Environmentalist insurance policies
By Paul Driessen
Many liberals went into denial, outrage and riot mode after November 8. Now they’re having meltdown over President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees with climate and environmental responsibilities:
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry at Energy, Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt for EPA, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson at State, Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke at Interior. As Department of Agriculture secretary and multiple assistant, deputy assistant and other senior level positions are filled, the meltdown will likely raise sea levels by several feet.
It’s even worse than “white supremacists” and “Russian hackers” rigging and stealing the election. Having these people at the helm will be an “existential threat to the planet,” say meltdowners.
A typical over-the-top reaction came from an aptly named spokesperson for radical pressure groups and five-alarm climate scientists that feed at the trough of taxpayer and tax-exempt foundation funding “This is the wealthiest, most corporate, most climate-denying cabinet in history,” snorted Kiernan Suckling, director of the anti-development Center for Biological Diversity.
After eight years of anti-fossil-fuel, anti-growth, anti-job, anti-blue-collar policies – and the Left’s fervent wish for eight more years under Hillary Clinton – any Trumpian shift is bound to look that way to them.
So we’re likely to get a bellyful of bombast from like-minded (or ill-informed) office and neighborhood partygoers, especially if they’re too much imbued with holiday spirits. At the risk of offending those who do not share an NRA perspective on gun control (stance, grip, sight alignment, trigger control), here’s a little intellectual ammunition that conservatives may find helpful during those “spirited” discussions.
The United States needs to reduce taxes and regulations that have hobbled energy development and job creation – threatening to put federal bureaucrats firmly in control of our states, communities, livelihoods and living standards. However, as I noted recently, these essential, long overdue changes will come with no reduction in air, water or overall environmental quality standards that ensure our health and welfare. They will address rogue agency actions that actually impair our living standards, health and wellbeing.
Indeed, nearly all these autocratic government actions are based on some variation of the infamous “precautionary principle.” This infinitely malleable pseudo-guideline says chemicals and other technologies should be restricted or banned if there is any possibility (or accusation by radical activists) that they could be harmful, even if no cause-effect link can be proven.
Even worse, the bogus principle looks only at often-inflated risks from using chemicals, energy systems or other technologies that activists or regulators dislike – never at the risks of not using them; never at risks that could be reduced or eliminated by using them. Sustainability “guidelines” are very similar.
Just as perversely, if the Powers that Wannabe like a technology, they ignore or actively suppress any harmful impacts. For instance, since wind turbines can supposedly replace fossil fuels, they ignore bird and bat deaths, human health damage from infrasound, and the fact that essential metals are mined and processed under horrendous conditions by men, women and children in African and Asian countries.
Those environmental, health, human rights, and child labor violations are far away (literally not in their backyards), and thus can be conveniently ignored.
So can the poverty, disease, malnutrition and early death perpetrated and perpetuated by extremist groups that campaign tirelessly to shut down industries in developed nation communities – and prevent the poorest nations on Earth from gaining access to modern technologies that improve and save lives.
Eco-extremists claim they can save lives by preventing higher temperatures, rising seas, and more storms, droughts and crop failures due to “dangerous manmade climate change” decades from now. So they block fossil fuel power plants that provide reliable, affordable energy for modern homes, hospitals, schools and factories that improve health and living standards – and end up killing millions right now, year after year.
Climate change has been real throughout history. Sometimes beneficial (moderately warm, with ample rainfall), sometimes destructive (decades-long droughts or cold spells, glacial epochs with mile-thick ice sheets crushing entire continents), it is driven by solar, cosmic ray, oceanic and other powerful natural forces that humans cannot control. Carbon dioxide may play a role, but only a minor one, and rising atmospheric CO2 levels make crops, grasslands and forests grow faster and better.
The “unprecedented” manmade climate cataclysms that Al Gore and Barack Obama promised are not happening. For example, we were supposed to get more frequent, powerful and destructive storms; instead, a record 11 years have passed without one category 3-5 hurricane making landfall in the USA.
To attack fracking and natural gas use, bureaucrats claim methane is 86 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas – but won’t admit that it is 1/235th as prevalent in Earth’s atmosphere (0.00017%), and at least 1/600,000th as prevalent as water vapor (1-4%), the most important GHG.
Their “social cost of carbon” schemes assign ever-higher monetary impacts to every climate and weather problem they can possibly attribute to using carbon-based fuels – but totally ignore the enormous and undeniable benefits of utilizing oil, natural gas and coal that still provide 82% of US and global energy.
They’re convinced their anti-energy diktats will “save the planet,” by shutting down US power plants and factories, despite vastly greater emissions from China, India and a hundred other nations that are rapidly expanding their fossil fuel use, to lift billions more people out of abject poverty, disease and malnutrition.
The same anti-technology activists and bureaucrats also detest biotechnology and genetically modified crops that require less water and can battle insect predators with a tiny fraction of the insecticides required for conventional grains and vegetables. They equally despise another GM marvel, Golden Rice, which prevents Vitamin A Deficiency that blinds and kills hundreds of thousands of children every year.
Instead of applauding the reduced blindness, malnutrition, starvation and death these crops can bring, precautionary and sustainability extremists obsess about imaginary risks of eating them, allowing more millions to die unnecessarily, year after year. It’s not their kids, after all. Why should they be concerned?
The same callous, phony ethics prevail on the disease front. Eco-activists support bed nets – but not insecticide spraying to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and certainly not DDT, the most powerful, longest-lasting mosquito repellant ever invented. Sprayed once every six months on the walls of mud or cinderblock houses, DDT keeps 80% of mosquitoes from entering, irritates those that do come in, so they don’t bite, and kills any that land.
But radical ideologues focus on trivial, irrelevant side effects that “some researchers say could be linked” to DDT use – and let 600,000 parents and children die excruciating deaths every year from malaria.
Every one of these anti-technology, “precautionary” attitudes is the environmentalist equivalent of protecting American kids from powerful chemicals, fatigue, nausea, hair loss, and increased risk of illness and infection – by banning chemotherapy drugs, and just letting the little cancer patients die.
They are the equivalent of requiring you to carry a $10,000-a-year insurance policy that covers you only if you are killed by a meteorite – or by a raptor or tyrannosaur. At least meteorite risks are real, if extremely remote.
Raptors and T rexes exist only in our imaginations, special effects computers and movie theaters – much like the manmade climate chaos and other precautionary extremism that come from computer models and PR hype, and drive too many of our policies, laws and regulations.
Have fun at your holiday parties. This season promises to be even more animated than most.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death and other books on the environment.