Technologists Misinformed on Global Warming

Published October 3, 2007

Sascha Segan should stay focused on technology and steer clear of politics and ideology. His October column, “Reduce, Reuse, That’s It,” demonstrates a woeful ignorance of environmental policy issues.

For example, Segan expresses concern about “our pathological dependency on imported oil” and suggests this is one reason we should use so-called “green” technology. But whose computer, desktop or otherwise, runs on imported oil–or any oil for that matter? Petroleum is the source of just 2 percent of the electricity consumed in the U.S. Buying an ultralight laptop won’t make a dent in our use of foreign oil.

He also worries about “our inability to find places to dump our trash.” This argument is, frankly, garbage. Since the 1980s people have claimed the United States faces a landfill crisis. But we aren’t running out of room for our trash. One expert, economist Clark Wiseman of Gonzaga University, calculated that all the trash produced by the United States for the next 1,000 years could fit in a landfill 44 miles square and 300 feet deep. Wiseman notes, “The solid waste problem … is a political one–that of siting new landfills.” (Rational Readings on Environmental Concerns, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992).

I do agree with one part of Segan’s column: That “being green nowadays just means settling on a level of hypocrisy you’re comfortable with.” Now there’s a breathtakingly honest admission!

Diane Carol Bast ([email protected]) is executive editor at The Heartland Institute.