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Posts Tagged ‘Environmentalists’

I’ve written about the government’s war on light bulbs, its rule against working toilets, and its prohibition of washing machines that actually clean, so I sometimes cover environmental issues.

But I usually limit myself to examples of silly radicalism, such as the crazy claim that climate change causes AIDS, a reprehensible example of EPA thuggery, and a column about pointless recycling mandates.

Notwithstanding these criticisms, environmental protection is a legitimate role of government. Simply stated, we don’t want polluters to violate our property rights.

The challenge, of course, is how to conduct sensible cost-benefit analysis.

Where do we draw the line, for instance, on how much pollution cars should be allowed to emit? Or what are the best rules to ensure landfills don’t pollute groundwater?

These are important issues, but I will admit a bias. I am instinctively skeptical whenever self-proclaimed environmentalists start pontificating.

In part, this is because everyone has an incentive to exaggerate. The business community will always say that a new regulation imposes astronomically high costs, while environmentalists will claim minimal costs and say that thousands of premature deaths will be averted.

Since exaggeration is omnipresent in Washington, that’s not what really bothers me. My main problem with environmentalists is that they want to use so-called green issues to give government more power. And if you oppose them, you’re an evil person.

Consider the example of Professor Kari Norgaard of the University of Oregon. She thinks you’re mentally ill if you don’t agree with her.

Just in case you think I’m being unfair, here are some blurbs from a report in the UK-based Daily Mail.

Prof. Kari Norgaard

An Oregon University professor has controversially compared skepticism of global warming to racism. …The professor, who holds a B.S. in biology and a master’s and PhD in sociology, argued that ‘cultural resistance’ to accepting humans as being responsible for climate change ‘must be recognised and treated’ as an aberrant sociological behaviour. …Norgaard last week attended the annual four-day ‘Planet Under Pressure’ international conference in London, where she presented her controversial paper to delegates on Wednesday.

Professor Norgaard wasn’t the only oddball at the conference. The article also mentions that the attendees included a bunch of control freaks who want to force people to live in densely-populated cities.

The scientists behind the event recently put out a statement calling for humans to be packed into denser cities so that the rest of the planet can be surrendered to mother nature. And fellow attendee Yale University professor Karen Seto told MSNBC: ‘We certainly don’t want them (humans) strolling about the entire countryside. We want them to save land for nature by living closely [together].’

The folks at the Commentator sent a camera to the conference. Here’s a five-minute sample of what they saw.

Remarkable.

But the folks at the conference weren’t even the crazies, or at least the really bizarre environmentalists weren’t part of the video. For instance, I didn’t see the folks who don’t believe in bathing, the ones who sterilize themselves to avoid carbon-producing children, or the ones who produce (or use) hand-cranked environmentally-friendly vibrators.

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Or maybe this should also be categorized as Obamacare humor.

In any event, you are forewarned that his is a bit risqué, so I’ve turned it into an image and you can click on the thumbnail at your own risk.

If you appreciate jokes that poke fun at bureaucratic insanity, especially when it involves environmental overkill, then here are two really good jokes.

First, what would happen if Noah tried to build an Ark today.

Second, an exchange of “dam” letters between a bureaucrat and a property owner. I suspect this is an urban legend, but it’s funny because it could be true.

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The Pope took a couple of days off to visit the mountains of Wyoming for some sightseeing. He was cruising the wilderness in the popemobile when there was a frantic commotion just at the edge of the woods. A helpless hippie, wearing sandals, shorts, a “Save the Whales” hat, and a “Greenpeace” T-shirt, was screaming while struggling frantically and trying to free himself from the grasp of a 10-foot grizzly.

The Pope then saw a group of loggers come racing up. One quickly fired a .44 magnum into the bear’s chest. The other two reached up and pulled the bleeding, semiconscious environmental from the bear’s grasp. Then using long clubs, the three loggers finished off the bear and two of them threw it onto the bed of their truck while the other tenderly placed the injured activist in the back seat.

As they prepared to leave, the Pope summoned them to come over. “I give you my blessing for your brave actions!” he told them. “I heard there was a bitter hatred between loggers and environmental activists, but now I’ve seen with my own eyes that this is not true.”

As the Pope drove off, one of the loggers asked his buddies, “Who was that guy?”

“It was the Pope,” another replied. “He’s in direct contact with heaven and has access to all wisdom.”

“Well,” the logger said, “he may have access to all wisdom, but he sure doesn’t know anything about bear hunting! By the way, is the bait holding up, or do we need to go back to Massachusetts and get another one?”

