Wired On The Environment: PASS or FAIL?


My daughter grabbed our Wired before I knew it arrived, so I am late to the pile-on. The cover article is an attempt to challenge the cherished chestnuts of the green movement.

Hank at Eco-Geek did a section-by-section analysis which I think mostly gets it right, although I think Wired is cooking the books on Air conditioning; they say that it takes less energy to cool a house than to heat it, and that the carbon footprint of a house in Phoenix is less than a tenth of a house in the Northeast; a) I don't believe it and b) you can heat a house with all kinds of fuel, including that big unshielded fusion reactor in the sky; you can pretty much only cool with electricity. Hank also hides behind "nuclear neutrality" and is called out on it in the comments.

Dave Roberts crapped all over it, "This techno-futurist, hipster-libertarian, self-consciously contrarian shtick was fresh and interesting ... back in 1996, when Wired was founded. Since then, it has congealed into a set of knee-jerk mannerisms and affectations. It has lost its edge. At this point it just makes me yawn."


Not surprisingly, Michael Shellenberger loved it, saying "Wired Calls for the Death of Environmentalism" and says "It's totally provocative and interesting. While I don't agree with all of it (I'd like our few remaining old-growth forests to remain standing!) Wired nails a bunch of hugely important issues that greens (that means you, Dave at Grist) still haven't grappled with."


In the end, Alex Steffen nails it in his counterpoint in the issue and in his post in Worldchanging:

"The discussions we see today -- whether we're talking energy sources, farming practices or fashion choices -- are not even the right kind of debate. Unable to mentally grapple with the idea that we need to be aiming for total sustainability right now, we talk to death the same series of inadequate baby steps. Faced with the need to reinvent the material basis of our civilization, we argue paper or plastic." ::Wired