The most prominent champions of obeying “science!” as a reasoning force behind pushing progressivism tend to offer as little impartial reasoning — you know, the bedrock of the scientific process — as is necessary to sell their agenda. With a Vox-ish headline straight from the parking lot of a Rush concert — “The Next Energy Revolution Won’t Be In Wind Or Solar. It Will Be In Our Brains” — the Washington Post kicks off a three-part series selling a Behavioral revolution. First up: discussing how we can better mind-control our military to be good little soldiers in the war on climate change:
In the arid lands of the Mojave Desert, Marine regimental commander Jim Caley traveled alongside a 24-mile stretch of road and saw trucks, tanks and armored tracked vehicles all idling in the heat — and wasting enormous amounts of expensive fuel.
The Department of Defense is the single biggest user of energy in the U.S. — its energy bill in 2013 was $18.9 billion — and Caley now plays a central role in trying to ensure that just one of its branches, the Marine Corps, uses that power in the optimal way. The implications for the military are vast. For instance, the Marines alone have estimated that they could save $26 million per year through a 10 percent energy reduction at their installations and bases, to say nothing of Marine field operations, which used an estimated 1.5 million barrels of fuel in 2014.
Writer Chris Mooney begins by making the case that this is about the taxpayer, though his history as a climate-change warrior and a bigot targeting middle America throw that into question. If he cared about wasted tax expenditures alone, he wouldn’t be describing the entire Marine Corps base network saving $26 million as a “vast” improvement.
The Yankees will blow that much on a 40-year-old steroid-damaged lunatic this year alone.
Firing this freak show? Vast improvement.
Rationally, the cost savings across the entire military could be legitimate — yet that $18.9 billion paid by the DoD in 2013 occurred before the global 50-60% drop in gas prices. When oil is this cheap, putting this much effort into an across-the board change in military energy usage is a waste of administrative resources.
Mooney knows this isn’t about money. So what’s it about?
Through behavioral changes alone — tweaking the ways that Marines drive their vehicles, power their outposts, handle their equipment — Caley thinks he can increase their overall battlefield range by as much as five days, a change that would provide immense tactical benefit by cutting down on refueling requirements (and the logistical hurdles and vulnerabilities associated with them). If he succeeds, the Marines would stand at the forefront of an energy revolution that may someday rival wind or solar in importance: one focused not on changing our technologies or devices, but on changing us. And its applications would touch every corner of our society, from how we behave in our homes to how we drive our cars.
Caley is a Marine; his interest in battlefield tactical changes is legitimate. Yet Mooney immediately steers the article away from national security and towards the revolutionary behavioral talk that is the lynchpin of progressivism, dating back to Marx and Woodrow Wilson. His concern is environmental, and his prescription is technocratic elitism.
He is using the Marines, who have a specific, legitimate concern in battlefield advantage, as a model for how to “nudge” the behavior of the average citizen, who does not have a life-and-death concern, and is in fact enjoying care-free usage of energy and a resulting quality-of-life benefit for the first time in years.
The issue doesn’t translate from military to civilian, it translates from military to eco-warrior. This creepy focus on controlling the behavior of the average person runs through most every environmental proposal, and touches endeavors from Michelle Obama’s centralizing of nutrition to gun control.
The Federal Government is not intended to be in the business of citizen behavioral modification; progressives like Mooney glom on to the government in these cases simply because that’s where the power to constrict the citizen happens to lie.
[T]he behavioral revolution in energy is also highly significant in the civilian sector, where truly Pentagon-sized energy gains could be reaped just by tweaking little behaviors. For instance, here are some published estimates of possible energy savings from behavioral changes. These shouldn’t be taken as exact, but rather as ballpark figures:
- A roughly 1 percent overall U.S. household energy savings could be gained if people switched their washing machines from “hot wash, warm rinse” to “warm wash, cold rinse.”
- A 2.8 percent gain could come from setting the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 65 degrees overnight.
- Another 2 percent could be gained by driving cars at 60 miles per hour, rather than 70, on the highway.
Indeed, one 2009 study suggested that American households — which account for around 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions — could achieve a 20 percent emissions reduction by changing which household appliances and objects they use, and how they use them. That’s greater than the total emissions of the country of France.
Leaving out the logical reasoning again, Mooney fails to mention why a “20 percent emissions reduction” is necessary or even desirable. Even using the UN IPCC models which claimed only a 5% chance that global average temperatures would be as low as they are today — in other words, horrendously failed models — does that 20 percent move the needle in any beneficial way?
The point is underscored by just how much Americans in similar circumstances can diverge in their energy use patterns. “You can have two families, demographically similar, living side by side, in similar apartments, and there will be something like two to four times difference between one family and the other in their consumption,” says Susan Mazur-Stommen, an anthropologist and independent consultant on energy efficiency. “And that will be attributable to behavioral differences.”
One family may enjoy reading by candlelight, one may run a home-based beauty salon. That two-to-four-times difference is due to human ingenuity, liberty, individuality, the pursuit of happiness.
Wanting to spur a “behaviorial revolution” to eliminate all of that is goddamn creepy. Live your own life, Mooney. The mantle of science certainly doesn’t belong with the anti-science left.