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A Real Earth Day

Ah, Earth Day. Usually, I use this space to mock the do-nothing feel-goodism that constitutes the bulk of the environmentalist movement. I’ll point out how they do things like “Earth Hour” where they turn out the lights and light up candles and actually do more damage to the environment in the process.

But this year, I want to do something different. I want to recognize the things that are benefiting the environment and truly making the Earth a better and cleaner place.

  • Hydrofracking and the natural gas boom have resulted in the United States being one of the only countries to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, despite not signing the Kyoto Protocol, the United States easily met its standards … without wrecking the economy (or at least, not wrecking it through environmental policy). By replacing more carbon-intense fuels, natural gas is buying years, possibly decades, to address the problem of global warming. And concerns over contamination of groundwater have turned out to be overblown.
  • Nuclear Power is the only alternative energy that functions on a large scale. It uses 10-100 times less land per kilowatt hour than comparable alternative energy and makes far less of a mess, even accounting for the meltdowns at Fukushima and Three Mile Island. New technology, such as pebble-bed reactors, promise to make this energy source even safer and more efficient. And nuclear fusion continues to make slow progress.
  • Mass transportation and free trade allow food to be grown in environments that are ideal and then shipped all over the world. Because transportation uses far less energy than raising and maintaining crops or animals in imperfect environments, the result, contra the “food miles” idiots, is less energy consumption, less resource consumption and lower food prices.
  • While we’re on the subject, Genetically Modified Organisms are increasing crop yields while using less land, less fertilizer and less dangerous pesticides. And they have yet to produce a single attack of killer tomatoes.
  • Capitalism has made a clean environment a consumer good. Consumer pressure has done more to improve the environment than every United Nations treaty combined. Capitalist countries are much cleaner, much more efficient and much more environmentally conscious than command-and-control economies. If you think top-down economies are better for the environment, I invite you to go to random city in China and a take a deep searing breath.
  • If people really want to do some good for the planet, they can go to school and learn about it. They can learn the laws of physics, biology and chemistry. They can study engineering and develop the technology to produce food and energy at an ever smaller cost to the environment. If they don’t have the ability to do science, they can build businesses to exploit those technologies and bring them to market. And failing that, they can at least align their politics with markets, freedom and technological innovation — the things that have really cleaned up the environment, the forces that have every environmental indicator, apart from greenhouse gases, moving in the right direction.

    Anything else is intellectual masturbation. Turning out your lights for an hour and using recycled toothpaste may make you feel like you’re helping the planet. But the people who are really saving the world are too busy working in labs, classrooms and boardrooms to be bothered with this nonsense.

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    1. hist_ed says:

      Happy Earth Day from Penn and Teller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puVBFIciqGU#t=1778

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    2. West Virginia Rebel says:

      George Carlin’s take:

      West Virginia Rebel recently posted..Jet SetterMy Profile

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