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.