A couple of articles in my local (German) paper this morning highlighted a couple of contradictions in the Green/Ecologist arguments. The local Greens wanting to set aside more forest, agricultural and hill/mountain land to erect more wind turbines to counter what they label as "Klimavergiftigung" - poisoning of the climate. It is claimed by these folk that this is necerssary to enbale the shutting down of more 'fossil fuel' power generators. So far, so good - except that more turbines doesn't result in shutting down any other power stations as we have to keep them 'spooling' for when the wind doesn't blow.
Leaving aside the damage these turbines do to wildlife, for the moment, erecting one anywhere on land requires the clearing of ground and trees on at least a quarter acre (roughly 1,000 square metres), a very large and deep excavation, the sinking of deep piles and then a vast amount of concrete to create the base for this thing. The machinery mounted at the top of the tall mast generates vibrations which are then transmitted into the ground, so these drive away small wildlife and even some of the larger animals won't go near them. Engineers will also tell you that if you stick something vibrating into the ground with a lot of water in it, you get something called 'liquifaction' - and that eventually will cause the foundations to move, tilt or collapse. Oh, and my figure here is for the 'normal' turbines. The Greens now want to plant bigger ones.
So they want to clear forests and grass to create a new forest of vibrating and turbulence causing machines to 'stop the climate poisoning.' Enter the ecologist side of the Green movement and we want a return to 'natural' crops, 'natural' fertilisers and 'better land management' - one of those ephemeral terms that means anything you want it to. It sounds good as a 'sound byte' and can be picked up and repeated ad nauseum by town and city dwelling foot soldiers of the movement with little or no knowledge of the realities of agriculture or the production of food.
The problem is that a return to an entirely 'natural' form of food production would not feed the population we currently have. For another it is much less efficient in land use and more labour intensive - so prices would rise steeply. But now we enter the realms of ideological fantasy - since the answer when this is raised is always that "The Government" must subsidise "ecologically sound" food production to keep costs down ...
However, there is hope for the terminally 'Green' as the article set out. The 'nuclear family' model of 2.4 children is no longer valid. Falling births and the failure of many western men and woman to have any children, the artificial 'selection' of male only children in many populous eastern countries and high infant mortality rates in others mean the current model is close to the 2.1 mark set by population experts as the "replacement" threshold for the population. If it falls below this level the human population will start to decline - and some countries are already dipping below it. Germany is one, and China is fast approaching it while parts of the US, Britain and Canada are also below the 'replacement' level.
For the moment it isn't being noticed since the immigration rates to these countries is holding up the population numbers. It is worrying the politicians for all manner of reasons, not least that all economists work on the presumption that consumption will increase. For consumption to continue to increase, and thus an economy to grow, you need more people and they need to have more 'disposable' income. With the population levels approaching the point of decline, it figures that only by increasing each individual's consumption can the economic 'activity' be sustained at present levels. Growth therefore must come from something else, but here lies the contradiction.
To meet the 'Green' demands for 'natural' and 'sustainable' sources for food and energy, we need to subsidise everything. That means higher taxes and greater burdens on those in work, so there is less money for things like 'benefits', health care, pensions, housing, education, the arts - and as taxes rise, less in the individual's pocket to spend on 'consumption' and 'grow' the economies ...
At present it begins to look as if the Greens will get their desire for a greener less populated planet - but it may come at an economic price no one can afford.
As Fagan says - "I t'ink I better t'ink it out again!"
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