Monday, June 25, 2007

The Scarlet Letter

Tim Blair follows the Global Warming environmentalist scene, featuring researchers who descend on private homes with carbon-measuring equipment and an attendant TV crew to publicly "shame" their occupants into greater Greenness.

Each week they don their orange monogrammed shirts to cordon off the toxic home of an Australian family. They arrive with energy-auditing gadgetry, sobering statistics and lips and eyebrows curled in withering admonishment. They rate these people, shame them, then challenge them to do better.

"One of the things I loved was when you tell them the audit result,” says Carbon Constable Fitzgerald, whose daytime cover is head of the science department at Geelong’s Oberon High School. “Most of them were expecting to come off pretty well but they were all genuinely, absolutely floored. They can’t believe it. It’s a great moment."

Tim Blair's only regret is that they don't audit the energy consumption and travel logistics of the TV crews they bring with them. Mine is why they don't get a life. Don't these guys have anything better to do than spend their days telling other people how to live?


But what would be the fun in in minding your own business? The fun is in minding others. What all the earthly paradises promised by social re-engineering projects have in common is not that they are free from unpleasantness and want; Stalin offered a vision of barracks life, cafeteria food and compulsory day-care and people were willing to kill for it; modern environmentalists present one of five-minute showers, subsistance living and rationed toilet paper and they are willing to descend on your home in order to achieve it. They are bleak, unpleasant paradises. The attraction of these earthly utopias is not pleasance but freedom from doubt. Entry into a place where all the answers are supplied and there are no more dilemmas. What is required of that Brave New World above all is the final banishment of Hamlet's soliloquy. The attraction of Communism, a world ruled by the Greens or lashed under the chains of Sharia Law is they leave no room for doubt. They offer a place where every aspect of life will be regulated, our carbon footprints measured at intervals, our piety audited periodically and we shall be rid at last of our greatest burden -- freedom and uncertainty.

For that reason people like the "environmentalists" that Tim Blair describes derive satisifaction from forcing people into line. It is the Global Warming line in this instance, but any line would have done. Any port which will shelter them against the storm of doubt. The very same people who were yesterday's Communists are today's environmentalists and tomorrow's Muslim converts. It's really all the same religion to them. Marx was wrong when he said the whole point of history was not to understand but to change it; for the true believer the whole point of history is simply to find a way to end it.

The saddest aspect of these endeavor is that it blinds its adherents to the fecundity of creation; to the newness of each sunset; the uniqueness in its child's smile; to the potential for discovery; to the possibility that the winds of the world change not by our feeble edicts, but because Spirit bloweth. Free and ever-new.

25 Comments:

Blogger PierreLegrand said...

Global Warming skeptics vilified, Warming advocates call skeptics crazy for thinking such things.

Bullshit enviromentalism is just another way of crippling the US.

6/25/2007 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

In more technologically primitive times men had fewer illusions about being "in control". Mark's Gospel uses the phrase "be not afraid" repeatedly, yet we rarely know what is going to happen nor is anything explained. We are never in charge, yet we are asked by the evangelist to put aside our fear.

But I suppose that modern man needs to see the machinery. He is no longer content to put aside his fear in the face of doubt. He needs to see, but the more of it he sees, the more fearful he becomes. From Pascal onward, the greatest challenge to childhood faith has always been terror at the vastness of the universe and the apparent impossibility that such a thing could ever care for us. To counteract this agoraphobia we screen it out. We surround ourselves with artificial boundaries: the comforts of the Communist Party Society, the thoughtless pantheism of modern environmentalism; the strict letter of religious fundamentalism. Anything but to stare out at the terrifying vastness with but the small light of faith. But here is the storm, and all we have is a dimly heard assurance that "it is only I. Be not afraid."

6/25/2007 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

I don't like the bossiness. Still, I think there would be real interest in measuring a water footprint or a carbon footprint of a household. Then, there could be some environmentalist version of What Not To Wear (where the film studio pays for the energy efficient and water efficient appliances).

