How Climate Activism’s Lack of Realistic Affinity, Tackles Truth and Convinces others to believe in Unicorns.
Sadly, Parkpoom’s article turned out to be yet another misinformation post. There are a series of analytical false assumptions in this article that show a complete lack of understanding of how lifecycle assessments work and crucially, falls foul of the structural limitations of controlled trials.
Now,. I’ve covered the role of Sustainability Consultants in misinformation before. The mistaken, the malign and the misplaced all have their reasons which are beyond the scope of this article, but common to all of them is the lack of objectivity and analytical skill.
There is an old saying. If you don't say anything in maths, you don't say anything. And this is similarly true here. The Danish study is criticised, without a solid grasp of even the purpose of the study.
Take the fallacies in assumptions about how and why we have shopping bags at all. The first mistake is the assumption that lab science appears in the real-world. While necessary, it isn’t sufficient to consider only the behaviour of a link, as representative of the whole chain. It isn’t. Yet the author criticises the Danish study on the assumption the bags have the same volume, so we need the same bags to carry groceries back. This is not true. Hence why the Danish study looked at real world use, not performance in a lab. If the latter is all one has, then one isn't carrying out a lifecycle analysis at all. You cannot conduct a lifecycle analysis in a lab. It’s impossible.
Indeed, each lifecycle is effectively a proportion of the full throughput of carbon. It isn't enough to compare like for like. Mathematically, they are not the same proportions and one can hold more than the other (plastic more than cloth). The combination of material and sizing, means we need less of the plastic bags to match the same volume of cloth.
I am certainly not here to defend plastics. They are a corrosive substance on our environment. I'm here to defend the climate. Weak analysis like this, creates a huge climate risk and facilitates and excuses others doing completely the wrong thing.
Ethar A. on LinkedIn: #mathematics #science #climatechange
Alright! So, following on from a comment chat with Emma Burlow referencing a medium article by Parkpoom Kometsopha…
The video compares the real world capacity use of a plastic versus cotton tote bag. In a science lab, studying the CO2 means assessing the carbon footprint required to create a square metre of material. However, in supermarket shopping you collect as many bags as you need to take your shopping home. These are akin to comparing cycle time to throughput. There is a lifecycle gap in between.
The result of this simple [unscientific] experiment, you would need 3 cloth bags for every 2 plastic ones! The Danish study is legitimate to state this, as it is closer to the real world position of how they're actually used.
How does this happen? Everyone has studied secondary education mathematics. Not everybody has noticed that the surface area that something takes is not aligned to its volume. For example, a cuboid has 6 side of 2x2. So 24 square metres covers a volume of 8 cubic metres. However, 24 square metres also covers volumetric dimensions of 2.57142 x 1.5 x 2 which equals 7.71426 cubic metres.
Volume to surface area is a standard problem in engineering and mathematics. I can do a post on this another day, but this not only gives you the optimal size of a bag but also affects the amount of stuff you can get in it and crucially, how many bags are needed to carry your shopping home!
As climate activists, we need to do better! Especially as an influential cohort. We only need to view the damage done to lives during the pandemic by influential, but mistaken or misinformative actors.