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This is beautiful. It’s so refreshing to have a handful of Republicans who actually understand that their job is promoting freedom.

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Last year, I commented on a handful of crazed environmentalists who were sterilizing themselves because children boost carbon emissions. I thought this was a wonderful form of natural selection since it meant at least some statists weren’t passing on their…um…peculiar genes.

We have a related story, which also comes from the United Kingdom. Some nutjobs have launched an anti-bathing campaign because it is bad (so we are told) to use water and emit carbon. Having traveled extensively in Europe, I can say from painful experience that there already are lots of people who are on board with this effort, though I doubt it’s because they are environmentally sensitive.

Since I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, I’m looking at the bright side of this development. I suspect that dirty, smelly, and greasy people are less attractive to the opposite sex. This probably means they are less likely to reproduce, so we should look at this as an indirect form of natural selection. It’s not a sure-fire approach, like the story mentioned above, but one hopes that it will reduce the birth rates of oddball leftists. Here’s a blurb from the The Guardian.

In a bid to reduce his carbon footprint to the absolute minimum, environmentalist Donnachadh McCarthy, 51, limits his showers to about twice a week. “The rest of the time I have a sink wash,” he says. “I believe that I’m as clean as everyone else.” It has helped him to get his water consumption down to around 20 litres a day – well below the 100 to 150 average in the UK. As McCarthy points out, it’s only recently that we have expected people to bathe or shower every day. “When I was a kid,” he says, “the normal thing was to bathe once a week.” Head much further back into history, and we find Elizabeth I bathing once a month, and James I apparently only ever washing his fingers. In 1951, almost two-fifths of UK homes were without a bath, and in 1965, only half of British women wore deodorant. Now we have begun to fetishise extreme cleanliness, to create the kind of culture where, as McCarthy says, it’s not entirely unusual for people staying in hotels to churn through 1,000 litres of water a day – showering in the morning, after a sauna, after the swimming pool, before dinner, before bed. The international market for soaps of all kinds is now $24bn a year. And some dermatologists fear that this intense, regular washing is stripping our skin of germs that could actually be beneficial to us, that help our skin stay healthy, balanced and fresh.

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Jeff Jacoby analyzes the absurd tendency of local governments to coerce residents into costly – and inefficient – recycling programs. As a resident of Fairfascist…oops, I mean Fairfax…County in Virginia, I already am painfully aware of this bureaucratic impulse.
….recyclables will all go into 64-gallon “toters,’’ which will be emptied at curbside on trash day. …Then I start reading the fine print. It turns out that when the town says it is “eliminating sorting,’’ what it means is that glass bottles and jars can be recycled, but not drinking glasses or window glass. It means plastic tubs are OK to toss in the toter, but plastic bags aren’t. It means that while cardboard boxes must be flattened, milk and juice cartons must not be flattened. Reams of office paper are fine, but not the wrappers they came in. Tinfoil should be crushed into balls of 2 inches or larger; tin cans shouldn’t be crushed at all. I don’t think the green police will haul me off in handcuffs if I try to recycle an ice cream carton or a pizza box, but the town has warned that “there will be fines’’ for residents whose “recycling protocols’’ don’t measure up to “basic community standards.’’ …To be fair, things could be worse. Clevelanders will soon have to use recycling carts equipped with radio-frequency ID chips, the Plain Dealer reported last month. These will enable the city to remotely monitor residents’ compliance with recycling regulations. “If a chip shows a recyclable cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables. Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine.’’ In Britain, where a similar system is already in place, fines can reach as high as $1,500. …Does any of this make sense? It certainly isn’t economically rational. Unlike commercial and industrial recycling — a thriving voluntary market that annually salvages tens of millions of tons of metal, paper, glass, and plastic — mandatory household recycling is a money loser. Cost studies show that curbside recycling can cost, on average, 60 percent more per ton than conventional garbage disposal. In 2004, an analysis by New York’s Independent Budget Office concluded, according to the New York Times, that “it cost anywhere from $34 to $48 a ton more to recycle material, than to send it off to landfills or incinerators.’’ “There is not a community curbside recycling program in the United States that covers its cost,’’ says Jay Lehr, science director at the Heartland Institute and author of a handbook on environmental science. They exist primarily to make people “feel warm and fuzzy about what they are doing for the environment.’’ But if recycling household trash makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy, why does it have to be compulsory? Mandatory recycling programs “force people to squander valuable resources in a quixotic quest to save what they would sensibly discard,’’ writes Clemson University economist Daniel K. Benjamin. “On balance, recycling programs lower our wealth.” Now whose idea of exciting is that?

