Tag Archive for: environmentalism

Saving the Environment from Environmentalists

“The oceans director of Greenpeace told USA Today that groups attempting to link offshore wind to whale deaths are part of a “cynical disinformation campaign.”
–  “Whale carcasses on Martha’s Vineyard fuel speculation about wind turbines,” New Bedford Light, June 22, 2023

If you want to know just how far the environmentalist movement has fallen in recent years, the destruction of marine life off the coast of Massachusetts in 2023 provides a disgraceful example. Greenpeace, an organization that not only led the earliest vanguard of the modern environmental movement, but was specifically formed to save the world’s whales, is actively denying what is likely the most egregious massacre of whales by Americans in over a century.

Greenpeace is not alone. This shameful demonstration of mass deceit is on full display by all the organizations that supposedly exist to protect wilderness and wildlife, along with the media that marches in lockstep with their every whim. As usual, a Google search turns up a nearly monolithic edifice of articles decrying the “anti-renewables” lobby for their “misinformation.” From Time Magazine, “conspiracy theorists think wildlife groups are covering up whale deaths.” From FactCheck.org, “No Evidence Offshore Wind Development Killing Whales.” From CBS News, “No known connections between wind power and whale deaths.” From the US Dept. of Energy, “Addressing Misinformation on Offshore Wind Farms and Whale Deaths.” From NPR, “Dead whales on east coast fuel misinformation about offshore wind.” And on and on it goes. The same story. The same disinformation. Everywhere.

The fact that so many so-called authoritative sources could engage in a coordinated campaign of denial is not new. But their willingness to make these assertions in the face of such compelling evidence to the contrary, and in such contradiction of the environmentalist values they all ostensibly share, indicates a new low for America’s controlled media, and the cowards it employs.

The only charitable explanation is that the urgency of the “climate crisis” has addled the minds of journalists that ought to have enough common sense, or courage, to acknowledge the obvious. When you detonate massive explosives, repeatedly drive steel piles into the ocean floor with a hydraulic hammer, and blast high decibel sonar mapping signals underwater, you’re going to harm animals that rely on sound to orient themselves in the ocean. To say it is mere coincidence that hundreds of these creatures have washed ashore, dead, all of a sudden, during precisely the same months when the blasting and pounding began, is brazen deception.

A recent and scathing set of articles published over the past few weeks by Michael Shellenberger on his substack account provide some excellent examples of how misguided environmentalism, specifically with respect to the environment, is doing far more harm than good. He is one of the only journalists in America to report honestly on the cause of whale deaths.

Shellenberger offers additional examples of misguided environmentalism. He exposes the fraudulent essence of most plastic “recycling,” wherein the plastic, painstakingly sorted by consumers and collected at considerable extra cost by overbuilt waste management companies, ultimately ends up not being recycled. The recycler “instead ships the waste to poor nations, where it ends up in rivers and oceans.” Shellenberger also points out the sordid symbiosis between misguided environmentalism and woke ideology, using as an example perhaps one of the most infamous men in the world today, the arrogant M. Kaleo Manuel, who denied water to Maui firefighters during the hours when lives might still have been saved, because “he would be willing to consider doing so but only after he and they had ‘true conversations about equity’.”

There’s something else at work, however, bigger than climate crisis panic, and bigger than woke ideology, that has turned the environmentalist movement into a monster that often does more harm than good. The environmentalist movement has been hijacked by financial special interests. In the office towers of Boston, attorneys, developers, and politicians today are slavering with lust over the billions in fees, subsidies, and donations their firms, their companies, and their campaigns will collect as they deploy offshore wind energy atop the carcasses of humpback whales. “Offshore wind is for the greater good, because it’s going to save the planet from extreme weather,” is their unassailable public argument, as the cynics among them laugh at all the gullible suckers.

Clean technology” is a good idea, but often horrific in practice. There’s nothing remotely competitive about offshore wind energy, although you’ll have to work awfully hard to find anything but pollyanna prognostications in a Google search. But a well researched article published earlier this year by David Turner, “Exploding the Cheap Offshore Wind Fantasy,” exposes the inconvenient truths about this destructive boondoggle. The corrosive power of saltwater and salt-laden sea air make maintenance of offshore turbines an expensive proposition that only increases over time. Accessing these turbines for maintenance is impossible during heavy storm events when repairs are often most needed. Turner estimates the useful economic life for these fabulously expensive leviathans at a mere 12 years.

Equally daunting facts surround the actual productivity of these offshore wind farms. The biggest offshore turbines currently available generate 10 megawatts. They stand over 1,000 feet tall and require about one square mile each in order to maximize efficiency by not cannibalizing wind needed to drive nearby rotors. Even if the offshore wind blows 50 percent of the time, and no study however optimistic and supportive of wind energy has ever predicted a higher yield, this means each one will provide – once you’ve installed storage assets and transmission lines at stupefying additional cost – 5 megawatts of baseload power. If that sounds like a lot, it’s not.

New England’s electricity demand averages around 25 gigawatts in 2023. Bear in mind this demand will increase not by increments, but by multiples, if and when New England – along with the rest of the nation after the great green reset – electrifies much of its transportation and residential sectors. For offshore wind turbines as described to provide 25 gigawatts of baseload electricity, five thousand of them would have to be built. Imagine how these billions might be better spent. And kiss the whales goodbye.

