. Or maybe even all of the above.

      2. I believe we have a winner!

    6. It depends on what you are recycling. I see a few comments mentioning cans. Not only is there a demand for aluminium,cans also reduce transportation cost’s. Cans are lighter than glass.

      1. Recycling Al makes sense since the production costs are extremely high. Paper as pointed out here is useful only in a government mandated market.

        1. Honestly GroundTruth I could see a profitable business in composting paper ash with urea. I’m not sure what I would do with magazines though. Also IMO government mandates just seem to hurt “Green” business’s more than they help them.

          1. As you most likely know, for a business, it’s not about cleaning up your waste stream. It’s about turning your waste stream into a product.

  2. That does explain why environmentalists gravitate toward the left so much. They offered the world order!

  3. So reading a single newspaper article about scientific progress can have a measurable impact on a person’s perceptions of disorder in the world? That sounds fishy. I would think that most adults already have a solid perception of the world’s disorder and it would take a major, traumatic or enlightening event to shake that perception. Are people really this disengaged and fickle?

    1. There are studies that claim that holding a warm vs cold beverage can affect how you judge someone’s personality.

      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/up…..mth_10-24/

      It’s not something people are supposed to be conscious of. I’m dubious, but that is one school of thought.

      1. I find that when I have a migraine I’m much more likely to think most people are dicks.

        1. So your lack of migraines adversely affects your perception of reality?

    2. Recency effect: The last thing you’ve been doing/looking at has a big impact to what’s at the forefront of your mind.

      It doesn’t last very long, but it’s long enough to influence what you’re doing right after.

    3. It’s not that the majority of people are fickle. It’s that about ten percent of the population doesn’t really have a set opinion on things and little bitty things at the time of questioning can sway them one way or another. Also, if they are swayed one way long enough, they generally decide that that’s their position, so it’s kind of important to win out long term.

    4. These sorts of simple-minded “experiments” are the bread and butter of what is generously called the “science” of sociology.

  4. People fetishize stasis.

    Today’s “climate” should be the same as yesterday’s.

    The range of species in a habitat should never change.

    Quaint downtown shopping areas should be kept unchanged in perpetuity, no matter how economically inefficient they might be.

    1. nantucket actually has codified not changing anything. the restaurant i worked in on that island was an old house, and being unable to change anything visible from the street made for some inconveniences

  5. When I do recycle, it’s because I get paid cash money for useful materials.

    1. When I recycle it’s just a matter of having missed the dumpster and having i land next to the overflowing bins.

      jk, I collect a lot of cardboard somehow, and it’s easier to stack them inside a box and drop it by the recycle bin than to mix it with the trash. I do this because it’s easier on me and the source of the cardboard isn’t comingled with the trash anyway.

  6. There are personality types that cannot bear the feeling of not having control. AGW mythology was developed around this by people who cannot accept that something is happening that they cannot influence or control. There is a reason that environmentalism is so prominent on the political left. It feeds right into their control/stasis fetish.

    1. As a group, Lefties also tend not to believe in conventional religion; and so environmentalism in its many forms satisfies for them many of the basic religious impulses that traditional religions do.

      1. i think it’s politics in general. im absolutely done talking politics on facebook cuz being a 29 year old from new hampshire most of my friends are liberals and they react to some of my political opinions like they’re heresy. i dunno if conservatives are the same way or not

  7. Fear of uncontrolled change is what drives socialists in general. These people are neurotic and paranoid, all of them.

    1. And many conservatives too. But I think it isn’t unfair to call a lot of the environmentalist left reactionary conservatives, as contradictory as that might sound. Climate must never change, the appearance of the land must never change and third world indigenous cultures and lifestyles must never change. If that’s not conservative, I don’t know what is.

      1. I don’t think it’s contradictory at all, and I wouldn’t limit it only to the environmentalists within it.

      2. There is a difference Zeb. Conservatives reflexively oppose change but can embrace change where a clear case is made. Their default position is to resist change but it is only a default position. For socialists and especially hard core greens, stasis is more than just the default position, it is the desired end.

        1. I think that is a fair description, but I think that there are plenty of “conservatives” who mimic that socialist impulse.

        2. I agree with John. If environmentalists could get away with killing all of us pesky Earth-wrecking humans (they would spare themselves, of course) then they would do it.

          Unlike neocons, who just want to carpet-bomb everyone that isn’t as cool as the US government is, environmentalists want to kill everyone, including us.

