When it comes to stirring emotional rhetoric and feel good solutions to nonexistent problems nothing comes to mind more so than the environmental hysteria. People from all classes of life from rich actors to middle class suburban college kids and other people with nothing better to do can stand up and proclaim their allegiance to mother earth. However the logical outcome is that the environmental frenzy is not only completely unnecessary, but is in fact harmful to the very cause that people claim to be fighting for. Environmentalism is nothing more than a politically popular dogma that doesn’t hold up when examined critically.
Global warming has to be one of the biggest topics on people’s minds since Al Gore invented the internet. Whether global warming is real, and how much human beings are contributing to it goes well beyond the scope of this conversation. However the proposed solutions to it only exacerbate the situation and make everyone’s lives worse in the process. In an attempt to combat societies dependence on fossil fuels the government backed by the scientific community has made a push towards using Solar, Wind, Hydro, and every other power ripped from Captain Planet as an alternative to Coal and Natural Gas. The unfortunate reality is that these sources of energy are in many cases financially unfeasible relative to the output of energy they produce. Take wind energy for example. While it is not true that it costs more energy to build turbines than they produce, the cost of production is still a major hindrance. Without Subsidies, Grants, Tariffs, and other government handouts the real costs of wind energy would be much higher to the consumer. According to the federal Energy Information Administration, “the levelized cost of new wind power (including capital and operating costs) is 8.2 cents per kWh. Advanced clean-coal plants cost about 11 cents per kWh, the same as nuclear. But advanced natural gas-burning plants come in at just 6.3 cents per kWh.” (Helman, 2012, para. 4) While 2 cents doesn’t seem like much it adds up when looking at the total macroeconomic costs the country faces. Authors Tom Stacy and George Taylor however argue that when all hidden factors are considered the true cost of wind energy is actually double that of natural gas. (Stacy & Taylor, 2015) The good news however is that as the costs of fossil fuels rise in relation to the true cost of green energy market prices will naturally push consumers to the most efficient good. In this case green energy. So the market will adjust to alternatives naturally as time goes on without the need to subsidize the industry through tax credits and grants.
Polar Bears are cute and cuddly and everybody loves watching them sliding down the ice, drinking Coca-Cola and other non-face eating polar bear things. Which is why it should come to no surprise that when people hear that polar bears are going extinct they pull out their torches and pitchforks. People don’t like to admit the reality that animals go extinct. The ecosystem changes. Polar bears, rhinos, gorillas, and even humans are all subject to this fact of nature. So the question that people should be asking is “How does this animal going extinct affect humanity?” If it does not then there is no use protesting to protect a “species” which in itself isn’t even a thing but rather a collection of individual animals. Feel good legislation that helps endangered animals at human expense are nothing short of a destructive waste of time. Take California for example. The west is facing its worst drought in over 1,200 years. People’s water is rationed and conserved in the face of this tragedy. So what does the Californian government do in the wake of this disaster? It funnels its water reserves to protect the endangered delta smelt. Farmers and families alike have to suffer to save a tiny insignificant fish. Not only is wasting valuable resources to protect animals useless; it can also be counterproductive. The internet was ablaze when Cecil the lion was killed by the sadistic dentist Walter Palmer for sport. Flame wars, and protests were abundant as people called for his head. After all who could kill such a peaceful majestic man eater? Well as it turns out however people like Walter do far more for these endangered creatures than any of the outraged twitter activists. Conservations charge hunters copious amount of money for the privilege of hunting on their grounds which goes to benefit conservation efforts. Further the hunters are often shooting old, sick, aggressive, or weak animals that pose a potential threat to the rest of the group. In many cases the meat is used to feed nearby villages. The hunting of animals has always had a large effect on population growth. When people are allowed to freely hunt or farm animals the populations thrive as caretakers move into make profit maintaining land. No caretaker would let their product be hunted to extinction. A good thought experiment is to ask why rhinos, and lions are endangered yet cows, and chickens are not? When people are prevented from herding and hunting animals it leaves only a black market for poaching in which case nobody acts as the steward of these creatures. When animals are added to the endangered species list it is essentially a death sentence. After Cecil was killed, lions, non-endangered animals, were added to the endangered species list for political reasons. This has only harmed conservation efforts and local African villages. Since Botswana banned lion hunting due to outside pressure small villages like Sankuyo have lost most of their livelihood and face an increased level of danger. (Onishi, 2015)
With all things considered it is quite clear that environmentalism is nothing more than a feel good mentality that can actually be harmful to both people and the very goal it’s meant to achieve. It is important before anybody jumps to any conclusion based on their emotionalized opinions they should try to understand the issue at hand. Too many people try to jump on the politically popular bandwagon and strap on their lapel pins so they can stress their uneducated voice over twitter to convince other people they matter. Yet very few people actually stop and look at the issues to see if they are actually hurting more than helping. But then again who expected famous actors to understand anything about complex political, global, and socioeconomic issues?
Helman. C. (2016). Forbes. Retrieved 23 April, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2012/12/21/why-its-the-end-of-the-line-for-wind-power/
Onishi, N. (2016). Nytimescom. Retrieved 24 April, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/13/world/a-hunting-ban-saps-a-villages-livelihood.html
Stacy, T & Taylor, G. (2015). The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Sources. Institute for Energy Research, (06), 3-37. Retrieved 23 April, 2016, from http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ier_lcoe_2015.pdf