the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Rational Environmenalism

Posted by Jeff Id on March 26, 2012

I’ve had quite a bit of time to consider what I call rational environmentalism. There is a lifestyle that we live that I don’t believe we need to give back even one bit of comfort on. For instance, not showering when you want in order to save energy, cannot save enough energy to be worthwhile unless you are personally flat broke. Today in America, we have crossed that threshold of reasonable environmentalism into the realm of self-inflicted industrial harm, an area which the politicians of climate science are miserably bad at quantifying. Gas prices are a perfect example. With hundreds of different mixtures, all producing the same CO2 and similar emissions, certain blends have reached shortfall. Prices are therefore skyrocketing, as intended by the president along with supportive members of congress, and the result is a repression of personal lifestyles – for the low income earners. It also results in less jobs for the middle and high income earners but of course they go second.

Most of these effects are unnoticed by the public, as the circular fingerpointing can go on forever. The point should be to get back to what worked but that is not the subject of this post. I do believe in AGW although I’m unconvinced it is dangerous. At this point, I believe warming has been greatly beneficial – not just a little. Still, new energy sources will be found, new high-efficiency devices will be created, new paradigms of better living will occur. Notice I wrote will, rather than must. Even over-controlling government cannot stop it.

These sources will happen out of the general drive for people to make money and better lives for their families, whether we governmentally encourage them or not. This is one more aspect of the IPCC which is completely missing from the discussion. Do nothing IPCC scenarios don’t properly recognize the incentive that drives new energy exists without government. Sure, biofuel might not win, nor would solar implementation, but development and study is more than healthy. The failure of the self-appointed elite to notice the intellect of the masses has gone on since the beginning of human culture. Certainly, there is a lot of dumb in the world. Many people you meet can’t even grasp the simple concepts of a post like this yet there are enough in the world, degreed or not, who are not part of the elite, yet have the wherewithal, and more importantly, the intent to change the world.

This mass of self-improving public intellect set free to improve themselves, is what set America apart in the past. The result was NOT bad for the environment, although SWAG and others would beg to differ. Cleaner power, friendlier farming, better air, have all resulted from the excess profits of capitalistic society, yet we Americans live in an all encompassing media-sponsored message of guilt. Guilted to turn over rights, such that the completely fabricated possibility of global warming doom, doesn’t happen.

The worst part about extremist AGW, is that there is no solution to the problem. Infinite money can be spent, and we still cannot stop the emissions. If everyone on earth were made an instant millionaire for conserving their usage, none of our millions would be worth a sandwich because the economic flow would stop. Redistribution, does NOT work to create wealth.

The goal for the Super Warming Advocates Guild, in my opinion, should be much different than it is. Instead of trying to repress the lifestyles of those who they openly consider ‘overconsuming’, they should be focused on solutions with emphasis on minimal impact to the economy, and general funding of research into new energy. Research for energy, is entirely different than implementation of new energy, and is FAR different from blatantly false “all of the above” rhetoric. Implementation of fake solutions in the form of all of the above, is simply a swag at the true goal of repression of lifestyles. Either a solution works, or it doesn’t, there is not much middle ground.

Despite what the AGW alarmists sell, we can change energy production, without giving anything up. Not one penny. In fact, I fully believe the change will happen, with or without our intent.

Economically, nothing could be more important than providing endless cheap energy to society. The ability to ship, travel, heat and cool are paramount in the improved living standards of humanity. Any brief review of the history of energy reveals this.

The inventions of smelting, steam engines, liquid fuel IC engines, turbines, home electricity, pumped water, centrally retailed goods, all have worked to achieve a better lifestyle for the globe. Free to pursue new interests aside from feeding themselves, scientists study climate, medicine, physics, math, philosopy, etc. at their leisure. This was not possible at our present scale even 100 years ago. A true sign of the excesses of productivity.

From all of this, I truly believe a philosophy of limitation of energy, from any source, is very much counterproductive for the environment, for long-term limitation of CO2 emission, and for the quality of life of our children. I have seen no evidence which contradicts this thought process, and more telling, no evidence which makes a real attempt at it. The IPCC takes a very generalized swing though.

So what is rational environmentalism? It is the minimization of damage to our surroundings while prioritizing the collective health of our economic productivity. Maximizing our economy, naturally leads to maximization of technological growth.

