Tag: environmentalism

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School Days: Propaganda


Something on Ricochet recently reminded me of an event that happened when I was a schoolgirl.

I must have been in 3rd or 4th grade when my class watched a video at school about the inevitable destruction of the world coming soon where we would have no food because all the plants and animals would die due to humanity’s neglect. Then we would die from acid rain, complete with a vivid little enactment of people dying from acid rain. The only way to stop this Certain Death was to start telling grownups to tell people to stop cutting down the rain-forests. I went home bawling to Mom about acid rain death and rainforests. It took her some time to calm me down and I’m fairly certain she got a hold of someone at the school over that.


Energetic Advocates Needed

Anacortes, WA oil refinery, by Walter Siegmund (talk) – Own work, CC BY 2.5.

Some months back, I wrote about the Environmental Kuznets Curve, which posits that, as societies become richer, their citizens can afford the luxury of caring about the environment in ways they currently cannot. I suggested that some of this preference could be expressed through government regulation or taxes on dirtier forms of energy, though said I would oppose these in favor of market-driven means.

As the Wall Street Journal details, this is sort-of happening on the West and East Coasts: Environmentalist groups — sometimes, in conjunction with Native American tribes — have successfully stymied a great deal of fossil fuel development through activism and collaboration with government regulatory mandarins because, ew, carbon. Keystone XL may be the biggest and best known example, but it’s hardly the only one:


Save the Whales. Release the Elephants. Kill the Eagles.


shutterstock_94987243If you’re an animal rights activist, you’ve had some high profile wins lately. In March, three years after the highly-critical documentary “Blackfish” was released, Sea World caved to PETA and similar groups, and announced it was ending killer whale shows and captivity:

SeaWorld will turn its attention to “new, inspiring, natural orca encounters” with educational programs emphasizing enrichment, exercise and health with its remaining killer whales, CEO Joel Manby said on a conference call. The orca shows will end in San Diego in 2017, while the San Antonio and Orlando parks will end the shows by 2019.


Some Greens Imagine a World Without Economic Growth. But There’s a Better Way.


shutterstock_231138520Economic growth — material abundance and the opportunity for human advancement it generates — is the beating, sustaining heart of modern civilization. Longer lives, more interesting lives, safer lives. Mass flourishing — with lots of cool stuff and more on the way.

What does scarcity look like? Fans of “The Walking Dead” sure know, just as they know the real monsters are humans fighting over what scraps remain of our world after the zombie apocalypse.


Why the Doctrine of Sustainability Is Anti-Catholic and the Pope Should Reject It


Back in May, I noticed an article on CRISIS magazine’s website that I knew I wouldn’t have the proper time to devote to reading. It was titled, What Does “Sustainability” Really Mean?, so I added it to my menu bar for later perusal. It was worth the wait.

“Sustainability” is one of those watchwords which has found common usage across the political spectrum. On the left, it typically raises concerns about the environmental impact of humans using limited natural resources like water and fossil fuels. On the right, there’s more worry over the sustainability of a government or economic system burdened by $18 trillion of debt. Having read William M. Briggs’s excellent article hasn’t changed my mind about the latter, but it has given me pause about the concept of sustainability generally. There’s just so much we simply don’t (and can’t) know.


No One Remembers “Everything But the Squeal”


shutterstock_169653197Okay, so yesterday world leaders salved their collective consumption consciences by eating a lunch made with garbage. Yes, after wasting thousands of gallons of jet fuel flying in from all over the world with their enormous entourages, they wore their Savile Row suits and Italian leather shoes to an upscale lunch, eating landfill salad with their veggie burgers (made of juicing pulp) and corn-starch French fries. No word on how the consumables were obtained for this groundbreaking luncheon. Surely they came from the kitchen garbage right there at the United Nations.

This dinner was all about addressing food waste by Western cultures. I know, I know, I always throw out my pulp after juicing. Oh, wait, no I don’t. I don’t juice. It’s stupid because you throw out all the parts of the fruits and vegetables that are actually good for you — like half the vitamins and all the fiber — so you can get the sweet, sweet sugars and tell yourself you’ve extracted all the good parts. You’re better off eating an apple from your local farmer’s market with a glass of low-sodium V-8, or just having a colorful salad without all the good parts like bacon and cheese.


