Thursday, March 26, 2009

So Ah-nold was lying all along

The Governator was perhaps the best-known proponent of the fallacy (also propagated by Al Gore, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and others) that it's possible for economic vitality and draconian green policies to co-exist. That any trade-offs required to reduce greenhouse gases would be scarcely noticed by Joe Citizen, and that we're all about to reach a carbon-neutral, nirvana of high incomes and minuscule environmental footprints.

Or not. David Owen, in The New Yorker, acknowledges that the only way to significantly reduce greenhouse gases in the near term is by tanking the economy. He also notes that

The environmental benefits of economic decline, though real, are fragile, because they are vulnerable to intervention by governments, which, understandably, want to put people back to work and get them buying non-necessities again—through programs intended to revive ordinary consumer spending (which has a big carbon footprint), and through public-investment projects to build new roads and airports (ditto). Our best intentions regarding conservation and carbon reduction inevitably run up against the realities of foreclosure and bankruptcy and unemployment. How do we persuade people to drive less—an environmental necessity—while also encouraging them to revive our staggering economy by buying new cars?

Damn those governments pushing policies to employ people and enable personal mobility!

So keeping GM in business may be patriotic, but it's an act of treason if your true loyalty should be to Gaia instead.

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