What crisis? If one dedicates his professional existence to dramatic lifestyle modification, as many have, Californias woes represent victory. Sure, they didnt factor in the energy-intensive “new economy,” bringing about a more screeching halt to Californias already austere consumption. Stealthy or sudden, however, this remains precisely what many have worked for. Yet much in our lives is premised upon abundant therefore affordable energy, from where we live and work to how. If you or a loved one are on a low or fixed income, and depend outright on automobility to earn a living let alone create wealth (as all of us do, directly or indirectly), insufficient energy is inescapably a crisis.
Still, many “environmentalists,” that noisy, bossy minority styling themselves as the province of “caring” arguments insist there is no crisis. Consider the National Environmental Trust, which portrayed our energy shortage as a series of unrelated and isolated incidents, due to various factors but certainly not decades of environmentalist lawsuits to block construction of this power plant or that transmission line. In addition to denying ones own mission, this flagrantly ignores the inescapable human consequences of energy suppression, particularly in a society constructed around the knowledge that because we have the ability to provide reliable, abundant and therefore affordable energy supplies, we will.
For example, if it is your mother, or you are that grandmother, sequestered in the top floors of a building so designed because of elevator transportation, and not for flow-thru ventilation but air conditioning, how do you describe your circumstance? Yet some go so far as to say the “crisis” is a lie.
Well, “Capricorn One” buffs, there is some intrigue involved here, though not of the standard whipping boy “big energy.” The fiendish plot of “Big Green” however, did intentionally bring about California and the other pending shortages around the country. For nearly two decades advocates of the “soft” energy path demonizing central generating facilities, toward demonizing energy use followed the success of the Carter administration by plying their failed policies out in the land of plenty. Now those chickens have come home to roost.
No one should be surprised. No mater how well-couched in terms of fuzzy creatures and mythical cancers from transmission lines, all NIMBY efforts fostered and/or propped up by the national environment groups were about restricting growth in energy capacity, both generating and consumption.
Why do environmentalists target generation facilities, transmission lines, and even natural gas pipelines carrying the lefts preferred fuel du jour (though National Resources Defense Councils web site makes clear gas is merely next, once the stake is finally driven into coal)? Because abundant fuels mean affordable energy, which facilitates suburban living, long-haul transport, comfy indoor climates and, ultimately, more people. That is, presuming one can bring the energy to market. “Efficiency” talk is pure blather given the established economic principle of the “rebound effect” make an activity less expensive and people engage in more of it. For example, when the United States increased auto fuel efficiency by 48 percent, drivers doubled their average yearly mileage. If we can afford it we will use it.
Strangle energy, therefore, and you strangle population growth, because it simply is not as attractive to create a large family in a downtown apartment with one small car and everything from refrigeration to entertainment more expensive due to fuel costs (and related jihads against agricultural practices, and chemicals, biotechnology, etc.). Thus, those who do not view people as the problem see a crisis. Understand how we got here, and why, not merely as a necessary step of escaping the mess. We must see the self-styled “environmentalists” for what they are: anti-energy, anti-population groups. Need proof? Ask, why do they throw up a series of unrelated arguments to block every path out of the energy shortage except lifestyle change (the illusory “diet your way out of famine” argument)?
We all know their recent standard-bearer for president advocated a “wrenching transformation” brought about in part by dramatically higher fuel costs. Now, they would have us believe that, after his eight years as vice president, this crisis is a virgin birth of sorts; that their shared agenda had nothing to do with it. This is preposterous. Further, consider the following select excerpts actually made under current conditions:
The Union of Concerned Scientists web site advocates decreasing national energy consumption to provide steady economic growth and job creation.
Greenpeaces web site: “Higher prices and/or lower costs will, on the other hand, stimulate additional interest in the (oil) reservoirs exploitation and enhance the level of recoverable reserves.” Ahem, but such silliness proved spectacularly unsuccessful when effectively required by law in the 1970s.
Redefining Progress in Environmental News Network, May 11, 2001: “A driver pays for gasoline, insurance and repairs in order to derive the benefits of driving but not for the traffic and pollution that affect nearby people…There simply arent financial incentives for drivers to take these costs into account when they drive, so as a society we all drive more than we would like.” The group suggests that drivers be charged for social costs created by automobile use through options in addition to gas taxes.
This latter comment is the most revealing. The anti-energy crowd, honestly believing it speaks for all whether or not we are smart enough to know their truth, sees no social benefit from wealth creation fostering families, as that just means more people. Curiously, in their minds there are just enough of them, merely way too many of you.
Christopher Horner is counsel for the Cooler Heads Coalition.