These examples just scratch the surface of how thoroughly environmentalist extremism, represented as no vice when in defense against the climate crisis, is actually harming the environment. Ask the orangutans of Borneo, casualties along with countless other species as rainforest gives way to palm oil plantations for biodiesel. Ask the jaguars of Brazil, as rainforest on that side of the world is incinerated in order to become carpeted with sugar cane plantations to produce ethanol. As Californians import biodiesel in ships powered by bunker fuel, virgin land is seized and stripped, its ecosystems decimated with biofuel monocultures saturated with pesticide and petroleum-based fertilizer. So far over 550,000 square miles have been given over to biofuel farming, in exchange for making less than a 2.0 percent dent in the global supply of petroleum based transportation fuel.

These are the excesses of environmentalism today. To put a human face on this catastrophe, consider the trafficked and enslaved children toiling in the Chinese owned cobalt mines of West Africa, so virtue signaling dweebs can drive 6,000 pound, resource guzzling EVs on American streets that were never designed for so many heavyweight vehicles. For that matter, on a topic that only seems unrelated, consider the millions of Americans that can’t afford homes, because environmentalist policies are enforcing “greenbelts” around every major urban area, limiting supply and driving up prices.

For these and numerous other examples of greed masquerading as green, there is big money talking, right alongside big power. Environmentalism in 21st century America has very little to do anymore with environmentalism. Those millions of Americans who can remember when Greenpeace actually cared about saving the whales need to realize that brand equity was squandered and discarded, a long, long time ago.

This article originally appeared in American Greatness.

Can’t Afford California? Thank an Environmentalist

The world that we invented, from an environmental perspective, is now getting in the way of moving these projects forward.
– California Governor Gavin Newsom, August 11, 2022

This moment of candor, coming from a man who seems determined to be the most environmentally correct politician in the world, was with reference to water projects. But Newsom, and anyone else paying attention to California politics, knows that for every major project, of whatever type, environmental regulations and litigation are getting in the way of moving them forward.

That’s life in California, and when even Governor Newsom starts to complain, you can bet the problem is real. Environmentalism run amok isn’t just stopping infrastructure projects and destroying economic opportunities for millions, it’s even harming the environment.

That isn’t hard to miss, if you look around. Notice the dead or dying trees in front of homes, businesses, or in the traffic medians on the boulevards of major cities? Thank environmentalists, who for decades have successfully blocked any projects that might have drought proofed our water supply and eliminated the need to triage urban water use.

Are you sweltering in neighborhoods adjacent to fields turned into heat islands, where toxic plastic rugs have replaced natural turf, supposedly to save water and hence save the planet? Are your kids coming home with torn ligaments and synthetic particles embedded in their skin and clothes, because they competed on these fake lawns? Thank an environmentalist.

Have you been forced to burn LED lights, all of them equipped with cheap transformers, and noticed the unhealthy impact of spending half your life exposed to their oscillating flicker? Wouldn’t you prefer to have access to the newest warm, safe energy-efficient incandescent bulbs instead of having them banned? Thank an environmentalist.

Are you using battery powered blowers, mowers, pruners and weed whackers that are clearly not ready for prime time? Do you enjoy having to obsessively charge and discharge them and store them according to demanding specifications so they don’t burn out after six months? How’s that working out for you? Thank an environmentalist.

Have you been stranded in your EV, waiting for an hour or more to get to a charger and get recharged? What do you do when it rains so hard it’s hazardous to charge an EV, or when you can’t find a charging station, or you don’t have hours to wait to add range to your car?  Someday, EVs may be practical, safe and affordable. But why are they being forced upon the public today? Thank an environmentalist.

None of this stuff helps the planet. There ought to be plenty of water and energy to allow Californians to live with comfort and dignity, but instead of building enabling water and energy infrastructure, sue-happy environmentalists stop every project in its tracks, while their cronies profit from sales of marginal products that use far more resources and ultimately leave a bigger environmental footprint.

Does anyone really think astroturf, or LED lights, or lithium batteries, can be “sustainably” manufactured and recycled? What about thousands of square miles being smothered with photovoltaic cells, wind turbines, and battery farms? What about electric vehicles? In most cases, the manufacture, impact, and maintenance and replacement requirements of “renewables” consume orders of magnitude more resources than conventional energy.

In California, the entire economy is critically damaged thanks to extreme environmentalism, starting with housing. In the old days, homes were built with lumber that was logged and milled in California. Water heaters, cooktops and space heaters used natural gas extracted from California wells, and electricity came from an in-state mixture of hydroelectric, natural gas and nuclear sources. Water came from a system of reservoir storage and interbasin transfers via aqueducts and pumping stations that remains a marvel of the world. The new roads and freeways were constructed out of a combination of government operating budgets and bonds. The land homes were built on was rezoned without litigation or onerous delays and fees.

On this foundation of government funded enabling infrastructure and less regulations, homes were affordable. Back then, California worked for ordinary people. It became a magnet for people from all over America and the world. Those days are gone. Thank an environmentalist.

