Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Happy Earth Day

Last month, we had Earth Hour:
WWF's Earth Hour | Saturday 28 March

Although not everyone thought it was a good idea:
Earth Hour and How the West Plays at Poverty : Anything Peaceful : Foundation for Economic Education
Futures Forum: "Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century."

Today was Earth Day:
Earth Day Network | Earth Day 2015
Bet you don’t know who came up with Earth Day | Toronto Star

Google has a quiz on the Day:
earth day quiz - Google Search

As does the Guardian
Earth Day quiz: tried the Google Doodle version? Now try the Guardian's | Environment | theguardian.com

... which has brought attention to its 'keep it in the ground' campaign:
Earth day: leading scientists say 75% of known fossil fuels must stay underground | Environment | The Guardian
Futures Forum: Climate change: keep it in the ground

This is today's Independent's take on the issue:

Earth Day: Our planet's most beautiful landscapes – after we made them ugly

There is a constant and growing tension between the needs of the environment and the economy - with tourism a large factor in how landscapes have changed in the past century

BRYONY CLARKE  Wednesday 22 April 2015

Celebrating its 45 anniversary today, Earth Day is the largest worldwide campaign to honour the planet and commit to its protection and preservation.

A cursory glance of some of the most stunning landscapes across the world and how they have changed over the years reveals the vulnerability of the environment to human activity.

No landscape can be expected to remain a museum that fossilises a bygone age – any environment where people live and work is inevitably subject to transformation. However some man-made changes have been more discreet than others.

Comparisons of “then” and “now” photographs of the Cotswolds show how rich undulating hills have been encroached by surfaced roads, airfields, and industrial farm buildings in the last century. Cotswolds villages, once rural idylls, have expanded and become sub-urbanised.

The Scottish Highlands, one of the great glories of Britain’s scenic heritage, are being irreversibly altered, from insensitivegolf course developments to expansive wind turbine construction. The locals of Caithness on Scotland’s north-west tip have recently seen their remote and rugged landscape acquire 21 wind turbines, each 110 metres high, at Baillie Farm; while in the Aberdeenshire village of Balmedie, tranquillity has been somewhat punctured by the development of Donald Trump’s £100m golf course: the Trump International Golf Links. It has been welcomed as a valuable investment providing essential employment, but shows how vulnerable the natural environment can be in the face of economic needs.

Whitelee Wind Farm with the Isle of Arran in the background, Scotland. Whitelee is the largest on-shore wind farm in the United Kingdom.Further afield, landscapes are increasingly becoming a political issue at European level, capturing the interest of developers, environmentalists and government bodies alike.

Over the last century, the dramatic scenery of the Alpine peaks has been intruded into by the expansion of nearby cities such as Lyon, Milan and Turin. The new infrastructures demanded by the tourism industry have left some areas unrecognisable. Since ski lifts became de rigueur after the Second World War, 10,000 transport facilities serve more than 3,400 km² of ski areas in the Alps, enjoyed by upwards of 120 million tourists every year. The impact on the landscape has been dramatic.

A ski lift in Val d'Isere, French AlpsTourism can destroy the very value of a location, especially when tourists’ needs are prioritised over environmental protection. It is especially difficult for developing countries to stem the tide of visitors and limit their impact on the environment. The once untouched My Khe beach near Hoi An in central Vietnam is now awash with luxury holiday resorts, with more under construction. My Khe was dubbed “China Beach” by Americans during the war, referring to the 30km sweep of beautiful white sand that lay between Monkey Mountain and Hoi An. Today, the beach has been encroached from the north by the city of Danang, and from the south, Hoi An. What remained has since been divided up by giant hotel companies.

A resort-hotel is under construction on China Beach, 2009The panoramic Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, with its stunningly beautiful array of limestone karsts and islands, attracts over six million visitors every year. But mangroves and seagrass beds have been cleared out to make room for tourist boats and the towering limestone caves that characterise the location have been damaged by the impact.

Ha Long Bay in VietnamThe Giza Necropolis, another UNESCO World Heritage site, has also developed beyond recognition in the last one hundred years. Built overlooking the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, the three pyramids now dominate the skyline on the outskirts of modern-day Cairo. Since the British occupation of Egypt in the early 20 century focused on the construction of roads, streets and buildings in Giza, the renowned archaeological site is now surrounded by new development.

Even protected landscapes, safeguarded from urban development, cannot escape the impact of climate change. In the US, Glacier National Park illustrates how the warmer weather has adversely altered the landscape in less than a century: when the park was established in 1910, it boasted a spectacular collection of 150 glaciers. Today it has only 25, and that number is dwindling.

Repeat photography of the glaciers, such as the pictures taken of Grinnell Glacier between 1938 and 2009 as shown, help to provide visual confirmation of the extent of glacier retreatIn California, Yosemite National Park is experiencing its lowest levels of snow in the park’s history. The park’s most famous waterfall, Yosemite Falls, is projected to dry up in June, two months earlier than usual, and a bad fire season is expected in the summer.

These changes to our most celebrated landscapes make the Earth Day campaign all the more critical, and its mission to protect natural land and preserve the environment remains a constant challenge.

Earth Day: Our planet's most beautiful landscapes – after we made them ugly - Travel - The Independent

But not everyone agrees...

