Saturday, March 10, 2018

“Not-so-Sane” Environmentalists are Perfectly Sane--and Anti-Humanist

A bill just proposed in New Jersey would mandate that the entire state be 100% “renewable” energy for electricity generation by 2035, less than 17 years from now. NJ Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine shreds the idea in his column New Jersey fossil-fuel free by 2035? Climate-change alarmists are environmentally ill.

Mulshine’s practical argument is irrefutable. But I think his reading of the two sides is off base.

“There are sane environmentalists,” he writes. “And then there are environmentalists who have lost all touch with reality,” which describes as “the not-so-sane crowd.” “Senate President Steve Sweeney [D] is among the sane ones,” Mulshine observes, because he favors nuclear power and natural gas (which is replacing coal for electricity generation) and opposes the bill.

As for the crazy ones, the Statehouse was packed with them last week.

At a rally on the Statehouse steps the sponsors of a bill to end all fossil-fuel use by 2035 stood behind a banner that read: "New Jersey - 100 percent renewables now."

Now? That's impossible. At the moment the state gets a mere 3 percent of its electricity from renewables. The banner was an overstatement.

The actual bill isn't much more realistic, however. It calls for the state to get all its electricity from renewables by a mere 17 years from now.

That's a fantasy for a few reasons. One is that 39 percent of our electricity comes from nuclear power. Even though nukes are carbon-free, they're not considered "renewable" under the bill's definition.

Another reason is that New Jersey is part of the PJM grid, a transmission network that began with Pennsylvania, Jersey and Maryland - hence the initials - but now links 13 states and the District of Columbia. We can't stop electrons at the state line and ask them how they were generated.

Mulshine also observes that the cost of electricity would skyrocket under this initiative.

I left these comments:

I agree wholeheartedly but I view the divide differently.
I would divide the two environmental camps not as “sane” vs. “not-so-sane,” but between environmentalism (lower case “e”) vs. Environmentalism (upper case “E”). The “environmentalists” value prosperity and human flourishing with cleaner industrialization, with the emphasis on the human over the natural environment. The “Environmentalists”--that is, professional ideological Environmentalism--value nature with minimal (ideally no) human impact and thus no industrialization (or as close to no industrialization as possible), caring little for human well-being.
Since human beings survive and thrive through technology and industrial development specifically designed to transform the natural environment for human benefit, the Environmentalists are, on principle, anti-human. They’d be just fine reducing human life to the level of wild animals living “in harmony” with nature.
Sweeney is correct about the intermittency (read unreliable) problem. Barring unforeseen, major technological breakthroughs which can make solar and wind cheaper and as reliable as fossil and nuclear (in which case you wouldn’t need a law because people would voluntarily switch), “renewables” make no sense--unless viewed from the Environmentalist standard. Why else would the Environmentalists favor only the fantasy of “100% renewable energy?” Why else would they oppose fracked natural gas, which releases less greenhouse gases; or nuclear, which produces no greenhouse gases? Why support only unreliables? Can they be that stupid? Can they be that lacking in common sense? No. It’s because they know “renewables” as they define it can’t possibly support an industrially flourishing economy, no matter how many subsidies they throw at it.

Ideological Environmentalists won’t fully get their way. But they can make life a lot harder in NJ through vastly higher electricity bills, regularly imposed life-disrupting blackouts and brownouts, and economic decline. Judged from the standard of human flourishing as a value, the “not-so-sane” environmentalists do look crazy. But viewed from the Environmentalists’ naturalist standard, they are perfectly sane-- and the “renewable now” law makes perfect sense. Environmentalists love it because it would slow down and/or block life-serving industrial progress and economic growth--and thus human impact on the environment. And of course statists love it because it will give the state, and thus politicians, more power over our lives. The big losers of the “renewables now” fantasy will be individual liberty and prosperity.


Related Reading:

New Jersey Conservation Foundation vs. Our Life-Enhancing Energy Needs

NJ Climate Witch Doctors Prepare to Assault NJ Residents’ Energy

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-first Century—Ronald Bailey

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels Hardcover—Alex Epstein

Related Viewing:

(Mulshine concluded his column with this short clip.)

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