There’s a reason homes cost almost twice as much in California as they do in the rest of the nation. Getting land approved for development takes years if not decades, during which at any point the permit can be denied by any number of agencies or deterred by endless environmentalist litigation. On top of land scarcity is water scarcity, also politically contrived, which prevents many housing developments from even being proposed.

Then there is the cost of lumber and concrete, products that used to come from local sources that competed for customers. But with California’s lumber harvest down to a quarter of what it was only 30 years ago, and the virtual impossibility of opening new quarries, home builders have to import their materials from other states and nations, driving costs way up.

Adding to the cost of homes as well are the environmentally-correct appliances now required, that are energy and water efficient to a fault. Equipped with sensors, software that requires updates, and connected to the internet, these hyper-efficient machines cost twice as much as they otherwise would, don’t last very long, and do a poor job. And what about those “low flow” faucets and shower heads that barely release water, and turn off automatically before you’re done with them?

There’s nothing wrong with designing greater efficiency into appliances. But these appliances go well beyond the point of diminishing returns, and the only beneficiaries are crony manufacturers and tech companies. Thank an environmentalist.

The counterproductive impact of environmentalism defies reason. It’s not just the colossal, destructive footprint of supposedly renewable products or sources of energy. It’s land management. Thanks to environmentalists, in California’s forests and woodlands , in order to log, graze livestock, do controlled burns or mechanical thinning, property owners confront an obstacle course of regulations and permit requirements coming from several agencies at once. Many of the regulations are in conflict with others; it is an expensive and protracted process that very few can navigate. And so the overcrowded forests burn.

This is perhaps the most egregious example of counter-productive environmentalism. Bigger than their war on nuclear power and natural gas. Maybe even bigger than their success in making California unaffordable and inconvenient for all but the super rich. For the last 30 years, as CalFire snuffed out every small fire they possibly could, every practical means of thinning the forests to compensate for fire suppression was made nearly impossible. Thank an environmentalist.

California’s forests are approximately seven times as dense as they have historically been for millennia prior to these atrocious circumstances. In previous centuries, because they weren’t overcrowded, the forests survived droughts more prolonged than the ones we experience in this century. But today, the rain we get can’t even percolate into the ground. The crowded trees desperately absorb every drop, and it still isn’t enough, because where one tree used to grow, seven trees are competing for the same nutrients and moisture. This is why the trees are dying. This is why we have superfires.

When California’s forests have burnt down to the dirt, and ash laden silt is eroding into every stream and river in the state, thank an environmentalist.

It should go without saying that environmentalism is an important value to incorporate into public policy. We may thank environmentalists for getting the lead out of gasoline, and saving the majestic Condor, to name two noteworthy achievements that happened right here in California. But environmentalism becomes a negative value when its primary benefit is only to line the pockets of environmentalist litigants or pad government bureaucracies or enrich crony businessmen.

Today there is no balance. Environmentalism in California is out of control because it empowers a powerful coalition of special interests. The interests of the planet, as well as the interests of California’s striving humans, have become secondary. Newsom’s criticisms are helpful. Now they need to be followed up with action.

This article originally appeared in The Epoch Times.

Rational vs. Religious Environmentalism

Just over ten years ago, the world lost Michael Crichton, best selling author and screenwriter, who succumbed to cancer at age 66. His loss was greater than we could know at the time, because during the final years of his life he became increasingly focused on the politicization of science. Few critics of this corruption, if any, are as articulate and influential as Michael Crichton was in his time. And yet it is politicized science, and the justifications it provides activists, journalists, politicians, and corporate opportunists, that is now more dangerous than ever.

Crichton’s scientific background – obtaining a medical degree in 1969, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies – distinguished him from the typical author of thrillers, and informed his life-long interest in science and technology. To put it another way, whenever Crichton expressed skepticism with this week’s environmental crisis of the century, he had credibility.

Probably the most succinct and moving example of Crichton’s thoughts on this topic came in the form of a speech he gave in 2003 at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club entitled “Environmentalism As Religion.” The transcript offers a compelling defense of rational environmentalism vs. environmentalism as a religion, and warns against the politicization of science. Here are some of the key points he makes:

“DDT is not a carcinogen…the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people…”

“Second hand smoke is not a health hazard and never was.” 

“The evidence for global warming is far weaker than its proponents would ever admit.”

“There is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere in the 21st century.”

“The percentage of U.S. land that is taken for urbanization, including cities and roads, is 5%.”

These are contrarian assertions, but they’re based on facts, not faith. Crichton is correct about DDT, and assessing DDT – along with second hand smoke – rests on basic toxicology. Properly applied, DDT was a fantastic weapon against malaria. Banning it instead of properly regulating its use was a tragic mistake. Back in 1972, when DDT was banned worldwide, malaria was on track to become eradicated like smallpox. Instead, malaria continues to kill over a million people per year, and there is no end in sight. As for second hand smoke, obviously it can be dangerous under prolonged, extreme exposure, but Crichton was saying the criteria used to justify smoking regulations were far below genuinely harmful levels.