Actually, I would be interested in measuring the water and carbon footprints of Albert Gore's mansion, John Edwards's mansion, Angelina Jolie's mansions, Barbara Streisand's mansions, Arnold Schwartzenegger's mansion, et cetera. Although I resent bossiness against ordinary folks, any rich celebrity who advocates for environmentalism ought to be fair game -- they bring it on themselves.

When there are finite resources, some form of rationing is necessary. Although the most efficient means to ration a resource is usually the open market, a famine often leads to hoarding and price scalping. And price scalping on commodities like food and water often lead to riots. If there is a water shortage, I would much rather prohibit private swimming pools on rich estates than stop sending water entirely to poor villages. The poor village may not be able to afford the price a Beverly Hills socialite may command to keep her swimming pool filled, but wise politics dictates the existence of a safety net. Sadly, modern environmentalism is turning into a political movement where rich people tell poor people to tighten their belts for the good of the planet while those same rich people do nothing to contain their own appetites.

6/25/2007 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger kilmer4 said...

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6/25/2007 11:05:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Interesting download. Nothing comes for free. We gather and we spend. We love only to lose. We live only to die. And yet in each case life and freedom is worth it. It came unlooked for to each of us. We woke from the dark dazzled by the gift. Whatever miracles are still to come, this at least we have.

Still onward winds the dreary way;
I with it; for I long to prove
No lapse of moons can canker Love,
Whatever fickle tongues may say. ...

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
’Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

6/26/2007 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Alexis -- you're making an assumption error, one typical of elitists. It's a deadly error.

In a water shortage, water on the open market will be trucked in. Because people will pay more for it. Swimming pools are drained because people can't fill them (too expensive). This during a drought in the 1970's in Southern California sparked the skateboard revolution: empty pools made great skate parks.

Long term shortages encourage substitution. What's the substitution for water? Energy: more electricity diverted to either recycling/cleaning dirty waste water or desalinization which is expensive.

Elites always assume a static society where they (the priesthood) can tell other people what to do.

Which leads to my next point Wretchard.

Surely it has not escaped your attention that the social control and putting people in their place is the main point of the exercise? In the old days elites wore clothing like suits to delineate themselves from the common man. Had manners, habits and complexions that immediately marked them as elite, so everyone knew their social status.

Today's elites live in a conundrum: people don't necessarily know they are elite. How can you tell a writer-producer from a grip if they both dress alike in the uniform of jeans and t-shirts. Both might even have gym sculpted bodies.

Hence the savage imposition of social controls by elites on the average person. Much of the War on Terror, Environmental Hysteria (I would agree there are real problems requiring real solutions, hysteria not being one of them, habitat destruction of endangered ecosystems with biological treasures being one definitely), and Immigration debates are part of the struggle.

Elites want to tell us ordinary folks in exquisite detail how to live every aspect of our life, and we wish to live our lives as free people.

6/26/2007 01:32:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

"If there is a water shortage, I would much rather prohibit private swimming pools on rich estates than stop sending water entirely to poor villages. The poor village may not be able to afford the price a Beverly Hills socialite may command to keep her swimming pool filled, but wise politics dictates the existence of a safety net."

Sooo, Beverly Hills is actually situated in Ethiopia? Or are we talking about the "poor villages" of Van Nuys, Glendale, Los Angeles.....?

6/26/2007 05:17:00 AM  
Blogger PierreLegrand said...

I don't like the bossiness. Still, I think there would be real interest in measuring a water footprint or a carbon footprint of a household. Then, there could be some environmentalist version of What Not To Wear (where the film studio pays for the energy efficient and water efficient appliances).

Yea then there could be a version of most wanted after I put a baseball bat to the side of as many heads as I could smack.

Enviromentalists are not worried about the enviroment. They are worried about controlling me. Course there is a fringe that are worried about the enviroment...they want the earth emptied of humans. The hell with all of them.

6/26/2007 05:17:00 AM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

"Don't these guys have anything better to do than spend their days telling other people how to live? But what would be the fun in in minding your own business? The fun is in minding others."

Fascism starts with busybodies.

When people have all their basic needs covered, they move on to seeking more ways to enjoy themselves.

For some of these, only being taken seriously begins to satisfy them.

