March 9, 2009

Why don't environmentalists celebrate the economic slump as the big cutback in consumption that they always wanted?

It's really a kind of automatic Kyoto, isn't it? Or do you want to tell me that they are celebrating, but they have the good taste discretion to celebrate privately?

AND: These questions occurred to me after reading this.

58 comments:

Original Mike said...

Reductions aren't good enough, if they are not accompanied by genuflection to the alter of Gai.

Joe M. said...

I'm sure they're celebrating, just as they celebrate the high gas prices. At least they have "good taste discretion" this time.

John Althouse Cohen said...

I don't understand how you're using the second link (to my blog) to support your point. That post says the economic crisis has led to economic stimulus that's leading to weakened environmental regulation and excessive consumption. So why would "environmentalists celebrate"? My point is that the Democratic policies are ironically leading to a lot of stuff that environmentalists have a big problem with.

garage mahal said...

More discretion than Republicans who are openly rooting for America to fail.

SteveR said...

There is no sense of proportion. A 99% improvement is not 100% and thus not good enough. They have resisted risk-based decision making in favor of absolute regulatory standards because the former leaves room for leaving some "bad" things in place when the risk is low enough.

But its largely financially motivated. There's always got to be something bad going to happen for which they can solicit donations/funding to protect us and which also keeps them from getting a real job and engaging in real science.

The sad thing is they utilize emotional propaganda foisted on the undereducated such as school children.

chickenlittle said...

Why don't environmentalists celebrate the economic slump as the big cutback in consumption that they always wanted?

Why don't people celebrate more affordable housing in California now that the bubble has burst?

Original Mike said...

The smart environmentalists are worried. Poor countries can't afford all the pie-in-the-sky stuff they want.

Ann Althouse said...

@John I just had a question that your post provoked. You're right that your post isn't supporting my statement/question. I'll reconfigure things so it doesn't seem to be so.

Ann Althouse said...

There.

Ann Althouse said...

Anyway, I agree about the stimulus. My point is, why don't environmentalists openly oppose Obama and say don't fight the downturn, welcome it?

John Althouse Cohen said...

@Mom Cool, thanks.

John Stodder said...

We don't even have to pick on environmentalists. People in Los Angeles who have jobs celebrate recessions, strikes, natural disasters, plagues, official days of mourning, religious holidays -- anything that clears traffic off the freeways.

John Althouse Cohen said...

why don't environmentalists openly oppose Obama

Doesn't this sort of answer itself?

Original Mike said...

We don't even have to pick on environmentalists.

You're no fun.

k*thy said...

True, what environmentalists strive for is often at odds with consumer economies – at least on the surface. With a little imagination and putting down of swords, the two could achieve the same goals.

Smilin' Jack said...

Why don't environmentalists celebrate the economic slump as the big cutback in consumption that they always wanted?

Because they can't take credit for it.

Alex said...

Althouse - thanks for being an agent provocateur and helping to undermine the Obama administration! Your work is much appreciated by the neocon cabal. Your weekly check is in the mail as we speak!

Alex said...

What always got my goat was the environuts conveniently ignored the horrific pollution in the Soviet Union. America was the evil one, while the USSR was polluting 10x worse. It's proof enough for me that it's not about saving the environment, but about promoting Marxism.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

My point is, why don't environmentalists openly oppose Obama and say don't fight the downturn, welcome it?

Because they don't want to reveal their cards. A good poker player never lets the opposition know what cards they are going to play or what hand they are holding.

Of course, they want the economy to tank and people to suffer for the environment. They are the new Luddites.

And, all those so called "green jobs" and "green energy" programs that Obama is crowing about? They require technology and parts (windmill blades, gears, chips, components etc) that are mostly manufactured......Guess where?....get ready. Overseas in places like China, India that don't give a rat's behind about being "green". They actually care about growing their own economy, jobs and making money.

