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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Green is Wasteful - Prioritizing Human Energy


Recently I visited a chain supermarket that had implemented a policy against double bagging in the name of being "Green". The cashiers were dissatisfied as they hounded customers about double bagging. The customers were dissatisfied as they struggled to tote around heavy purchases in thin plastic bags. I loaded up each item to a bag and then repackaged the items outside into double bags. I noticed then that in terms of bags expended, instead of double bagging, I had actually tripled bagged or quadruple bagged. The final total of the supermarket's green experiment was that I wound up using almost twice as many bags and everyone in the process from the customers to the cashiers wound up expending a great deal of excess to promote a policy that in sum total was simply wasteful.



Nor is this unusual, because the one thing you can reliably expect from a Green policy is that it will waste both resources and time and energy.



The Low Flow toilets imposed during the Clinton Administration did not save water. What they did was maintain the same or increased level of water use, since repeat flushings were required to generate the same effect.



The recycling movement, once so popular, ran into the fact that recycling was a scam and. By 1996 at the New York Times, which had once enthusiastically embraced recycling, John Tierney had penned an article titled, 'Recycling is Garbage' in which he contended that recycling was a fraud that didn't work. Tierney concluded;



"Recycling does sometimes makes sense-for some materials in some places at some times. But the simplest and cheapest option is usually to bury garbage in an environmentally safe landfill. And since there's no shortage of landfill space (the crisis of 1987 was a false alarm), there's no reason to make recycling a legal or moral imperative. Mandatory recycling programs aren't good for posterity. They offer mainly short-term benefits to a few groups-politicians, public relations consultants, environmental organizations, waste-handling corporations-while diverting money from genuine social and environmental problems. Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources."



The final sentence explains why Recycling like so many Green initiatives are a disaster. The penultimate sentence explains why recycling is still around and why Global Warming is finding a receptive corporate audience, because there's plenty of money to be made in it, from upselling products by marketing them as "Green" or "Recycled" to obtaining Municipal and Federal grants.




But it's the final sentence that is truly worth contemplating, because it's human resources that the environmental movement in all its guises, down to the Green campaigns squander. Whether it's customers repackaging groceries, sorting their own trash or reducing their energy use, Green is a synonym for wasting the most valuable energy there is... human energy.



While environmentalists typically go on about energy waste, rarely if ever do they calculate human energy into the equation. Yet human energy is the most valuable and vital energy of all, around which all other forms of energy can only circulate as satellite expenditures.



While Greens today hector us about turning off lights, it is the transition first to efficient and cheap natural lighting and then electrical lights that helped spur a burst of human productivity, enabling people to work and read at late hours. The boy inventor reading a science textbook late into the night, the laboratory open at all hours and the round the clock plant are all products of energy use, the sort of energy use that environmentalists describe as waste.



While environmentalists continue to push the government to play Nanny State, their proposals impose a great deal of discomfort and never actually seem to work. Over at Berkeley Professor Pravin Varaiya found that carpool lanes actually increase congestion.



Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and California State University, East Bay have measured the effect of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) restrictions on 100 miles of freeway in the San Francisco Bay area and found the lanes have had the opposite of their intended effect.



"HOV actuation imposes a twenty percent capacity penalty," wrote Jaimyoung Kwon and Pravin Varaiya, the study's authors. "The HOV restriction significantly increases demand on the other lanes causing a net increase in overall congestion delay. HOV actuation does not significantly increase person throughput."



Moreover, no increase in carpooling was measured as a result of increased delays in the general purpose lanes either in the short term or in a long-term analysis.



And on top of that, as it turns out, HOV lanes are also unsafe.



A report released last year also shows that the most common form of HOV lane, where general and restricted traffic is not separated by a physical barrier, causes a fifty percent increase in accidents.



It's not a pretty picture and it's why many States have now turned around and are allowing single passenger Hybrids and drivers willing to pay a toll to use the carpool lane. That of course is the final end result of any environmental innovation, that the wealthy and the outwardly socially conscious will always have a way to opt out.



Don't want to be bothered with recycling? Get a maid. Don't want to waste time dealing with the plastic bag problem, order groceries directly to your home. Want a regular toilet? Import one from Canada. Don't want to carpool but want to use the Carpool lane? Just pay more.



The same wealthy dilettantes who foist environmental regulations on the general public always make certain that they have a convenient way to buy themselves out of any inconvenience. And that has always been the case as the same people who championed busing sent their kids off to private schools. The biggest champions of gun control have their own armed bodyguards. The biggest champions of global warming, including Al Gore, use Carbon Credits to buy their way out of their own principled austerity.



Like the Crusaders of the medieval Church, the Crusaders of Global Warming can always rely on Indulgences from the Church of Global Warming, allowing them to commit sins against the environment so long as they sign the checks to pay for them.



And here we come right back to the question of human energy. The industrial and information revolutions created a growing leisure class. Everything from home appliances to general prosperity made it possible for more people to have more free time than ever before. Some dedicated that time to building families, cultivating religious involvement and contributing to their communities. But a large elitist class, often liberal in politics, instead chose an egotistical self-centered way of life. A way of life whose guilty byproducts could only be processed by attacking the very means that enabled their leisure, the energy, the appliances and the society that enabled their wastefulness.



