4) Clean Energy
Speaking of smoke, imagine a metropolis where burning wood or coal was the only means of producing the heat necessary to cook and keep warm. It wasn’t too long ago that this was our reality. Smoke, soot, ash, dust, and filth were everywhere. Even so, in a context where such an environment was the byproduct of the only known means of producing the heat necessary to cook and keep warm, it could not be rightly regarded as pollution. Today, where industry has progressed beyond the need to commonly burn wood, we live in a cleaner environment than would otherwise be possible.
In our modern context, it could be said that today’s power generation methods are “clean” compared to previous ones which were “dirty.” However, such a distinction serves no objective purpose. We use modern means not because they are cleaner than the old ones but because they are more efficient and reliable. It just so happens that more efficient and reliable power generation methods make for cleaner human environments. Until the advent of modern environmentalism we never sought a “clean” energy over a “dirty” one. We developed processes which worked better and enjoyed a cleaner environment as a result.
The green movement throws a wrench in the gears of that process by imagining “clean energy” alternatives to today’s most efficient power generating methods. Solar and wind are “clean” we’re told, because they do not produce offensive byproducts like carbon dioxide. However, in order to be considered a true alternative, a power generation method must be capable of meeting the needs served by the method it is replacing. You would not replace a cold family’s wood-burning stove with a sun-warmed rock just to reduce their smoke emissions. Yet that is a model of the methodology behind the subsidization of highly inefficient green energy technologies and the arbitrary restriction of methods known to work.
It is not as though anyone wants to spew carbon dioxide into the air any more than they once sought to spew smoke. When smoke was no longer a common byproduct of home power generation, you didn’t see people burning wood anyway to generate smoke for its own sake. Likewise, no one is in the carbon dioxide spewing business. We manufacture, transport, build, and breathe. Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of these activities which are engaged in productively for the furtherance of human life. To substitute a less efficient power generating method for a more efficient one based not on the furtherance of human life but the reduction of its byproducts is to place the proverbial cart before the horse. Indeed, the furtherance of human life is fundamentally opposite the preservation of wilderness. Left to the wild, if he fails to use his mind to tame his environment, man dies.