Greenpeace co-founder praises global warming

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from a Honolulu newspaper


By Sean Hao

Advertiser Staff Writer

Genetically engineered sugarcane grows in a culture at the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center in 'Aiea. Hawai'i is one of the top U.S. sites for genetically modified crop research, attracting much debate.

Global warming and nuclear energy are good and the way to save forests is to use more wood.

That was the message delivered to a biotechnology industry gathering yesterday in Waikiki. However, it wasn't the message that was unconventional, but the messenger â?? Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore. Moore said he broke with Greenpeace in the 1980s over the rise of what he called "environmental extremism," or stands by environmental groups against issues such as genetic crop research, genetically modified foods and nuclear energy that aren't supported by science or logic.

Hawai'i, which is one of the top locations nationwide for genetically modified crop research, has become a focal point in the debate about the risks and value of such work. Friction between environmentalists and other concerned groups and the biotech industry surfaced most recently in relation to the use of local crops to grow industrial and pharmaceutical compounds. Last year that opposition halted a Big Island project planning to use algae for trial production of pharmaceutical drugs.

Zero-tolerance standards against such research by environmental groups delay developments that could help those with unmet basic needs, Moore said. Instead Moore called for compromise rather than confrontation on the part of the environmentalists.

"There's no getting away from the fact that over 6 billion people wake up each day on this planet with real needs for food, energy and materials," he told those attending a luncheon at a three-day Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy.

The event was sponsored by the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Sponsors included Dupont, Carghill and the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which spent $15,000 to support the conference.

In direct opposition to common environmentalist positions, Moore contended that global warming and the melting of glaciers is positive because it creates more arable land and the use of forest products drives up demand for wood and spurs the planting of more trees. He added that any realistic plan to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and the emission of so-called greenhouse gases should include increased use of nuclear energy.

Among the 300 or so members in the audience yesterday was Henry Curtis, executive director for environmental group Life of the Land. Curtis said he found Moore's comments "interesting."

"He's obviously thought about things," Curtis said. "But I don't buy a lot of his arguments.

"I think the movement dealing with (genetically modified organisms) is very wide. You can't just say everybody that's against it is against it for this reason and they're totally against it.

"Part of what we're doing in the environmental movement is safeguarding the downsides," Curtis added. "We don't want to see a downside that we don't anticipate overwhelming the system."

Stump - he says to start and argument where there really wasn't one,

I presume your reason for posting this article is the resonating last statement

"Part of what we're doing in the environmental movement is safeguarding the downsides," Curtis added. "We don't want to see a downside that we don't anticipate overwhelming the system."

It sure makes the environmentalists sound reasonable and firmly in the right. And I believe that for the most part many environmentalists are reasonable. There will always be the fringe types that want us wearing hemp sacks and conversing in esperanto whilst tending our soybean crop with spade and hoe ignoring the freaks. Protecting the downside risks sounds fine....until your rephrase it as so many environmentalists do to

Ensuring XXX causes no harm. Where XXX is the issue of the day GMO/DDT etc....The problem with the 'causes no harm' argument is that it is an argument that can never be satisfied. The argument allows the ability to always ask for more proof of safeness of whatever it is. Therein lies the problem science can never provide absolute proof and in many cases can't even provide substantial proof of safety due to the inherent risks in life regardless of scientific meddling. Science may indicate relative safety or acceptable levels of risk but it will never ensure that harm will not come from something. We as a society have to come to terms with that and start setting guidelines for those acceptable levels of risk in a public forum - not just in some back room in the FDA or the Canadian equivalent.

I posted it becuz Patrick Moore ticks me off.

I posted it becuz I think it's interesting the GMO research is taking place in Hawai'i. Why is that we might ask ourselves?

<poke>Patty pisses you off because he has a brain and thinks research should be unbiased and free from preconceived notions?</poke>

Why GMO research on Hawaii : Multiple choice - choose the best answer by marking your paper and completely covering the answer of your choice.

A) Military bases on Hawaii are breeding the next super soldier made from sugar cane, blue algae and genes from Don Ho.

B) Constant surf cheaper to use than massive centrifuges for splitting and encoding DNA.

C) If you were a researcher would you want to work anywhere else?

D) Its the perfect testing ground - some of the most fertile soil in the world, on an island thousands of miles from anywhere making even the most freakish of disasters limited in scope.

If I wanted to pass the test I'd pick D - and think to myself thats pretty damn smart - if in the event of disaster limit the scope of event he most remote of dangers. It is not, as I think you are inferring, just because the research is inherently dangerous or the results have even a remote chance of going awry and destroying the planet, but because they are following good research protocols. Would you rather they not do the research as safely as possible?

On Patty - I had to laugh at the more arable land aspect of the article you posted....way to look at the bright side of things. It makes me think of the python skit where all the guys on the crosses start singing.....singing.....singing....ahhh don't have time for that bit. But it is also kind of a metaphorically similar situation - sitting on the cross about to die and looking for the best in it (at least the pain will end vs. at least we'll get more arable land).