        3. For socialists and especially hard core greens, stasis is more than just the default position, it is the desired end.

          They’re beyond stasis. They want to go backwards. They won’t be happy until everyone (except the ruling class) is living on subsistence communes.

          1. I see socialists as wanting to go backward as well. I’ve always thought the “forward” advertising from Obama and MSNBC was strangely mocking, like an inside joke on the prols.

        4. The socialist greens are the weirdest. Socialism has always been a terrible idea for reasons we all understand, but at least they used to be honest about needing to break a few eggs to make their humanity omelet.

        5. “For socialists and especially hard core greens, stasis is more than just the default position, it is the desired end.”

          More foolishness. Another name for a socialist is a progressive. That means a belief in progress, not stasis. Confused? Try consulting an English dictionary. About your notions of hard core greens, you seem to have even less to say of interest.

          My advice: stick to telling us of your own beliefs, risible though they may be. Let the socialists and the hard core greens speak for themselves.

          1. That makes the name “progressive” ironic and not descriptive. Socialism is stasis in many areas. Socialism expects that outcomes never change and opposes creative destruction. Socialism expects that the same “middle class ‘good’ jobs” available to your father should be available to you regardless of how obsolete they’ve become. Hard core greens perpetually wail about their Malthusian end-of-the-world raptures. See Holdren and Ehrlich. Hard core greens are the very definition of anti-human and anti-progress.

            My advice: get a clue before you correct someone else.

            1. “That makes the name “progressive” ironic”

              It’s not ironic at all. Socialists are perfectly sincere when they imagine a more advanced society that they want to move towards. You seem no more capable of speaking on behalf of socialists than John is. My advice: stick to what you know, and avoid these half-hearted attempts to channel the thoughts of others.

              “Hard core greens are the very definition of anti-human and anti-progress”

              Again, you are repeating the same thing here, attempting to caricature somebody else’s opinions. Greens celebrate the dynamism and diversity of life. If you want me to take you seriously, stick to discussing things you have a better understanding of, your own beliefs, perhaps.

              1. mtrueman|8.22.14 @ 7:47PM|#
                …”Socialists are perfectly sincere when they imagine a more advanced society that they want to move towards”…

                So they are stupid rather than liars? Maybe some; others are liars.

                1. “So they are stupid rather than liars? Maybe some; others are liars.”

                  Please tell me that it is not just now you have come to realize this. You have a talent for stating the obvious, however relentlessly. What’s coming next, that I’m a stupid liar, too?

                  1. mtrueman|8.22.14 @ 8:14PM|#
                    …”What’s coming next, that I’m a stupid liar, too?”

                    That’s true, but I thought to obvious to state.

              2. ” If you want me to take you seriously, stick to discussing things you have a better understanding of, your own beliefs, perhaps.”

                That’s probably unfair. You have no beliefs of your own, and everything you say is either a caricature of some imagined group of people, or parroting some simple minded party line. I treasure independence of thought.

                1. That’s gold Jerry! Gold!

                  1. “That’s gold Jerry!”

                    Jerry Lewis? I recently saw The Ladies Man with the enormous doll’s house set. Had its moments.

              3. Socialists dream of world under their inspired first, er, rules. You’ve offered zero proof otherwise. My advice: prove that you know what you’re talking about.

                Celebrate the dynamism of life? Do they channel their inner Gaia too? Hardcore greens oppose fracing. They oppose nuclear power. Hell, they even oppose “renewable” projects once they’re in their backyard. Go to Greenpeace. Go to NRDC. Go to Sierra Club. Go to WWF. Show me where they actively endorse either of the two technologies I just listed.

                If you want to be taken seriously then start posting factually correct statements.

                1. “If you want to be taken seriously then start posting factually correct statements.”

                  I’m offering my opinions and other musings here. If you want factually correct statements, forget about this board and stick with encyclopedias.

                  I’m sure you’re right about greens opposing those things. You may even agree with Sevo that they are stupid and liars too. I’m not so uncharitable as that. I think greens stress the need for simplicity, whereas you, if you pardon my putting words in your mouth, would say that complexity is the way to solve our problems, the way to move forward. Not just nuclear power stations, but bigger, newer, more advanced ones.

                  1. If by “simplicity” you mean trying to limit the choices others are free to make through violence then yes, socialists stress the need for “simplicity.”

                    1. “If by “simplicity” you mean …”

                      I think you are right basically, about greens limiting choices. Socialists not so much. It was socialists, after all, who opened space up to man back in the 20th century. You don’t think they and those who followed in their footsteps made many possibilities a reality?