The Eureka Podcast: Drought and Despair in California


In the newest installment of the Eureka podcast, Hoover Institution fellows Carson Bruno and Bill Whalen are joined by Stanford political science professor Bruce Cain (Director of the university’s Center for the American West) to discuss the ramifications of the California drought, how government may have compounded the problem, and whether or not residents of the Golden State have to settle for a future of rock gardens and being fined for overwatering their lawns. Listen in below:


Volkswagen, the EPA, and Latter-day Indulgences


Volkswagen Group’s stock price has collapsed 30 percent since news broke last week that the company doctored engine management software to conceal tailpipe emissions exceeding EPA standards. Why would a global corporation risk an estimated $18 billion in fines and penalties to eke a bit more mileage out of a diesel power plant that is already remarkably thrifty and powerful? The figure below tells the story in one chart.

CAFE Standards


In Keystone XL Decision, Hillary Chooses Primary Votes over Science

Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com

Last week at a New Hampshire town hall, Hillary Clinton was asked her position on the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. Instead of offering a simple yes or no, the supposedly spontaneous candidate issued a warning to President Obama: “I’m putting the White House on notice, I’m going to tell you what I think — soon.”

That promise of steely-leadership-as-soon-as-the-polls-come-in was fulfilled today as Clinton publicly revealed her opinion on the seven-year-old controversy:


Schadenfreude und Das Auto


Do you remember the Green Police ad for Volkswagen Group’s Audi brand? The spot ran during the 2010 Super Bowl and depicts an Orwellian dystopia where citizens are subject to arrest for possession of a plastic bag or incandescent lightbulb, and overheating the hot tub really gets you in hot water.


The Libertarian Podcast, with Richard Epstein: “The Uses and Abuses of the Clean Water Act”


I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve just read this terrific Richard Epstein post on the Clean Water Act (see below), but where I can get some sweet Epstein environmental protection podcast action?” Well, friends, look no further. In this episode of The Libertarian podcast we endeavor to give a layman’s explanation of the Clean Water Act and explain how a well-intended law has obstructed genuine environmental protection while snagging innocent landowners in a needless regulatory morass. Listen in below or subscribe to The Libertarian podcast via iTunes so that you never miss an episode.


When Environmental Protection Laws Enable Pollution


shutterstock_258860813Shortly after my piece “Filtering the Clean Water Act” went up at Hoover’s Defining Ideas, I got an email from Eric Wolinsky, who asked this question:

Lake Champlain has a significant pollution problem caused in large part by runoff from agricultural fields. The current rules require a buffer between crop land and ‘waterways.’ The problem is that there are no required buffers between cropland and ditches that don’t meet the definition of ‘waterways.’ During rains, the runoff enters the ditches, [and then] travels to the ‘waterways’ and on to Lake Champlain. The waterways are buffered, but the ditches are not. The runoff gets to the lake just as if the buffers on the waterways weren’t there.


The EPA’s Flawed Clean Coal Plan


shutterstock_296570639“On August 3, President Obama and the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan – a historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants that takes real action on climate change.” So begins the Environmental Protection Agency’s homage to the President and itself. The harder question is whether it is true. On this point, there is a sharp division of opinion between the traditional supporters and traditional detractors of these sorts of measures, with few (if anyone) occupying a middle ground that finds some merit but expresses real concern over the structure and function of the plan. Nonetheless, it is better to back off for the moment from extravagant claims that the end is near if we don’t (or do) embrace this particular plan.

Let’s put aside the EPA’s shaky legal authority and concentrate on the plan itself. A sensible approach divides the regulatory inquiry into two halves. The first asks about the best institutional framework to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs), most notably carbon dioxide. The second asks how to assess, on empirical grounds, the severity of the carbon dioxide problem that the EPA purports to tackle. The EPA falls short on both counts. I shall take them up in order.


SF Lamp Post, Corroded by Urine, Nearly Kills Motorist

Since residents aren’t potty trained, San Francisco now coating public walls with urine-proof paint. (San Francisco Chronicle)

San Francisco is disgusting. Yes, the bay, mountains, and ocean are beautiful. The geography might make it the most scenic setting for a metropolis outside of Rio de Janiero. But the city itself? Yuck.

Viewed from a high-rise or a fine restaurant, San Francisco remains striking, but stroll down a crumbling sidewalk and you’ll see the uglier reality. Trash blowing through the streets, grime coating every stationary object, and a putrid dumpster smell wafting through it all. Any identifiable tourist is quickly surrounded by scammers, vagrants and the meanest beggars you’ll find in the states.