Crichton’s statement regarding low levels of urbanization is another area where facts contradict environmentalist faith. There is plenty of open land in the United States that could be developed without violating pristine wilderness areas. Declaring “open space” to be endangered is ridiculous.  This fatally flawed argument – now buttressed if not guaranteed by the trump card argument of supposedly stopping global warming – is the justification to force people into ultra-dense, punishingly regulated and taxed urban bantustans inside the “urban growth boundary.” This is dangerous nonsense.

Here’s one more of Crichton’s contrarian zingers:

“The Sahara desert is shrinking, and the total ice of Antarctica is increasing.”

It is difficult to find consistent data to support or refute either of these assertions, especially considering how fundamental they are towards assessing global climate change. But there is evidence supporting Crichton’s claim that the Sahara desert is shrinking. And while there is conflicting data on Antarctic ice volume, you wouldn’t know it from recent headlines. Behind the alarmist hype lie nuances. Volcanic activity, not global warming, may be causing melting of West Antarctic ice. Increased snowfall in the Antarctic interior, very hard to measure, may be offsetting ice loss. But only the alarmist reports find their way into the establishment media. Politicized science, perhaps?

Despite his well founded skepticism, and contrary to the attacks from his critics, Crichton was an environmentalist. He was a rational environmentalist rather than a religious environmentalist – but nonetheless someone with environmentalist sentiments. Consider this:

“It is incumbent on us to conduct our lives in a way that takes into account all the consequences of our actions, including the consequences to other people, and the consequences to the environment.  I believe it is important to act in ways that are sympathetic to the environment, and I believe this will always be a need, carrying into the future.  I believe the world has genuine problems and I believe it can and should be improved.”

Environmentalism, according to Crichton, has gone well beyond these principles, and has become a movement that cannot admit to past or present mistakes or excesses.  Crichton believed that environmentalism fulfills an innate urge that urban atheists embrace as an alternative to religion.  This may be a bit much at least insofar as environmentalists, including Crichton himself, come from a wide diversity of faiths and personal ideologies. But Crichton was on to something when he questioned the reactions he would elicit from many environmentalists to, for example, his observations regarding DDT, second hand smoke, global warming, urbanization, or the Sahara and Antarctic.

Why is debate closed on these issues when they can be challenged on a factual basis? Why can’t the facts speak for themselves? The intense reactions environmentalists displayed towards Crichton during his life, and towards his legacy today, are unfounded unless something more powerful than reason is involved – belief, ideology, passion, a primal inner need for meaning and mission.

Crichton’s opening remarks included compelling reminders that humanity has always adapted and humanity has relentlessly improved the collective well being, and this is continuing.  In his closing remarks he warns how politicized and entrenched environmental organizations have become, stating “what more and more groups are doing is putting out lies, pure and simple, Falsehoods that they know to be false.”

Fast forward to 2019. Does that sound familiar?

How about this zinger: “At this moment, the EPA is hopelessly politicized. It is probably better to shut it down and start over. What we need is a new organization much closer to the FDA. We need an organization that will be ruthless about acquiring verifiable results, that will fund identical research projects to more than one group, and that will make everybody in this field get honest fast.”

That is exactly what President Trump is trying to do. And it is driving everyone crazy.

Of course everything Crichton said is not true, just as everything the current environmentalist establishment maintains is not false, or unhelpful, but in his final remarks, he also described his state of fear, shared by many of us – and to paraphrase former Czech President Vaclav Klaus – what is at stake, our global climate or our freedom?  Or according to Crichton,

In the end, science offers us a way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don’t know any better. That’s not a good future for the human race.”

Had he lived, Crichton today would have been the same age as Bernie Sanders, and would hopefully have been striding the national stage with similar energy. Imagine what Crichton would have had to say about the Green New Deal, renewable portfolio standards, “we’ve got only 12 years left” alarmism; the whole raft of climate activist rhetoric. Imagine him using his celebrity pulpit to expose and criticise the high-tech complicity in silencing debate on these issues.

Crichton’s intellectual clarity was matched by a charismatic and persuasive style. Ten years ago, the world lost a great man before his time.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

 *   *   *

Green Luddites Are Coming for Your House, Your Car and Your Freedom

On March 25th, the New York Times published a guest opinion column entitled “Why Housing Policy Is Climate Policy.” The authors, Scott Wiener and Daniel Kammen, argue that in order to reduce “greenhouse gas,” we need “denser housing and public transportation.” They go on to state that “low-density, single-family-home zoning is effectively a ban on economically diverse communities.”

Like so much coming from the corporate Left in America, probably the most dangerous aspect of this column is the blithe presumption that every premise they put forth is beyond debate. The climate is going to catastrophically change, and emissions from burning fossil fuel are the culprit. High density housing will help lower CO2 emissions. Public transportation is a good thing.

Just hold on. Stop right there. Emissions of CO2 may not change the climate very much at all, and the cost of precipitously curtailing them condemns billions of people around the world to prolonged poverty and misery. And in any case, high density housing is creating more CO2 emissions, because existing roads cannot handle the increased traffic. And no, public transportation is not always a good thing.

