The environmental movement started out in the 1970s as a positive factor in American life. It advocated and then coerced the cleanup of the air, land and water; set standards for pollution and energy efficiency; and encouraged land preservation in wilderness areas.
Today, however, the modern enviro movement is causing pollution and promoting energy inefficiency and destroying wilderness. Here is how:
Most of the pollution-reduction goals in the 1970s and up until now have been met using the technology of the private-sector capitalist economy. If technological innovation had not come to the rescue, we might not have solved many enviro problems but simply would have shut down the sources of pollution rather than modernizing them. Today using modern technology we produce much more industrial output with much less pollution.
This technological advancement is a natural part of our free-market economic system. And so we should not be surprised that it has helped to create a cleaner environment. Because our capitalist society is always advancing, trying new and more efficient things and making technology less expensive and more accessible. That is how cell phones, which cost $4,000 in the 1980s, today may cost $20, or sometimes are even given away free.
But the enviro movement has never credited our capitalist system for its crucial contribution to cleaning up the ecology. In fact today the enviro movement is opposing many of the efficiencies in the capitalist system, and opposing capitalism itself. That opposition is causing our economy to become dirtier and less efficient and poorer.
This all started when the enviro movement moved into the second phase of its involvement in the American economy by forcing ever more draconian pollution regulations on business. Much regulation in the 1970s started out positive but over time has become increasingly oppressive and invasive and obstructionist, by micro-managing businesses and their emissions. And it is having the effect of creating unsustainable regimes for business expansion, even halting economic growth here and sending jobs overseas.
This story is being repeated over and over across America much like the story of what happened in the town of Hudson, New York, 125 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River. It is a cement-producing region because of its big lime deposits. When the Canadian firm St. Lawrence Cement wanted to shut down some old plants in the area and build one big, new state-of-the-art facility on the edge of the town of Hudson, with the latest low-pollution technology, enviro groups fought the plant for years and St. Lawrence eventually gave up.
Why did these groups fight this plant?
Because even though the plant would have been cleaner than the old plants, and even though St. Lawrence planned to tear down the older plants to beautify the region, the enviro movement today has many people who are not necessarily or just pro-environment but who are socialistic and who are using the enviro movement to thwart capitalist growth, hiding behind “clean air” and “wilderness preservation” in order to hurt private companies like St. Lawrence Cement.
So now some of that cement production from the never-built Hudson plant is going to go to Mexico or other countries that have much looser regulations. And thus the same amount of cement production will produce more global pollution while killing American jobs and costing us in our balance of trade as we import the cement that should have been made here.
In the meantime, New York state enviro officials are constantly monitoring the older St. Lawrence plants and fining the owners for pollution violations when they occur.
Wouldn’t it have been better to just build a new plant?
These types of opposition, along with oppressive enviro regs, are strangling the American economy in myriad small and large ways. Go into any small town or rural area in America and some local no-growth activist or environmentalist will protest just about any economic development project that is proposed. Sometimes a local development proposal like a quarrying operation or a mine is targeted by outside enviro groups, pitting, say, one single landowner or small local company against the wealth and legal power of state and national eco-groups, and state and federal governments. It is hardly a fair fight. Environmentalism is the most powerful special-interest group of all time.
On another level, local conservation commissions nitpick developers and landowners, requiring that every detail be accounted for, often at great expense. In one case in Massachusetts, a local commission required that a landowner who was replacing a decades-old wooden wall at the edge of a lake was required to employ an expensive specialized disposal company just to get rid of… wood. And to present a certified written receipt to the commission. In other cases, extensive multi-million dollar enviro impact reports are required for projects as simple as a cell-phone tower, costing all consumers dearly and hindering modernization of small-town communication systems.
In another major case, in the state of Oregon in the 1990s, 30,000 loggers were thrown out of work over the phony ‘spotted owl’ controversy. Hundreds of thousands of more people were adversely affected. Did enviros care?
No. And these are just a few examples of nationwide enviro obstruction.
In the rural town of Corinth, New York, 175 miles north of New York City – a small town desperately in need of jobs – environmentalists descended on the town in 2005 and rallied the people against a proposal for a plant that would have burned New York City garbage and turned it into electricity. That would have been a win-win-win situation with A) New York disposing of its garbage; B) jobs created in a small, rural town that needs them; and C) electricity generated.
But now instead that garbage is shipped 1,000 miles by rail to South Carolina and buried in a landfill. This A) wastes energy and creates pollution in the long-distance shipping of the garbage; B) pollutes the environment by filling up landfills unnecessarily, and; C) makes us more dependent on other energy sources by restricting electrical production. These are lose-lose-lose under modern-day environmentalism.
Enviros claim that the garbage-burning plant would have been “dirty”. But anyone who lives near one of today’s trash-to-energy plants knows they are super-efficient and clean using the latest capitalist technology.
One thing is certain, however – the results for the environment of blocking the Corinth plant are definitely “dirty” and will require more energy and will leave more people poor.
In electricity production in America today, 1.2 billion tons of coal are burned every year in “thermal” generating plants that make about 52%of the nation’s electricity. If those plants were all nuclear, we would not need to expend massive amounts of energy and create large amounts of pollution and natural disruption to mine, transport and burn all that coal.
Wouldn’t that all be a positive for the environment?
Yes. But enviros are blocking the most efficient energy production ever in the history of technology… nuclear power.
Now environmentalists are moving into the next phase of their agenda. After supervising the cleanup of the environment, imposing increasing regulation, and blocking energy efficiency like nuclear power, they are today moving into the area of energy production. They are proposing to replace these coal burning plants not with efficient nuclear power but with super-inefficient windmills which are only 40% as efficient as nuclear just to start. Windmills already are destroying wilderness all over America when they are installed in largely rural areas of unspoiled beauty. Many windmills are as tall as a 45-story building. It is just stunning to watch the cavalier way that enviros are willing to bulldoze mountaintops to erect windmills, while they have worked for decades to stop development in the same areas.
And now we have the final phase of environmentalism, which is the theorectical one in which completely fictional nonsense like ‘global warming’ is passed off as fact. This is the last straw. After decades of enviro-mythmaking about the end of the world through acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer, disappearing forests and the like, the debunked ‘global warming’ fantasy is an all-encompassing catastrophe and is being used to drive all of the other parts of environmentalism (halting energy use and economic development, forcing the construction of windmills etc.).
By driving public opinion and policy through the falsehood of unprecedented global heating, the enviro movement is covering every base. It started out positive and has ended up in a bed of lies. And that shows how little regard the environmental movement has for even its original goals, which have been accomplished and now are being superseded and even reversed by a much more dangerous and superfluous agenda based in myth and not facts, to the detriment of the environment itself.
Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.