That is the real waste at the heart of the environmental movement, not a waste of artificial energy but the waste of human energy. The liberal leisure classes so eagerly promoting environmental nanny statism are simply compensating for their own wasted lives and the egotistical ways in which they have chosen to live them. Rather than making their lives meaningful, they choose to make our lives as meaningless as theirs.

16 comments:

Lemon said...

Yes rich avoid things because they buy the same services and priviledge they deny to us.

kahaneloyalist said...

What most Green's dont seem to realize is there is no natural economy for most recycling. Scrap metal existed long before the recycling craze and will outlast the Greens because the difference in price between virgin & and scrap metals and their value is great enough to warrant the industry. But most of the government sponsored recycling, (with the exception of glass which has more practical problems involved in reuse) is simply not worth enough in scrap form to exist without a outside source, in this case the government propping recycling up.

A second point which would be funny if it wasnt so sad; is Greens have done everything in their power to make sustainable recycling industries, like scrap metal, difficult to impossible to run. With reams of regulations and taxes so high profitability is nearly unreachable.

Shiloh said...

Excellent article Sultan. As the world worships the creation, not the Creator, and we wonder why things today are so terribly upside down.

Dame Stingerbutt Yo said...

I have to disagree with you old salty knish. The greatest waste of human energy is grade school, middle school, high school where little brains go to die.

Then there's the waiting rooms at the doctor's office! A hideous evil.

See! There's some things worse than green.

Keli Ata said...

I don't know where I fit on the recycling list of offenders lol. My carbon footprints are small though.

I double bag plastic shopping bags because I have carry them for blocks.

And I keep my air conditioner on high day and night because my allergies would land me in the hospital if I kept the windows open.

And yeah, I do sleep with the TV and a light on.

On the otherhand...I don't drive and either use public transportation or walk.

Re scrap metal: burglars in Buffalo are having a field day with copper piping. The strip vacant houses of the copper piping (destroying the walls and ceilings in the process) and sell the copper.

Lemon said...

If they were serious they would get rid of plastic for product wrappings, bags and food containment.
Plastic is not good for health .
I would love to get milk in bottles again.
Butter came in crockery at one time.
Now everything has that leeched plastic taste. Yuk

Dame Stinkerbutt said...

And Valley Bell drove through the valley each week delivering our milk and other dairy products. I miss those days.

I miss having a milk cow whose farts aided our global warming epidemic. (which this is the rainiest coolest summer we've had in years and years and years)

Anonymous said...

Sleeping with light on at night can precipitate breast cancer in women. Word to the wise.

vincent said...

Although I love reading your blog since I reckon you are a very intelligent and original thinker I do have to say that I very seldom agree with you 100 %. Okay, surprise, surprise and no big deal one would argue and yeah that's cool indeed but on this green issue for example I would say that:
Although these Green people are often shortsighted, single issue, hypocrites with overblown ego's and what have yous I do think that we have gone a long way concerning the environment. Just look at Beijing or look at what Pittsburgh used to be like. Even in my own town the cars that race passed my window force me to sleep with ear pads in and the cars do cause serious air pollution also.
Not that the Greens have all the answers. It is just that reality is much more complex than that bashing the other side in a reflexing manner justifies. It is like throwing the baby away with the bathing water. ( if you have this expression in English)
Again, on a more general level; as much as I admire you for your writings I do think that often reality is much more complex than some of your quick essay conclusions justify.
Shabbat Shalom !

Sultan Knish said...

I'm no fan of pollution but the reason to reduce actual pollution was public health, today there's a push to define just about any use of energy as pollution in the name of global warming and it's a misdefinition

reducing pollution should be a human centered activity, rather than an activity centered around imaginary green science

Keli Ata said...

They've turned concern for the environment into a religion and made Earth Day a high holiday.

Keli Ata said...

Lemon: I would love buy milk in a glass bottle. For some reason it always seemed to get colder in the fridge and tasted wonderful.

Keli Ata said...

??I read on the frum satire blog something about milk in bags in Israel.

Does anyone have a clue about what that means? Does it really come in bags?

Yobeeone said...

Keli: BKD (before kosher days) when I worked fast foods, we got milk in bags. To me it was much colder than milk in plastic bottles. Much like you said about milk in glasses. Coke is colder in glass bottles than plastic bottles. :]

vincent said...

Hi, thanks for your reply, what triggered my initial reaction was the fact that here in Holland we do not have place for landfills and also because of high groundwater levels that is not an option.
Technology and packaging does save time and is more save and all that but when people waste their extra time or human energy and not take the effort to throw things away properly it doesn't help anyway.
It is a matter of free choice. In the developing world they do have plenty of space and time and people so many goods get taken apart over there but they get sick.
You are right, the Green thing should not be a religion but it shouldn't be neglected either.

Sultan Knish said...

yes it should be a matter of free choice and one that maximizes the best outcome for humans

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