Here we are—Earth day 2011.

Expect it to be as shallow and contrived as those Earth Days of the past.

Save the planet—by turning off water while you brush your teeth and use curly light bulbs.  Cover every open space with those “free” energy generators, windmills and solar panels.  Thank goodness Americans cannot do math or understand science.  If anyone actually could calculate the percentage of water saved by not running water while brushing teeth, it would likely be far less than a tenth of percent of the water used in any hour in the USA.  The curly light bulbs may save a few dollars a year on your electric bill (while adding mercury to the landfill if tossed out and not recycled) and last 9 years if you only turn them on for 3 hours a day with some brands, but compare the perhaps 300 to 400 watts per hour saved to the millions of watts used by businesses, street lights, etc and the impact is pretty much irrelevant.  Belief in “free” energy should have gone the way of alchemy, but apparently government subsidies can keep anything alive. 

For those of now saying “every little bit helps”, no, it may not.  There is a point at which a change is so infinitesimal as to be meaningless.  For example, saving $2 per month at 4% interest for 45 years yields approximately $3500 dollars in a retirement fund.  Can you really say that makes an impact?  If you eat 3000 calories per day and cut 20, is that better than doing nothing?  If your boat is filling with water, do you bail water with a 20 ounce bottle?  In an absolute sense, yes, these make a difference.  But none will ever matter in a practical sense.  It’s all just a way to make people feel as if they are contributing—a feel-good solution with no value.

So what then do we do to “save the planet”?  First, does it need saving?  Second, even if we think the planet needs saving, can that be accomplished?

In spite of numerous claims of consensus on global warming, there truly is not consensus.  There are many scientists who disagree.  Consensus is generally achieved by narrowly defining who qualifies to have an opinion.  Not a really scientific criteria, though it works politically.  Actual support by the man on the street seems to be fading also as winter makes a return to many parts of the world.  While one hard winter does not disprove climate change (and does not tell us where the change came from if there really is one), it does serve to make people question the idea.

Let’s assume for the sake of discussion, there does exist AGW.  How do we stop it?  Consider for a moment how monumental the task of stopping a significant portion of “greenhouse gases”?  The most effective way to decrease greenhouse gases and actually solve many environmental problems is a dying or sick economy.  The fewer people working, the less manufacturing there is going on, the less construction, etc.  It is extremely effective in stopping the alleged causes of AGW and much of the environmental illnesses of the earth.  Now, ask yourself—do you want to save the planet?  Are you willing to trash the economy to succeed?  Is it likely China and India will agree to trash their economies to make sure this works?  There is no possible way to make an economic downturn purposely happen worldwide without frightening possibilities of wars and a return to darker times (pun intended).  While this would undoubtedly please many of the more liberal environmentalists, creating a deliberate downturn at any time in the near future seems unlikely.  While socialism and rampant spending have cooled the economies of several countries, even bankruptcy did not significantly cool the world manufacturing industries. 

While the chief of the national grid in England is telling Englanders the days of electricity at the flip of a switch are over and that might be accepted in England (because England is going to use renewable energy sources no matter what) I doubt Americans are going to calmly accept that their $5000 HDTV will only work on random days when the TV station has electricity and so does the TV owner.  We are living in an industrial age—only a massive natural disaster will change that.  Or, if the alarmists are right, the entire situation is self-correcting.  It warms up, floods and famines occur, people die and the earth recovers.  Problem solved.  (While it may sound flippant, this is reality.  Humans tend to overestimate their ability to control each other and nature.  We are not a species that is given to extreme cooperation like maybe ants.  We’re more wolves—trying for the alpha position and at times deciding we can take on a herd of buffalo all alone and win.  Often nature solves the problems for us because we will not and probably cannot do what it takes.  We often just don’t have that kind of knowledge.)

So what do we do for earth day?  Forget the light bulbs, water running, etc.  Maybe recycle a bit more, save some landfill space.  Consider what you value the most—a thriving economy, lights, running water, or wilderness.  A newspaper article this week encouraged people to visit open and wild spaces to form an attachment.  The more the attachment spreads—well, actually, that leads to overuse and altering of nature more rapidly.  So how do we save the earth?  Maybe check with the person responsible for ANWAR—a frozen wasteland with enough oil to keep America driving for years.  Yet, with less than 2000 visitors per year and one science station and no economic benefits whatsoever, the place is untouchable.  The method used to create and basically make holy this place could definitely change the path of the USA.  Protecting a frozen wasteland while Americans pay $4 per gallon for gas and risk another economic meltdown—that’s a world changer. 

You can decide what kind of world changer…….


Changing times--wind turbines hit Wyoming                 


Earth Day 2010  A short essay