This video comes from the comments page of the Independent piece:

Published on Apr 20, 2015

Every year on Earth Day we learn how bad humanity's economic development is for the health of the planet. But maybe this is the wrong message. Maybe we should instead reflect on how human progress, even use of fossil fuels, has made our environment cleaner and healthier. Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress explains.

Why You Should Love Fossil Fuel - YouTube

And to finish, this is from today's Fox News, courtesy of the Heritage Foundation:

Happy Earth Day 2015: The Earth is doing just fine, thank you

By Stephen Moore Published April 22, 2015

April 22, 2015: Black winged stilts fly around Freedom Island where environmental activists are conducting coastal clean-up to mark World Earth Day at suburban Las Pinas, south of Manila, Philippines. The Freedom Island, which is home to about 80 species of local and migratory birds, is the receptacle of wastes, mostly plastics, that were washed ashore especially during rainy season. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Wednesday, April 22 is Earth Day. To hear the experts like Usher and Al Gore tell the story, the planet is in a miserable state. We're running out of our natural resources, we're overpopulating the globe and running out of room, the air that we breathe is becoming toxic, the oceans are rising and soon major coastal cities will be underwater, and the Earth is, of course, heating up, except when it is cooling down.

This is perhaps the single greatest misinformation campaign in world history. Virtually none of these claims are even close to the truth -- except for the fact that our climate is always changing as it has for hundreds of thousands of years.

Earth Day should be a day of joy and celebration that life on this bountiful planet is better than anytime in human history.

Since the first Earth Day back in the 1970s, the environmentalists -- those who worship the creation rather than the Creator have issued one false prediction of Armageddon after another and yet despite the fact that their batting average is zero, the media and our schools keep parroting their declinism as if they were oracles not shysters.

Here are the factual realities we should be celebrating on Earth Day.

1. Natural resources are more abundant and affordable today than ever before in history. ‎Short term (sometimes decades-long) the price of most natural resources -- from cocoa to cotton to coal -- is cheaper today in real terms than 50, 100, or 500 years ago. This has happened even as the world's population has nearly tripled. Technology has far outpaced depletion of the earth's resources.

2. Energy -- the master resource -- is super-abundant. Remember when people like Stanford biologist Paul R. Ehrlich warned nearly 50 years ago (and Barack Obama just three years ago) that we were running out of oil and gas? Today, thanks to fracking ushering in a new age of oil and gas, the United States has hundreds of years of petroleum at its disposal and at least an estimated 290 years of coal. Keep in mind, this may be a low-ball estimate; since 2000, the Energy Information Administration's estimates of recoverable reserves have actually increased by more than 7 percent.

We're not running out of energy, we are running into it.

3. Our air and water are cleaner. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged. Lead pollution plunged by more than 90 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent, with ozone and nitrogen dioxide declining as well. This means that emissions per capita have declined even as the economy in terms of real GDP nearly tripled. By nearly every standard measure, it is much, much, much cleaner today in the United States than 50 or even 100 years ago. The air is so clean now that the EPA worries about carbon dioxide -- which isn't even a pollutant. ‎(And, by the way, carbon emissions are falling too, thanks to fracking.). One hundred years ago, about one in four deaths in the U.S. was due to contaminants in drinking water. But from 1971-2002, fewer than 3 people per year in the U.S. were documented to have died from water contamination.

4. There is no Malthusian nightmare of overpopulation. Birth rates have fallen by about one-half around the world over the last 50 years. ‎ Developed countries are having too few kids, not too many. Even with a population of 7.3 billion people, average incomes, especially in poor countries, have surged over the last forty years. The number of people in abject poverty fell by almost one billion from 1981 to 2011, even as global population increased by more than 1.5 billion.

5. Global per capita food production is 40 percent higher today than as recently as 1950. In most nations the nutrition problem today is obesity -- too many calories consumed -- not hunger. The number of famines and related deaths over the last 100 years has fallen in half. More than 12 million lives on average were lost each decade from the 1920s-1960s to famine. Since then, fewer than 4 million lives on average per decade were lost. Tragically, these famines are often caused by political corruption -- not nature. Furthermore, the price of food has fallen steadily in the U.S. And most nations steadily for 200 years.

6. The rate of death and physical destruction from natural disasters or severe weather changes has plummeted over the last 50 to 100 years. Loss of life from hurricanes, floods, hurricanes, heat, droughts, and so on is at or near record lows. This is because we have much better advance warning systems, our infrastructure is much more durable, and we have inventions like air conditioning, to adapt to weather changes. ‎We are constantly discovering new ways to harness and even tame nature.

Earth Day should be a day of joy and celebration that life on this bountiful planet is better than anytime in human history.

The state of the planet has never been in such fine shape by almost every objective measure. The Chicken Littles are as wrong today as they were 50 years ago. This is very good news for those who believe that one of our primary missions as human beings is to make life better over time and to leave our planet better off for future generations.

Happy Earth Day.

Stephen Moore is a Fox News contributor. Moore is the Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Project for Economic Growth, at The Heritage Foundation. Prior to joining Heritage he wrote on the economy and public policy for The Wall Street Journal.

Happy Earth Day 2015: The Earth is doing just fine, thank you | Fox News

See also: Futures Forum: Climate change sceptics 'are losing their grip'

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