Do you avoid eating meat? – Oh hell no. That’s crazy. Eat what you like and live your life. Cow farts do nothing ‘damaging’ to the environment and the very concept is ludicrous to the point of stupidity.
Do you avoid using paper? – No way! It is a farming industry like corn.
Do you build a solar powered home? No again. The cells take a lot of energy to make and are often dirty. They also cost more than the energy they make. Why? Well if you want to do it, sure, but there is little reason. Wait 20 years and we will all change our minds.
Do you build a more efficient home? Sure, if you have the option, this is cheap and saves cash. Insulation, smart design, can all lead to improved lifestyle and save money. Smart stuff.
Do you buy energy efficient lighting? Sometimes it makes sense, others, it does not. If you heat your house around the clock, the old light emitting incandescent heatball, is hard to beat for efficiency.
What about a green clothes dryer? No way. Water requires a certain amount of energy to evaporate. Use the power.

The whole environmentally friendly decision process I personally recommend boils down to whether you can maintain, or improve your lifestyle, while changing how you live. Our company sells energy efficient products. We sell them on longevity and quality, the efficiency is just another bonus. We are all amused that our company has saved more CO2 than Michael Mann or Jim Hansen ever will. Sure they may have influenced the public, but we have designed, produced, sold and distributed actual product in large quantity. Our customers usually don’t even think about the CO2 they are saving, but they are happy about the secondary savings from lower energy usage.

When you are choosing to conserve, I hope you consider that the saving of CO2 emissions may have NO positive impact on the environment. Despite the known warming signal, the percentage of natural vs CO2 warming is unknown, and not one single instance of environmental damage has ever been directly attributed to the fraction of a degree C we have experienced.

Nothing.

Also, when you choose to recycle, consider that Waste Management makes billions sorting garbage for the good stuff already. When you choose to buy recycled paper, you are driving down the cost of pulp from fresh trees, sustainably farmed everyday, by capitalist necessity, across the world. Sure a few areas are treating their forests poorly, but when they lose their production, the process stops and the trees grow back.

Conservation is a complicated sport which most people get wrong in my opinion. Instead of conserving usage, we should be focused on conserving low cost production and directing some of that profit toward more efficient technologies, expansion of a better way of life across the globe, while insuring that obvious damage to the environment is minimized. By obvious, I mean things like chemical spills, river pollution, particulate emission, etc. If you are a believer in destructive warming, you and I have a big difference of opinion and one of us is wrong, but my point is that by stopping limitation policy and allowing the global economy to continue, technology will develop far faster and we all will realize a new paradigm in energy production far more rapidly than if we pursue the government forced policies of limitation. Less NET CO2 will be emitted and we can all go back to fighting about the important stuff like whether we evolved from monkeys or whether we should be able to defend ourselves in our homes.

18 Responses to “Rational Environmenalism”

  1. [...] Rational Environmenalism Share this:FacebookTwitterCorreo electrónicoMásDiggStumbleUponImprimirReddit   [...]

  2. johnfpittman said

    Jeff, there are economic studies that support your position. But that is why the Stern (sp?) Report had to use unsupportable discount rates. It is also the reason that a real risk evaluation is not done. The proof of damage to date is so tenuous that even the Stern Report would require even worse unsupported discount rates. The report’s position was there was ample damage as a basis. To futher complicate this would be to start with an uninformed prior that warming could actually be beneficial. This is what the IPCC does, but then parses the discussion to void what they know is true about the benefits of warming such that mitigation should be done anyway. However, what you do not see unless you look for it, is that the switch in the preponderance of mitigation versus adaptation occurs at year 2050. Further, and yes I do know it is only 11 years of data, at the current rate of maximum supported warming of 1.4C to 1.6C/century, since the models baseline of CY 2000, the actually crossover point is now about 2100 to 2120. Bet you don’t hear the IPCC and advocates talk about that.

    The supportable mix at this time should be about 99% adaptation, 1% mitigation. Well with all the contries that have refused Cap and Trade or other schemes, we may be well ahead of where we need to be. ;)

  3. clt510 said

    One of the better examples of “rational environmentalism” is the USDA program they have the South to provide wintertime habitat for migratory birds. Some reading on it here.

