Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Greenpeace founder gone brown – why?

For the second time I caught a bit of a Counterpoint program on Radio National, and again I have significant problems with what I hear.

The bloke talking was Patrick Moore, one-time Greenpeace founder, and the transcript is available here.

I caught him talking about people manufacturing scares over PVC, and saying it’s a big beatup.

So I looked up PVC in Encyclopaedia Britannica. Nix. Just some technical details on its manufacture and use.

Later, I looked up Wikipedia. If there’s controversy, it will be listed.

Sure enough. In PVC manufacture, dioxins are released. When PVC is incinerated (as much waste is), dioxins are released into the atmosphere. The simple answer is not to incinerate it? Too difficult to remove from the waste stream, so it will happen. And dioxins are particularly toxic, infiltrating the ecosystem and degenerating flora and fauna for decades. Agent Orange is a notorious example. (not that this is a simple issue: dioxins are present in a lot of manufacturing. But that certainly doesn’t make PVC harmless.)

Next, Moore said GM crops were a beatup. Personally, I’m not sure that they constitute a health hazard, but I am particularly concerned about their ability to escape controlled environments (as they do in most cases) and eventually affect the ecosystem, potentially crowding out indigenous flora.

Moore’s views are consistently scary, and include:
- Pro-nuclear power (potential for hazard in use and in waste is significant, and lasts millennia)
- being one of the last remaining climate change sceptics

I find it difficult to understand why a one-time environmental activist can be so consistently on the wrong side of environmental issues. I’m quite averse to conspiracy theories (Occam’s Razor encourages simpler explanations in most cases), but the only thing I can suggest is that he’s built up an environmental consultancy on the back of his initial reputation, and he’s captive to certain corporate interests. His Wikipedia entry is here; his corporate web site is Green Spirit Strategies. Judge for yourself.

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