The Unseen Carbon Agenda

The Unseen Carbon Agenda

The Wall Street Journal wrote today that, though cap and tax has been stymied for the moment, the White House is pursuing the aims of carbon abatement through other means, notably through EPA regulations.

It made me reflect on the breadth of the carbon abatement agenda. It reaches throughout the realm. It underlies Smarth Growth, densification, empty Streamline buses, mass transit subsidies, light rail, the Hiawatha passenger rail proposal, Neighborhood Conservation Clubs, carbon task forces in cities, counties, colleges and state agencies, empty parking garages, water bottle bans, plastic bag bans, recycling, weatherization, subsidies for solar, green building codes, windmills, green jobs, prohibitions on car idling, city-provided electric car charging stations, roundabouts, CAFÉ standards, and California’s clean energy portfolio standards. It’s everywhere.

How Smart are Smart Cars?

An $18,000 Smart Car requires about 13,360 gallons of oil in its production. Smart!

Eating and Buying Local: Northern Exposure

The message from environmentalists and food planners for government schools and food planners that would foist their vision on all of us is to buy locally grown foods. Restaurants do it trying to look holy.

In Montana, it’s tougher. If you want to buy local, you can have beef. In Bozeman, you will have a hard time finding anything fresh and local in the winter except milk, cheese and steak. Bread, too.

Personally, I like avocados and thrill to see them coming from Chile or Mexico when the earth tilts and the seasons shift from northern to southern hemisphere. Ther are no locally grown grapes. Or citrus, or commercially grown apples. I eat 8 large leaves of lettuce daily. I think the wholesome greens come from Yuma. I know I’m killing the earth, but I’m saving myself.

I apologize, but when I examine my diet, 99% of what I eat cannot be provided locally. I bad.

Tuna, salmon, yougurt, stevia, beets, olives, squash, broccoli, shrimp, fake crab, peanut butter, blackberries, blueberries, pecans, walnuts,, almonds, pickles, rice, spaghetti, oats, quinoa, teff, amaranth, Nabisco crackers; our pantry is the epicenter of buy-local perfidy.

Code Green

Code Green

This green building code is uneconomic. Pay $7,000 more for a little house to make it a tad more energy efficient. That will add $516 to the mortgage costs yearly. It will save $200 in energy consumption. This is another environmentally-driven requirement that actually harms the environment. The $316 difference could go to something that actually makes a difference for the environment.

No more unfinished basements. They cause extra energy costs. That’s not green enough. So new building codes are forbidding them.

New building codes recommended by the International Energy Conservation code have been adopted by the Montana Building Codes Council. Can green bias be detected?

Spend $516 to save $200? Who calls that a good deal?

($7,000, 30 years, 6.25%, yearly cost $516.$7,000, 15 years, 6.25%, yearly cost= $720, an even worse deal.)

Cars equal personal mobility. Smart Growth hates it and them.

What Smart Growth dictates is centrally planned housing and transportation. A normal person wants to live in a single family home and drive his or her own car, individualist housing, individualist transport. Planners want social housing policies and mass transit. The dissonance pits social provision of services against the personal autonomy.

Smart Growth is mass action; liberty is an individual matter.

Smart Growth likes light rail, buses, trolleys, and regional transportation plans. Liberty provides roads and cars. An individual then chooses destination and time. Planners hate it when a person can make up his or her own mind. It cuts out the planner.

The American Dream Coalition is the nation’s foremost defender of personal mobility. It exposes local land-use regimes when they attempt to constrain mobility choices and restrict homeownership.

Constitutions and Environmental Values

Montana’s constitution strives to guarantee, “the right to a clean and healthful environment”. This promise is hard to keep.

What is clean? What is healthful? Lack of clear definitions breeds confusion. No wood stoves in neighborhoods would satisfy some. No walking on forest lands would satisfy others. No automobile pollution, hence no automobile use, might fall under this far-spread penumbra.

How clean is clean enough? The problem of extent is not addressed in Montana’s constitution. Litter along streams left by anglers could stipulate blanket denial of access if a demand for cleanliness is taken to the farthest extent.

Should economic limitations be allowed to restrain environmentalist’s demands? Should all school and health funding be re-directed to environmental cleanups? Who decides which environmental cleanups and preservations are most valuable?

Taken strictly, there would be no room for human habitation or activity within Montana’s borders. Then it would be a “state of nature,” satisfying observers gawking from a spaceship down, but no in-dwellers.

This open-ended, overarching, grandiose clause gives lawyers, partisans and factions ample latitude to challenge almost any human or legislative action.

Vague promises foment confusion and rancor. Legal fees mushroom. Bureaucracies flourish. Property rights dwindle.