At the core of that desire lays the seed of a fatal and unresolvable conflict. For on the horizon are those who wish to live forever and who demand to be taken seriously.

So they seek others with a similar bent and exclude those without it. Most of the rest us see that they need to seek their own kind, and perpetuate their type in a queer way.

We witness how they simply cannot abide those who so readily point out how involved they are in a circle jerk.

But the rest of have not yet found the mocking laughter that will finally pierce their bubble.

We need to do so. Or else this is in our foreseeable future:
"We are at war with global warming.
We have always been at war with global warming.
Fascistic tactics have always been our friend."

6/26/2007 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

I seem to have had great difficulty -- twice above -- in completely writing out the phrase "the rest of us."

For some latent individualist reasons, no doubt,

6/26/2007 05:38:00 AM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

Pierre:
"Enviromentalists are not worried about the enviroment. They are worried about controlling me. Course there is a fringe that are worried about the enviroment...they want the earth emptied of humans. The hell with all of them."

Marxism is "dead" yet it continues to kill. How could that be?

The influence of the fringies are clearly more in evidence than their being only in the fringes explains. They just can't allow themselves to be seen in the forefront else risk their advances being undone.

Thanks to you and Wretchard for making the neo-Malthusians' advances harder to ignore.

6/26/2007 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Since the subject of water has come up in the course of this thread about global warming seems only fitting to bring this up: Much of the United States' grain crops are grown in the High Plains states. In the early 19th century this area was deemed "almost wholly unfit for cultivation and . . . uninhabited by people depending upon agriculture for their subsistence." And yet today this area is one of largest areas of cropland in the world. Given the whole area is a semi-arid region, how is this possible? The High Plains aquifer, aka the Ogallala Aquifer. Covering nearly 1/2 million square kilometers and containing more than 3.3 billion acre-feet of water this aquifier has allowed farmers to turn the prairie into some of the world's most productive farmland since it was first tapped in the early 20th Century. Problem is all that water is "fossil water". A legacy, a gift, from the last Ice Age. There is no sufficient contemporary source for water to recharge the whole aquifer, although recharge does occur in some areas. In significant areas of the aquifier the water table has plunged 20 to 40 feet since 1980 as farmers continue to suck the water out. In some areas water is being extracted at rates exceeding one hundred times the natural replacement rate. And now farmers are being prompted by the global warming scare to start growing the most water intensive grain crop around: corn. For ethanol. To run cars, rather than feed people. Sometimes you wonder if it is the lunatics that are running the ayslum.

6/26/2007 08:11:00 AM  
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6/26/2007 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger jane said...

Having to put bricks in our toilet tanks, change our lightbulbs and go to hemp in our closets is just the tip of the melting iceberg. What we really need is an Internal Rectitude Service to audit our pantries and personal diversity practices, in addition to our energy and water use. Be sure to vote Progressive next election.

And remember that Dems aren’t anti-war, they just want to see us fight winnable, less protracted battles with decisive engagements and objective metrics, such as the war against climate change.

6/26/2007 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger sanchmo said...

The June 20 Dilbert expressed the attitude of self-righteous enviromental saviors perfectly:

DOGBERT THE GREEN CONSULTANT: "Try ramming your SUV into hybrid cars. That should stop them from using fuel altogether. You can't save the earth unless you're willing to make other people sacrifice."

6/26/2007 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger cathyf said...

"it is only I. Be not afraid."

I think another prime message of the gospels is even more on point -- Jesus spends virtually his entire public ministry in some way shape or form skewering self-rightous religious busybodies. Those who make up bundles for others to carry, those who strain at gnats, those worried about specks in others' eyes while ignoring planks in their own, those stoning adulterous women while unrepentent of their own sins, those sneering at the penitent while ignoring basic hospitality, money changers in the temple -- the list goes on and on.

And it's not just that Jesus is making a serious point in some detached intellectual way. Read the gospels, and it's clear that one thing that he managed to get across to his disciples is that these folks seriously piss him off.

6/26/2007 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Noel said...

