Earth Day falls on April 22 — Lenin’s birthday, appropriately enough — so let us first recall the blessed memory of the official theme for Earth Day 2022: “Invest In Our PlanetTM.” “This is the moment to change it all — the business climate, the political climate, and how we take action on climate. It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet.”
Put aside the profound totalitarian implications of the “change it all” exhortation; suffice it to say that centralized attempts in the past to change everything uniformly have engendered mass murder by governments and attendant economic, environmental, and moral destruction. Focus instead on the official theme for Earth Day 2023: “Invest In Our PlanetTM.”
No, that is not a copy-and-paste error. Last year’s Earth Day slogan is this year’s Earth Day slogan. Given the shameless groveling by a long queue of corporate officials and public relations gasbags desperate to advertise their environmental bona fides so that the green alligators might eat them last, one would think that the massive financial support from the corporate boardrooms for the Earth Day charlatans might have financed a contract with a PR firm to come up with something new.
And one would be wrong. The basic imperatives of the Earth Day environmental left are eternal, immutable, unchanging, impervious to evidence, and utterly mindless. “Ensure that students across the worldbenefit from high-quality education to develop into informed and engaged environmental stewards.” Translation: Propagandize the young, Komsomol-style. “Sign the petition for a global plastics treaty.” Over three-quarters of ocean plastic pollution is discharged from rivers in Asia and other less-developed regions. (Your plastic straw is irrelevant.) Needless to say, the Earth Day proponents have not bothered to tell us how those governments can be induced to make the attendant massive changes; bribing them will not work because the western governments will prove curiously parsimonious, as the travails of the Green Climate Fund (part of the thunderously-applauded Paris Agreement) make clear.
And on and on. “Plant trees.” Yes, trees absorb carbon dioxide, but because forest canopies for the most part are dark, forest expansion would reduce albedo (reflective) effects, and the net impact is likely to be a small warming. Oops. As an aside, there are important benefits from mild warming, among them reduced mortality, planetary greening, and an increase in agricultural productivity. “Vote Earth,” by which the Earth Day campaign means “send us your contact information so that we can ask you for money.” “Global Cleanup,” the local neighborhood version of the crusade against plastics, except that the neighborhood mobilizations might actually yield some small measure of waste removal, presumably to be taken to local landfills, ironically not a favored outcome for the environmental left.
My favorite among the Earth Day 2023 nostrums is “Sustainable Fashion”: “Behind every piece of clothing in a store, there is an industry stripping the Earth of its limited resources and exploiting the labor force that works in its garment factories. Tremendous waste characterizes this industry as it depletes healthy soil, contaminates fresh water sources, pollutes the air we breathe, defiles our oceans, destroys forests and damages eco-systems and the health of their biodiversity.”
Wow. Who knew that blouses, blue jeans, and bras are mass murderers? And in the circular argument department, one floor up from the clothing aisles, Earth Day 2023 informs us that “In order for true recycling to take place, clothing must be collected, sorted and distributed to recyclers.” Do Earth Day staffers actually receive salaries to come up with such drivel? One wonders why the Earth Day proponents do not simply argue for a return to the pre-serpent nakedness of the Garden of Eden. After all, would that not eliminate a vast source of “unsustainability,” whatever that means?
Let me be blunt: The Earth Day initiatives are destructive silliness, a form of mass hysteria, and utterly unsubtle. It can surprise no one that the Earth Day propagandists now scream that “CLIMATE ACTION IS NOW THE BEST PATHWAY TO A STRONG ECONOMY.”
Oh, dear. One wonders why “climate action” requires massive subsidies and economic upheaval. The Earth Day proponents assert that “The cost of renewable energy has plummeted in the last decade,” but even if true (a deeply problematic premise) it is irrelevant in that the appropriate comparison is with the costs of conventional energy and electricity generation, and with the costs of renewables when combined with the costs of backup generation required to avoid constant service interruptions. Example: The cost of onshore wind power including backup capacity is four times greater than that of gas-fired electricity. Earth to Earth Day: There are enormous engineering and reliability problems inherent in wind and solar power, which cannot be wished away.
The cost realities for electric and hybrid plug-in vehicles yield the same conclusion: Unconventional (that is, expensive) energy is uncompetitive. Accordingly, the “climate action/strong economy” assertion is propaganda: Radically higher energy costs cannot engender economic wellbeing. Even the International Energy Agency — far from immune to the political pressures exerted by fashionable opinion and the environmental left — in its latest World Energy Outlook projects that by 2050 global oil consumption will be about equal to that in 2015, coal consumption about equal to that in 2010, and natural gas consumption higher than that in 2020. If we assume annual real GDP growth of only 1 percent, global GDP in 2050 will be a third higher than now. Trust me: The IEA projections will prove vastly too low.
But the Earth Day beat goes on. Many billions of people are little more than environmentally destructive mouths to feed, without moral standing and devoid of the ingenuity, intelligence, and inventiveness to solve problems. They are, therefore, environmental sinners, and only massive economic destruction and impoverishment can redeem mankind. And just as the pagans for millennia attempted to prevent destructive weather by worshipping golden idols, so now does the Earth Day congregation attempt to prevent environmental Armageddon by bowing down before recycling bins.
The Earth Day revision of the Old Testament might read: “In the Beginning, Earth was the Garden of Eden. But Mankind, having consumed the Forbidden Fruit of the Tree of Technological Knowledge, has despoiled it. And only through repentance and widespread suffering can we return to the loving embrace of Mother Gaia.” Dogbert’s version is pithier: “You can’t save the earth unless you’re willing to make other people sacrifice.” Truer words were never spoken.
This article originally appeared at Real Clear Energy
- Benjamin Zycher
- Benjamin Zycher is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
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