Dec 08 2009

Sustain this

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 9:42 am

You hear an awful lot about “sustainability” these days, the notion that we don’t dare use anything until we’re certain we can replace it. This bit of leftist piety is intellectually and scientifically vacuous, of course, not least because of the laws of thermodynamics, one of which makes it clear that you ALWAYS waste energy in a process of resource consumption, so that it’s literally impossible to have a “zero footprint.”  It’s especially laughable for anyone living in the first world to make such a claim.  It is literally impossible to live in an advanced society and not benefit from the expenditures of others that produce carbon emissions from which you benefit.

It’s a little bit like claiming to be a pacifist, but accepting police, prisons, etc., because you really can’t live in a society without them…  or at least you wouldn’t want to.

Perhaps if you walked naked into the wilderness somewhere in the American west, without any modern device or accoutrement, and then found a way to survive using only what you could find and make….  but I’m guessing your survival is soon going to depend on fire, and there goes the carbon footprint.  Too bad.  It’s just so unfair when you know you want to do the right thing, but nature just won’t cooperate.

Maybe you could have a zero footprint if you just died, but someone will doubtless waste some energy dealing with your corpse.

The laws of thermodynamics aren’t the only issue, though.  There are also some laws of economics to consider, as explained in Sustainability: An Assault on Economics, which after a thorough explanation of the economic foolishness involved, ends this way:

Is the Sustainability Crusade Sustainable?

How long will sustainists be able to beat their drum, simultaneously trumpeting their greener-than-thou self-image and attempting, with varying degrees of coercion, to make the rest of us act “sustainable” too? With the global warming scare losing credibility by the day, the likelihood of sustainists being able to claim even a moral victory is fading.[4] Barring the earth melting down from a little bit of smoke, I’m not too worried about sustainists having much of a long-run impact.

Hardcore sustainists are asking for a radically disruptive change from the natural order of the free-market economy. They’re asking us to forego wealth and embrace privation in the name of their cause.[5] Although citizens of the Western democracies have seemingly become easy marks for anything green, we will only go so far toward saving the planet, especially when it becomes apparent that sustainability requires a march toward poverty and a deeply regimented and regulated society (and that the planet’s not really in peril, after all).

Also, and perhaps more importantly, people in developing countries will be increasingly turned off by the sustainists’ demands for sacrifice. Having just arrived at the high living standards that long-term capitalist development yields, my sense is that they will turn a cold shoulder to the idea of ratcheting down their development.

The current resurgence of the classical-liberal tradition in economics will also reduce the appeal of sustainability. The idea of imposed or centrally planned sustainability will crumble under the realization that the spontaneous order wrought by the invisible hand of the free-market price system is amazingly sustainable in and of itself. Add to the mix the hardships of the current recession, and it won’t be long before enough people, even sustainist crusaders, come crawling back, box of chocolates in hand, to the free-market economy.

The sustainists are the modern Luddites.  I invite each and every one of them to put their carbon credits where their mouth is and take up residence on a tropical island with fruit trees, one so temperate that they never need a fire, never have to cook food, never have to plant food, and never need to waste innocent plant life by making clothing from it.   They can just live off the bounty of nature, about like a chimp with an extra big brain (what a waste).

Of course, when the first tsunami hits and decimates their tropical paradise, I expect them to welcome the U.S. Navy’s rescue services with open arms, even though our noble seamen arrive in a cloud of diesel smoke and gamma radiation from nuclear power propulsion, grilling steaks on the deck for the rescued, providing them with oil-derived synthetic clothing to keep them warm in the unseasonable weather, and giving them helicopter rides to civilization, where they can go on the show that was formerly known as Oprah! and flog the book they’ve just written about their harrowing encounter with the implacable forces of nature, just before the book tour begins with a whirlwind of commercial flights from city to city for book signings at stores staying open late with electric lighting just to accomdate the crowds, who will have consumed enormous quantities of food from the vendors in the area while they waited in line, and dropped the trash all over the place.