Meh. This doesn't sound like a government-imposed check of the carbon footprint of private households. In fact, this being a TV show, I'm willing to bet the homeowners probably signed a release to allow all this to happen, and probably even volunteered for the privilege.

So long as people are still free to tell these busybodies to stick their measuring equipment where the sun don't shine there's really no need for the hand-wringing about the elitist socialist green crypto-commie whackos coming to take away our hot showers and toilet papers.

Speedy

6/26/2007 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Dublin Saab said...

Oh I'd just love for some watermelons to come and cordon off my house for a carbon audit. I'd give the TV crew something worth filming!

6/26/2007 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger jane said...

Reality TV: energy make-overs

You go away for the weekend with friends and upon returning, find your lawn torn out and replaced with rock and (recycled) plastic flowers, your outdoor spigots gone and your pool turned into a rain and gray water cistern with a windmill powered pump, a hot water tank on your roof, your brick clad in baby blue insulated vinyl siding, foam insulation sprayed around all openings and junctures, temp plastic sheeting taped over the windows until the customized new plastic-looking double-glazed units arrive, your carpet ripped out and recycled tire tile installed.

Your old fixtures have been replaced with compost toilet latrines with single-ply recycled tissue in single square dispensers, a shower head valve installed and set to shut off after a certain number of gallons, a new thermostat with only two settings- 80 degrees for cooling and 50 for heating, your study turned into a recycle sorting center, a bicycle generator in the basement, a hybrid where your SUV used to be, your washer and dryer replaced by a washboard and clothes line, your barbecue equipment, lawn mower, dishwasher and vacuum cleaner on the curb, your plastic bags, disposable razors and your favorite hair dryer in the bin, and a green star wreath on your front door.

IOW, pretty much like trailer living but with a Prius that could never haul a trailer.

6/26/2007 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger jane said...

I don't necessarily believe in AGW and abhor the way climate fear is being peddled, but there are air and water quality and, increasingly, water scarcity issues to be considered, and so I use some green products and methods. Still, the net reduction in resource and pollution burden on Gaia they produce could very well be neglible, at least for a number of years, since green renovation requires old things to be tossed (to the landfill, incinerated- only a % can be profitably recycled) and new things to be manufactured (using electricity and water), packaged, marketed, transported and installed, and then upgraded with newer things as energy restrictions become more stringent and tech gets more efficient or as Green is better advertised.

In most cases, tearing down old buildings to build greener ones is a HUGE waste of energy, resources and our architectural heritage. In these pre-fusion days, retrofitting and modifying our behavior is still the better strategy, normally, but it can be a challenge to do so aesthetically and comfortably.

Such as, do animals get in those compost toilets, 'cause that would be the stuff of horror films--

6/26/2007 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Tarnsman:


The Oglalla Aquifer is in a similar position to the East Texas oil industry in the early 1930’s. It was a free-for-all and overpumping of oil wells was rampant. Then, the Texas Railroad Commission stepped in and (with the help of federal law enforcement) established a system of petroleum prorationing that conserved the resource. This conservation measure actually increased the earnings of oil well operators, ensured a steady market, and consequently a steady supply of petroleum for the United States.

When there is a scarce resource as basic to human life as water, petroleum, or food, acquisition of that resource becomes a legitimate pursuit of a freely elected government under its obligation to promote the public welfare. On the face of it, the Louisiana Purchase was a colossal intervention of the federal government into the economy of the United States and it made land policy in the West contingent upon the federal government’s latest policy. Yet, I do not regret the Louisiana Purchase.

I do not see any future for the region of the Oglalla Aquifer outside of a federal regime. If overpumping continues, the place will become a dry desert and may eventually become a federal park or a “buffalo commons”. If pumping for agriculture stops, the regional economy will dry up -- and may eventually become a federal park. River water pumped into the region from the outside to compensate for the loss of aquifer water would require a huge federal intervention in the local economy. (Partisans of free markets are welcome to consider how private corporations would truck water into the High Plains once the regional economy goes belly up.)

