Wednesday, May 23, 2001

A quarter-century ago, the renowned Stanford ecologist Professor Paul Ehrlich wrote: “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” He wrote those words in the face of the uncontradicted fact that, since the Industrial Revolution more than two centuries ago, there is no example of prosperity increasing without an increase in energy use.
A huge majority of Americans utterly reject the idea that we should not hope and plan for a society in which our children will be more prosperous than we are. So far, no American generation has failed to deliver on that hope for their childrens or grandchildrens generation. And yet, Mr. Ehrlichs sneering assessment of America and the West is at the heart of todays political fight about energy.
This contempt for American prosperity now has metastasized into a generalized loathing for all things American. In last Sundays New York Times, Maureen Dowd, the most gifted political and cultural columnist currently writing, let loose with 800 words of hatred for America: “… We dont have limits, we have liberties … Well bake the Earth … We will drive faster in our gigantic air conditioned cars … We will let our power plants spew any chemicals … We will drill for oil whenever and wherever we please … We dont care about caribou … We want our refrigerators cold … We will put toxic waste wherever we want, whenever we waste it … We will have the biggest baddest missiles … We will thrust as many satellites as we want into outer space … We will modify any food in any way we want and send it to any country we see fit at prices that we and we alone determine … We will fly up any coast of any nation with any plane filled with surveillance equipment … We will kill any criminal we want … We are America.”
Lets put to the side her many manifest factual errors (we dont let our power plants spew any chemicals, we redesigned that Alaska pipeline and increased the number of caribou, we dont put nuclear waste wherever we want, we are reducing the number of our missiles, we dont force modified food on any country, we dont set prices, we dont kill any criminals we want we execute only proven murderers).
Standing as asserted, the Ehrlich/Dowd/Democratic Party thesis rejects President Bushs energy program not because it wont provide us with abundant, affordable, environmentally safe energy and the prosperity that comes with it, but because it will.
The battle is joined, and on terms that give good reason to hope for victory.
Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle put it quite well, if idiotically, last Thursday: ” is not a plan for Americas future, its a page from our past. It relies almost exclusively on the old ways of doing things: drilling more oil wells, burning more coal and using more natural gas.” He left out more nuclear energy, but … well, yes. In the past we had abundant energy and ever increasing prosperity. If we dont develop sources of energy, the future will be unlike the past we and our children will have to make do with less and less.
Mr. Daschle thinks conservation is the answer. Conservation is useful if it means producing and using energy more efficiently. Engines summoned by marketplace demand have been getting more efficient for 200 years. But its not enough. What Mr. Daschle means by conservation is giving up energy-consuming activities. If we cut back 10 percent per year on our energy use, in only 10 years we will not need any energy we will live by our muscle power. Mankind has tried that its called the Stone Age.
And, as Mr. Ehrlich and Miss Dowd let out of the bag, something like that is their America-loathing objective. They dont think Americans have a right to the American way of life. Half of the new vehicles sold in America are SUVs. They think Americans shouldnt have that liberty. We shouldnt have large refrigerators that keep our childrens milk cold. Food poisoning would be preferable. They dont think old people (or the rest of us) should have the comfort of air conditioning. Let the old folks die from heat prostration. They dont think the grain that makes our daily bread should be cultivated and grown as cheaply as possible. Let the poor people go without. Or let them eat cake.
When the liberals say this is a battle for the future against the policies of the past, they mean it. They hate our past. They hate our prosperity.They hate the American way of life. They think that Americans are a blight on the land. Let every American look upon the face of a child and ask: Is this a blight or a blessing?

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