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When Environmentalism Is a Luxury

Save the planet or save money? When the economy's in trouble, the answer is obvious.

by
Melissa Clouthier

Bio

November 24, 2008 - 12:00 am
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The market pressure (high gas prices) did change behavior. People don’t vacation. People don’t travel. People stop buying organic. People don’t go out to eat.

Oh, the irony. High gas prices bring a slowing economy to a screeching halt and reveal the environmental movement for what it is: a punitive, judgmental system that puts “nature” ahead of real, living people.

It costs more to be environmentally sound. Period. It costs at least 25% more to buy organic — something I try to do. As a friend said to me, “That’s a good thing, if you can afford it.” It costs more to retrofit one’s home with energy-efficient windows, heaters, insulation, etc. It costs more to buy hybrid vehicles. It costs more to build energy-efficient factories. It costs more to use fuels that emit less CO2.

Environmentalism is a luxury of the rich, pure and simple, and these same people preaching often live lifestyles that offset their environmentally conscience choices. For all his moralizing, Al Gore has yet to give up private jets or his huge home. And even George W. Bush’s ranch, eco-friendly as it is, is expensive. The average American could not afford to build a home like that if he wanted to.

Believe it or not, gas and oil isn’t the biggest environmental concern that’s bumping up against economic realities. Most of America’s electrical grid is powered by coal and that industry is in the next administration’s crosshairs. Bruce McQuain, my Right Wing News co-blogger and blogger at The QandO Blog, reports:

Coupled with the delay will be the immense cost associated with meeting limits set by the EPA. The power companies have two choices — allow themselves to be bankrupted as promised by Obama in his discussion with the SF Chronicle editorial board, or pass the cost on to the consumer through utility rates.

Of course utility rates normally have to be approved by a government board and government boards, like the Public Service Commission here in GA, are usually not open to $4-a-kilowatt-hour rates, even if that is what it costs a coal-fired plant to produce it under the limits imposed (nuclear is the answer but also unfavored, and the vaporware being pushed as an alternative isn’t anywhere near ready).

So it is decision time for power companies — address the coming deficit with a relatively quickly built but unfavored answer which has the potential to bankrupt them when they try to recover the cost of implementing the “clean” technology or don’t build and let the demand quickly outstrip the supply and allow price to ration the available electricity across an under-supplied grid.

Given the obstacles being imposed by government, I certainly know what my decision would be. And of course, this is precisely the result Obama said his plan would bring.

Barack Obama and many other environmentalists claim to be for the little guy and yet promote policies that will directly harm the little guy. Paying astronomically high electrical costs to cool or heat a person’s home will be far more punitive to the poor and middle class. The rich, as always, will be able to afford to either install more energy-saving technologies or pay the extra freight to supply their energy needs. Plus, they will continue to use more energy to supply their bigger homes.

Americans want to be environmentally friendly and they want to live. That means, if they have to choose, during economically tough times, they’ll choose cheap. Cheap stuff shipped from far, far away. Cheap food bathed in pesticides. Cheap clothes made of synthetic fabrics. Cheap containers made of plastic.

If environmentalists want people worldwide to live in more self-sustaining ways, they will have to make it economically doable. People want to care for the environment, but not at the expense of surviving themselves. Furthermore, it is hypocritical and just plain mean to enact policies that may or may not help the environment but will certainly harm lower- and middle-income families.

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Dr. Melissa Clouthier is a chiropractor who blogs at MelissaClouthier.com and Right Wing News.
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