Everyone wants cleanliness and the preservation of natural splendor. That’s universal. Yet paucity of definitions, and failure to establish priorities, makes applying this constitutional E-whim ambiguous.

Avatar: Cowboys and Indians

I have seen the movie Avatar. It didn’t take me long to realize this was not a story about bioethics or about biotechnology. It was a morality tale. Evil modernism destroys natural sacredness. The subjugation of native peoples by European invaders. Custer’s last stand.

Indigineous peoples are portrayed as serene, cultured, civilized, loving, and, above all, living in harmony with their earth, Pandora. Corporations and their employees , agents of capitalism and technology, come against them, destroying all that is beautiful. Mining is evil. Profit is evil. Capitalism and technology are evil.

I thought of hard-core environmentalists living in trees to save them from loggers. The Home Tree was a Tree of Life, a sacred center place. (Home, the deepest of longings, is the image used.)  Interconnectedness, a fourth-grade value, is hallowed. Modernity is killing the place; send those evil humans back to their dying planet. Earth is dying because of human nature, greed and consumerism.

I saw a strange likeness between the spelling of the name of the “god” of the Na’vi, Ewah,  and Yaweh of the Hebrews. I didn’t know what to make of this.

I thought of Wordsworth’s poem, Intimations of Immortality, in which he says we come “trailing clouds of glory from God who is our home.” (Lines 59-66 in the linked poem.) When a slain Na’vi, dies, they go back to God. That’s when I thought of Wordsworth.

I heard a phrase from Iraqi war parlance. The corporate raiders were trying to “win hearts and minds”, just as US strategy calls for. This is a subtle dig at the US military.

Director James Cameron

Director James Cameron. Image from wikimedia.

Such irony. Millions of people have seen this mass-produced spectacle. They sit in comforts provided only by large-scale corporate bounty, mass-produced upholstery, natural gas-heated theaters, in clothes produced by global trading, wearing their technological 3D glasses. Cameron spent $300 million producing it, enough to “save” a sizable chunk of the Amazonian rain forest. To add insult to injury, I saw the movie in a theater in Las Vegas, that most contrived of places, as far from encountering sacred nature as one can get.

Ah, but the mythology tugs.

The Complete Environmentalist; a Guide for the Earth-holy. Paragons of environmental virtue.

As I put out the garbage this morning, I noticed the size of our neighbors’ garbage cans. True environmentalists would not produce so much garbage. They would have smaller cans. They would not simply recycle newspapers, they would cancel their subscription. They would not read newspapers.

So many lists of ideas for saving the earth are passe. They are weak sauce. They are impotent. According to common wisdom, only reducing resource use can save the planet. And the pinnacle ways to do that are to shut down ordinary life.

Instead of purchasing an energy saving big screen, abjure TV-watching altogether.

Instead of buying a Prius, abstain from automobile use. Stay home.

Instead of turning off the lights when you leave a room, do not use lights. When the sun goes down, quit reading and cooking, and curtail all activities that require eyesight.

Instead of turning down the heat a few degrees, stay cold by turning off the heater altogether.

Could you give up washing?


Instead of carrying a cotton, or hemp, bag to the grocery store to save on plastic bags, buy only products that have no packaging and carry them home in your hands.





From a website article, 101 ways to Heal the Earth, we have what you see below. I’ve supercharged some of the suggestions, in keeping with my theme above. My supercharging is in bold.

1. Insulate your home. Rather, stay cold.

2. Buy energy-efficient appliances. Rather, do without appliances when yours break down.

3. Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows.

4. Install storm windows.

5. Close off unused areas in your home from heat and air conditioning. Rather, stay cold in winter, hot in summer.

6. Wear warm clothing and turn down winter heat. Rather, just be cold. Buying warm clothing consumes resources.

7. Switch to low-wattage or fluorescent light bulbs. Rather, give up reading.

8. Turn off all lights that don’t need to be on.

9. Use cold water instead of hot whenever possible.

10. Opt for small-oven or stove-top cooking when preparing small meals. Rather, eat only foods that can be masticated without cooking.

11. Run dishwashers only when full. Dishwashers are for rich, insensitive, earth-despising boors. Junk yours.

12. Set refrigerators to 38°F, freezers to 5°F, no colder. Who needs a refrigerator? Cracked corn and other simple foods require no cooling.