                      I think greens on the hand would disagree with your saying that the more choices we have, the better. Or your equating freedom with the number of choices offered. The number of choices we have is not so important. What’s important is whether the choice we make is appropriate. Sometimes circumstances call for a solution of more complexity, sometimes less. Anyone who’s not a partisan will tell you the same.

                  2. You do understand that Gen IV designs are passively safe, don’t you? How is something that literally fails safe more complex than something that requires weeks of external support to safe? Do you honestly believe that scientists and engineers go out of their way to make things any more complicated than they need to be? Here’s a hint: they’re the biggest supporters of Occam’s Razor out of everyone.

                    For someone who just got done chastising others for misrepresenting their viewpoints you sure did a bang up job on your own.

                    1. “that Gen IV designs are passively safe”

                      I’m sure they are. Too bad we can’t say the same for the rest of the world, ourselves included. Actively dangerous, you might even say.

                      “Do you honestly believe that scientists and engineers go out of their way to make things any more complicated than they need to be?”

                      No, I understand what you mean, but I mean complex in the sense of numbers of nodes and connections. A world that’s enmeshed in a global satellite system is necessarily more complex than a world without one. Regardless of the intentions of the scientists and engineers who made it possible.

                  3. mtrueman|8.22.14 @ 9:26PM|#
                    “I’m offering my opinions and other musings here.”

                    By your own admission you’re a lying hypocrite.
                    “Slimy” begins to suggest your attitude, “stupid” doesn’t begin to define your supposed intellect.

          2. mtrueman|8.22.14 @ 5:28PM|#
            …”Another name for a socialist is a progressive. That means a belief in progress,”…

            No, dolt, it’s means it’s a lie.
            My advice: Don’t post; you won’t look nearly as stupid.

            1. “My advice: Don’t post; you won’t look nearly as stupid.”

              I appreciate how you always pick up on what I write and riff off of it. Mimicry is the highest form of flattery. Notice how Notanotherskippy did the same with ‘My advice…’?

              1. A more apt comparison is shoving your dog’s nose in the “present” he just left on the floor to educate him.

                1. “A more apt comparison is shoving your dog’s nose in the “present” he just left on the floor to educate him.”

                  Either way, the tools you use are not of your own making.

                  1. mtrueman|8.22.14 @ 9:42PM|#
                    “Either way, the tools you use are not of your own making.”

                    Uh, purple adds high south three!
                    Equally “deep”!
                    What a blithering idjit.

              2. mtrueman|8.22.14 @ 8:06PM|#
                “I appreciate how you always pick up on what I write and riff off of it.”

                Good.
                Now, don’t post. You won’t look as stupid as you are that way.

            2. Hey, Sevo, I found Weapon again (Tesla fanboi). He’s lurking around The Register these days posting on every Musk story and still waiting to be asked to the prom.

              1. That twit was so well armed with talking points, I’m pretty convinced the “name” (like calling Gateway and getting “Tim”) is a paid position at either Tesla or its agency. Somewhere else I notices a New Weapon (or something similar) trolling Telsa lies.
                Pretty easy to set up a search for “Tesla” and send ’em off.
                Anyhow, is that this?: http://www.theregister.co.uk/

              2. Oh, and:

                “Tesla to offer quick electric car battery swaps”
                6/21/13, http://www.usatoday.com/story/…..s/2444923/

                I wonder if that sleazy rent-seeker is still collecting ‘rapid-recharging’ credits for his vapor-ware?

      3. It’s like you guys can’t not take terms more literally than you should. First it was global warming, and any cool day was proof it wasn’t happening. Now it’s climate change. “Climate always changes!”

        Just tell me, what term do you need to use so that you understand the specific, unprecedented globally catastrophic environmental event that’s happening right now?

        1. Helpful would be terms that didn’t reverse their meaning according to the needs of the progressive argument.

          1. Nothing has reversed its meaning. You just don’t understand the subject.

            1. Tony|8.22.14 @ 6:57PM|#
              “Nothing has reversed its meaning”

              Says a dolt who claims that nor working for someone is aggression against them.
              Nuff said.

        2. Globally catastrophic! UNPRECEDENTED! Like the extinctions of times past when humans weren’t even on Earth? UNPRECEDENTED!!!11ELEVENTY!11!!!

