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?