Saturday, June 12, 2010

Disaster Environmentalism

The momentum for passing an “energy bill” now, using the Gulf disaster as leverage, is gaining ground, and the more heated the rhetoric becomes the more firmly I remain opposed to any such idea. Increasingly the idea is to “punish” oil companies, and to eliminate oil altogether, replacing it with wind and solar power.

Chris Matthews had a couple of guests on Hardball yammering on the subject yesterday, one demanding immediate and dramatic action, and the other against it but for the wrong reason, saying that no energy legislation was needed at all. I had to turn the sound off until they finished. Legislation is most certainly needed, but not until emotions have cooled down and it can be done rationally.

When capitalists made use of disaster to serve their purpose that was bad, but for environmentalists to make use of disaster to serve their purpose is a good thing. Whether an action is right or wrong is not a function of the action itself, but whether “we” or “they” are doing it; wrong if “they” are doing it, but natural and proper if “we” are doing it.

Perhaps it sounds better when phrased as the action is wrong if it serves “their” purpose, but proper and moral if it serves “our” purpose. Never mind that it’s the same action. Our purpose is noble and righteous, and their purpose is evil and destructive.

Never mind that “their” purpose, while generating profits for corporations, also provides jobs for workers and powers our homes and transportation.

Never mind that “our” purpose, while noble in its effort to save the environment, does not provide the fertilizer needed to feed the population, the fuel to power the trains and trucks to move that food from where it is grown to where we can consume it, nor the millions of products which are derived from petroleum.

Balance must be struck between the desire to leave the planet untouched, the need to minimize depletion of the planet, and the essential provision of resources to support life for the human population of the planet. That balance will not happen when legislators are being bombarded with howls of outrage and cries to punish the petroleum industry.

Disaster Environmentalism has decided to emulate Disaster Capitalism.

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