Scott Wiener, a California legislator, and Daniel Kammen, a Berkeley professor who submits reports to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are part of the “consensus” that has decided any of us who question their premises are either stupid, evil, or paid hacks. They are part of the “consensus” that thinks it’s not just ok, but morally necessary to suppress our opinions and silence debate. They are part of the “consensus” that brands us as “deniers,” impugns our motives, questions our integrity, and dismisses our facts and evidence.

When you look at the policies being promoted and enacted by Wiener and Kammen’s fellow travelers in business and politics, there is irony in every direction. It is ironic that the people who they claim to want to help are harmed the most by the insanely expensive enforcement of renewable energy, housing density and housing scarcity. It is ironic that the fossil fuel industry, which they claim to oppose, becomes more profitable when new drilling is curtailed, and new power plants using coal and natural gas have to be constructed to fill in every time the sun goes down, the wind stops blowing, or yet another nuclear power plant is decommissioned. It is ironic that they decry the “footprint” of fossil fuel, but are blind to the sprawling blight of windmills and solar farms. It is ironic that they care about “environmental justice,” yet seem completely indifferent to the exploitation endured by miners in Africa who scrap for the cobalt needed in batteries. It is ironic that every time another government regulation or grant or subsidy or tax is enacted to “help create housing and house the homeless,” the attendant corruption and fraud and monstrous inefficiencies manage to waste nearly every dime.

Perhaps the biggest irony is how Wiener and Kammen, and everyone who agrees with them, have no apparent faith in technology to solve the challenges they claim to care about so much. After all, the epicenter of “green” consciousness is California, which also happens to be the epicenter of the global high technology industry. So why can’t they optimistically see a few years into the future, and quit trying to make everyone’s lives so constrained and so expensive? Imagine.

Within the next few decades there will be modular, plug-and-play desalination units that coastal municipalities can put offshore to supply abundant water to their residents. In turn, these desalination units can be powered by modular, safe, plug-and-play nuclear reactors, scaled to whatever size is required, and nearly maintenance free. Within the next fifty years or so, energy will be beamed from orbiting solar power stations to earth-based receivers to deliver uninterrupted electricity. We’re probably less than 100 years from having commercial, scalable fusion power.

These are just a few of the wondrous innovations that are only one or two generations away, a mere heartbeat in the span of human civilization, and the only thing stopping them are people like Scott Wiener, Daniel Kammen, and organizations like the California Air Resources Board, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Let these dogmatic, tyrannical utopians have their way, and we will sink into a stultifying mire of politically anointed and narrowly specified approved technologies. We will stagnate. The great arc of human progress will come to a crashing halt.

Within a few decades, self-driving cars, some owned for personal use, others privately owned but serving the public, will zoom along smart hyperlanes at speeds well in excess of 100 MPH. They will convoy with each other, running close together, using linked navigation systems, to facilitate far more throughput per lane mile than today’s freeways. Overhead, within a few decades, electric drones will shuttle people to and from their chosen destinations at speeds well in excess of 200 MPH. And far overhead, at around 50,000 feet, supersonic electric planes will fly at speeds well in excess of 1,000 MPH. Mr. Kammen. Mr. Wiener. Get out of the way.

Meanwhile, conventional solutions abound in spacious California, and most everywhere else on earth. There’s nothing wrong with increasing density in the urban core of existing cities. But why not also open up empty rangeland for development? California, for example, is only 5 percent urbanized. Why not increase that by 50 percent? Recommission the San Onofre nuclear power plant, adding a few reactors, and raise the Shasta Dam (by 200 feet, instead of today’s tepidly promoted, still politically unpalatable 18 feet), and you’d have all the power and water you’ll ever need for millions of new residents, living in single family dwellings, with private backyards.

Some people like to live in urban high rises. Others prefer homes with yards. That’s called choice. It’s also called freedom. It’s the blessing of capitalism and the American way. And facilitating the ability for the private sector to compete to make those choices available and affordable to anyone with a decent job, is the legitimate duty of government. Not coming up with all these theoretical crises and using them as an excuse to cram us into apartments, make us ride trains, and rig the system so that a mandated, constrained life is actually more expensive.

More caustic than Mr. Kammen’s dogmatism, or the ironic contradictions that inform his premises and his convictions, is his hypocrisy. Rather than suggest everyone else lose the opportunity to have a home with a yard, Mr. Kammen, who lives in a five bedroom house on an expansive lot in the Oakland hills, is invited to move himself and his family into one of the new units to be offered in a six story “economically diverse” condominium situated in a “transit village.” He is invited to get rid of his car, place his children in the nearest public school, and practice what he preaches.

 *   *   *

California Burning – How the Greens Turned the Golden State Brown

In October 2016, in a coordinated act of terrorism that received fleeting attention from the press, environmentalist activists broke into remote flow stations and turned off the valves on pipelines carrying crude oil from Canada into the United States. Working simultaneously in Washington, Montana, Minnesota, and North Dakota, the eco-terrorists disrupted pipelines that together transport 2.8 million barrels of oil per day, approximately 15 percent of U.S. consumption. The pretext for this action was to protest the alleged “catastrophe” of global warming.

