There's a lot of talk going around about reducing greenhouse gases that may contribute to global warming. The latest fad is to replace incandescent bulbs with new, energy-saving florescent bulbs. People are being told that they can help the environment with minimal disruption to their lives. But how much support would the global warming movement have if the sacrifices that they will eventually ask for were known today?
Practically everything we do uses energy. The leaders of the modern environmental movement say that using energy-saving light bulbs, driving smaller cars, and recycling refuse, along with similar efforts, are all we need to do to protect our environment. This new environmental movement is asking us to sacrifice very little.
The apparent lack of personal sacrifice makes it easy for the movement to recruit supporters. It is disturbing how kids are being brainwashed into supporting global warming. Kids are told to ask their parents to be more sparing in energy use, but nobody asks the kids to give up their cell phones, their fast food, their video games, or their mp3 players. They ask the parents to recycle plastic bottles -- not to walk to work, or better yet, to quit supporting our consumption-driven economy by not working and instead live off the land.
They ask that we use more efficient light bulbs -- not to forgo electric lights and read by daylight. Try telling kids to walk to school carrying their books and a reusable cloth sack full of raw vegetables for lunch -- as opposed to riding on a bus, with a backpack, a cell phone, and an mp3 player, to a heated and cooled school that has a cafeteria -- and see how eager they are to join the movement. When the movement suggests that minor inconveniences are all that they ask, we must respond with questions about what sacrifice is next. We must decide if we agree that using energy is destroying the environment. If we agree, then we must examine what the logical next steps are, and we must decide if we are willing to take them. If we accept the premise that our lifestyle is destroying the planet, then we must either say we don't care, or we must be prepared to turn the clock back on our lifestyle until the environmental activists tell us that we have gutted it to a sustainable level.
The modern global warming movement says that the burning of fossil fuels is destroying the environment. If we buy this, then burning fuel is bad and not burning fuel is good. If we want to help the planet, we should burn less fuel. The best lifestyle must then be the one that burns the least fuel.
If we stopped driving cars altogether, would the global warming crowd go home and leave us alone? I don't think so. It is more likely that they would then go after air conditioners or large homes or some other creature comfort.
If we agree with the premise that burning fuel is harming the environment, then how can we justify using energy for non-essential purposes and still claim to be good stewards of the planet? In a sense, we would admit that our lifestyle is selfish because we are knowingly harming the environment.
Notice that the environmentalists immediately claim superiority over us. They are the ones who have pointed out the error of our ways, and they are saving the planet that we very nearly destroyed with our selfish lust for material goods and endless modern comforts. They claim that if it weren't for them, we would soon wreck the planet and self-inflict the greatest wound ever suffered by mankind. The only way to redeem ourselves in their eyes is to turn back the clock on our lifestyle. How far should we turn the clock back? They won't say. For now, they just ask us to use less energy.
We are told that global warming is a crisis. There are wars going on in our world today; there is terrorism, poverty, and oppression. There is starvation and disease. There is ignorance and illiteracy. There are broken families and crime-ridden streets. There are dictatorships and oligarchies. There are natural disasters and purposeful inhumanity. If global warming is a crisis, what on earth do we call these? We are told to neglect the dangers that face us directly and pour our resources into a potential threat that may derail our lives in the future. This is like being told to think about the menu for a meal a year away while we starve with empty cupboards today. This type of focus only endangers us more because we are not acting on the present danger. If we don't solve our current problems, we won't have to worry about the future ones.
If you believe the global warming crowd, then you must believe that we have to minimize our energy consumption. Are you willing to wear the same clothes for years to forgo the energy needed to produce new ones? Are you willing to live without cars, air conditioning, television, heat, holiday dinners, computers, and ovens? If this seems extreme, consider their premise: Our use of energy, in any amount, takes us that much closer to destruction, therefore any reduction must be good.
For now, the environmental movement is asking us to give up a small amount of our creature comforts so that our environment can be saved from global warming. I submit that we must project this movement to its logical end. If it is good to use energy-saving light bulbs, is it not better to use no light bulbs at all? If it is good to drive a small car, then it must be better not to drive a car at all. If we seek to eliminate unnecessary energy usage, why should we stop at light bulbs? If saving the environment by not burning fuel is your goal, then it is better to eat raw food than cooked food because you save energy by not cooking.
The discretionary use of energy for things like vacations, music, frozen foods, and air conditioning must, by the modern environmentalist standards, be eliminated. Imagine how much energy it takes to support ice cream. We must feed and water the cattle that are raised for the cream. We must supply the energy to make and freeze the ice cream, we must use energy to make the containers to pack the ice cream, and we must use energy to transport the ice cream from the dairy to the store. We must use energy to keep the ice cream frozen in the market, we must use energy to drive to the market, and we must also use energy to power our freezers where we store the ice cream. Just think of the energy we could save if we got rid of ice cream.
How can we sit by and watch ice cream being made if we believe its production is contributing to the doom of mankind? Every scoop pushes the hand of our doomsday clock that much closer to midnight. This reasoning can, and eventually will, be used to demonize virtually all of modern society. How can we justify watching a television show when the burning of the fuel that powers the TV is destroying our environment? How can we justify using energy to create a computer when that energy use will destroy us? How can we justify powering our air-conditioner when we could survive without it, as billions before us did?
If the goal is to save the environment by reducing energy consumption, how much is enough? History tells us that whatever energy we use will be considered too much by the new environmentalists. Are we willing to regress two hundred years in terms of energy use because it may help the environment? Notice that the movement does not quantify how much energy we must give up before we are safe. That is because our reductions in consumption will never be enough.
Soon the image of a family sitting around a table in a lighted and heated home and eating a cooked meal will be demonized as selfish and repulsive. The ideal family will be one that has one child, does not engage in commerce, and lives in a small home made of waste material, where they burn a single candle for an hour each night while they eat raw vegetables and wear five-year-old dungarees made from recycled ten-year-old dungarees.