Revenge of the Certification - SERI, E-Stewards Make Threats

As a former regulator, I know better than to let a regulated party "get my goat" and draw me into a pissing match. While I had the power of "you can't fight city hall", the regulated party merely has to create the "appearance of impropriety", not prove impropriety itself.

I've been glared at and - in the case of E-Stewards - directly threatened. "Stop saying bad stuff about us. I don't want to have to go after you." Promise, that was said.

Three Truths and a Lie at SERI - Is R2 Certification the Enemy of the Good?

Most followers of the Good Point Ideas Blog already know that the R2 (Responsible Recyclers) Certification program was developed over a decade ago by US EPA.  EPA's Clare Lindsey and Bob Tonetti hired a professional consensus mediator, John Lingelbach, to moderate the development of agreed upon standards that would achieve better results in reuse, repair and recycling of used electronics. Lingelbach later incorporated the Sustainable Electronics Recycling International organization to "house" the new standard. SERI realized that the original standard developed by EPA would be a public document, not copyrightable... so SERI tweaked the R2 Standard in order to establish a way to earn revenue.

SERI's R2 Standard gives prescriptions for electronics recycling practices.  The practices are developed by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC, the ongoing advisor team from the industry). The TAC standards, if passed by the SERI Board of Directors, create new rules (red tape) for Certified Recyclers to follow.

Without even a formal change in the rules, SERI can issue guidance to reflect a change in interpretation of the original rules.  That's right, a TAC can act like a radical Supreme Court, with no tether to precedent. A clear example of this took place during this year's audit of Good Point Recycling, which passed 99% of the Audit with flying colors. However, the auditor called foul on a trade which passed R2 audits the previous 9 years... a trade that has taken place with the same downstream vendor for 17 years. A new "interpretation" of the old rules may cost my Vermont company $356,000 dollars per year, while achieving zero environmental benefit.

This is messed up. The rules have not yet been changed, but the "interpretation" of the old rules has.

Anti-Anti-Liberals: Moore (In)digestion of "Planet of the Humans"

Renewable energy is only necessary, certainly not sufficient. Planet of the Humans is too harsh on its arguable over-emphasis, but anti-Moore reaction misses an important point... Carbon policy needs to share Earth Day's platform with rain forest action, emerging market litter collection, palm oil plantation reform, and other environmental causes. People don't care about 4 degree average temperature, even if that would be fatal. People care about baby animals, and extinction, and those thinks are disappearing at a rate that is not addressing.  To boil it all down to a tweet:

Planet of the Humans? Bushmeat hunting + overfishing + burning rainforest for pastures + palm oil demand + wet markets + shark fin soup adds up to a disaster is more critical than carbon. But none of those crises add to anti-corporation thesis Fixing climate is necessary, not sufficient

That's the best I can do at defending, and de-fanging, Planet of the Humans. As a documentary, it sucks. The reporter is trying to be at the center of his own story. Second, it's a case study in "gotcha-ism", the presentation of anecdotes for the sole purpose of damaging the personal reputations of decent people, not just the flaws in their positions. That's a recipe for bad journalism.

Here is a link to addressing @MMFlint (Michael Moore) and @JeffGibbstc and their army of detractors, harvesting the best arguments from both sides... Followed by my meta-comments.

Bill McKibben Responds to Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs "Planet of the Humans"

As I said in the last blog,  it's a mistake to tell environmentalists not to watch "Planet of the Humans". Scientific Method, and Socratic Method require we rid ourselves of confirmation bias. 

That said, I agree with very much of Bill McKibben's response in Rolling Stone today... that is when he sticks to dialectic. Calling producer Michael Moore (he ignores Gibbs) a terrorist is just as bad as the ad hominem attacks BK complains about. From McKibben's letter to Rolling Stone:
Basically, Moore and his colleagues have made a film attacking renewable energy as a sham and arguing that the environmental movement is just a tool of corporations trying to make money off green energy. “One of the most dangerous things right now is the illusion that alternative technologies, like wind and solar, are somehow different from fossil fuels,” Ozzie Zehner, one of the film’s producers, tells the camera. When visiting a solar facility, he insists: “You use more fossil fuels to do this than you’re getting benefit from it. You would have been better off just burning the fossil fuels.” 
That’s not true, not in the least — the time it takes for a solar panel to pay back the energy used to build it is well under four years. Since it lasts three decades, it means 90 percent of the power it produces is pollution-free, compared with zero percent of the power from burning fossil fuels. It turns out that pretty much everything else about the movie was wrong — there have been at least 24 debunkings, many of them painfully rigorous; as one scientist wrote in a particularly scathing takedown, “Planet of the Humans is deeply useless. Watch anything else.” Moore’s fellow filmmaker Josh Fox, in an epic unraveling of the film’s endless lies, got in one of the best shots: “Releasing this on the eve of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary is like Bernie Sanders endorsing Donald Trump while chugging hydroxychloroquine.”
McKibben goes on to call "Planet of the Humans" a sewer, implying there is certainly absolutely no reason to watch it. That goes too far, and avoids answering important questions raised about the way greenwashing can exploit "groupthink" and "bias confirmation". I would instead suggest Bill hold a public viewing of the documentary, and allow himself to pause and annotate it at will.