These are the foot soldiers of environmental extremism. These are the minions whose militancy receives nods and winks from opportunistic politicians and “green” investors who make climate alarmism the currency of their political and commercial success.

More recently, and far more tragic, are the latest round of California wildfires that have consumed nearly a quarter million acres, killed at least 87 people, and caused damages estimated in excess of $10 billion.

Opinions vary regarding how much of this disaster could have been avoided, but nobody disputes that more could have been done. Everyone agrees, for example, that overall, aggressive fire suppression has been a mistake. Most everyone agrees that good prevention measures include forest thinning (especially around power lines), selective logging, controlled burns, and power line upgrades. And everyone agrees that residents in fire prone areas need to create defensible space and fire-harden their homes.

Opinions also vary as to whether or not environmentalists stood in the way of these prevention measures. In a blistering critique published earlier this week on the California-focused Flash Report, investigative journalist Katy Grimes cataloged the negligence resulting from environmentalist overreach.

U.S. Representative Tom McClintock, whose Northern California district includes the Yosemite Valley and the Tahoe National Forest, told Grimes that the U.S. Forest Service 40 years ago departed from “well-established and time-tested forest management practices.”

“We replaced these sound management practices with what can only be described as a doctrine of benign neglect,” McClintock explained. “Ponderous, byzantine laws and regulations administered by a growing cadre of ideological zealots in our land management agencies promised to ‘save the environment.’ The advocates of this doctrine have dominated our law, our policies, our courts and our federal agencies ever since.”

All of this lends credence to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s fresh allegations of forest mismanagement. But what really matters is what happens next.

Institutionalized Environmental Extremism

California’s 2018 wildfires have been unusually severe, but they were not historic firsts. This year’s unprecedented level of destruction and deaths are the result of home building in fire prone areas, and not because of wildfires of unprecedented scope. And while the four-year drought that ended in 2016 left a legacy of dead trees and brush, it was forest mismanagement that left those forests overly vulnerable to droughts in the first place.

Based on these facts, smart policy responses would be first to reform forest management regulations to expedite public and privately funded projects to reduce the severity of future wildfires, and second, to streamline the permit process to allow the quick reconstruction of new, fire-hardened homes.

But neither outcome is likely, and the reason should come as no surprise—we are asked to believe that it’s not observable failures in policy and leadership that caused all this destruction and death, it’s “man-made climate change.”

Governor Jerry Brown is a convenient boogeyman for climate realists, since his climate alarmism is as unrelenting as it is hyperbolic. But Brown is just one of the stars in an out-of-control environmental movement that is institutionalized in California’s legislature, courts, mass media, schools, and corporations.

Fighting climate change is the imperative, beyond debate, that justified the Golden State passing laws and regulations such as California Environmental Quality Actthe Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, and numerous others at the state and local level. They make it nearly impossible to build affordable homes, develop energy, or construct reservoirs, aqueducts, desalination plants, nuclear power plants, pipelines, freeways, or any other essential infrastructure that requires so much as a scratch in the ground.

Expect tepid progress on new preventive measures, in a state so mired in regulations and litigation that for every dollar spent paying heavy equipment operators and loggers to do real work, twice that much or more will go to pay consultants, attorneys, and public bureaucrats. Expect “climate change” to be used as a pretext for more “smart growth,” which translates into “stack and pack,” whereby people will be herded out of rural areas through punishing financial disincentives and forced into densely populated urban areas, where they can join the scores of thousands of refugees that California is welcoming from all over the world.

Ruling Class Hypocrisy

Never forget, according to the conventional wisdom as prescribed by California’s elites, if you don’t like it, you are a climate change “denier,” a “xenophobe,” and a “racist.”

California’s elites enjoy their gated communities, while the migrants who cut their grass and clean their floors go home to subsidized accessory dwelling units in the backyards of the so-called middle class whose taxes pay for it all. They are hypocrites.

But it is these elites who are the real deniers.

They pretend that natural disasters are “man-made,” so they can drive up the cost of living and reap the profits when the companies they invest in sell fewer products and services for more money in a rationed, anti-competitive environment.

They pretend this is sustainable; that wind farms and solar batteries can supply adequate power to teeming masses crammed into power-sipping, “smart growth” high rises. But they’re tragically wrong.

Here the militant environmentalists offer a reality check. Cutting through their predictable, authoritarian, psychotically intolerant rants that incorporate every leftist shibboleth imaginable, the “Deep Green Resistance” website offers a remarkably lucid and fact-based debunking of “green technology and renewable energy.” Their solution, is to “create a life-centered resistance movement that will dismantle industrial civilization by any means necessary.”

These deep green militants want to “destroy industrial civilization.” At their core, they are misanthropic nihilists—but at least they’re honest. By contrast, California’s stylish elites are driving humanity in slow motion towards this same dire future, cloaked in denial, veiled coercion, and utopian fantasies.

This is the issue that underlies the California wildfires, what causes them and what to do about them. What is a “sustainable” civilization? One that embraces human settlements, has faith in human ingenuity, and aspires to make all humans prosperous enough to care about the environment, everywhere? Or one that demands Draconian limits on human settlement, with no expectation that innovation can provide solutions we can’t currently imagine, and condemns humans to police-state rationing of everything we produce and consume?

