May 202008

See, I don’t. I don’t care about the earth. I’m an environmentalist when I can measure the direct impact on my pocketbook. I use compact fluorescents, but only because they’re cheaper to run. See? Like that.

No, I’m teasing you! Really! Well, mostly. Actually, I’m not sure at all.

There is a big arena of conversation that, in my view, is not entered nearly often enough when we’re discussing what we should do with dear, sweet Gaia. (I’m speaking predominantly about global warming here, by the way—not what are, to me, considerably less controversial topics like littering, water pollution, and so forth.) If you consider yourself an environmentalist, I’d love to hear from you on this post.

What of India and China?
The United States has roughly a tenth the population of these two countries combined, and they’re both in the early stages of industrial and commercial revolutions that will ultimately dwarf ours by that same order of magnitude. They will not be denied, ladies and gentlemen. These citizenries will not be beholden to environmental regulations (arguably) befitting the (arguably) more mature societies that will write and attempt to inflict them.

Carbon offsets? Yes, that’s hilarious. Talk to the young Indian family about to afford their first automobile and let me know if there’s a line item in their Excel spreadsheet for that, okay? You want a vehicular badge for the ultimate destruction of the earth due to global warming (if you think that’s the way it’s going to go)? It’s the Tata Nano, not the Cadillac Escalade.

What if we just let it go?
Seriously. Well, mostly seriously, and this is really part two of the first question. And by “letting it go,” I mean work on finding solutions for what we believe may be the eventual effects, rather than try to keep them from coming to pass. That ship has sailed. -5.

No matter what we do (and by “we” I mean the several hundred million who have already secured the middle-class, “post-industrial” lifestyle—the group of people containing all of the hand-wringers and would-be environmental dictators), some large parts of this situation shall not be arrested, or even slowed. Demand for oil in Asia is going to increase every year for the rest of my life. Carbon dioxide emissions in Asia are going to do the same thing. All of the “haves” of the world pissing in the wind with regulations that accomplish little but choking economic growth won’t change it.

It’s not lost on me that a primary front in the war is linguistic, as well. For example, it seems the warming trend has been inconveniently flat for a few years now, and the massive killer hurricanes didn’t keep on relentlessly coming, and stuff like that. So the smart term is now not “global warming,” but “climate change.” Do you see how clever that is? You can blame anything on climate change.

We’re “up against” the rise of a massive middle class on the other side of the world. That being the case, it’s not particularly interesting to me how much the human race has had to do with whatever’s happening to the earth’s climate right now, because the cumulative effect will not decrease. No matter what tortured laws we come up with over here, the earth’s never going to know the difference.

Mind, I’m not denying here. In fact, I’ll take the most pessimistic models out there as iron-clad fact, for purposes of this argument. I’m suggesting that unless we’re going to systematically kill two billion people or so in the next few years, the war is already long lost. Alternate energy research and development remains critically important—because whatever else petroleum is, it is finite—but again, how are you going to bring that to the streets of India and China in the next decade or two? We’ll do well to make a dent here. And by the time we do, how many more cars will they be operating?

I think we need serious inquiry into the potential other side of the “disaster,” if that’s what it is, because I think in terms of reversibility, we’re already meandering about on said other side. I don’t hear that serious inquiry right now. What do you think?

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 Posted by at 7:53 pm

  10 Responses to “Do you want to save the earth?”

  1. I may be a bit more “environmentalist” than you – I don’t have to see an impact to my bottom line to make changes in my behavior – but I’m pretty much right next to you in ALL of the rest of it. More to the point, I think that a lot of the pickle we’re currently facing IS our (read; first world countries’) fault.

    It seems to me that we’re coming off a lot like Mr. Chili’s grandmother. When she moved to Sarasota, she started complaining about how ALL THESE PEOPLE were moving to Florida and WRECKING it for those already there!! It was shameful! HOW can they keep letting people move in?! She never acknowledged that she herself wasn’t a native to the state – that didn’t matter; she wanted the gates closed after she got there.

    The U.S., England, and all the other “developed” nations have NO RIGHT to complain about India and China’s use of the (dirty) technology we’ve been using for decades. We’ve KNOWN for decades that this technology was dirty, we’ve KNOWN that it’s bad and that its sustained use was going to cause damage, but did that spur us to put our not-insubstantial energy and talent (not to mention money) into developing kinder, more gentle sources of energy and power? Nope! We want the gas station closed after WE’VE filled up, and that’s not only wrong, it’s more than a little disgusting.

  2. When I was a kid, I distinctly remember getting completely worked up, upset and terrified over the looming ice age the globe was slipping into. Now, I just think we can get by with a whole lot less hysteria, and a whole lot more rational thinking. You know, no jerky homeowners associations that say you can’t put solar panels on your roof, or, God forbid, no clotheslines in your backyard. Sheesh.

  3. And, zeppelins. I want more zeppelins. How cool would it be to float to work?

  4. Chili: I did overstate it just a bit, though I remain confident that you are a bigger environmentalist than I. 🙂

    Nobody wants to say it out loud, but more nuclear plants need to be in our future.

    ‘seester: LOL! Know what mine was? Soil erosion. I saw a filmstrip in the fourth grade and was absolutely convinced that soil erosion was the gravest problem facing humanity.

    And zeppelins would be cool. Is anyone looking at that?

  5. For me, it was nuclear annihilation. I was strangely and acutely aware of the arms race, and I was convinced that Russia was gonna push that red button and we’d all be done for. I even put all my favorite stuffed animals in a Hefty bag by the window, so I could grab them quickly if I had to evacuate my room…

  6. Mrs. Chili – Did you get that thick booklet from school with the red and yellow cover that told you how to prepare for a nuclear attack? It had instructions on how to prepare a bomb shelter and such. Kept me up at nights, too…

  7. YES! And it told us to (get this) HIDE UNDER A DESK. Are you FRICKIN’ KIDDING ME?!? A little aluminum and melamine desk isn’t going to save us from a nuclear blast. Perhaps they were thinking along the lines of assigned seating in airplanes – it would make ID-ing the little piles of ash more convenient…

  8. Mrs. Chili–your desk comment was the bright spot of my day thus far.

    Who had time to save the planet? In the south you stockpiled for the second coming…not global warming or nuclear fallout. If you’re still around when they pass out the HAZMAT suits, it’s because you sassed your mother and wore red underpants…not because you forgot to plant a tree on earth day. (I’m teasing). What ever happened to the “recycled” crochet hats made from Budwiser beer cans?

  9. […] I blogged recently about “saving the earth.” I made the specific point that we can cheerfully hamstring our economy with reams of environmental regulations and it won’t make a damned bit of difference to dear Gaia, because China and India won’t (and shouldn’t) play.  This apparently eager guilt over this rescue operation is similarly retch-inducing, and seems born of the same myopic stupidity. […]

  10. […] So let’s see.  Our benevolent government is telling us this is a good thing for everyone, when it may in fact be hurting everyone, and the poor disproportionately so.  Gee, you know, I don’t have to squint much at all to see a parallel with radical environmental policies that strangle economic growth while providing no cumula…. […]

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