13. Run clothes washers full, but don’t overload them. Rather, refrain from washing clothes, unless in open streams.

14. Use moderate amounts of biodegradable detergent. Rather, don’t launder.

15. Air-dry your laundry when possible.

16. Clean the lint screen in clothes dryers.

17. Instead of ironing, hang clothes in the bathroom while showering.

18. Take quick showers instead of baths. Rather, stay oily and grimy. It’s authentic. It’s pheromonic.

19. Install water-efficient showerheads and sink-faucet aerators.

20. Install an air-assisted or composting toilet.

21. Collect rainwater and graywater for gardening use.

22. Insulate your water heater. Turn it down to 121°F. Rather, turn it off.

23. Plant deciduous shade trees that protect windows from summer sun but allow it in during the winter.

24. Explore getting a solar water heater for your home. Rather, quit demanding hot water.

25. Learn how to recycle all your household goods, from clothing to motor oil to appliances.

26. Start separating out your newspaper, other paper, glass, aluminum, and food wastes.

27. Encourage your local recycling center or program to start accepting plastic.

28. Urge local officials to begin roadside pickup of recyclables and hazardous wastes.

29. Encourage friends, neighbors, businesses, local organizations to recycle and sponsor recycling efforts.

30. Use recycled products, especially paper. Rather, quit writing and communicating.

31. Re-use envelopes, jars, paper bags, scrap paper, etc.

32. Bring your own canvas bags to the grocery store.

33. Encourage local governments to buy recycled paper.

34. Start a recycling program where you work.

35. Limit or eliminate your use of “disposable” items.

36. Urge fast-food chains to use recyclable packaging.

37. Avoid using anything made of plastic foam. It is often made from CFCs, and it never biodegrades.

38. If your car gets less than 35 mpg, sell it, buy a small fuel-efficient model, and spend whatever money you save on home energy efficiency. Rather, quit going places.

39. Maintain and tune up your vehicle regularly for maximum gas mileage. See #38.

40. Join a car pool or use public transport to commute. See #38.

41. Write to automobile manufacturers to let them know that you intend to buy the most fuel efficient car on the road. See #38.

42. Reduce your use of air conditioning. Rather, stay hot in summer.

43. Encourage auto centers to install CFC recycling equipment for auto air conditioners. Freon is released during servicing to become both a greenhouse gas and an ozone layer destroyer.

44. Remove unnecessary articles from your car. Each 100 lbs. of weight decreases fuel efficiency by 1%. See #38.

45. Don’t speed; accelerate and slow down gradually. See #38.

46. Walk or use a bicycle whenever possible. See #38. Even bicyles consume resources. Walking does too, it burns calories that have to be supplied from human consumption, eating. So stay home. Don’t go places.

47. Urge local governments to enact restrictions on automobile use in congested areas downtown.

48. Enjoy sports and recreational activities that use your muscles rather than gasoline and electricity. Rather, quit enjoying things.

49. Buy products that will last. Rather, buy no products.

50. Rent or borrow items that you don’t use often.

51. Maintain and repair the items you own.

52. Use colored fabrics to avoid the need for bleach. Be unconcerned. By not laundering, the concern vanishes.

53. Use natural fiber clothing, bedding and towels.

54. Don’t buy aerosols, halon fire extinguishers, or other products containing CFCs.

55. Write to computer chip manufacturers and urge them to stop using CFC-113 as a solvent.

56. Invest your money in environmentally and socially conscious businesses.

57. Avoid rainforest products, and inform the supplier or manufacturer of your concerns.

58. Use postcards instead of letters for short messages. Rather, quit communicating.

59. Eat vegetarian foods as much as possible. Meat makes less efficient use of land, soil, water, and energy – and cows emit 300 liters of methane per day.

60. Buy locally produced foods; avoid buying foods that must be trucked in from great distances. Rather, produce all your own food.

61. Read labels. Eat organic or less-processed foods.

62. Start a garden; plant a garden instead of a lawn

63. Water the garden with an underground drip system.

64. Support organic farming and gardening methods; shun chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

65. Compost kitchen and garden waste, or give it to a friend who can.

66. Inform schools, hospitals, airlines, restaurants, and the media of your food concerns.

67. Stay informed about the state of the Earth.

68. Talk to friends, relatives, and co-workers about preventing global climate change.

69. Read and support publications that educate about long-term sustainability (like this one). Rather, don’t read any paper publications.

70. Start a global climate change study group. But only if people can attend on foot power. No motive travel allowed.

71. Educate children about sustainable living practices.

72. Xerox this list and send it to ten friends.

73. Go on a citizen diplomacy trip and talk with those you meet about averting global climate change. Rather, don’t go on trips. Stay home from Copenhagen.