          1. So you’re saying human-caused global environmental catastrophe is precedented from when before humans existed?

            1. No, but he’s pointing out that even your imagined doomsday scenario isn’t unprecedented. We’re no where near the levels of the Permian and frankly there isn’t a catastrophe going on right now. All of the ludicrous claims of your Club of Rome prophets have failed. Earth is greener now and more biologically productive than it was 30 years ago. We produce more calories per global capita than ever before. As Ron has pointed out we are even doing it with less land in the developed world than before.

              Really, the only environmental disasters are those created by your hard green lunacy keeping poor people poor and forcing them to harvest local resources which are grossly less efficient than modern sources of energy. But it was never about the people of the environment; it was always just an excuse for your kind to grasp power.

              1. You’re literally just listing the two or three positive effects happening right now and completely ignoring the negative effects that vastly outnumber them and will overtake them in time.

                “An excuse for your kind to grasp power.” Beyond moronic and paranoid. If I had managed to get the entire global scientific community behind my scheme to grab power, I’d be bragging about it. Or maybe not–it’s failing pretty spectacularly, and it sure is a roundabout way of seizing power. One would think elections are easier than that sort of feat.

                1. What negative effects? Document them. Global accumulated cyclone energy is down. Droughts and floods are at average levels or below. Deaths due to natural disasters are way down. Inflation and asset value adjusted damage due to natural disasters is way down from 100 years ago. Global food production is at record levels. Global poverty is declining in spite of the efforts of all your socialist friends. Coral bleaching is down from the super El Nino of ’98. Show me the climate refugees. Show me the disaster, Tony.

                  Entire global scientific community? Really? Is that why Lewandowsky’s paper was retracted for unethical behavior? Is that why Tol demolished that silly 97% number?

                  As usual you just pull unsupported statements out of your ass.

                  1. Obama must be a really good president.

                    I’d shit myself with joy if you were right and arctic methane weren’t being released and the languishing pace of civilization to deal with this threat weren’t entirely inadequate to the task. Things that are true: I am not a psychopath, and you are a dogmatist.

                    1. “languishing pace of civilization ”
                      “I am not a psychopath”
                      Tony, some people solve problems. People like you go around Doom Shrieking.

                  2. skippy, skippy, skippy, you keep making arguments based on quality of life and lives saved, as if a progressive believes either of those are issues of concern.

                2. Tony|8.22.14 @ 9:28PM|#
                  “You’re literally just listing the two or three positive effects happening right now and completely ignoring the negative effects that vastly outnumber them and will overtake them in time.”

                  No kidding! I’m sure your crystal ball is every bit as good as Ehrlich’s, right?
                  I mean London wasn’t liveable last time I went there, just like that charlatan predicted!

        3. It’s a term called “proof”. I’m not sure you’ve heard of it.

          specific, unprecedented globally catastrophic environmental event

          The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

          Which moral books to progs read as little kids? I’d like to know.

          1. I have a word: “reading.” You have to do that before you can judge that there’s no proof. Have you done that? Like read any actual scientific sources? Or are you just a blithering idiot?

            1. Can you quote any? I can.

            2. Tony|8.22.14 @ 7:00PM|#
              “I have a word: “reading.””

              That word won’t help idjits who can’t understand.

            3. I have a word: “reading.”
              Tony. Please do some more of it. Your lack of actual scientific knowledge is astounding.

        4. I follow my leaders. My leader flies around in a jet all the time. He flew his dog to Hawaii in a jet.

          The head of the IPCC flew back to India for a single cricket match.

          When my leaders decide that they should not fly because of global warming, then I will follow their example.

        5. Just tell me, what term do you need to use so that you understand the specific, unprecedented globally catastrophic environmental event that’s happening right now?

          Proof? That’s a pretty good term. Or, shit, if you could just specify the “specific, unprecedented globally catastrophic environmental event” that would be a great start. Words mean things, you know.

          Never mind that you’re totally wrong about climate change being unprecedented or catastrophic, but focusing on carbon emissions takes attention from actual local problems. Erosion and water pollution are good starters. Your “carbon credits” do nothing to alleviate those. If you actually give a shit about ecology then look into real, local problems and stop parroting Al Gore.

    2. Agree – fear of disorder, like a free market, competition, and new ideas. Which is why they love government, if a phone is invented it need not change, it can stay the same without competition driving pesky innovation. Healthcare, diddo. Any liberal issue I can think of they desire order and sameness.