So, while we are wearing hair shirts and flogging ourselves in the name of Gaia and being "green", they are laughing all the way to the bank.

As Kermit the Frog said: It isn't easy being green.

Cedarford said...

Good post by Althouse, and her link to her sage son John A. Cohen. Who makes an excellent point about the Democrats in charge(and thus the country) being whipsawed by two core Democrat economic policy drives that are for the most part, opposed - and which seek the opposing philosophy/policy's defeat.

On one side you have environmentalists quietly cheering US and Global economic destruction because it means less consumption, less creation of Evil CO2. While pushing significant new taxes and restrictions that they hope will shrink the economy and further cut back on evil consumerism that threatens Mother Gaia Herself..

On the other, you have Democrats who do not want to see the country fall into Depression, that want new jobs, economic stimulus. But owe a lot of their power and fundraising to Gorebot Activists...and have sort of locked themselves into a policy narrative that the "The Future Is Miracle C02-free but still anti-dam and anti-nuke alternative energy solutions." With no drilling or other raping of Mother Earth. (Yet they do not oppose mass immigration..that is as Progressive and PC as hardcore environmentalism).

The fig leaf now utilized is that "exciting new green jobs" from making electric energy from wind and "exciting" solar trump the fact it may cost 6 to 25 times as much as energy from coal or nuclear. And nevermind the effect on business and household doing any stimulation when their electric bills triple and "carbon taxes" hit what they make, purchase, and transport (While China and other economic competitors are except currently from the environmentalist's Holy Kyoto Pact.

Meanwhile, those many "back to nature" environmentalists that tell us the we can all live on carbon-neutral organic living communes have had their fantasies take new hits. Turns out burning wood instead of evil fossil fuel coal produces more smog, dioxins, particulates, and aromatic hydrocarbon carcinogens than coal does. So wood burning is being banned from more and more of the West in favor of Clean Natural Gas.

Except the environmentalists oppose drilling for nat gas in most places - as a drill rig somehow "mars the beauty and disturbs the wildlife" more than 100 permanently placed windmills making "Beautiful Power!" but each far bigger than a nat gas rig.

Well, I suppose we will always have "Miracle Ethanol!!" as long as environmentalists and agribiz collaborate on that fantasy and provide the subsidies.

Rob Prideaux said...

"My point is, why don't environmentalists openly oppose Obama and say don't fight the downturn, welcome it?"

Your question seems to presume that environmentalists desire a shrinking or stagnant economy, rather than a decrease in C02 emissions, or coal ash pollution, or clear cutting, or overfishing. It's sort of a false dilemma, isn't it?

I'm betting that we can be smarter than this. That we can simultaneously turn the economy around and improve the quality of our air, water, energy and food. Stimulus money will flow through the economy just as well on solar panels as on oil rigs, and it'll have a similar effect whether it's spent on an environmentally sustainable road or an environmentally damaging road.

Henry said...

Smiling Jack beat me too it.

The only western culture that achieved any kind of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions last decade was Japan, which just happened to be in the grip of a decade long economic slump.

The recent mantra of the environmentalists, as amplified by Obama, is the pie-in-the-sky idea of "green jobs" -- environmentalism as growth.

Japan's stagnation and our recession cannot be applauded because they too thoroughly refute this notion.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

What is an "environmentally sustainable road"?

Rob Prideaux said...

@Henry - one that doesn't encroach on a protected habitat.

David said...

It's no accident that environmentalism was embraced as our societal wealth made huge gains. Societies with major economic problems can not afford the cost of environmental controls. (See India, Former Soviet Union, China.) A more cynical view is that we have outsourced a large percentage of our most polluting activities. This is why energy is the target du millennium in the United States. Most of the other highly polluting activities have cleaned up, shrunken greatly or outsourced.

David said...

Obama is on the tube now, live from somewhere or other. Why do his speeches sound so impersonal? Why is he so humorless and cheerless?

