If the road to hell is said to be paved with good intentions, the same must be said of the path to fixing the supposed climate crisis. Numerous reports have revealed hidden drawbacks of the environmental policies promoted by governments and activist groups around the world.
Some initiatives, such as wind farms, harm both the planet – increasing the earth's temperature, in the case of windmills – and its fauna – whales and dolphins. Others cause health problems: a recent study by Belgian scientists revealed that 90% of paper straws contain chemical compounds that do not decompose.
The most common substance, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), is widely banned or restricted around the globe, including in Europe and the United States. Cancer, damage to liver tissue and changes in cholesterol levels are some of the effects that PFOA can have on the human body, according to the EPA.
But that's not all: in addition to being harmful to humans' health, research ensures that they are harmful to the environment that they are intended to protect. "These ‘eco-friendly’ plant-based straws are not necessarily a more sustainable alternative to plastic straws, because they can be considered as an additional source of PFAS exposure in humans and the environment (e.g. after degradation in landfills or through incomplete incineration)," it says.
"Products that can't be made safe (for citizen's health) can be banned," said the commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. He was not referring, however, to paper straws. This was in reference to gas stoves.
The commissioner appointed by Joe Biden spoke in favor of banning gas stoves, saying they were a hidden threat because they emitted "harmful pollutants." The Department of Energy then issued a rule increasing energy efficiency standards for gas stoves. Ahead of other potential attempts, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill to block a ban on gas stoves with votes from both parties.
The bill to protect gas stoves must still pass the Senate. Regarding paper straws, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has yet to respond to the Belgian study.
Lithium batteries: fires and explosions
Are electric skateboards and bicycles safe? "Right now, if you have one of these in your home, you don't know," explained New York City Fire Department Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. "And that's pretty scary."
At the same forum on lithium-ion battery safety where Kavanagh warned about the risks of electric vehicles, Rep. Ritchie Torres shared data on incidents in New York. It shows a clear and accelerated increase: more than 30 fires in 2019, more than 40 in 2020, more than 100 in 2021, more than 200 in 2022.
The FDNY is encouraging New Yorkers w/ lithium-ion powered mobility devices to follow practices to prevent fires and keep you safe. Do not leave batteries charging unattended or overnight when you’re sleeping. Do not use power or extension cords to charge. https://t.co/FJM6TLqOnk pic.twitter.com/EQqjvxItds
— FDNY (@FDNY) June 20, 2023
"It is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of fire deaths this year," Kavanagh said in March. Up to that point, 60 people had been injured in 76 fires in 2023. Six others had died.
New York is not the only place where these batteries catch fire, but it is one of the few that keeps record.
Since 2019, fire departments in San Francisco and New York responded to 669 fires caused by rechargeable batteries, according to CBS News. The toll: at least 20 dead and more than 200 injured.
These batteries can cause fires and even explosions if they are damaged or unstable, stored improperly, over-charged or improperly disposed of, among others reasons. These fires spread quickly and are difficult to extinguish. Fire extinguishers are not effective, and water hardly works. While the problem is serious for bicycles and skateboards, it is even more so in the case of electric cars: the battery of an electric car could, as proven in accidents, reach a temperature of 1832 F.
You’d never see something like this happen at a gas station. Are you ready for the EV revolution? pic.twitter.com/e5OhWI6Zv8
— Catch Up (@CatchUpFeed) August 24, 2022
No climate emergency
More than two-thirds of Americans suffer from "climate anxiety" — that is: distress over the supposed harmful effects of climate change. This was found in a study by the American Psychological Association. Concern about climate change is increasing among the youth: 84% of children and young people 25 years old or younger say they are moderately troubled, while 59% are very worried, per a study cited by Dr. Stephanie Collier in Harvard Health Publishing.
For this, the media is largely to blame, as sensationalist messages have been broadcast for years, even in many cases without any proof of the supposed apocalypse. Some scientists have tried to curb this psychosis: "There is no climate emergency," read a statement recently signed by more than 1,600 personalities from the scientific world, including Nobel Prize winners John F. Clauser and Ivar Giaver.
The statement, supported by the Global Climate Intelligence Group (CLINTEL), does not pretend to divulge against the harmful effects of polluting emissions, but it does speak of an exaggeration of some assumptions that take advantage of uncertainty.
According to the scientists, those who promote environmental measures often hide or at least avoid mentioning their drawbacks. There is, they say, a "gap" between the real world and the situation that environmental policies present to the public.
If the diagnosis is wrong, so are the solutions: "We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO policy proposed for 2050." Net-zero CO2 was one of the goals set out in the Paris Climate Accords, which the United States recommitted to under Biden after Donald Trump withdrew the country from the agreement.
Science should strive for a significantly better understanding of the climate system, while politics should focus on minimizing potential climate damage by prioritizing adaptation strategies based on proven and affordable technologies.
"There is no climate emergency. Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm. We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050." Signed by 1,500 scientists:https://t.co/t7knwqOOgY
— Robin Monotti (@robinmonotti) July 15, 2023
In spite of everything, radical environmentalists seem to have no limits for their demands. One measure that has gained ground, at least in certain environmental circles, to reduce polluting emissions on the planet is to return to the quarantines mandated by governments during the pandemic, whose effectiveness were dubious at best.
Past experience, however, teaches that this measure produces irrevocable mental and physical damage, especially for young adults and children. A UNICEF report ensured that the lockdowns due to COVID-19 increased stress, anxiety and depression in these two groups. Alcohol consumption and substance abuse also increased.
All this comes in the midst of a possible declaration of climate emergency by the Biden administration, a move experts warn could undermine American democracy.