Climate protestors descended upon Manhattan on Sunday to vent their frustrations about a world they don't understand. On display at the People's Climate March were ideology and idealism conspiring at the expense of common sense.
Reason Magazine's Kmele Foster asked participants what they wanted and gleaned some amusing results.Their ideas included “building a movement for national revolution and...a new socialist society,” and for “everybody (to) turn everything off.” Confronted with questions about the disproportionate burden that expensive renewable energy places on the poor, they had no good answers. All they seem certain of was that they are on the side of the angels.
Some protesters called for “criminal penalties” against companies that use hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) to harvest natural gas from shale formations. Fracking is what is making it possible for America to transition away from carbon-heavy coal-powered electricity, which is something environmentalists also demand. But promoting self-defeating policies comes naturally to many of them. If not for their long fight against nuclear power, the U.S. could well be almost carbon-free today, as France already is. Their decades of activism against drilling to tap into America's abundant domestic reserves of oil guaranteed U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. On another front, if they succeed in scaring buyers away from genetically modified food, a far greater share of the earth's surface will have to be deforested and dedicated to agriculture.
The society that protestors demand is one in which they would probably lack the means to travel to New York for a fun day of pious protesting. And certainly, they would not be able to charge their smart phones to video their good work, and blast boast about it to all their friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter.
In short, they demand a world that doesn't work — one in which jobs are artificially scarce, the poor go hungry, and the developing world stops developing. They want a world in which the comforts of modern life disappear — including not just the Internet and electronic toys, but also the availability of such vital amenities as abundant food, homes heated in wintertime and cooled in summer, hygienic sewage disposal, clean drinking water and modern medicine.
It takes a lot of energy to provide these things to this nation's 300 million inhabitants (to say nothing of 7 billion souls around the world). Sadly, windmills and rainbows cannot do the job.
It is easy enough to laugh at the protestors — we have been, in case you had not guessed — but the wealthy elite of the environmentalist movement have far more influence than the rank and file even though they have no more common sense. Tom Steyer's NextGen Climate Action SuperPAC has so far spent $9 million on political ads and intends to spend several times that this year's election.
Steyer's ad campaign aims to convince voters that Republicans want “unlimited pollution,” and that the real reason people are unemployed and unhappy has something to do with big oil companies. The last thing he would want is for people to blame other factors, such as Steyer's own activism to block an easy, low-hanging, development project like the Keystone XL pipeline, which would put thousands to work without costing taxpayers a dime.
For all their protests to the contrary, it is environmentalists, rich and poor who deny science, not to mention common sense.