Environmentalism: Earth First, People Last

When it comes to environmental policies, the poorest among us always pay the price.

As someone who is neither a climate change denier nor a believer in impending apocalyptic climate change, I haven't been particularly keen to address the issue of emissions knowing I would face the wrath of both groups. However, in light of President Trump's decision to leave the Paris Accord, American energy policy has come under scrutiny, and I believe that an approach is needed, though currently lacking, that takes into account both the present state of the American people and the future of our planet's atmosphere.

As I've written before, I was no supporter of the Paris Accord. It was estimated that, should the US have kept its pledge to reduce emissions, millions (yes, millions) of American jobs would have been lost. By the Accord's own predictions (the accuracy of which, like any climate predictions, are very questionable), this enormous economic sacrifice would have prevented a temperature increase of a mere fraction of a degree by the end of the century. Though environmentalists have since denounced Trump as the harbinger of our planet's doom, his administration believed the cost of this Accord was too high for the American people, a decision with which I wholeheartedly agree.

Something that has always frustrated me about much of the environmental lobby is its predilection toward overlooking the human costs of green policy proposals. Although I do care about the environment and worry about pollution, I think it's glaringly obvious that those who would argue for the elimination of millions of jobs in order to prevent an estimated temperature increase of a fraction of a degree (over several generations!) are most likely speaking from a place of abundance and privilege.

Environmentalists often wax poetic about the survival of our species, and our planet, over many generations and the next few centuries. For all too many Americans, however, and for billions of people in the developing world, the struggle of survival isn't a question of centuries, but rather years, months, and yes, perhaps even days. As much as it might frustrate environmentalists, the fact is that when given the choice, people will not prioritize the long-term future of this planet over the short-term survival of themselves and their family. And I don't blame them for that.

The hard truth is that, like all things, environmentalism has its costs. More than just the billions of dollars that must go into clean, renewable energy sources to make them competitive and viable on a large scale, green policies also usually carry huge cuts for those in fields that produce the most emissions (and incidentally, fields whose products we're still entirely dependent on, like oil and coal). This hurt extends beyond the ever-slighted modern-day coal miner and his family though, as those that depend on the cheap, plentiful energy he produces are inevitably punished as well.

It would be great if we were a nation entirely comprised of upper-middle class families who could absorb the high costs of environmental initiatives like the Paris Accord without a second thought. Alas, however, families who are struggling to get by and who depend on energy jobs and the affordable power they produce exist too. The President does have a responsibility to ensure the US follows smart energy policies, but not at the expense of millions of people's livelihoods.

If environmentalists really are serious about implementing earth-friendly legislation, they need to do two things. First, they need to give all the climate hysteria a rest. Hyperbole does the environmental lobby no favors, and when people hear horror stories of the earth's fast-approaching heat-death, only to find out that we're talking about imperceptible increases, it weakens the credibility of all anti-global warming activists (Al Gore, we're looking at you).

Second, environmentalists must understand that people will always care more about their providing for their families than they do for the environment. That's just how people are. It's a pretty common principle in negotiations that you can't ask for more than what your opponent has to give. Policies that inflict crippling restrictions on economies will always be hard, or downright impossible to sell to a population in tough financial circumstances.

Instead, environmental activists should work with people's self-interest in order to make real progress in lowering emissions. Companies that limit waste save on costs while reducing their carbon footprint. Climate permitting, properties that install solar panels save on energy bills in the long run. Individuals who choose to bike or take public transport for their commutes spend less money on gas and lessen the number of vehicles on the road. Additionally, instead of pouring funds into unprofitable energy sources like wind, why not fight to reduce regulations on nuclear power? It's clean, safer than it's ever been, has the potential to be extremely abundant, plus, it doesn't have the finiteness of oil.

I'm sure I'll be denounced as a pollution-loving, big oil-funded, climate change-denying shill because of this, but I really do care about the environment. I just happen to care about people as well.

