Three Types of Political Extremists

Here’s a possible classification of extremists:

1. True Believers — People whose extremism arises from a sincere belief in the extreme ideology being promoted.

2. Needle-Pushers — Cynical practicers of realpolitik who adopt the extreme position hoping to counteract extremists on the opposing side and “move the needle” toward their own position, getting partisans in power or policies enacted that are more desirable from their point of view.

3. Knee-Jerkers — Followers who are led to back an extremist position because that position’s arguments speak to their own prejudices or harmonizes with their cultural background.

AB — 2 December 2011

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The Virtue of Small-House Living

Small house interiorOver at ThomasNet Green & Clean recently, I wrote a pair of articles about small houses, with a mix of interesting photos, statistics on home sizes, and quotes from Henry David Thoreau. Here are links to the articles:

Living in Small and Tiny Houses – Thoreau Would Be Proud

Want to Build Green? Start by Thinking Small.

(Photo: Tiny house interior. Credit: RowdyKittensCC BY 2.0.)

AB — 14 Oct. 2011

Infographic Shows US Solar Industry’s $1.9B Net Export Surplus

I thought this was an interesting and useful infographic highlighting the growing U.S. solar manufacturing business. Right now, it shows a $5.6 billion industry that imports $3.75 billion, for a $1.9 billion trade surplus.

I wrote something about the growth of the solar industry recently for ThomasNet Green & Clean — see “How Will U.S. Army Energy Initiatives Affect Expansion of Solar Energy?

Infographic shows US solar industry trade surplus

AB — 15 September 2011

 

Programs for Recycling Food Scraps Gaining Traction

Recently at ThomasNet Green & Clean, I wrote about programs that are starting up around North America to recycle food scraps from homes, institutions, and businesses — see “Not Your Grandma’s Compost Pile – Increasing Efforts to Recycle Food Scraps.

This movement could have a significant impact on the waste stream, as I discovered from EPA data:

Government has begun to recognize that much of its waste stream is material that could be disposed of beneficially rather than simply being sequestered in a landfill emitting methane. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) … estimates that food scraps make up 14.1 percent of solid waste generated in the U.S., 34 million tons of food waste total. However, only 2.5 percent of that volume gets recovered.

AB — 28 August 2011

National Wildlife Federation’s 140,000 Backyard Habitats

On ThomasNet Green & Clean last week, I wrote about the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat Program (see “Bunnies, Bluebirds, and Butterflies – A Wildlife Habitat in Your Backyard?“), which has registered 140,000 wildlife habitats in backyards, schools, parks, businesses, and government properties since 1973.

I learned about the program by serendipity — driving through a neighborhood here in Raleigh, I noticed the NWF sign in someone’s yard, and decided to investigate the program with the idea of writing an article about it.

Landscaper John Magee told me he thinks the program is helping to restore some of the original forest that has been lost through development:

Even as habitat becomes more and more disrupted by development, we’re creating more and more little islands of habitat. Wildlife can move and migrate from one to another of them. Areas that used to be forest are now subdivisions, but as we create more islands it makes things easier for wildlife. We can reconnect things more back the way they probably should be.

AB — 14 August 2011

Why Climate Change Is Controversial — or Is It?

My article at ThomasNet last week generated some controversy — see “All This Wrangling Over Climate Change – What’s Up With That?” Commenters on multiple ideological sides of the debate chimed in with comments — passionate but civil, for the most part.

Some readers were frustrated with me because I took a more or less neutral stance. Not that I have no opinions about climate change. It’s just that my purpose in this case is to try to shed some light on the controversy as a controversy. Here is a key excerpt:

Grappling on the global-warming battlefield are two parties in a high-stakes political conflict: On the extreme ends of the global warming controversy, believers accuse skeptics of pushing “free-market fundamentalism”; skeptics accuse believers of pushing “eco-socialism.”

According to one narrative, market fundamentalists and corporate interests are funding an intentionally-deceptive propaganda campaign against the concept of human-caused global warming to keep business free from regulatory interference…

According to the opposing narrative, communism has reformulated itself as a leftist environmental movement bent on establishing a world government and destroying free-market capitalism.

This is my second article in a series on climate change. The previous one examined research into public perceptions of the issue — see “Does the Public Really Believe Humans Are Causing Climate Change?

AB — 9 August 2011

Green Malls, SUVs, and Mansions? What’s Up With That?

Tracey Schelmetic at ThomasNet Green & Clean today throws some much-needed cold water in the face of affluent consumers who think they are helping the environment by driving a hybrid SUV or building a 5,000-square-foot “green” house:

The Ford Escape Hybrid, considered the most fuel efficient hybrid SUV on the market, gets about 32 mpg combined. This is about the same as a Toyota Yaris with a traditional engine, and far below the efficiency of a Honda Civic Hybrid, which gets 42 mpg combined.

She also takes a swipe at Whole Foods, along with some comments that will please Trader Joe’s fans:

Sitting in opposition to Whole Foods is more environmentally minded chain Trader Joe’s, a company preferred by many eco-minded shoppers. Keeping an eye on the most important factor in a green business – building size – Trader Joe’s operates out of far smaller buildings. Stores tend to average between 8,000 and 12,000 square feet, compared to Whole Foods average store size of 50,000 to 80,000 square feet. Trader Joe’s also pledged to eliminate all GM foods from its shelves in 2001, and by next year will sell no seafood products that are not sustainably sourced.

AB — 2 August 2011