Fibs, Faux Pas, and Science According to the Beatles

In Activism, Current News, Environmental, Ethanol, General, Legislation by Mark

Is it too much to ask for some integrityand just plain honesty in the world? Growing up I probably came across as totally naïve to many of those around me because I believed authority figures like government officials and scientists and most any adult in my life. And you could have convinced me my parents carried the second tablet down the mountain for Moses. The reason was simple…I had no reason not to.

Today, I share trust and dole out faith in the smallest of measures because we seem to be surrounded by fibs, manufactured “facts,” bogus science, and politicians and businessmen that would have been whacked back to the stone age with a ruler by Sister Mary Margaret in third grade.

A quick look at the news this week easily surfaced examples of this kind of fast and loose use of incorrect information, handy subterfuge, and dare I say it…lies.

The first is news from the London Telegraph which notes the venerable United Nations has admitted a report linking livestock to global warming exaggerated the impact of eating meat on climate change or global warming.

The 2006 study, Livestock’s Long Shadow, claimed meat production was responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions – more than transportation.

“Its conclusions were heralded by campaigners urging consumers to eat less meat to save the planet. Among those calling for a reduction in global meat consumption is Sir Paul McCartney.”

Now Sir Paul doesn’t strike me as the scientist type so perhaps that should have been a clue. If Dr. Ringo had made the claim that would have been different. The point is for three years many people have been assured eating meat would leading to global Armageddon brought on by nothing less than cow flatulence. Oh, the indignity.

All the time the truth is that “meat and milk production generates less greenhouse gas than most environmentalists claim and that the emissions figures were calculated differently to the transport figures, resulting in an “apples-and-oranges analogy that truly confused the issue.”

If your jaded self is still with me it’s on to example 2. While we have been blissfully driving about in our trucks and SUVs it seems the oil magnates of the world have been manipulating oil supply numbers for financial gain and to curry political favor. (Insert sound effects of heavy and shocked intake of breath here).

Researchers from Oxford University say both world and U.S. energy agencies have not been taking the concept of “peak oil” – where demand outstrips production – seriously enough and we could be within years of oil shortages and the ridiculous gasoline prices that will arrive in tandem.

 The scientist and researchers from Oxford University argue official figures are inflated because member countries of the oil cartel, OPEC, over-reported reserves in the 1980s when competing for global market share.

Their new research argues that estimates of conventional reserves should be downgraded from 1,150bn to 1,350bn barrels to between 850bn and 900bn barrels and claims that demand may outstrip supply as early as 2014.

Anyone need another reason to support policies that will help expand biofuels production? If you support a strong and growing ethanol industry write to your elected officials and ask them to support extension of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) which provides incentives to ethanol blenders. VEETC is set to expire at the end of 2010 but if extended would contribute to energy independence, create jobs and allow for a stronger agriculture sector.