Towards a Richer Environment

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“…the way we can best improve our environment is to make everyone rich enough to afford it (something that is already happening)…” – Will Franklin

In 1989, I watched, stunned, at James Burke’s PBS special “After the Warming”. That was my first exposure to environmentalist propaganda; oceans rising flooding Florida and Indonesia – hundreds of refugees into Australia, etc. Hell-in-a-hand cart stuff.

I haven’t seen Inconvenient Truth, simply because it everything I’ve heard about it makes it sound identical to that 20 year old PBS special. I am not in the mood to make the problem more overwhelming.

Walking past the TV the other day, I caught an Oprah guest was asking everyone to wash their garbage so it could be “recycled.” The straight face made me think she had forgotten about Georgia’s drought this past summer1. All because we each “produce” 4lbs of “garbage” daily.

Extending the minimize-your-impact-environmentalism argument (don’t breathe, fart, or eat) to its logial conclusion – people don’t exist on planet Earth. And if they do, they’re all dirt poor without any machines, computers, cows, or trade2.

Personally, I don’t want anyone to be poor and believe we should dismiss environmental policies and behaviors that encourage poverty.

I prefer Amory Lovins attitude:

“I don’t do problems, I do solutions.”

Two of my favorite points from Amory, both in his Winning the Oil Endgame.pdf:

  • Between 1977-85, America cut oil use by 17%, total oil imports by 50%, and Persian Gulf imports by 87%.
  • 87% of a cars fuel energy is spent in over coming inertia, 6% accelerates the car, <1% moves the driver.

1. Why is soapy water and the washing effort less of an issue than tossing in the ‘trash’. If this is the only way to make recycling cost-effective, we have a serious problem.
2. Without trade, what will people in Minnesota eat in the winter? Hot dish for 4 months? No. Period.

2 Replies to “Towards a Richer Environment”

  1. It sounds like you’re both suggesting that environmental problems don’t exist (propoganda?) BUT they can also be solved. Why would you need to solve problems that don’t exist?

    Lovins is proposing solutions, which to me means that he sees problems that need fixing.

    Since 1985, the fuel efficiency and weight of cars (inertia) have both increased significantly.

  2. Ed, fair enough. I didn’t mean to suggest these problems don’t exist, rather to suggest the most effective remedies aren’t the ones that get the most hype. And sometimes the ones that get the hype are plain silly.

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