That is the stark choice that underlies the current consensus of California’s elites, backed up by dangerous and growing cadres of fanatical militants.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

 *   *   *

















An Environmentalist Agenda for Earth Day 2010

Back in 1970 when we celebrated the first Earth Day, what would we have thought if we had known what environmentalism would become by 2010? Back then I was in 7th grade, and an avid member of my Junior High School’s “ecology club.” We planted trees, collected litter, and painted all the garbage cans on campus green, among other things. And back then, as now, the teachers were enthusiastically encouraging the students to care about the planet.

The results ensuing in the 40-50 years since “Silent Spring” was written and the first Earth Day was celebrated are impressive. When I grew up in California’s Santa Clara Valley in the 1960’s, on a bad air day you couldn’t see the Santa Cruz Mountains five miles away. Then we got rid of unleaded gas and mandated catalytic converters and today, with ten times as many people living in what we now call the Silicon Valley, there is never more than a faint wisp of smoggy haze, even on the worst days. We cleaned up our rivers, got rid of acid rain, saved the Condor and countless other magnificent wildlife species, and on and on and on. And then we went too far.

Today environmentalism is run amok. It is the creator of artificial scarcity, the enabler of the very corporate greed its denizens naively decry, it is a faith and a religion, an ideological smokescreen for statism and socialism, and it has lost most of its connection to the original values we believed in. And the reason for this is clear – once the environmentalists accomplished important goals, their cause began to lose visibility and had to struggle for relevance among the American public. So instead of continuing to emphasize environmentalist goals that still mattered, environmentalists sold out, and embraced the absurdity of anthropogenic climate change.

In honor of Earth Day and everything it still represents that is good and still urgently valid, this post isn’t to debate, yet again, whether or not the earth’s climate is catastrophically tipping, whether or not humans have caused this, or whether or not humans can do anything about this. Read “The Climate Money Trail,” and the reports linked to in that post, and make up your own mind. It is beyond comprehension to me that anyone can follow the logic and facts in those posts with an open mind and fail to conclude what I have, that concerns about anthropogenic climate change are unfounded.

Instead of dwelling on that debate, in honor of Earth Day, here is a list of genuine environmental challenges that remain with us. Challenges we might be making more progress in addressing, were the trajectory of our responses not diverted by the great boogyman of climate change:

1 – Enforce sustainable fishing on the world’s oceans. Stop incinerating the world’s forests to grow subsidized biofuel. Revisit plans to carpet the world’s open spaces with wind generators and solar farms.

2 – Eliminate toxic metal and microscopic particulate emissions from coal powered generating plants. Complete the transition to clean fossil fuels (clean, not CO2-free). Develop clean coal, shale gas, and offshore oil.

3 – Clean up tainted aquifers in places like the Los Angeles basin and begin harvesting and storing storm runoff.

4 – Build nuclear-powered desalination plants to augment natural sources of fresh water. In general, accelerate construction of nuclear power stations.

5 – Eliminate particulate and other genuine pollutants from heavy diesel trucks and machinery.

6 – In order to stimulate economic growth, which will empower society to fund genuine environmental mitigation, repeal “decoupling” policies so public utilities will nurture competitive, cheap energy and water from all sources, instead of enabling utilities to make more money when they produce less.

7 – In addition to encouraging wealth creation, support female literacy around the world, so the combination of wealth and literacy leads to voluntary reductions in family sizes, accelerating humanity’s inevitable path towards population stabilization.

8 – Continue reasonable and realistic attempts to protect endangered species, including educational campaigns to reduce consumer demand for endangered animal parts.

9 – Restore balance to protection of open space and wilderness areas, recognizing that excessive curbs on private land development hinder economic growth which in-turn reduces the financial wherewithal to mitigate genuine environmental challenges.

10 – Reinvent environmentalism to embrace property rights, limited government, and reasonable environmental goals, in order to achieve a clean, sustainable civilization on an accelerated path to universal abundance and prosperity.

This set of objectives may seem like heresy today, now that the global environmental movement has been hijacked by the climate issue. But 40 years ago these objectives probably would probably have seemed reasonable. The message that should be carrying the day right now is that rational environmentalism prevailed. It is institutionalized and its accomplishments are dramatic. Fulfilling these objectives here would return environmentalism not only to a viable common ground that would benefit everyone, but would arguably return environmentalism to its roots.

Earth Day should be a celebration of the accomplishments the environmentalist movement has logged over the past 40 years. It should also be a celebration of the future – where technology will yield abundant energy and water, and voluntary urbanization combined with voluntary population stabilization will yield abundant open space. But to realize this promising destiny, environmentalists must embrace capitalism, the engine of prosperity, the enabler of progress, and abandon the climate-inspired litany of doom.