      1. “the discovery of freedom” talks about this a lot. i mean she is pleased that we live in “a whole new world”, but for the vast majority of human history we’ve been doing things the same way our ancestors have always done them. of course some people are still more comfortable with that idea

  8. I had dinner with a friend and his wife the other day, and she brought up the subject of organic foods and GMOs, asking my opinion on the subject. She seemed to value my input as an engineer, and being knowledgeable of chemicals, their production and effects. I told her that I’m not a nutritionist, but that in general I don’t have any objection to eating processed foods or GMOs. She was surprised, thinking that all technically minded people would of course be aware of the terrible consequences (which are…?)

    I didn’t want to get into a deep discussion over the subject because my friend and I disagree about it, and I didn’t want a stressful 3-way argument. My friend has largely developed his opinions by reading stuff his lefty daughter passes to him, which I find completely uninformed and unpersuasive.

    His wife works at a local university and is exposed heavily to the standard anti-GMO crap on a daily basis. Not to mention the college is located in a rural area and many of the local farmers are beginning to pick up on the whole locavore-anti-GMO wagon train.

    It gets depressing sometimes when you see so many buying into factless BS spread by the luddites and technophobes.

    1. Dinner parties are harder when you’re not on the bandwagon.

    2. Appeals to emotion are much more effective than trying to teach someone a bunch of boring stuff so they can make an informed decision.

  9. But as we shall see, it is not unreasonable to construe their results that way.

    Ron’s mantra.

    I don’t know who these bogeyenvironmentalists are who uniformly oppose biotech, nuclear, and (?) nanotechnology. All the environmentally conscious people I would break bread with are those who let the evidence take us where it will. In the absence of evidence, caution is no vice. There is a chance we turn the world into gray goo, and someone should be on the lookout. Or are we to put total blind faith in technology and markets, while at the same time criticizing this very mode of thinking?

    1. Here’s some actual evidence, Tony. Why do you deny the data?

      There’s a chance that your socialism will continue to kill more people just like it did last century. Shouldn’t someone be on the lookout against that?

    2. They are you.

  10. I smell Bjorn lomborg. It’s like being in IKEA.

    Is this the article where right-wingers start talking about AGW as a commie/Neil degrasse Tyson plot.

    I like articles from right-wingers who enjoy making arguments about how it would be better to spend one million dollars on school funding rather than one million dollars on curb-side recycling. The first question that comes to mind is to ask if this is really a libertarian project. The second would be to ask whether societal and environmental problems are interlinked. Outside Libertopia do you think that a child poisoned by heavy metals leeching from an overstuffed landfill in a community that doesn’t recycle would be easier or harder to teach the benefits of the philosophies of Ayn Rand? Do you think that Bjorn lomborg/Ron Bailey would postulate that the emergence of diseases like Ebola and Rift Valley fever are not linked to changes in climate? I bet they would.

    1. Outside Libertopia do you think that a child poisoned by heavy metals leeching from an overstuffed landfill in a community that doesn’t recycle would be easier or harder to teach the benefits of the philosophies of Ayn Rand?

      Seems like someone violated NAP. But that doesn’t fit your narrative, so carry on. You’re entertaining.

      I like articles from right-wingers who enjoy making arguments about how it would be better to spend one million dollars on school funding rather than one million dollars on curb-side recycling.

      2 problems. #1: Not a “right-winger”. #2: Neither of these proposals are market-based, and are therefore red-herrings

    2. “Do you think that Bjorn lomborg/Ron Bailey would postulate that the emergence of diseases like Ebola and Rift Valley fever are not linked to changes in climate? I bet they would.”

      Did you know that malaria was endemic to the US during the LIA? I bet they wouldn’t.

    3. american socialist|8.22.14 @ 4:41PM|#
      “I smell Bjorn lomborg. It’s like being in IKEA.”

      Fortunately your stench doesn’t come through the screen. Slimy parasites always smell like the bottom of the septic tank.

    4. Let’s play Name the Logical Fallacies!

    5. Turd.Burglar.

    6. “the emergence of diseases like Ebola and Rift Valley fever are not linked to changes in climate? I bet they would.”

      The emergence of Ebola, and Rift valley are linked to humanities ability to travel. The world is becoming a less isolated place. That has nothing do with global warming.

    7. You forgot to add we get cheques from Exxon.

  11. American Numnutz,
    Do you come here to prove you’re a tool?
    Why do people who believe in an anti-human, murderous philosophy feel so little shame?
    Can you imagine their outrage if someone on here had the name American N@.zi?

  12. You miss the whole point as to why people take part in recycling and such, Ronald.

    They do it because its the direction they HOPE their localities, then states, and then country moves toward. Period. Its like buying an electric car…no one says the technology is currently at a point that makes it a much better alternative to fossil fuels. But its a vote in the marketplace (you agree with that, I am sure Ronald) to move in a direction of better batteries that last longer (one company is currently working on a charge that would last for 1,000 miles).

