We were in a blog debate with a global warming skeptic (okay, he said he accepts that warming is happening, but doubts any human cause in it).
He fired the argument at us, and it ain’t the first time we’ve heard it, that global warming is being blown out of proportion to justify punishing regulations on corporations.
So we hadda ask: Why would we do that? If global warming isn’t manmade, what point could there be to pushing for decreases in greenhouse gas emissions? Asked another way, why would we make this up?
And Blackdrum gave us the answer!
The core of the environmental movement are hard left and anti-capitalist. They are using this issue as a club against free market developed nations to, in their mind, even the playing field and knock the west down a peg or two. It’s their only tool left after the failure of communism.
For good measure, he added this line:
The larger goal is political and socio-economic change.
So here’s the question: is he right? Here’s the answer: No. We go into why after the jump — Skeptics especially, read on!
Point 1: Who are these secret anti-capitalist anti-Western people? Only conservatives seem to know about the “liberal elite”, who apparently give marching orders to the left, and only anti-environmentalists know about the Marxist cabal that secretly runs the green movement. We don’t know who they are, and doesn’t that make it a little hard to take their marching orders?
We in particular happen to know a lot of environmentalists. We can safely swear, hand on heart, that we’ve never even heard a hint of how “they” will be pleased with our efforts, or how any initiative will strike a blow against wealthy elites. There is nary a pro-Castro or pro-Chavez person in the bunch.
Point 2: Why would we listen to any “anti-capitalist core” anyway? We (the writers of this blog) hold our opinions because we’re confident they’re right. We didn’t get them in a talking points memo from Jane Fonda, Al Gore, or some shadowy spook leader (a freemason with Merovingian blood who’s related to the Kennedies, no doubt). And while we respect that Sean Penn’s serious about a lot of things, and he’s pretty bitter about, well, a lot, come on now. He’s our leader?
Point 3: The proposed approaches to stopping global warming aren’t socialist. We, for example, are firmly in the use-the-market-to-fix-the-problem camp. Tax incentives for green technologies, cap-and-trade systems, sellback programs that let solar users sell their generation at retail prices, energy decoupling (letting utilities make money even when demand hopefully declines) — these are all ideas that we know will work far better than simply slapping taxes on problems or legislating restraints on use. These are pro-capital, market-encouraging ideas. Most environmental leaders (and we know a few) understand that Wal-Mart and FedEx do more for the cause by greening their operations (which they are doing) than they ever could by shutting down completely.
Point 4: Blackdrum’s argument is a leftover relic from the Red Scare. Apparently the hard-left wants to “even the playing field.” Between who and who? “the west” on one side, and, on the other side,…. He leaves the blank empty, but this is a leftover from when the answer used to be “the commies.” This old saw is 18 years out of date. Who’s anti-capitalist anymore? Europe? Sure they have high taxes and welfare, but big government over there is more of a market participant than a replacement for market forces. See: Airbus. China’s a full-blown capitalist power, Russia is devolving into garden-variety totalitarianism, and North Korea isn’t worth mentioning. Chavez and Castro are out there, but Brazil and Argentina (far bigger economies) are relatively open, and certainly not waging ideological war against western market economies.
Face it: the “green elite”, like the “liberal elite”, is a bogeyman, made up by conservatives to warn their followers off of reasonable ideas by associating those ideas with an imaginary ideological extreme. It’s how the conservative cultural movement has been hijacked by the economic-conservative business constituency. The same trick has been applied to anti-war movements (secretly commies, or secretly resentful of US influence in the world), feminism (secretly out to make men obsolete), gay rights (secretly out to destroy marriage, traditional family values), and a hundred other causes not in line with the conservative politics of the moment. When you say you support one of these movements, they say, “well, you’re nice enough, but your leadership is really using you to destroy everything great about this country.” Again: a bogeyman to scare reasonable folks away from reasonable ideas.
To close, capitalism is not without its associated evils, many of those horrific, but capitalism is like fire: it’s all in how you handle it. Handled wrongly, it is crime families, monopolies, extortion, slavery, and grinding anguish for all but a few. Handled rightly, it creates unparalleled prosperity, and is an engine for life-affirming social change in the direction of freedom and self-determination. Governments do the handling; as George Will said, “the free market is a government program.”
Most environmentalists now, at the outset of the 21st century, operate in the market, not against it. If there are angry socialist sympathizers out there, they don’t play a serious role in the movement.