74. Get involved in local tree-planting programs.

75. Join an environmental organization. If they’re not involved with climate change, get them involved.

76. Support zero population growth. Rather, forswear having any progeny.

77. Support work to alleviate poverty. Poverty causes deforestation and other environmental problems.

78. Donate money to environmental organizations.

79. Support programs that aim to save rainforest areas.

80. Support solar and renewable energy development. Rather support zero-energy consumption, as in cave living.

81. Work to protect local watershed areas.

82. Pave as little as possible. Rip up excess concrete. But only with your bare hands.

83. Encourage sewage plants to compost their sludge.

84. Write your senator now in support of S. 201, the World Environment Policy Act. Rather, don’t use paper and postage.

85. Write your congressperson now in support of H.R. 1078, the Global Warming Prevention Act. See #84.

86. Support disarmament and the redirection of military funds to environmental restoration.

87. Write letters to the editor expressing your concern about climate change and environmental issues.

88. Support electoral candidates who run on environmental platforms.

89. Run for local office on an environmental platform.

90. Attend city council meetings and speak out for action on climate change issues. Be sure to walk.

91. Organize a citizens’ initiative to put a local “climate protection program” into place.

92. Learn how to lobby. Lobby your local, state, and national elected officials for action on climate change and environmental issues.

93. Organize a demonstration at a plant that uses CFCs.

94. In place of TV and the stereo, spend time reading, writing, drawing, telling stories, making music. Only the last two are ok for paragons. The first three require resources.

95. Live within the local climate as much as possible, rather than trying to isolate yourself from it. Right on. This means staying cold in winter, hot in summer.

96. Strive to establish good communications with friends, neighbors and family including learning conflict resolution skills.

97. Spend time seeing, hearing, and rejoicing in the beauty of the Earth. Feel your love for the Earth. Make serving the Earth your first priority.

98. Learn about the simpler, less resource-intensive lifestyles of aboriginal peoples. This list-maker is advocating cave living, naked wandering.

99. Think often about the kind of Earth you would like to see for your grandchildren’s grandchildren. Thinking requires no resources. Fine. Except that thinking involves a human being whose maintenance requires resources. Suicide could solve that. Or mass war and pestilence.

100. While doing small things, think big. Think about redesigning cities, restructuring the economy, reconceiving humanity’s role on the Earth. Such reconceiving includes the radical suggestion put forth by some that humans have no place on the planet.

101. Pray, visualize, hope, meditate, dream.



To have your building certified LEED, it must meet environmental standards.

But it is an example of green-enthusiasm with blinders. Bozeman, Montana’s city library is a LEED building. It has a solar array on the roof that cost $267,193 but returns energy at a paltry rate, $2,440 per year, a 100 year return on investment. That’s dumb. But the library website trumpets it as an earth-friendly feature. The north exposure of the building is an acre, seemingly, of glass, a giant heat-loss portal.

My son’s college class toured a Caterpillar plant in Nevada. It was proudly LEED certified. Someone asked where the painting was done. LEED requires no paint booths. They send their painting to another plant. Green morality goes geographic, and blind.

My son’s company produces metal extrusions and folded panels. Some welding required mating dissimilar metals. Noxious fumes are produced. To meet LEED requirements for the contract they are working on, City Center in Las Vegas, they could not weld the parts in their Las Vegas shop. They contracted with another division of their company in Ohio. The LEED requirements were met, but the net gain for the earth was zero.

Environmentalism spawns so many incongruities, so many false good feelings.

(See other goofy green projects reviewed on this blog at Environmental Travesties.)

There are very few ways to  accomplish what environmentalists want without inconveniencing people, forcing them to not have pretty buildings like those of City Center, to not  have ample living space as we presently do in our 3,000 square foot American homes, to not travel at will in cars, to not heat and cool their homes to a comfortable degree. Only by forcing people to be uncomfortable can fewer resources be used. Let’s all admit it. Ban dumb illusions like LEED.

Low Flow TVs and Smart Meters

The headline read: California Sets Energy-Efficiency Rules for TVs. Wall Street Journal, Nov. 19, 2009.

The goals are clean air, energy conservation, saving water, saving rain forests, keeping forests from logging, reducing congestion, the environmental panoply. The list of things local, county, state, national, and now international governments are willing to do to constrain individual choice is long and imaginative. Hybrid car mandates. CAFÉ standards. Energy efficient appliance mandates. Import quotas. Recycling subsidies. Insulation subsidies. Subsidies for wind and solar power.

I love the idea of smart meters, house-mounted electric meters that get minute-by-minute information about the price of power. The homeowners’ computer can program the air conditioner to wait 5 minutes, hoping for cheaper power to enter the grid, before starting up the AC. The clothes dryer can wait until the target price for power is available on the grid, then dry that load of clothes. Wind power after midnight could be cheap, cheaper than coal power between 5-8 p.m. when everyone else is trying to do things at home.

The concern is that government would not be content to let you choose when to dry your clothes or how many light bulbs to leave on. They would reach into your smart meter and your controlling computer and tell you how much power you can consume. National imperatives, global demands require it. And don’t think for a moment that they wouldn’t. They have shown willingness to encroach in the most minute personal decisions, such as what kind of TV you can buy, in an effort to save the environment. This quells my enthusiasm for smart meters.