he jokes practically write themselves: A new study by a U.S. government energy analyst (working on his own time) found that marijuana cultivation is a huge power suck, and a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. How not-green is weed? The study's author, Evan Mills of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, estimates that before anyone even smokes it, pot growing uses 1 percent of U.S. electricity and creates 17 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. That means each joint equals two pounds of carbon emissions. What does this mean for the green movement?
Hippies ruin everything: Mills may have "a puritanical streak," but it's hard to deny his conclusion, says Andrew Orlowski in The Register. "Stoners are helping destroy the planet." Clearly, there's a reason household energy use jumped 50 percent in California's Humboldt County after medical pot was legalized in 1996: Grow lights, climate control, and other special indoor-growing equipment uses a lot of juice.
"Stoners are destroying the planet"
This study is complete hokum: This "latest anti-cannabis propaganda" is pure "nonsense," says Nick Rosen at Off-Grid. Mills seems to rely on "ill-informed speculation" in coming up with his highly speculative figures, ignoring that while pot growing does use electricity, it doesn't necessarily use fossil fuels. In fact, California's pot growers were "the first major market for solar power," in the 1980s, and still "rely heavily on solar and wind power."
"The carbon footprint of cannabis"
People are missing the point — pot growers need to go green: The best part of this story has been "being able to rib those self-righteous, eco-conscious medicinal users who think just because it's green, well, it's green," says Dennis Romero in LA Weekly. But Mills isn't going after "the hippie cannabis club." He favors "further decriminalization," in fact, since the best way to have green pot is growing it outdoors, or at least coaxing outlaw pot growers from dirty diesel generators onto California's greener power grid.
"Marijuana grown indoors is bad for the environment..."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- There's a number of reasons the grammar of this headline could infuriate you
- How to be more satisfied with your life, according to science
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- The Warren Buffett formula: How you can get smarter
- 7 ways to quickly become a master at anything
- Today in history: The birth of the federal income tax
- The contentious policy at the heart of Cliven Bundy's armed standoff with the government
Subscribe to the Week