Envirohypocrites

Rich Galen didn’t favor Donald Trump’s pulling the U.S. out of the Paris global climate change treaty. (In contrast, I think it was Trump’s best decision since U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.)

However, Galen points out:

Assuming you believe that less is better — as almost everyone does, save for a few people in Mingo County, West Virginia — then the more difficult question is: How do we pay for it?

We have a history of paying more for things we believe to be healthy. Organic foods come to mine even though there is almost zero evidence that organically grown foods and organically raised animals have any — any — health benefits.

A reporter from NPR — yes, that NPR — in 2012 wrote about a study that had been released in The Annals of Internal Medicine:

“When the researchers looked at the body of evidence, they found no clear benefits” [from eating organically grown foods].

In fact, one of the researcher made it even clearer: “There’s a definite lack of evidence” to support the advantages of organic food.Dear Mr. Mullings:

What about being poisoned by the pesticides in conventional food? What about that?Signed,
The National Association of People Who Demand Everyone Agree with Them

Glad you asked. That same article stated that the investigators:

“found that the vast majority of conventionally grown food did not exceed allowable limits of pesticide residue set by federal regulations.”

I am not a climate denier. If gigantic sections of Antarctica are breaking off and floating away, I think that deserves some attention and concern. What I don’t understand is why the issues of whether the climate is changing and if it is, whether it is man-made, have taken on such a religious fervor.

You don’t think climate change is real? Fine. Smoke cigars in your house while the kids are playing on the floor in front of you.

You think climate change is the biggest existential threat since the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs? Fine. Drive an electric car and only recharge it at a place that gets its electricity from wind or solar farms. And, by the way, don’t take a federal subsidy to offset the cost of the vehicle.

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accords did not make me look for a high window out of which to jump.

I don’t agree with his decision, but it was but one of many in the first 136 days of his Presidency.

The long list of CEOs who also disagree with him on this decision can voluntarily abide by whatever rules the Obama Administration imposed while we were party to the Accords.

Easy Peasy.

There is some level of hypocrisy that attends to the outrage expressed by some of them. Tim Cook, the chairman of Apple (whose phones and tablets I swear by) wrote a letter to Apple employees after the President’s decision:

“Climate change is real and we all share a responsibility to fight it. I want to reassure you that today’s developments will have no impact on Apple’s efforts to protect the environment. We power nearly all of our operations with renewable energy, which we believe is an example of something that’s good for our planet and makes good business sense as well.”

All well and good but most, if not all, of Apple’s products are assembled in China and now India.

The biggest polluter on the planet? China. Coming in at number four? India. (the U.S. and the EU are two and three).

Elon Musk made a big deal about quitting some panels he was on. The raw materials for Tesla batteries come from many places including the aforementioned China (graphite), Congo (cobalt), and the golden triangle of democracy and good governments Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia (lithium).

Maybe they should stop supporting polluters and dictatorships along with their legitimate concern for the global climate.

And, in Musk’s case, return all the taxes he didn’t pay through the tax breaks his companies have enjoyed.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds has several answers for all this hypocrisy:

But if climate change is really such a crisis, and if sacrifice on our part is needed to stop it, then why aren’t we seeing more sacrifice from people who think it’s a problem?

That’s what one person asked on Twitter: “What if climate scientists decided, as a group, to make their conferences all virtual? No more air travel. What a statement!” And what if academics in general — most of whom think climate change is a big deal — started doing the same thing to make an even bigger statement?

Well, okay. Since some states and cities are promising to live by the Paris agreement anyway, and since Trump’s rejection of that agreement doesn’t mean that Congress is forbidden to act, I have some proposals for legislation that will take climate change seriously indeed.

It would be big. And what if politicians and celebrities stopped jetting around the world — often on wasteful private jets instead of flying commercial with the hoi polloi — as a statement of the importance of fighting climate change?

And what if politicians and celebrities lived in average-sized houses, to reduce their carbon footprints?  What if John Kerry, who was much put out by Trump’s action, gave up his yacht-and-mansions lifestyle?

What if, indeed? One reason why so many people don’t take climate change seriously is that the people who are constantly telling us it’s a crisis never actually act like it’s a crisis. They’re all-in for sacrifices by other people, but never seem to make much in the way of sacrifices themselves.

Well, some might say, that’s why we need laws. Even people who are deeply concerned about climate change lack the self-discipline to change their behavior. So we need discipline to be imposed, by the force of government.

First, we need to tax the “blue zones.” That is, we need to impose steep taxes on property in coastal areas that will be flooded by the sea-level increases that global warming is supposed to bring. By discouraging people from living or building there now, we’ll save ourselves from big problems in the future. Sure it’ll drive down property values, but those values should go down — they’re values for property that’s going to be flooded anyway, remember?

Second, we need to ban taxpayer-funded air travel to conferences. State legislatures could ban reimbursement for travel outside their states; Congress could require that no federal grant money be spent on air travel to conferences and similar events. A lot of academic conferences would fail, but that’s a small price to pay for saving the planet.  And besides, it will encourage the development of Internet-based conference alternatives. A whole new industry might result: Green jobs!

Third, we need to ban private jet travel. At first I thought about just taxing it heavily, but with the planet at stake, that might not be enough. It’s nice that John Travolta can have his own Boeing 707, or that Leonardo DiCaprio can jet around the world speaking against climate change, but the carbon emissions involved set a bad example that outweighs anything he might say. So no more private jets. Bigshots will just have to fly commercial like everyone else, the way they did in the 1950s. (And sorry, Leo, but massive yachts have to go, too). Politicians, too, should have to fly commercial. No more government-funded “executive jets” for them.

Fourth, we need a luxury tax on mansions. Any home more than twice the size of the average American home should be taxed at 25% of its value per year. Celebrities and the rich enjoy great powers of persuasion — but with great power comes great responsibility, and they have a great responsibility to set a good example for the rest of us on climate change!

These proposals are just the beginning, and I’m sure that enterprising members of Congress and various state legislatures can come up with more. But the important thing is to set a good example: Treat climate change like the crisis you say it is, and maybe more people will believe that it really is a crisis.

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