    Same with recycling…its a vote in action and participation toward a society that wastes less, and reuses more. Period. We know libertarians will trot out all kinds of studies that show its not cost effective to the results, but that’s meaningless because it only looks at the short term…kind of like the way libertarians view climate science…”if its not horrible today, what, me worry?”

    Just trying to see the world a bit further out than only the nose on our own individual faces.

    1. Jackand Ace|8.23.14 @ 9:20AM|#
      …”We know libertarians will trot out all kinds of studies that show its not cost effective to the results, but that’s meaningless because it only looks at the short term…kind of like the way libertarians view climate science…”if its not horrible today, what, me worry?””…

      Is it possible for you to learn about something before you press keys and show you’re an imbecile?

    2. Libertarians see further out than you think. It’s called technology while the animists focus on measures not likely to pan out. They’re long-term visions are rooted in short-term concerns and thus will not reach desired objectives or goals.

      1. Or so you say.

        If the first place, RJ, you barely can get a commenter here to acknowledge the reality of global warming caused by man.

        Electric cars and batteries that hold a charge for hundreds of miles IS technology. Enviros are not against technology…you’re confusing them with luddites.

        In the second place, you’ve got it backwards. The concern from enviros isn’t for the short term…its for the long term. Its what we leave for future generations that enviros are concerned about.

        Are you telling me that libertarians are concerned with future generations? Please. The are concerned with profit and loss, the here and now.If you mention concern for children (this generation) on this website you get ridiculed. Its why they believe that there is a conspiracy from all of science in regard to AGW…because the whole issue is about future generations.

        1. “Are you telling me that libertarians are concerned with future generations?”

          Are you serious trying to tell me ‘future generations’ are in good hands at the moment?

          Puh-lease.

          And I’ve never heard or read libertarians explicitly argue along the lines you allege. You infer these assertions.

      2. Tell you what. Lets put it this way. Ronald himself above says:

        ” For example, the costs of curbside recycling often outweigh purported benefits,”

        Everything is dollars and cents to a libertarian. He fails to understand that to an enviro, its about the world we live in…trash that stays with us for hundreds of years, more destruction of trees needlessly, plastic in the oceans…its the world an enviro hopes to avoid. Its not about turning a profit…a concept completely lost on a libertarian. Hence the incredulous tone of the entire article.

        1. Jackand Ace|8.23.14 @ 5:50PM|#
          “Tell you what. Lets put it this way.”…

          This and the rest of it from a scumbag who claims he sold his company one day and made a killing! “Hypocrite” is certainly applicable here.
          And now we have the self-same hypocrite claiming *HE* knows better than the millions of people involved in the daily marketplace about what benefits them.
          So, I’m pretty sure hypocrite can now be combined with raging fucking egomaniac as a valid description of our lefty troll.

      3. he or she is stuck in the “old world” mentality of this being a static universe.

  13. it is the feeling that people are able to influence their environment that provides them with the notion of an orderly and navigable world

  14. my best friend’s step-mother makes $82 /hr on the computer . She has been fired for nine months but last month her pay was $13237 just working on the computer for a few hours. go to the website …

    ============ http://WWW.JOBSPUG.COM

  15. The article seems a long way around way of saying some people are control-freaks.

  16. Understanding envirofascism is fairly easy: it’s simply a form of political autism.

    Let me explain. My wife and I are raising three autistic boys. The eldest is the most profoundly affected. When he was younger, his favorite toy was a wooden “Thomas the Tank Engine” set, which, by the time it reached retirement age [we’re saving it for grandkids] was quite mammoth.

    Anyway, the first thing he would do when playing with Thomas was to carefully sort the jumble of pieces into separate piles–the long straight tracks here, the short straight tracks there, the long curves here, the short curves there…. until all was carefully sorted. THEN he would commence track design.

    He called this making a “yumberyard” (meaning lumberyard, but with his slight speech impediment). Yumberyard remains a family Kentism.

    These envirofascists are nothing more than making a yumberyard out of what they deem to be recyclables. Which (as the immortal Penn & Teller explained on their TV show ‘Bulls**t!’) produces only a very expensive segregated landfill.

    I should also note that the hysterical reaction when my then five year old autistic son was forced to make a Thomas track setup without yumberyard was very similar to an Envirofascist being told, to his face, that recycling is, um, “Bulls**t!”.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.