Green Myths: Can you tell the difference between fact and fiction?

More and more frequently as we move through our days we seem to be presented with words of “eco-wisdom”; statements made either for or against one of the many eco-happenings of today. Though I think we’re all in agreement that it’s fantastic to see and hear so much eco-buzz , I have to ask: How often does one actually question the roots behind these words of “wisdom”? When put under the microscope, oftentimes one sees that what was presented as a simple one fact account is actually a complicated issue which has been so tremendously diluted that other arguments have been deemed “less important” and simply fallen away. OR that the message has been so frequently broadcast that it is simply accepted, regardless of whatever the truth may be.

So with so many myths floating around, how are we to know which are fact and which are fiction and which falsities are actually causing harm? We’ve done a bit of research and we’ve found that treehugger has compiled a list of the Top 5 Green Myths which are doing the most global harm.

Myth #1: Genetically Modified Crops Have Higher Crop Yields and Help Reduce Poverty

Although Prince Charles’ statement was a bit of an exaggeration, there is little debate that the benefits of genetically modified crops have too been exaggerated. As of yet there has not been sufficient evidence to support claims that GM crops have higher crop yields, nor that they are reducing hunger or poverty. In fact, Friends Of the Earth (FOE) points out that, on average, soya (the most widely planted GM crop in the world) has “5-10% lower yields than conventional soya, as well as reduced uptake of essential nutrients.” And in regards to issues of hunger and poverty, it is widely believed that these issues are related to water shortages, poor infrastructure and lack of access to land, credit and education rather than the quality of conventional crops.

Myth #2: Clean Coal Technology Will Solve the Coal Pollution Problem

There’s no doubt that the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions is a key factor in mitigating the effects of climate change. So no surprise that when people speak of clean coal technologies they are talking about ways to reduce carbon emissions. However, even if all greenhouse gases could be isolated from burning coal there would still be plenty of other pesky emissions to cause problems. Mercury, sulfer dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide for example. And we can’t forget fly ash, or the water poisoning and habitat destruction which can continue for years after a plant closes. Needless to say, clean coal technology will far from solve the coal pollution problem.

Myth #3: Developing Nations Need to Stop Having Babies

If we look at the data gathered by the Global Footprint Network, it in itself is enough to disprove this commonly heard myth. According to their research, the 972 million people living in high income countries have double the total ecological footprint of the 5.4 billion people living in middle and low income countries. Other research also finds that a child born in the UK will produce over 150 times the carbon emissions than a child born in Ethiopia. There are greater issues than high birthing rates in low income countries, such as the consumption rates of natural resources at low, middle and high income levels.

Myth #4: Wind Turbines Are a Serious Threat to Birds

Fact: There are more birds killed by flying into windows, colliding with cars, and fatal run ins with our household pets, than there are by modern wind turbines. Though it is true that older turbine designs, using smaller blades and rotating at higher speeds, could do their number on birds, the wind turbines of today are built only after careful visual, social and environmental issues are taken into account.

Myth #5: Small Green Steps Won’t Make a Big Difference

How many times has this thought crossed your mind? Countless times people have asked what difference changing your lightbulbs will make, or changing your diet, or turning off the tap while brushing your teeth. (See our previous post, “This is why we do what we do… “) The fact is that small changes can bring about a bigger change. It’s baby steps. First people begin thinking about the the impact their actions are having on their environment or what they put in their bodies. Eventually, this awareness becomes less of an active thought and more of a habit which becomes ingrained in people. At this point, people naturally bring about greater changes in their lives and inspire other to do the same. All of which plays a part of creating an ecologically sustainable society!

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