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.