Patty pisses me off because he was very idealistic, and then he sold out to the very people he had been fighting. One wonder$ why he would do $uch a thing.

As to Hawai'i, it's almost definitely D, and I find that disconcerting and worrisome that we're trying to play god instead of being better humans and sharing the wealth a little more equitably. Technology isn't always the answer.

"....He added that any realistic plan to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and the emission of so-called greenhouse gases should include increased use of nuclear energy."

Increased of use of nuke energy - we are running out of uranium almost as fast as we are running out of oil. All of it is gone in 50 years. Maybe he's referring to the "Mr. Fusion" appliance strapped to the De Lorean in Back To The Future II

Oh and the remark about the world's starving masses as he's sitting down to a luncheon paid for (as is probably his opinion) by mega agri-business is also laughable.

always look on the briiiight siiide of liife....!

Two issues - and this is really just spiralling into the GMO debate again - but I will go on anyway

1. Playing god - it's what we, as humans, always want to do - we are constantly modifying the natural world to suit our needs - If you want it to stop then you'd better convince some 6Billion people to drink the kool-aid. GMing is just the latest incarnation and will be surpassed by some greater method sometime - likely sooner than later.

2. Technology may not always be the answer but that doesn't mean we should stop working toward improvements and advances WHILE also developing the other possible responses (in this case removing farming subsidies, instituting regulations on pesticide, herbicides and other chemicals in the agri process - allowing free(er) flow of technology to third world countries to improve their crop yields - working harder to control population growth in the developing world etc....) In the meantime keep working on tech solutions just in case these other solutions don't pan out.

Just a reminder this agribusiness stuff is a part of what is allowing for the densificaiton of urban areas of which you seem to be a major proponent.

I think we should just turn parking lots into community gardens, or at least make current parking lots be roofed with gardens on top. That would be a part of my urban densification process, and if we could 'grow our own' whenever, wherever possible, there might be less need for agribusiness and factory farming. But, there goes the idealist advocating personal responsibility again :-).

Grow your own - ok fine if you don't have a job, or life or any other interests - do you know how much effort goes into a home garden of sufficient size to feed you throughout a year. I lived on a farm in my youth - we had a garden the size (or larger) of most Vancouver lots. Even then we had to buy staple foods in the winter. And the garden maintenance, planting, harvesting, cleaning, freezing, canning and storing took an immense amount of time. Yes it can be done but at the sacrifice of making virtually no other contribution to society other than the raising of a few extra pigs/chickens for slaughter.

Also, Do you know how much land that would require say to feed 1Million+ Vancouverites? Even if every rooftop or even every spot of land in vancouver had food growing on it, it likely could't feed the local population....especially true if you didn't use pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals - then there's the irrigation issues and finally the fact that many fruits and vegetables don't grow well or at all in our climate.

The reason we have factory farms and agribusinesses is because the urbanization and growth of our cities has required it. It's the neverending march of progress and specialization that allows people to provide the most potential value to society that they can without having to worry about providing themselves with the bare essentials. You want to change that - you may as well drop the bombs and wipe the slate clean because we aren't going to revert to the old days of barn raisings and work bees anytime soon otherwise.

On personal responsibility - How much of your yard is given over to garden? How much of your family time is spent tiling the land? Did you bother to figure out how much it cost you per pound of fresh vegs versus buying at the local grocer (organic of course)....If you did the math you'd find out it'd be better to get a job at 7/11 one night a week to pay for the groceries. No time in history has basic foodstuff been such a low proportion of an average person's income. There is a reason for that.

Actually I just looked it up - estimates range from 1/4 to 1/2 an acre of arable land to provide enough food for one person - Vancouver has a land area of 28,336 acres - therefore if all of Vancouver were arable land then the land could support from 60,000 to 100,000 - population at 2003 was 546k (City of Van only - see link)

So until the other 450,000 plus people move I'll keep buying my groceries and consider myself still 'personally responsible'

"we could 'grow our own' whenever, wherever possible"

You missed the important caveat. We need baby steps, incremental change. Like Obi-wan Kenobi, they're our only hope. I might point out that urban densification would make more arable land available, but nothing happens overnight. Not even changes in mind-set.

Not everyone need become farmers, we just need our farmers to be close to us. And we need to re-assess what's sustainable in the long term (100 - 300 year window). I have a funny feeling it's not fresh oranges trucked in from Florida in the middle of winter.

"we aren't going to revert to the old days of barn raisings and work bees anytime soon otherwise."

We won't have a choice. We'll stand together or die individually.

"It's the neverending march of progress and specialization that allows people to provide the most potential value to society that they can without having to worry about providing themselves with the bare essentials."

You're funny!