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National Review has a column reviewing a new book, 3 Billion and Counting, that dissects the harsh human cost of banning DDT. There are things that should be banned, of course, but such decisions should be based on sound science and cost-benefit analysis. Sadly, that’s not what happened with the politically-motivated decision to ban this particular pesticide. 
3 Billion and Counting, which premieres this Friday in Manhattan, was produced by Dr. Rutledge Taylor, a California physician who specializes in preventive medicine. His film will both shock and anger you. DDT was first synthesized in 1877, but it was not until 1940 that a Swiss chemist demonstrated that it could kill insects without any harm to humans. It was introduced into widespread use during World War II and became the single most important pesticide in maintaining human health for the next two decades. The scientist who discovered the insecticidal properties of DDT, Dr. Paul Müller, was awarded the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on DDT. (In the 1940s and 1950s the chemical was the “secret” ingredient in a popular new cocktail, the Mickey Slim: gin, with a pinch of DDT.) In 1962, Rachel Carson’s lyrical but scientifically flawed book, Silent Spring, argued eloquently, but erroneously, that pesticides, especially DDT, were poisoning both wildlife and the environment – and also endangering human health. …In Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), DDT spraying had reduced malaria cases from 2.8 million in 1948 to 17 in 1963. After spraying stopped, malaria cases rose sharply, reaching 2.5 million over the next decade. Scientists have never found an effective substitute for DDT — and so the malaria death rate has kept on soaring.

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Thanks to Instapundit for drawing attention to this Financial Times report showing how ultra-rich elitists and politicians flew to South Africa on private jets, which meant both big carbon footprints and also resulted in ordinary people missing a key soccer match because the airport was too cluttered for many commercial planes to land. The Hypocrite-of-the-Year Award goes to Leonardo DiCaprio, who piously lectures ordinary people about how they should be good environmentalists (translation: pay higher energy taxes and reduce travel), but then engages in Al Gore-style global jet setting.
Hundreds of fans bound for Durban for the Germany-Spain World Cup semi final missed the game because their flights were unable to land, after air traffic authorities closed the city’s airport because of congestion on the runway caused by private aircraft. …Wire services reported that among the VIPs heading for the semi-final by jet were Spain’s King Juan Carlos, South African President Jacob Zuma, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and socialite Paris Hilton. The BA pilot, who held his plane for around 45 minutes above Durban in the vain hope of getting a landing slot, told passengers he had no choice but to take the plane to Johannesburg because the plane’s fuel was starting to run low. He announced that the problem was caused by the airport allowing too many private jets to land at Durban, leaving the runways clogged up and unable to accept scheduled flights. Confusion was heightened at OR Tambo airport by the lack of any senior officials to explain the problem. One junior official said she believed around 15 scheduled flights, mostly from Johannesburg, were unable to land in Durban.

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Andy Morriss, a professor at the University of Illinois Law School, is having a debate about so-called green jobs at The Economist. For some strange reason, the British magazine picked the nutjob Van Jones as his opponent (you may remember that he was forced to resign from the Obama White House after he was exposed for thinking the U.S. government was complicit in the 9/11 terrorist attacks). Andy has a much stronger argument, but see for yourself. And if you agree that government should not be engaged in corrupt, special interest pandering that destroys more jobs than it creates, then cast a vote for Andy’s side of the debate. Here’s an excerpt from his opening statement:

…virtually none of the analyses supporting green jobs programmes make calculations of net jobs. Shifting power generation from coal to solar undoubtedly boosts employment in solar energy but it also reduces employment in coal industries. Since solar power is more costly than coal power, the increase in energy prices wipes out jobs in other industries. If their employment effects are a reason to support these programmes, we need to know that the expenditures will actually create more new jobs than they destroy. …We know how to improve energy efficiency, develop new technologies and create new jobs: unleash entrepreneurs and take advantage of markets to solve what the Nobel Prize winning economist Friedrich Hayek called “the knowledge problem”. Put simply, Hayek’s point, on this issue, is that we do not know enough to plan on the grand scale green jobs that proponents propose.

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When politicians talk about the human cost of global warming, we now know what they mean. According to the Daily Mail, an Argentinian couple killed themselves, one of their kids, and wounded another supposedly because of fears of climate change. Notwithstanding the title of this post, I don’t think Al Gore should be held responsible for the lunatic actions of this couple, but I can’t help but wonder whether this would have received more attention if a depressed taxpayer did the same thing and blamed Obama’s proposed tax hikes. My guess is that there would be front page stories about the irresponsible rhetoric of pro-taxpayer organizations:

A seven-month-old baby girl survived three days alone with a bullet in her chest beside the bodies of her parents and toddler brother. Argentines Francisco Lotero, 56, and Miriam Coletti, 23, shot their children before killing themselves after making an apparent suicide pact over fears about global warming. Their son Francisco, two, died instantly after being hit in the back.

