Posted by: bkivey | 20 April 2011

Cannabis and CO2

Based on  an article published in the local paper 14 April titled “Pot Growing is Anything But Green”, it looks like the ‘green’ movement has jumped the shark, but on closer inspection there might be some valid points. The article concerns a study by energy analyst Evan Mills on the energy costs and carbon footprint associated with indoor marijuana grows. The study is actually fairly interesting, although it’s confined to the California market. As one of sixteen states that allow medical marijuana, Dr. Mills states that the Oregon energy costs associated with dope production are probably similar to California’s. The reports estimates that a typical ‘joint’ represents two pounds of CO2 emissions.

Is nothing sacred to the greenie meenies? Some dude or dudette wants to kick back with a J at the end of the day and now they have to worry about harming the planet and contributing to climate change? It’s enough to harsh a buzz. Dr. Mills suggests that moving pot production outdoors would greatly reduce CO2 emissions and allow marijuana production to become more ‘sustainable’. But like many ‘green’ ideas, this suggestion ignores economic realities. Even in areas where limited grows are legal, many growers prefer indoor facilities because quality control is easier and indoor-grown bud is generally of much higher quality than free-range bud, so much so, it threatens to put some growers out of business. And if you’re not running a legal operation, keeping it indoors takes it away from the prying eyes of law enforcement as well as pot poachers.

Dr. Mills suggests that marijuana consumers start demanding ‘sustainably grown’ dope in the same way consumers now look for organically grown produce. I must admit that I had not previously considered marijuana production as a market for energy mitigation, but I see there might be some opportunities here. Identifying potential clients might be a bit difficult. Going into a medical marijuana dispensary and asking if they could put me in touch with suppliers is not likely to yield positive results and could be unhealthy. Still, it’s a big enough market that it merits some consideration. Maybe I could hand out buttons like this:

Livin’ Like a Refugee

In story picked up by many this week, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) 2005 prediction that there would be upwards of 50 million ‘climate refugees’ by 2010 failed to materialize. This number was based on a 2005 report by Oxford professor Norman Meyers in which he claims that the 1995 number of 25 million environmental refugees “. . . could well double between 1995 and 2010.” The UNEP ran with this and devoted a webpage to the claim and helpfully put up a global map purporting to show where the coming flood of climate refugees would come from.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the future. Places like the Bahamas, St. Lucia, and the Solomon Islands were expected to lose population due to rising sea levels, and in fact, have increased in population. The evidence doesn’t quite fit the narrative, so the UNEP has removed the map and the claim from the webpage, and tried to distance itself from the claim. The claim is the map was removed because it was “. . . causing confusion.” Like the confusion caused by claiming something for six years and then finding out your pet theory was wrong? Now the claim is that there will be 50 million climate refugees by . . . 2020.  Anybody care to bet on that happening?

I don’t mind people indulging in their little fantasies, but when those delusions start affecting my life and costing me money, I care quite a bit. If I made professional predictions that turned out to off by an order of magnitude, or failed to materialize at all, people would quickly, and rightly, come to the conclusion that I was incompetent. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that those making extraordinary claims present verifiable evidence of their veracity.


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