"Let's find out what everybody is doing – and stop them doing it" – A P Herbert
Stoners are helping destroy the planet. Not by excessive snacking, but thanks to the high-energy demands of indoor marijuana cultivation. So says a US Government policy analyst with a Puritanical streak and an EYE for a SHOUTY HEADLINE.
Evan Mills, who works at Lawrence Livermore Labs but conducted the study in his own time, estimates that indoor pot growing accounts for 1 per cent of energy usage in the United States, with each spliff representing two pounds of CO2 emission. Heavy.
About 32 per cent of energy in the cultivation process is used by lighting equipment, including motorised lamp rails; 26 per cent by ventilation systems and dehumidifiers; 18 per cent by air conditioning; and the rest... uh, we can't remember.
Mills thinks that the energy usage could be reduced dramatically: "Cost-effective efficiency improvements of 75 per cent are conceivable, which would yield energy savings of about $25,000/year for a generic 10-module growing room. Shifting cultivation outdoors eliminates most energy uses (aside from transport), although the practice can impose other environmental impacts."
When medical marijuana was legalised in California in 1996, Humboldt County saw a rise in energy usage of around 50 per cent, according to one estimate. Around one-third of California's pot is grown indoors.
It's all a question of priorities. Just to put things in perspective, the climate change mania has been used to justify burning food. Almost half of US corn is now grown for fuel, with US ethanol refineries handling enough corn to feed 330 million people for a year. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) estimates it has pushed an additional 33 million people into absolute poverty, and since poverty kills, that has resulted in an 192,000 additional deaths a year.
But expect to hear more. Targeting the pot industry appeals to environmentalists in a number of ways. It allows several new bureaucracies to sprout forth, and more importantly, it also plays to "the haunting fear" (in Mencken's description of Puritanism) that "someone, somewhere, may be happy". ®