Environmentalists often defend their anti-industrial causes by invoking the good of “future generations.” That tactic was employed by Regina Barna, an outspoken opponent of the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline, which will run partly though New Jersey.
In a letter titled Shale gas is a bad idea, Barna wrote, in part:
Shale gas development is a bad idea, not just for New Jersey, but for the planet.
On Sept. 21, the Peoples Climate March of 400,000 protestors in New York City and the subsequent United Nations Conference on Climate Change, are highlighting the dangers that countries all over the world are already experiencing because of man-made climate change issues.
When considering whether you care about a pipeline, do not ask whether you personally want a 30- to 42-inch pipeline running through your backyard. The pipeline and its infrastructure will bring with it noxious compressor stations, noisy power plants and metering stations, risks of leaks and explosions. I doubt if any of us want that. Rather, ask the following larger questions: How important are clean air, water and soil to the earth? Is a healthy environment worthy of preserving for our children? If you have suffered from or know of anyone affected by Superstorm Sandy, ask: Can we avoid these ever more severe natural disasters? Do the benefits of extraction outweigh the costs? Are we not at a tipping point where we should be focusing on alternate sources of renewable energy? By extracting fossil fuels, we are contributing to the degradation, not only of beautiful state that we live in, but to the very earth we live on.
At least Barna is will to pose the question, “Do the benefits . . . outweigh the costs?” Most anti-fossil fuel activists don’t even acknowledge that there are benefits.
I left these comments:
“If you have suffered from or know of anyone affected by Superstorm Sandy, ask: Can we avoid
these ever more severe natural disasters?”
If you ever doubted that climate change environmentalism (CCE) is a religion, not a science, this statement is it. Just as religionists credit God with all the good in the world, and blame man for all the bad, so CCE blames every bad weather event on human-caused climate change, yet don’t credit human-caused climate change for good weather. What if I cited climate change as the cause of this spring-summer’s ideal weather that led to record crop yields across the U.S, and, on that basis, called for dramatically increasing our use of fossil fuels—even to the point of
stopping new “alternative energy” installations and showering fossil fuel companies with $billions in taxpayer subsidies?
Rediculous? Yes—and that’s how we should look at Barna’s exploitation of Sandy for her political purposes. The fact is, natural disasters are not getting “ever more severe.” Before there was Sandy, there was the Great Atlantic Storm. Before that, the Blizzard of 1888. Before that, “The Grate Hurrycano of 1780, which was actually three hurricanes in one week in October.” In fact, New Jersey has always been vulnerable to savage storms. “Great Storms of the Jersey Shore ” by Larry Savadove and Margaret Thomas Buchholz documents the history going back 2-1/2 centuries, to the time before fossil fuels, spanning the time from the “little Ice Age” to today’s mild warming.
Natural disasters have not changed noticeably, except in climate computer model predictions. But even if weather extremes are getting a bit more extreme, so what? The difference today is that, thanks to energy produced mostly from fossil fuels, humans can now cope with these disasters. No longer are we at the utter mercy of weather extremes like heat and cold waves, droughts, floods, and storms of every variety. And when a mega-disaster like Sandy happens, we are in a much better position to recover quickly. What sane person would want to roll back that progress? To paraphrase Barna, “Fossil fuel development is a great idea, not just for New Jersey, but for the planet.”
Landowners directly in the path of the PennEast and other pipelines certainly have a right to have their legitimate concerns addressed, and have the right not to have the pipeline cross their property. But the CCE ideologues coming out of woodwork to oppose the pipeline have nothing more than faith-based nonsense to peddle. Cleaner air, water, and soil are powered by fossil fuels. “Risks of leaks and explosions?” Modern pipelines use state-of-the-art technologies, and are the safest yet—much safer than some of the 305,000 miles of existing nat-gas pipelines. Or did she mean free of all possible risks? A risk-free environment is the riskiest possible environment for human beings. By Barna’s logic, fire would never have been harnessed, and man would still be struck in caves, with a 15-year life expectancy.
“Is a healthy environment worthy of preserving for our children?” Not if it means stopping life-enhancing energy production. There was a time when a “healthy environment”—meaning an environment unaltered by human productive labor and technology—was preserved for “our children,” and their children, and their children. It is called the Dark Ages.
Thankfully, there were no environmentalists around before the Industrial Revolution to "preserve the environment." If there had been, the few of us that would be around today would still be existing in short, miserable lives—ever at the mercy of "healthy" nature—rather than enjoying the advanced technological industrialization bequeathed to us. We should celebrate the fact that the environment wasn't preserved for our alleged benefit; and then build on the progress we inherited to make our lives still better and happier. Fossil fuels have contributed, and continue to contribute, mightily to that progress.
Progress begets progress, and fossil fuels are vital to building on the progress we inherited from the productive heros past, including the pipeline builders. This will result in the passing on to the next generation of an even more technologically advanced society, and thus better environment.
That is what we owe our children.
Wealth and Safety: The Amazing Decline in Deaths from Extreme Weather in an Era of Global Warming, 1900–2010—Indur M. Goklany
How Fossil Fuels Cleaned Up Our Environment—Alex Epstein
Climate Change Alarmists Ignore Life-Giving Fossil fuel Contributions
Human Life would be Impossible Without Accepting Dangers that ‘Could’ Happen
The magic washing machine—Hans Rosling