Freder Frederson said...

What always got my goat was the environuts conveniently ignored the horrific pollution in the Soviet Union. America was the evil one, while the USSR was polluting 10x worse. It's proof enough for me that it's not about saving the environment, but about promoting Marxism.

Name one.

I suspect you are just pulling this statement out of your ass. I can't think of any environmentalist who would defend or ignore the massive environmental destruction carried out by the Soviets

Henry said...

@Henry - one that doesn't encroach on a protected habitat.

Thanks. I was trying to imagine a road that recycled into toilet paper, or that didn't have runoff, or that grew itself from moss.

How does avoiding protected habitats help the economy?

Freder Frederson said...

Why don't environmentalists celebrate the economic slump as the big cutback in consumption that they always wanted?

Why don't lawyers celebrate a rise in the crime rate?

Why do doctors try to get their patients to stop smoking and dentists to get theirs to cut back on sugar. After all, isn't cancer and rotting teeth profitable for them?

Are you really as dense as you pretend to be or do you just like having the majority of your readers agree with you?

sonicfrog said...

What always got my goat was the environuts conveniently ignored the horrific pollution in the Soviet Union. America was the evil one, while the USSR was polluting 10x worse. It's proof enough for me that it's not about saving the environment, but about promoting Marxism.

Here is a conversation I had the other day with my guitarist, who is a self proclaimed pinko commie. The conversation went something like this:

Pinko Commie: All capitalism is bad - those evil corporations pollute, export their polluting ways to other countries, and don't care about the environment.

Me: Are you kidding Russia was revealed to be a stinking polluted mess when the Soviet Union fell apart.

Pinko Commie: Nut-uh.! Moscow was very clean. So was most of Russia.

Me: Well that's because of no-one lives in most of Russia. What about all those pictures we saw of oil filled lakes when the Berlin wall came down?

Pinko Commie: Oh, well, that was Eastern Europe.....

Freder Frederson said...

Pinko Commie: All capitalism is bad - those evil corporations pollute, export their polluting ways to other countries, and don't care about the environment.

Me: Are you kidding Russia was revealed to be a stinking polluted mess when the Soviet Union fell apart.


There is no reason both these statements can't be true.

Henry said...

Freder, all your analogies are backwards.

There is, in fact, a great deal of environmental literature bemoaning the great consumption by Americans.

Try a Google search for "the average american consumes"

The means by which consumption is down (no jobs) shouldn't disqualify the ends (less consumption).

Unless some different means (consumption taxes, government regulation) were the point all along.

Henry said...

And I'll go on record as saying that I believe that fossil fuels should be taxed (to pay for the obvious externalities) and that American consumption should be lower than in the immediate past.

For the last 20 years the American standard of living has been purchased by borrowed money. We should not be borrowing now to simulate yesterday's excess.

Freder Frederson said...

There is, in fact, a great deal of environmental literature bemoaning the great consumption by Americans.

Of course there is, but that doesn't mean we couldn't consume less without a huge economic downturn or that environmentalists want people to suffer.

You really need to bone up on your logic.

Henry said...

Freder wrote that doesn't mean we couldn't consume less without a huge economic downturn or that environmentalists want people to suffer.

Did I write that or did I specifically spotlight the difference between ends and means?

You need to bone up on reading comprehension.

Henry said...

Freder, here's a typical quote:

On a global scale the average US citizen uses far more than his or her fair share of the planet's resources - consuming more than four times the worldwide average of energy, almost three times as much water and producing more than twice the average amount of rubbish and five times the amount of carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming. The US - with five per cent of the world's population - uses 23 per cent of its energy, 15 per cent of its meat and 28 per cent of its paper. Additional population will mean more people seeking a share of those often-limited resources.

Now let's consider a more just and sustainable world where the U.S. population cuts its energy use, meat eating, and paper shuffling by some significant amount.

What do you think would happen to the U.S. economy?