Comments
No. 1-18
Nohmadd
Nohmadd

Okay reading this article and some of the comments, I must say that this subject is a pretty touchy, and there are a lot of fear mongering. So I will put forth a few facts that have been missed or ignored. First fact: The finding and predictions posted by the environmentalists have been proven to be inaccurate. Simply look around. The coastal areas that were predicted to be flooded are not, and we are still here. The predictions were made on models that were lacking many key facets of climate, including water vapor in the atmosphere, and cosmic radiation. Second Fact: the famed hockey stick graph used my the environmentalists is totally in accurate and does not show all of the variations that have been proven by core samples. Fact three: the head of the IPCC, the go to for the environmentalists as it is a U.N. agency, Has openly stated that its proposed rules and such are not for saving the environment, but to destroy the present economic model. Fact four: Hydrogen, while being proven to be a clean energy source that can be adapted to numerous applications has been ignored almost totally. In fact the messiah of global warming allowed the his chosen head of the Energy Department to cancel all research and defunded existing research. It has been proven that Hydrogen can be used in modern vehicles to propel them while dropping emissions drastically. Fact Five: every solution presented by the Gore crowd creates more hazardous waste. Curly que light bultb, Mercury in unsafe levels. Electric car batteries that are toxic waste and at the price of 7-8000 dollars require replacement ever 5 years. Diesel exhaust purification systems become toxic waste after so many miles. Real great planet destroying stuff. Fact Six: Supposed environmentalist icons are the most heavy users of energy and produce more pollution per person than most families or entire neighborhoods. Fact Seven: Environmentalist leaders are concerned with control over the rest of us and really could care less about saving the planet. Fact Eight. I believe in climate change, and am worried that we will not be able to adapt to the changes caused by nature because we are too busy dealing with power hungry people who are using trumped up claims to further their power and diminish our abilities to make things better for all. Also by reading these comments I see they have been successful in dividing us so badly that discussion is not a viable option.

Segev
Segev

The trouble with the environmental lobby is that the people behind its agenda aren't actually pro-environment, any more than Weinstein is pro-women's-rights. It's a facade to hide their real purpose behind. There's no coincidence behind the fact that every single recommendation and imperative they name amounts to quelling any production and curbing utilization of resources as governed by market economics. The goal isn't to protect the environment; it's to attack freedom. Particularly capitalism as a primary enabler of freedom. The reason the poorest are hardest hit by "environmentalist" policies is because they're quashing free enterprise as a primary (usually unspoken) goal. Their goal is to prevent freedom and the resource efficiency that capitalism brings from spreading, and curtailing it where it already exists. They're also quite greedy. Note how often their policies involve the government giving them massive loans or subsidies for their companies that produce nothing.

bitter-clinger
bitter-clinger

and what exactly is wrong with throwing American supremacy around...the rest of the world needs to be reminded, especially these western euro eunuchs, that we are stronger than them

doofenshmertz
doofenshmertz

If I am to be blunt, on this issue and several others, you've been a Trump apologist. His decision to pull out of the Paris agreement was only the tip of the iceberg, since he's also cut funding to key EPA projects and major climate research projects going on, since any research that may conflict with Big Oil's narrative is supposedly a waste of the public's money. Additionally, I find your reliance on sources such as the Heritage Foundation deeply troubling, since they're a highly partisan conservative think-tank, and in fact are some of the key people responsible for pressuring Trump to withdraw from the Agreement. Not to mention that it was a completely voluntary and toothless agreement to boot, indicating to me that Trump is doing this not for the sake of the "poor American worker", but simply to throw some political weight around and reassert American supremacy in negotiations when it is imperative that all the global powers work together. To me, it is abundantly clear that this was a decision made out of a combination of arrogance, crony capitalism and spite, and your poorly sourced and uneducated take on the matter is not doing your followers any favors.

VocalCanadian
VocalCanadian

There are a number of issues with this opinion piece.

The claim of millions of jobs being lost as a result of the Paris Climate Accord is totally inaccurate. Industries like coal have been in decline for a long time, and regardless of climate policy will continue to decline. The fact is that clean energy is not only safer but also more profitable. Companies have already invested billions in these sectors.

Your piece lacks source material, and the points you've made throughout have already been thoroughly debunked by reputable sources on both a global and national level.

You may not be a climate change denier, but you are clearly uneducated about this particular topic, I'd go as far as suggesting you read an article or two then wrote this.

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