Contrasting Environmentalism & Unions

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a man who always stood up for the worker, once made this very contrarian statement “I would continue where others have stopped, and I would rise when others sleep.” This is an inspiring explanation of the moral worth of polemics, or being contrarian for its own sake. Because not only are polemics a potentially pointless, occasionally perilous game, tolerating the polemicist is the only reason we have political freedom. One might also add that indulging contrarian thought is the only way we preserve a glimmer of truth, during every time our world is seized with misplaced monolithic zeal, and consequently, nurturing the contrarian is a way civilization can better adapt and embrace disruptive and productive innovations and more quickly evolve. So how would workers or contrarians view our latest global panic, the war on CO2 emissions? In considering this question, the differences between unions, who care about workers, and environmentalists, who care about nature, become quite interesting.

Global warming policies and environmentalist policies in general are only in part about global warming or environmentalism, they are more generally about to what extent we redesign our government to give more rights to government and fewer rights to individual property owners. Environmentalists claim their policies benefit the economy, but one might just as easily argue that is not only false, but dangerously false. In the name of environmentalism we are not simply slowing our economy down, we are failing to develop and maintain infrastructure necessary to avoid natural disasters. A certain amount of environmentalist wisdom informing government laws and regulations is healthy, indeed essential. But restricting development of water infrastructure, power plants and freeways, forcing developers to only be permitted to approach heavily restricted lists of eligible property owners based on “urban service boundaries,” and litigating literally everything in the name of some environmentalist statute or presumed statute – is environmental extremism, not common sense environmentalism. Now we have the war on CO2. This imperils the global economy, it undermines attempts to improve human safety and security, and threatens the freedom of individuals and nations.

Two of the biggest drains on the United States economy over the past 30-50 years are environmentalists and labor unions. Both have reduced the efficiency of the economy in critical areas. Environmental laws and litigation have raised the costs for all resources, dramatically slowing economic development while only yielding marginal additional environmental benefits – if any. The power of big labor, in both the public and private sector, has reduced the ability of unionized workforces to right-size their entitlements in the face of lower revenues. This inflexibility in-turn causes larger than necessary shocks when large corporations or government entities postpone restructuring because of legacy obligations.

Unlike environmentalist policies, however, the impact of unions – in both the public and private sector – are at least economically progressive in a relatively egalitarian and competitive system that values project-merit, and therefore release money into a broader and more productive sector of the economy. Environmentalism, on the other hand, funds jobs for government bureaucrats along with astronomical fees for private service professionals – people who produce nothing and are motivated by their compensation to perpetually demand additional takings. Such environmentalism is regressive and slows economic growth, it raises costs of living for working people and transfers the wealth to far fewer, far more highly compensated, far less productive individuals. Environmentalism, at its idealist core, too often worships nature and marginalizes the aspirations of individuals, and consequently restricts building activity. Union organizing, at its idealist core, is to care above all for the common man who works to build things that create wealth.

Another crucial distinction between unionism and environmentalism is there is an inevitable end to the need to have unions, because the need for unions will wither away as per capita wealth increases. Since ever-advancing technology and slowing human birthrates guarantee that per capita wealth will always increase, eventually there will be enough overall wealth in the world to provide everyone with basic needs and more. Environmentalism, on the other hand, has no inevitable limit, it must be self regulating. And the more extreme environmentalist policies become, the less wealth we will have. Environmentalist doomsday predictions of resource shortages will likely occur, if they occur, precisely because we stopped developing resources in the name of protecting the environment. Balance has been lost in the discussion – the trump card is the alleged need to stop CO2 emissions – and the zealotry and propaganda mustered today to silence climate skeptics would make Francisco Franco proud, and others, in hopefully not all of their unfortunate worst iterations.

Of course we should prepare for climate change. The climate changes catastrophically all the time, these are called “storms,” and they are perfectly natural. Sometimes, since the beginning of time, we have had “extreme storms,” and this is also perfectly natural. As our ability to mitigate risk to humans increases through technology, our values and our priorities to upgrade publically available human protections increases apace. Of course we need to better prepare for droughts and extreme weather. But we need to do this regardless of whether or not CO2 is causing overall temperatures to increase – and excuse me if, Marquez-like, I would continue with my global warming skepticism where others have stopped. Along with underground HVDC electrical grid upgrades, we should be building freeways and aqueducts and offshore LNG terminals. We should be burying fiberoptic cable and moving electricity conduits underground, and eliminate the visual scourge and dangerous tangle of overhead telephone wires and telecom cables across the old suburbia. There are plenty of union jobs out there waiting to be done, and they create real value, but approving any of these developments requires prohibitive environmental compliance costs – billions and billions and by God, nowadays, trillions of dollars. The fact that unions and environmentalists are in the same political party in America is curious, to say the least.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez also said this, “I have learned that a man has the right to look down on somebody only when he is helping him to get up.” Environmentalists may claim to have this impulse, but unlike the unionists who clearly are empathic with ordinary people, environmentalist policies are now ignoring the needs of ordinary people in favor of elites. The environmentalist mantra ala stopping global warming at any costs will benefit the established oligarchal elites, not the working man, not unionists, not minority activists, nor free thinking liberals. Why then do those who claim to speak for working people continue to embrace extreme environmentalism, when its practice yields results that are opposed to their own core values and goals?  The way the workers will rise economically to the point where unions can willingly wither away will be when we implement infrastructure proposals and public policies designed to make energy, water, transportation and shelter less expensive, not more expensive. This will require reforming environmentalism.