One reason why I use Beverly Hills as an example is because it is an artificial wonderland created by money, power, and influence. The residents of Beverly Hills have the economic power to ensure their swimming pools remain filled even if the taps are entirely cut off in Inyo County. A private accumulation of power supported by police power can be every bit as tyrannical as a public accumulation of power. In any case, California’s water system is so thoroughly politicized that a “free market” has become an alien concept; in a true “free market”, state and federal governments would never have intervened on behalf of Los Angeles.

When northern Californians mutter angrily about paying higher water bills than people from the Los Angeles Basin, there is a problem. One of the most effective ways to ensure the rise of leftist political leaders is to sell off a municipal water system to a foreign corporation and watch the water rates skyrocket. I understand very well that water plants are expensive and that somebody needs to pay for them. Still, irrespective of the advantages of capitalist enterprise, there is a political necessity to show people tangible benefits to raising prices for vital commodities.

A private swimming pool in the midst of thirst is bad politics. Likewise, a rich celebrity calling for carbon austerity and sacrifice from others is also unwise.

6/26/2007 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger dueler88 said...

my profession (architecture) swallowed the kool-aid a long time ago. combine an artist's sensitivity, an "intuitive" understanding of science, a near-worship of the natural world, and the idea that we know what's best for people and you have a recepie for inquisition. somehow, our value in self-expression and self-determination gets pushed aside, or is somehow not applicable to others.

over the past several years, the building profession has imposed upon itself a detailed methodology of designing and building earth-friendly buildings. it is called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. once you examine all of the issues involved, "green" can encompass a mind-boggling array of related data. designing energy-efficient mechanical and electrical systems is a no-brainer. what takes more consideration, however, is the entire manufacturing pathway of every single component that becomes part of the building. not only are the properties of each material examined, but also the energy required to harvest and/or manufacture those materials. Brings to mind the Prius vs. Hummer debate here a few weeks ago.

The U.S. Green Building Council (the non-profit that created LEED - usgbc.org) has certainly made it relatively easy to make a green building. There are two disturbing trends, however:

1. Many local jurisdictions are considering making these LEED-specified items part of their local building codes. In other words, you won't have a choice as to whether or not the lobby floors of your grand company headquarters building building are to be Turkish Marble or locally-grown bamboo. Many local governments have already mandated LEED requirements upon themselves, regardless of any potential cost differences.

2. Through an intersting evolution of professional values, "LEED-Accredited Professional" has supplanted "Licensed Architect" in the not-so-subconscious evaluation one's seriousness about one's profession. A building's carbon footprint has become just about as important as whether or not all of its occupants can exit unharmed during a fire. That alone should tell you how the building design & construction community feels about human-induced global warming, and why I keep my ideology to myself. I'm still trying to convince myself that I should become LEED-Accredited, with a rationale not unlike my father-in-law's Russian language study as U.S. military officer in the 1950s.

Don't get me wrong - anything that makes buildings more energy-efficient and pollutes less is a good idea. I would just rather have the guilt-banishing Gaia-worship sacrament removed from the equation.

6/26/2007 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mr.Atos said...

I believe the German word for these kind of people was Die Sturmabteilung?

http://mysandmen.blogspot.com/2006/04/what-is-being-left-sturmabteilung.html

Really, what is the difference?!... except perhaps in terms of the degrees of violence committed; for now?! Unwelcomed intrusion is one form of violence. Public ridicule is another. In Portland, they will slice your car tires, torch your SUV, or your new home. Incrementally, Die Sturm ratchets up the violence by degrees and according to what will be publicly accepted (ie. not vehemently rejected). Eventually the violence and aggression is quite real and quite dangerous and it excalates fast.

At the moment, Die Sturm is probing and pushing those limits like a predator crawling through the tall grass. If we refuse to charge or flee, we'll soon find their teeth in our throats.

6/26/2007 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger dueler88 said...

technology is pushing monitoring systems toward the point of omniscience. first, it's real-time power usage. next, real-time carbon output. can real-time locating be far away?

at what point does omniscience become tyranny? and is omniscient tyranny capable of being resisted?

6/26/2007 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Perhaps this from a paleogeologist would be interesting.

6/26/2007 06:04:00 PM  

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