Considering how much of the literature consists of dire warnings, you would think the environmentalists could at least summon an "I told you so."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

What is an "environmentally sustainable road"?

Dirt.

Rob Prideaux said...

@Henry - "a road that...grew itself from moss". That'd be genius!

"How does avoiding protected habitats help the economy?"

Protecting the habitat doesn't necessarily help or hinder the economy, building the road does (of course, that's a whole 'nother debate). And it may be more expensive, in the short term, to build the road around the habitat rather than through it, but if the habitat is preserved, you have the future possibility of turning it into a park or something, which, sensibly managed, could at once create a space for the rejuvenation of people, as well as additional revenue.

I guess my point is that the false dilemma of "CHOOSE - economic growth or environmental sustainability" reduces the discussion to fingerpointing, which doesn't do much to resolve the issue.

Henry said...

Dirt.

Sadly, not true. Big runoff problems.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Sadly, not true. Big runoff problems

I know. I was being facetious.

However, this illustrates that there is NOTHING that will be acceptable to the enviro-nazis other than the complete removal of mankind. Our mere presence affects the environment. But then again so does the presence of the cows down in the field.

Rob Prideaux said...

@Dust Bunny Queen - what illustrates that there is nothing that will be acceptable? That dirt roads cause runoff problems? That environmentalists aren't celebrating the economic slump?

Your enviro-nazis are a straw man. Your comparison of humans to cows is accurate and irrelevant, unless you think that cows can make decisions about how they affect the environment.

And that's the thing: of course we affect the environment - the issue is to what extent, and in what direction?

TosaGuy said...

If we scale our national economy back by 50 percent so we "consume" less we won't get to blog here anymore because we will all (to include Freder) be too busy simply doing life's mundane tasks and using precious little alotment of energy to cook, minimally heat ourselves or turn on a light instead of firing up the computer to bitch on the internet.

I guess there is a bright side to everything ;)

Cedarford said...

Rob Prideaux said...

Your question seems to presume that environmentalists desire a shrinking or stagnant economy, rather than a decrease in C02 emissions, or coal ash pollution, or clear cutting, or overfishing. It's sort of a false dilemma, isn't it?

I'm betting that we can be smarter than this. That we can simultaneously turn the economy around and improve the quality of our air, water, energy and food. Stimulus money will flow through the economy just as well on solar panels as on oil rigs, and it'll have a similar effect whether it's spent on an environmentally sustainable road or an environmentally damaging road.


No, it isn't a false dilemma, but a very real one. Environmntal activists think their own special issues goals are so important, that issues like the economy, independence from foreign oil from dangerous countries are secondary.
And forcing the American public to comply with silly or discredited issues like only buying Gore-bulbs, attending to the 1960s era "menace of clear-cutting" are still critical.

Stimulus money will flow through the economy just as well on solar panels as on oil rigs,

Not really, not if the consequence on infrastructure investment and the economy is anything but "stimulus-neutral". Oil rigs are a proven economic jobs multiplier - preventing billions in losses to foreign oil suppliers and further adding to US security.. Made in Malaysia solar panels with ratepayers forced to buy solar power 30-45 times more expensive than coal or nuclear is a detriment to jobs, our trade balance as exorbitant solar energy is priced into goods and services not shared by CHina and other competitors, and to our economic recovery.

BJM said...

Two interesting headlines in my Valley news feed today:

MMA solar, wind company gets bought

San Francisco-based MMA Renewable Ventures develops, finances, owns and operates renewable energy projects including solar and wind but will now focus exclusively on solar projects.

It was acquired by Madrid-based Fotowatio, which has developed nearly 100 megawatts of solar projects in Spain. The company has invested $880 million in solar projects and will pump $3.2 billion into projects in the United States, Spain and Italy by 2012, the company said.


I wonder how many permanent, post-construction jobs will be created in the US?

