Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Reply to a Serial Protest Letter on Trump’s Paris Withdrawal

A letter protesting Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord has been making the rounds. The letter has been submitted and published by Chris Cerqueira for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Jack Hughes for the Juneau Empire, David Dailey for the Herald Standard, Ronald Marcasso for the Rocky Mount Telegram, and Glenn Zaucer for The Daily Sentinel, to name a few. Here is a reprint of the letter, as published in the Star-Ledger:

Are you, too, fighting mad about President Donald Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord? Then let’s fight back three times a day by adopting an ecofriendly plant-based diet.

Yes, our diet is pivotal. A 2010 United Nations report blames animal agriculture for 19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, 38 percent of land use, and 70 percent of global freshwater consumption.

Carbon dioxide is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by fossil fuels combustion to operate farm machinery, trucks, factory farms and slaughterhouses.

The more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

In an environmentally sustainable world, meat and dairy products in our diet must be replaced by vegetables, fruits and grains, just as fossil fuels are replaced by wind, solar and other pollution-free energy sources.

Each of us has the power to protest Trump’s failure to maintain America’s leadership in moderating climate change, simply and effectively, by what we choose at the grocery store.

First, let me state that I am pleased to see climate catastrophists call for voluntary action based on persuasion, rather than the usual thuggery of demanding government force to ram their climate agenda down all of our throats. Anyone who wants to live on vegetables, fruits and grains is free to do so. Those of us who actually respect the science and reject the climate catastrophe narrative are free to disagree, and use our power of choice accordingly.

That said, the argument is unpersuasive. For one thing, vegetables, fruits and grains require carbon dioxide, the food of crops and forest. Increasing CO2 from fossil fuels is thus good for plant growth and a greener Earth—and growth of the massive additional amounts of vegetables, fruits and grains that will be needed to feed a world of hungary vegetarians. Studies (e.g.-click here and here) have shown that the 30% increase in CO2 over pre-industrial times has substantially increased plant growth on Earth. This makes perfect sense. Though there are other factors that affect plant growth, such as availability of water and soil nutrients, we know from elementary school science that plants take in CO2 and release oxygen. That’s how they grow. Greenhouse operators have long employed this knowledge to increase productivity.

How will going vegetarian increase forest growth? For one thing, solar gobbles up huge amounts of land for very little energy; and unreliable energy to boot. How do you expand forests by going solar? Besides, how would replacing animal pastures with crop fields gain us more forest lands, reduce usage of fossil fueled farm equipment, and freshwater? Both animals and plants require land, equipment, and water. considering the massive increase in land needed to devote to solar and agriculture, it’s hard to see how eliminating meat from our diets would make more land available for forests; it may even lead to less forestland. You don’t have to be a scientist to see the contradictions in this letter.

Of course, solar and wind can never replace reliable energy like fossil fuels. At best, these allegedly “pollution-free energy sources” can only provide supplement, not primary, power because they cannot produce when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Every bit of solar and wind must be backed up by reliable energy sources like fossil fuels. So you’re increasing energy generation capacity without producing more energy, a hugely expensive redundancy that massively jacks up electricity prices as it did in Germany.

And speaking of reliable energy, the only known technology capable of completely replacing fossil fuel electricity generation is clean and CO2-free nuclear power. Yet, that’s almost never mentioned by the alleged champions of “clean energy.” The true test of the seriousness of folks who claim to care about human greenhouse gas contributions to climate change is the answer to the question, “Do you support nuclear power?” The Paris Accord ignored nuclear, as does this letter—which means moderating climate change is not the true motive of either. Environmentalist ideology is.

Environmentalism is not merely about cleaner industry and recycling. Environmentalism is a political ideology with religious undertones. Environmentalism holds that nature is “pristine” and fragilely “balanced,” so any human alteration of the environment, including climate, is inherently bad and immoral. Barring near-miraculous technological breakthroughs, solar and wind cannot sustain modern human living standards. Replacing fossil fuels with solar and wind would destroy modern civilization—and that's the point. It would destroy industrialization and blast mankind back to a pre-industrial world of poverty, misery, famine, disease, and short lifespans. An “environmentally sustainable world” is not a future to strive for. We once had an “environmentally sustainable world.”  It’s called the Dark Ages, when people lived no better than their grandparents and didn’t expect their grandchildren to live any better. Before that, there was the stone age, an environmentally sustained world that lasted most of the 200,000 years of man’s existence on Earth.

What we need is an environmentally improved world conducive to sustainability of human flourishing and progress, which requires the massive industrial improvement of the Earth of the past 250 years to continue unhampered by an energy-shackling fight against climate change. Industrial progress is also a path to a cleaner, safer, healthier planet for humans, as negative side effects are dealt with through prosperity and technology.

So go ahead and drive your fossil-fueled car to the grocery store and load up on your fossil fueled vegetarian foodstuffs if you want. Like I said at the outset, as long as we’re talking voluntary action, then go for it.

In the abstract, most Americans seem to want “action” to address climate change. But the “action” is where the abstract rubber meets the road of reality. How many people will actually agree to give up their energy-driven lifestyles. Remember that a progressive, flourishing, sustainable, flourishing human existence requires plenty of reliable, economical, scalable, on-demand energy. The Paris Accord seeks to outlaw life-enhancing fossil fuels, coercively drain (tax) away the wealth of Americans, ignores nuclear, and in the end legally commits our energy-rich nation to a future of energy poverty and subservience to the dangers of “Mother Nature”—the very dangers humans escaped from through liberty, science, industrial technology, and energy. Kudos to Trump. Withdrawing from the Paris Accord is exactly the kind of leadership we need.

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1 comment:

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