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Earth Day!

WhateverCross-posted on the Corner:

Over at AEI Mark Perry celebrates Earth Day with quotes from Steven Landsburg’s book The Armchair Economist, including this:

[E]nvironmentalists — at least the ones I have met — have no real interest in maintaining the tree population. If they did, they would seriously inquire into the long-term effects of recycling. I suspect that they don’t want to do that because their real concern is with the ritual of recycling itself, not with its consequences. The underlying need to sacrifice, and to compel others to sacrifice, is a fundamentally religious impulse.

That took me to the chapter specifically cited by Perry, which is well worth reading in full. Here’s an extract:

As environmentalism becomes increasingly like an intrusive state religion, we dissenters become increasingly prickly about suggestions that we suffer from some kind of aberration. The naive environmentalism of my daughter’s preschool is a force-fed potpourri of myth, superstition, and ritual that has much in common with the least reputable varieties of religious Fundamentalism. The antidote to bad religion is good science. The antidote to astrology is the scientific method, the antidote to naive creationism is evolutionary biology, and the antidote to naive environmentalism is economics.

Economics is the science of competing preferences. Environmentalism goes beyond science when it elevates matters of preference to matters of morality…. But in the…years since the first Earth Day, a new and ugly element has emerged in the form of one side’s conviction that its preferences are Right and the other side’s are Wrong. The science of economics shuns such moral posturing; the religion of environmentalism embraces it.




Two Religions

Rio, last week.



Earth Day!



The Eternal Appeal of the Apocalyptic (2)

Cross-posted earlier on the Corner:

And while we’re on the topic of doom-mongering, at least one enormously wealthy, lavishly consuming, aristocratic idler has (reports the Daily Telegraph) a few dark words for the peons. Warning that the human race itself could be in danger, Prince Charles has repeated earlier demands that (other) people should consume less. Changes need to be made to our economic system “so that Nature sits at the very heart of our thinking”. The prince also took the opportunity to remind his audience that he felt a “spiritual connection to nature”. Of course he does.

The Queen, thank heavens, is only 85. Her mother lived to be 101.

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The Eternal Appeal of the Apocalyptic

Posted earlier on the Corner:

It helps sell religions, movies, political agendas: Is there nothing that the prospect of apocalypse cannot do?

Via AP:

Abel Ferrara made his new film “4:44 Last Day on Earth” to serve as a wake-up call to humanity over impending ecological disasters.The movie, by the director of 1992′s “Bad Lieutenant,” focuses largely on one couple — played by Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh — passing their final hours on Earth as they Skype their goodbyes to loved ones from a New York City high-rise.

“The bottom line is this film is about man’s destruction of the Earth,” Ferrara told reporters Wednesday in Venice, where the film is being shown in hopes of snaring the top Golden Lion prize later this week.

“This isn’t about a meteorite, this isn’t … some horror show. This is about humanity not coming to terms with its carbon footprint,” the director said. “It’s on us. It’s our responsibility.”

The time in the title is the exact hour before dawn when humanity ceases to exist. The exact calamity which befalls Earth’s citizens isn’t ever spelled out, although there is an “ozone-hole” theme. At one point, viewers see, as a backdrop, an image of environmental advocate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore projected on large screen TV giving an interview. “We reached out to Al, we reached out to Gore, definitely,” Ferrara said.

Of course he did.

Full disclosure: I enjoy ‘end of the world’ movies. Even 2012. I’ll be off to see this one…

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Like a Prayer

Cross-posted over at the Corner:

Having botched the three R’s, many American schools are now making do with a fourth instead—recycling. The following extracts come from a Saturday New York Times story about efforts to bring recycling to school lunch:

“Ziplocs are the biggest misstep,” said Julie Corbett, a mother in Oakland, Calif., whose two girls attend a school with an eco-friendly lunch policy. In school years past, she said, many a morning came unhinged when the girls were sent to school with disposable sandwich bags.

“That’s when the kids have meltdowns, because they don’t want to be shamed at school,” Ms. Corbett said. “It’s a big deal.”

…Judith Wagner, a professor of education at Whittier College in California who directs its laboratory school for elementary and middle-school children, has also been struggling with how to get parents’ support for less wasteful lunches.

