Monday, November 30, 2015

In ‘Honor’ of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Grab a Burger

With the much-hyped 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference set to begin today in Paris, it might be a good time to decide how we, the everyday citizen, can respond to it.

For its part, the New Jersey Star-Ledger has suggested, For the sake of UN climate talks, put down that burger:

Consider this: Producing one half-pound meat patty for your lunch releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles. The meat in our diets actually causes more greenhouse gas pollution than either transportation or industry.

The Star-Ledger supports the carbon emission-reducing—meaning energy privation—goals of the conference, buys into to the climate catastrophe scenario, advocates carbon taxes, and supports the Environmental Defense Funds draconian mandatory conservation proposals. Yet Nancy Hedinger, president of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, still wasn’t completely happy with the Star-Ledger. Why? Because the news outlet had the temerity to promote less CO2 emitting natural gas and non-CO2 emitting nuclear power as necessary tools in the “effort to fight climate change.” In a letter published in the Star-Ledger, Time to reinforce commitment to renewable energy, Hedinger wrote, in part:

We do contribute to climate change by the lifestyle choices we make, from driving SUVs to eating red meat. However, the proposed solution, reliance on natural gas and nuclear energy missed the mark.

Natural gas is not carbon neutral. Extracting it from the earth is a devastating process that causes incalculable environmental damage. And nuclear energy brings with it a host of problems. . .

The editorial failed to mention an obvious alternative: renewable energy. Rather than blind reliance on gas or nuclear energy, we need to intensify research into the alternatives of solar and wind power, geothermal energy and other renewables.
Every dollar spent now on developing these energy sources will result in future savings, not just in monetary terms but also in terms of the health and well-being of our planet and every person on it.

I left these comments, responding to each significant point raised by Hedinger:

“We do contribute to climate change by the lifestyle choices we make, from driving SUVs to eating red meat.”

So?!? We’re part of nature, aren't we? So we have an effect on something, climate change, that happens naturally anyway. Why is that bad? Why should we give up small pleasures in life, like hamburgers, or necessities, like personal vehicles? I see no reason to forgo that hamburger or that SUV, because I see nothing inherently bad about humans contributing to climate change. There is absolutely no evidence for catastrophic, human-caused climate change. There is plenty of evidence that life without plentiful, reliable, economical energy is catastrophic. Life for people around the globe, in fact, has been made better and safer than ever, thanks to fossil fuels, which contribute 86% of our energy needs. The only place that climate catastrophe exists is in the increasingly hysterical, increasingly unbelievable climate model predictions that have been wrong for decades. (This is not to say it’s good to pig out on red meats. That’s not healthy for our bodies. But you need to enjoy eating, too.)

“Extracting [natural gas] from the earth is a devastating process that causes incalculable environmental damage.”

Devastating to whom? What about the monumental, calculable benefits energy provides for humans? What about an environment conducive to human flourishing? Human beings’ can’t survive like animals in the wild, which must conform to the natural environment or perish. Human beings survive and thrive by altering the natural environment to meet human needs and desires. The natural environment, including climate, is full of dangers, and always has been. By extracting concentrated energy such as natural gas stored in the ground, innovative, entrepreneurial people like the frackers have enabled us to run the machines that have given us longer, healthier, safer, more enjoyable lives than ever before. The transformation of the natural world demonstrates the prowess of man the hero. Natural gas producers should be lauded as benefactors, not demonized as destroyers, of the environment.

“[W] e need to intensify research into the alternatives of solar and wind power, geothermal energy and other renewables.”

Paid for, by whom? Every one of us has a moral right to invest how we want, and should be legally free to do so without obstruction from government or being forced to “invest” in solar or wind through taxes, artificially inflated utility bills, or other ways. What’s stopping Ms. Hedinger from investing in “renewables?” Why the necessity to call for “investments” at someone else’s expense? Why doesn’t the League of Women Voters put their own money into “renewables,” where their mouths are, and leave the rest of us to put our money where we see fit, such as into the purchase of natural gas provided by frackers and pipelines? “We”—the state—shouldn’t be seizing our money and handing it to “renewable” energy cronies. Nor should the state be a tool of anti-energy ideologues who want to stop natural gas producers from delivering to us the reliable, clean, affordable energy we rely on. Just do the investments you cherish. Just don’t force me to.

“Every dollar spent now on developing [renewable] energy sources will result in future savings . . . in terms of the health and well-being of our planet and every person on it.”

The “health and well-being of our planet” is not conducive to the health and well-being of “every person on it.” It is not even conducive to “renewable” energy sources. The closer we live to nature in its unimproved state, the worse off we are. If we give up hamburgers and SUVs, will environmentalists be satisfied? No. Virtually every value we humans use contributes to climate change. So after red meat and SUVs, the logic of the premise that lifestyle choices that contribute to climate change should be cut out will lead to environmentalists demanding of us more and more sacrifices, until our lifestyles are gone. It’s hyperbole about climate disaster aside—which completely ignores humans ability to adapt to gradually changing natural forces through technology—at least the Star-Ledger’s proposed solution, increased reliance on natural gas and nuclear energy, shows concern for human well-being.

Ms. Hedinger’s organization should be renamed The League of Anti-Humanist Women Voters. Their standard of value, if you could hold Ms. Hedinger’s views as representative of the whole League in whose name she speaks, is unaltered nature, which forbids man from improving his life by impacting on nature. And on that standard, it is hypocritical to promote even “solar and wind power, geothermal energy and other renewables,” all of which require the extraction of massive amounts of raw materials from the Earth. What about the “incalculable environmental damage” from those operations, which far exceeds the disturbance to the Earth required of natural gas?

We face a choice: Our moral standard of value can be either non-impact on nature, or human life and flourishing. I choose human life. On that standard, frackers are heroes, and we need more fracking and more natural gas. I think I’ll have an extra hamburger or two during the United Nations' Paris conference on climate change.

Related Reading:

Now, the World's Looters Target America for "Climate Injustice"

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