    Very low cost program, huge impact.

  4. TinyCO2 said

    Believers in reducing CO2 live on an Underpants Gnome energy reduction plan.

    CO2 bad.
    Get society to reduce CO2.
    ???
    Live happily ever after.

    There’s a gap in their vision of the future and they have no real idea how CO2 can be reduced. What they are sure about is – it’s someone else’s job. I think it’s why they get so cross with sceptics, they know that it’s not going to be a warmist that comes up with a new energy source.

    I’ve pointed out on AGW proponent blogs that they hardly ever talk about their personal attempts to cut CO2, nor do they quote their CO2 footprint size. WUWT has more tips on energy saving than any of the sites I’ve visited. I’m told my search for commitment to cutting CO2 is disingenuous or that I’m a concern troll. I’ve got the distinct impression that they never see themselves as part of the ‘problem’. I scratch my head when they wax lyrical about the evils of the oil companies – who do they think uses the oil? From their writings you’d think the oil companies cut out the middleman and pumped oil from the ground straight into the fires of Hell.

    AGW hysteria taps into a basic desire to protect yourself not others. When they say ‘we must control population’ they mean ‘I must control other breeding pairs so that my genes have a better chance’. ‘Energy must be saved’…’so that my offspring will have what they need/want’. Even a desire to protect animals and environments is ultimately a selfish desire because what they really want is to know that those things exist in the World in case they need or want them. For example, who wouldn’t want to save the tiger? Well what if that tiger lived in your garden and was eyeing your kids as an afternoon snack? When warmists talk about drought or heat in developing countries they don’t admit that prosperity (on the back of cheap energy) would do more for those countries than their old climate back, especially as globally their climate is supposed to change least of all. They worry instead about climate migrants and, horror of horrors, that those people might want a bigger CO2 footprints.

    Of course warmists would tell you their standpoint is one of altruism. They want to save the planet for everyone… yeah with somebody else’s money. Left leaning individuals (and especially greens) have a tendency to see government money as not belonging to anyone and being essentially limitless. They can’t fundamentally grasp that every penny comes from the people who pay taxes. For them the cost of trying to cut CO2 is irrelevant because they don’t associate taxes with paying for government policy – desired or not.

    I don’t think rationality will come to the CO2 reduction debate (and the science) until the public realise that they’re paying for it. It’s beginning to happen in the UK but my selfish fear is that we’ll go broke before our self indulgent millionaire leaders get their philanthropic fingers out of our cash to ‘save the planet’.

  5. Gary said

    Reasoning folks already have been doing what you advocate. For example, I built my house partially earth-sheltered, highly insulated, roof pitched for eventual solar panel installation (yet to be cost-efficient after 28 years of waiting). Problem is that half the population operates more on emotion than reason. Find a way to reverse the dominant factor for them and rational environmentalism will happen faster.

  6. Neil said

    Jeff, I agree.

    Neil

  7. j ferguson said

    Good article, Jeff. Thanks.

  8. Brian H said

    Good article, except for the periodic intrusive nods to the desirability of reducing CO2 emmissions. On the merits, its production should attract a negative tax, if anything.

  9. Jeff Condon said

    Brian,

    I didn’t mean to imply that it would be good to reduce CO2 emission. There doesn’t seem to be anything inherently wrong with mild warming. The concept that we shouldn’t ‘change’ the environment is a silly one on the face of it but we get what we get in this world.

    CO2 emission, however, may turn out to be net-bad to some degree. If we had the choice between equal cost and quality sources, I would chose the zero emission one until someone proved CO2 emission is beneficial enough to try it.

    Either way, we humans are cogs in the machine. The CO2 will be emitted and we will find out. What freedoms we have left when it is done, is the only real question.

  10. RoHa said

    Teeny correction. The ruleis “no comma after a subject clause”.

    These sentences should not have a comma in them.

    “This mass of self-improving public intellect set free to improve themselves, is what set America apart in the past.”
    “The worst part about extremist AGW, is that there is no solution to the problem.”
    “Research for energy, is entirely different than implementation of new energy”

  11. steveta_uk said

    RoHa, teeny-weeny correction. There is no such word as ‘ruleis’.

    Now were have we seen over-use of the ‘comma’ recently?