Element Partners closes $486M cleantech fund

Investors include corporate, state and municipal pension funds, university endowments, private foundations, funds of funds, and family offices.

Same old, same old.

How much of the green portion of the stimulus bill will find it's way into the pockets of American workers?

Here's a sample of wind equipment manufacturers.

Isn't GE's CEO Immelt on Obama's recovery board? Conflict of interest much?

Solar manufacturing is a bit more American centric, but the large scale, ergo lower build-out costs, manufactures are mostly in Asia.

We're going green alright, our green is going offshore.

Chris Wren said...

A few questions of my own have occurred to me: do you actually understand what environmentalism is, and have you ever met a person who would describe themselves as an environmentalist? Or are your questions merely rhetorical devices, part of your usual grenade-throwing at an imaginary hypothetical construct of "the Left" that exists only in your head?

Rob Prideaux said...

@Cedarford - "Environmntal activists think their own special issues goals are so important, that issues like the economy, independence from foreign oil from dangerous countries are secondary." And therein lies the falsity of the dilemma. A second place concern is not equal to a lack of concern.

"Not really, not if the consequence on infrastructure investment and the economy is anything but "stimulus-neutral"". I'm guessing by stimulus-neutral you mean spending the stimulus money without regard to environmental issues? That somehow if environmental issues are incorporated, the money won't flow through the economy? The economy has become, for better or worse, global, so it's not like money spent on Malaysian solar panels, to use your example, just disappears. It comes back the US in one form or another, eventually, and along the way has helped Malaysia with it's own portion of the economic crisis.

"Oil rigs are a proven economic jobs multiplier - " So, you're into energy and energy independence. Where does your 30-45 cost multiplier come from? If we were incorporating the health, environmental, and subsidy costs of traditional (eg, oil, coal) energies into the price, how would that stack up?

BJM said...

Well Chris, I'm not sure if you're addressing me, but I live in the Berkeley hills 'nuff said?

Rob Prideaux said...

Success stories do happen, for example with acid rain (remember that?):

This article from The Economist in 2006 declares the program a success. If you don't have a login, here's the relevant quote:

"The greatest green success story of the past decade is probably America's innovative scheme to cut emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2). Dan Dudek of Environmental Defence, a most unusual green group, and his market-minded colleagues persuaded the elder George Bush to agree to an amendment to the sacred Clean Air Act that would introduce an emissions-trading system to achieve sharp cuts in SO2. At the time, this was hugely controversial: America's power industry insisted the cuts were prohibitively costly, while nearly every other green group decried the measure as a sham. In the event, ED has been vindicated. America's scheme has surpassed its initial objectives, and at far lower cost than expected. So great is the interest worldwide in trading that ED is now advising groups ranging from hard-nosed oilmen at BP to bureaucrats in China and Russia. "

And you can read more about the process on wikipedia.

If people who's primary concern is the environment communciated better with people who's primary concern is the economy, we'd see more stuff like that.

Rob Prideaux said...

@BMJ - Your Berkeley Hills credentials do suggest more than a passing familiarity with environmentalists, especially if you've ever been to Berkeley Bowl.

But I'm confused by your post. You seem to suggest that the Fotowatio deal will mean less construction jobs in the US, but the article contradicts that:
"“What’s interesting about solar is it’s local in a sense,” said Vice President Mark McLanahan. “You need feet on the ground to find sites and do the work locally..."

You seem to say that the investors are doing the same thing they always do, yet Element Partners portfolio consists of 19 US companies, 2 Canadian companies, and one Norwegian company. That's still 19 US companies getting private funds to build stuff.

You again suggest that little money will get to US workers, and you highlight a US manufacturer, but you suggest that he unduly used his influence to secure funds. There's no indication that his influence was undue, and funds would certainly get to US workers at his plant.

And your final is much the same: you say that there are US manufacturer for solar, but that some of it will go to Asia.