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Saw this linked on Instapundit. It’s poetic justice when scam artists and moochers get mocked.

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An earlier post poked fun at green-friendly sex toys. In the same spirit, let’s now look at the enviro-fanatic campaign against soft toilet paper. For those of you who have had the pleasure of traveling abroad, you have probably had the less-than-satisfactory experience of…well, let’s just say the mixed experience of using inadequate bathroom paper products. It’s not quite as bad as using wax paper, but it definitely falls short of the comfort – and ultimate cleanliness – of an American bathroom. It definitely would be a step in the wrong direction if substandard products were imposed on Americans. Heck, that may just be the beginning. Limousine liberals such as Cheryl Crow want us to use just one square of toilet paper. And let’s not forget the toilet paper police that will be necessary to enforce this policy. So imagine a future world where we get to use one square of crummy toilet paper. Is it any surprise that we will be less likely to be attracted to a significant other, or for a significant other to be attracted to us. Give the left credit for thinking ahead. Sex toys will be far more popular in that world. Here’s a news report about the toilet paper fight:

The issue over tissue in the bathroom — the really super-soft stuff — is more like the fight about the big SUVs loved by many Americans. Anti-green, according to environmentalists. Politically incorrect. Why should Americans use luxurious toilet paper made from old-growth trees when much of the world gets by with a far more basic and often recycled product? …Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups have pushed manufacturers such as Kimberly-Clark (Cottonelle) and Procter & Gamble (Charmin) to stop using wood from virgin forests to make tissue products. Mountains of paper are dumped every day into recycling bins in homes, offices, factories and schools. Use that to make toilet paper, the activists said. …The problem, though, is that each time paper is shredded during the recycling process, its fibers get shorter. The shorter the fiber, the less soft the tissue. And Americans, though indicating in surveys that they embraced green initiatives, also said they don’t want to sacrifice comfort.

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The UK-based Telegraph reports that some outfit called the Optimal Population Trust is suggesting that people should have fewer babies to fight supposed global warming (or climate change, or whatever they’re calling it now). This is a reflection of the people-are-bad mentality that seems disturbingly common among enviro-statists:

The report, Fewer Emitter, Lower Emissions, Less Cost, concludes that family planning should be seen as one of the primary methods of emissions reduction. The UN estimates that 40 per cent of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended. …Roger Martin, chairman of the Optimum Population Trust at the LSE, said: “It’s always been obviously that total emissions depend on the number of emitters as well as their individual emissions.

Reading this article, though, reminded me of another article from a British paper. As this story from the Daily Mail explains, some radical environmentalists are deliberately choosing to sterlilize themselves to avoid having kids:

Had Toni Vernelli gone ahead with her pregnancy ten years ago, she would know at first hand what it is like to cradle her own baby, to have a pair of innocent eyes gazing up at her with unconditional love, to feel a little hand slipping into hers – and a voice calling her Mummy. But the very thought makes her shudder with horror. Because when Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet. …Incredibly, so determined was she that the terrible “mistake” of pregnancy should never happen again, that she begged the doctor who performed the abortion to sterilise her at the same time. He refused, but Toni – who works for an environmental charity – “relentlessly hunted down a doctor who would perform the irreversible surgery. …”Having children is selfish. It’s all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet,” says Toni, 35. “Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population.” …Toni is far from alone. When Sarah Irving, 31, was a teenager she sat down and wrote a wish-list for the future. …Most young girls dream of marriage and babies. But Sarah dreamed of helping the environment – and as she agonised over the perils of climate change, the loss of animal species and destruction of wilderness, she came to the extraordinary decision never to have a child. “I realised then that a baby would pollute the planet – and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do.” …Mark adds: “Sarah and I live as green a life a possible. We don’t have a car, cycle everywhere instead, and we never fly. “We recycle, use low-energy light bulbs and eat only organic, locally produced food. “In short, we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. But all this would be undone if we had a child.”

Think about what this means. If the nut-job environmentalists persist in not having kids, that almost surely means the world’s population will gradually become more sensible about these issue since mommy and daddy enviro-statist won’t be raising little interventionists to plague future generations. Sounds like a win-win situation for everyone.

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