  12. HR said

    Lots of good points. I try to be a good sceptic and think there is no possibility of harm from AGW but the best I can do is think it’s part of a spectrum of possible outcomes. There are a couple of reasons

    1) A great number of intelligent people who think about this on a daily basis (i.e. climate scientists) are convinced by the arguments, I don’t just mean The Team but many, many more who seem much more balanced.
    2) The science is still so uncertain that it seem serious harm from all this still can’t be ruled out, just like a benign outcome can’t.

    I don’t know how you can be certain of the lack harm from all this?

    (BTW did I get my commas right?)

  13. Jeff Condon said

    To be clear, I’m not certain of a future ‘lack of harm’, but I am certain of no current evidence. I’m far more convinced that a colder environment would cause harm and a slightly warmer environment would be very much beneficial. Either way, I’m not advocating that we change the environment on purpose, just that a little warming looks awfully good to me.

  14. Brian H said

    #13;
    Damn straight. Bring on that Roman Optimum! Or maybe even the Holocene! We should be so lucky …

  15. Genghis said

    In private, all of the environmentalists I have talked to are united in their real goal of population reduction. In their world view population reduction (of non environmentalists of course) solves all of the worlds problems, pollution, global warming, urban sprawl, disease, shortage of resources, poverty, war, etc. etc.

    Except for the extremely trivial problem that the great unwashed masses may not willing give their all for the good of the environment, the environmentalists utopia is within their grasp.

  16. gallopingcamel said

    Jeff,

    Thanks for the long essay; I agree with your main points. Unfortunately, nobody with their hands on the levers of power is listening.

    In the end it won’t matter. The countries that drive hard to improve their energy infrastructure will succeed economically and those that don’t will become economic basket cases dependent on hand outs from the booming economies.

    It used to be the USA that was in the position to play “Lady Bountiful” but if we keep going on our present course we will soon be dependent on the emerging industrial nations. Right now it looks as if the PRC (People’s Republic of China) and India will be the industrial leaders in the 21st century.

    Why not Japan you say? Japan is the single most indebted nation on the planet and cannot help itself let alone anyone else.

  17. “I do believe in AGW . . .”

    Sure, I can agree with that too. As long as we qualify it to say that the ‘A’ part:

    – is possible, but unproven (unless we want to count things like UHI, which is only a local artifact and not ‘G’ in nature),
    – is miniscule, if existing,
    – is noise in the larger scheme of things.

    Plus the fact that the ‘W’ doesn’t seem to really be ‘G’ and (as some commenters said above) the ‘G’ likely not being bad anyway, but these are topics for another time.

    Sorry to nitpick, but I don’t feel any need to give a polite nod to AGW being “real” without these qualifiers. It’s like an auto engineer worrying that a bug on the windshield will cause aerodynamic drag and diminish the performance of a racecar. Sure, the bug is there; yes, as a matter of pure logic it should theoretically increase drag; but, no, as a practical matter it doesn’t make sense to acknowledge it as a serious factor.

    /rant

    —–

    You’re right that things have gone off the rails. I think there are some real environmental issues that deserve attention. Unfortuntately the black hole of CAGW is sucking up so much attention and money that many real issues get pressed to the side. I’m much more interested in real, known issues that exist today that we can do something about,rather than a laundry list of theoretical catastrophes that may or may not occur, in some unknown way, at some unspecified location, at some unknown time in the distant future.

    On a related note, probably the single greatest factor in improving lifestyles, bringing the world out of poverty, and, yes, even improving environmental conditions in many areas, has been access to affordable energy. It seems we should be absolutely bent on obtaining and providing as much cheap, plentiful, reliable energy to the world as we possibly can. In addition to improvements in health and quality of life, lots of innovation and ingenuity and creativity will be unlocked as a result.

  18. Incidentally, and slightly OT, I was just refreshing my memory on human vs. natural CO2 emissions %’s and noticed that our very own Jeff Id shows up 3rd on the Google search, as quoted by Skeptical Science

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/human-co2-smaller-than-natural-emissions.htm

    The Skeptical Science response to Jeff’s “myth” includes this gem: “Before the industrial revolution, the CO2 content in the air remained quite steady for thousands of years.” Hmmm . . .

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