For a generation, a campaign by the green movement against the growing of genetically modified crops has held sway across Europe. These foodstuffs are a threat to health, the environment and the small independent farmer, NGOs have argued.
As result, virtually no GM crops have been grown on Europe’s farms for the past 25 years. Yet hard evidence to support what is, in all but name, a ban on these vilified forms of plant life is thin on the ground. In fact, most scientific reports have indicated that they are generally safe, both to humans and the environment.
This point was endorsed last week when a 20-strong committee of experts from the US National Academies of Science announced the results of its trawl of three decades of scientific studies for “persuasive evidence of adverse health effects directly attributable to consumption of foods derived from genetically engineered crops”. It found none.
Instead the group uncovered evidence that GM crops have the potential to bestow considerable health benefits. An example is provided by golden rice, a genetically modified rice that contains beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. Its use could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of children who suffer from vitamin A deficiency in the third world, say scientists.
Scientists and governments around the world overwhelmingly agree that climate change is real, is largely human-induced and needs urgent action to prevent.
There is, in fact, a broad and overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, is caused in large part by human activities (such as burning fossil fuels), and if left un-checked will likely have disastrous consequences.
Furthermore, there is solid scientific evidence that we should act now on climate change – and this is reflected in the statements by these definitive scientific authorities.
Doubling from 4,400 to 9,000 does not exactly strike me as an explosion in wind technician employment.
Yet still this occupation is expected to be the fastest-growing occupation in the USA in the next 10 years.
Massimo Tavoni and Caterina Gennaioli published a nice paper showing that corruption and violence was higher in the high wind provinces of Italy after the installation of wind generators. They built on earlier work about countries with abundant renewable resources and weak institutions. The main question in their paper
… is whether an increase in the expected returns of investments in wind energy, following the introduction of the new policy regime based on a green certificate system, has driven economic agents, namely bureaucrats and entrepreneurs, to engage more in rent seeking activities.
As they studied Italy, there is no surprise about the answer which was yes. High winds ensure high returns of the wind farm investment, but whether this translates into more bribery depends on institutional quality. There was more corruption, and so especially in high-wind provinces of Italy.
The construction of an average wind park is associated with an increase of criminal association activity of 6%. Italy will have more corruption than elsewhere in the old European Union.
The wider problem is renewable energy is a celebrity technology. In the context of expressive politics, so many cheer for solar and wind power that standards drop in terms of who qualifies for subsidies and who should lose support when their investments do not turn out as promised.
Wind power is not new, it is intermittent, is unsuitable for modern work, and is land constrained but it is still subsidised. Green rent seeking is a real risk even in countries with the best political institutions.
Source: History of Solar Power – IER.
Source: Matthew Kahn (2009) Think Again: The Green Economy | Foreign Policy