Either I'm completely missing your points, or your handily undermining your own arguments.

Eric said...

Why don't environmentalists celebrate the economic slump as the big cutback in consumption that they always wanted?

Because, like frequent flier Al Gore preaching from his 20,000 sq. ft. mansion, when they say "we" need to make sacrifices, what the mean is "you". When "we" becomes "you and me" it's an emergency that requires a temporary suspension of environmentalist principles.

jeff said...

Garage babbled:

"More discretion than Republicans who are openly rooting for America to fail."

Name one person who has indicated they are rooting for America to fail.

BJM said...

Rob,I don't shop at the Bowl, they import too much of their produce. I prefer Whole Foods on Telegraph for green and bulk goods, their parking situation is a bit less frenetic, and the Oakland wholesale market on 4th and various farmer's markets. I buy seasonal and local.

My point is that the bulk of the green jobs that American workers may have from the green energy build-out will be temporary, as you say, boots on the ground prior and during build-out.

Much of the hardware will be imported and profits exported, so yes, we have a temporary benefit in employment numbers, but not long term. Obama is promising to create a green industry that produces good jobs. Which sounds wonderful to those who have been retrenched or are uneasy about rising unemployment, but in fact it will be a service industry with much lower labor requirements post build-out.

There are a couple of German companies planning to built plants in Tennessee that may employ 500-1000 workers, but they are 3-4 years out, and not a sure thing in this economy in spite of millions in incentives from Tenn.

All the while energy costs to the American worker will escalate as energy costs must be artificially inflated to make green energy economically competitive and feasible to investors. This will translate as higher living costs.

Post green build-out unemployment rises again and energy costs have dramatically risen during the build out. I'm not sure that is a net gain economically for a construction worker. I believe we must make this change, but it is being over promised as a panacea to ills it cannot address.

Spain is dealing with the issue of unemployment in the sector and excess inventory now that their build out is mature, which of course is why they are interested in building ours.

My point in highlighting the Elements fund is that Obama is selling green energy as a new way of doing business in the energy sector. Yet much of the manufacturing is outsourced including GE. The serious money will be spent/sent offshore, with a govt trickle to the US cottage industry to campaign upon.

So the same folks profit as those who have done so from fossil fuels; those with money to invest. As an investor in this sector, I have no problem with that, but again this is not what most Americans are being led to believe by the hopenchangey rhetoric. Green energy is not egalitarian, it will not be owned by "the people" and it will not be cheaper than fossil fuels.

I am not arguing against the green energy build-out, I hope it exceeds my wildest dreams, but it is not being portrayed in a realistic light in order to sell it.

American can make the hard decisions and our politicians should be straight with us, don't you think?

Rob Prideaux said...

@BJM - That's a lot to digest. Thanks for your perspective. To paraphrase, you say that the stimulus will pay for a short-term green energy build out, most of which will go to foreign corporate interests, after which unemployment in the green energy sectore will rise and energy will be more expensive.

I agree, of course, that politicians should be straight with us. I think you'll agree that we must sometimes force them to.

That said, I had thought of the green energy part of the stimulus as temporary, more like a jump-start than the beginning of a permanent situation. I don't know that I'd want it to be permanent, nor that it needs to be. Amidst all the chicken little cries of the economic end of the world, I believe this situation will end.

To the other point, I guess I'd made the assumption that the stimulus money would be mainly to the cottage industry (although why it's still cottage after nearly 40 years is another thing).

I have more research to do.

AlphaLiberal said...

I was wondering how long it would take for some enviro-hater to make this accusation.

Revenant said...

Yes, I hate the environment.

I punched a bunny just this afternoon, in fact. And then I chopped down a tree.

fcai said...

I don't chop down trees, I use a chainsaw - it is faster and you get more taken down in the same amount of time.

TRO said...

"More discretion than Republicans who are openly rooting for America to fail."

Moronic. Barry failing pretty much assures America's success.