Monday, February 12, 2007

Valentines Day Dilemma

The latest word from the Daily Telegraph (UK): Flowers are bad for the environment – at least those that must fly on airplanes to the cooler winter climates in northern Europe. (This link was posted on today’s Drudge site.)

The sentiment here is that the transportation of these flowers causes airplane C02 emissions, which contribute to global warming. (I would have thought that their cultivation would at least offset some of that CO2 with some good O2, but the amounts are probably disparate. It takes a lot of fuel to overcome gravity and drag when traveling fast.)

So, should we avoid giving flowers to our sweethearts if we care about the environment? Unfortunately, chocolate is probably no better. If you think about it, those cocoa beans also travel a long way. (Perhaps if they come on transport ships, that does not burn so much CO2 – but it is still something.)

And then, of course, there is the matter of all those lattes you are drinking at Starbucks. They come from coffee grown in warmer climates, which is shipped here somehow. And of course, the power it takes to heat that hot water is likely coming from coal-fired power plants – big CO2 producers.

Have you ever noticed that those in the global warming camp rarely, if ever, do anything to inconvenience themselves or to change their behavior in a meaningful way. Al Gore still flies in airplanes instead of taking the bus, which would substantially reduce his “CO2 footprint”. (And I would bet that he gets Mrs. Gore gifts at Valentine’s day that are not friendly to the environment. ) However, they love to preach how the rest of us should change, and how we should impose changes through legislation.

To the extent that people want to stop these behaviors, bear in mind that they would also prevent valuable trade from occurring. Frankly, I think my sweetheart still likes to get flowers, which are often shipped into our cold Midwestern winter climate. And if they come from developing countries (the flowers going into Europe often come from Africa), they are really helping folks who can use the foreign exchange.

I’m frankly skeptical about the global warming connection with CO2. Others are expressing similar concerns, and invite debate on this topic. (See this editorial from the UK, citing a study showing that ice is actually increasing at the south pole: )

The significance of these attitudes for international trade and development are quite significant, and merit careful attention. If you happen to forget to buy flowers for your sweetheart, you might consider this excuse - but frankly I'm not buying it. I don't think this dog will hunt for you, either. So, just to be safe, I recommend both flowers and chocolate.


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