“Parents will say things like, ‘Well, I want her to have a choice, and if I put in a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich and a ham sandwich, she has a choice,’ ” Professor Wagner said. “And each one comes in its own separate plastic bag.”

What comes next, she said, is a hard call. “Do you go back to the parents and say, ‘Gosh, can you rethink the plastic bags and all this food?’ Or do you talk to the children, and you make the children feel guilty because they’re throwing this all away?”

… Ms. Corbett, the Oakland parent, said the social pressure her children felt regarding recyclable products was palpable.

Still, she says, plasticware can be a pain to clean, and is not cheap. When she thinks it is likely that her daughters will lose the containers — if, for instance, they’re going on a field trip — she uses waxed-paper sleeves, like the kind bakeries use for cookies, to hold sandwiches instead.

“It’s still a no-no because you’re still having to throw that away, but it is biodegradable, it does compost, so you’re not as guilty,” she said.

Yes, it’s a religion.




Environmentalism: Merely a fashion statement?

Any pundit, such as the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, who continues to advocate an elevated gas tax as a solution to foreign oil dependency or global warming is fundamentally unserious.  When Hillary Clinton called for releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve during the 2008 election, it became blindingly obvious—yet again–that no politician is willing to deliberately raise gas prices on the American consumer, however valid such a policy might be.  Obama’s decision at the end of June to release 60 billion barrels of crude oil from  the Reserve further confirms that Democrats are just as determined as Republicans to cushion Americans from pump price shock. 

This political reality suggests that environmentalism is also a fundamentally unserious movement.  Environmentalists (and I consider myself one) pretend to embrace the virtues of self-abnegation, but do so only up to the borders of their consumption comfort zone.  If truly “caring for the environment” required anyone to give up his core lifestyle, the response would be: “Sorry, no can do.” (more…)





Cross-posted on the Corner:

Yes, yes, my bad; I’m late for Earth Day, but here, via Religion Dispatches, is a piece that discusses the ‘rights’ of the Earth, the eco-system and, well, just about everything. Yes, it’s an absurd premise, and one for which the writer clearly has some sympathy, but this extract from the new (2008) Ecuadorian constitution is still worth noting:

Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain itself and regenerate its own vital cycles, structure, functions, and its evolutionary processes. Any person, people, community, or nationality, may demand the observance of the rights of the natural environment before public bodies.

This somewhat sinister drivel presumably partly reflects the influence of the work of Bolivia’s somewhat sinister president Morales, the man who, in 2009, was declared by the president of the United Nations General Assembly, one Rev. Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, to be a “World Hero of Mother Earth”.

Doctor Who didn’t get the call, apparently

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Terrorism’s risk curve

The logic of anti-terrorism measures seems to be that if one bad event happens, such as the 12/25 plot, the risk of similar bad events suddenly shoots up exponentially.  Thus the airport shut-downs over the last two weeks in reaction to minor security breaches, the no-liquids and no-shoes flying bans, and the rush for body scans.  I’m dreading a cross-country flight tomorrow, since there are only so many books I can lug into an airport in anticipation of security delays (yes, Kindle would solve that problem).  Surely this sense of a precipitously elevated risk following an attempt or an actual attack is of questionable logic, though perhaps the reaction is unavoidable. (more…)




War on terror: environmentalist chapter

During the Bush years, the Democrats aggressively played terror porn one-upmanship.  They grandstanded over the Dubai ports deal and demanded that all U.S.-bound cargo containers be screened for nuclear weapons (a grossly unnecessary measure) and that the chemical industry be subjected to even more stringent regulation, just in case a plant or chemical shipment get commandeered by terrorists.  The pressing need to out tough the Republicans has passed, and yet the push for ever more burdensome anti-terror regulations continues—often as a transparent pretext for the Democrats’ hoary anti-business agenda:

The House passed legislation that would give the government the authority to force companies to replace chemicals that terrorists could use in attacks with safer alternatives.

Suddenly, the NRDC and Sierra Club have a new calling: protectors of homeland security.  I have not seen the bill, but I would bet that it is not accompanied by a shred of analysis regarding the presence of terrorists in this country with the inclination and ability to exploit industrial chemicals or how the costs of retooling our industrial processes compare to the costs and likelihood of a chemical attack.


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