Will there come a time when firefighters have to consider saving an endangered species over someone’s home? One wonders:
Lost in the images of aircraft dropping giant red plumes of retardant on a Colorado wildfire this week is the fact that the practice may not be legal under federal environmental laws.
A federal judge in July declared that the government’s current plan for dropping retardant on fires is illegal, and he gave the U.S. Forest Service until the end of next year to find a more environmentally friendly alternative.
The issue appears to hinge more on how the retardant is used than on the retardant itself, but when human lives and property are on the line, should it matter at all if some fish and plants are put at risk? Plants grow back and waterways recover, even from the worst disasters. People’s lives and homes aren’t so easy to reassemble.
Then we have the Federal government’s futile attempts to spark the “green economy”, which has succeeded primarily in shipping jobs overseas (h/t Jeffrey Tucker):
The last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the United States is closing this month, marking a small, sad exit for a product and company that can trace their roots to Thomas Alva Edison’s innovations in the 1870s….
What made the plant here vulnerable is, in part, a 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress that set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescents by 2014. The law will force millions of American households to switch to more efficient bulbs.
The resulting savings in energy and greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to be immense. But the move also had unintended consequences.
Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China.
Bastiat weeps! Of course the unintended consequences are never considered by policy makers when The Future of Civilization is at stake (or at least when cheap political points can be scored). A few hundred people’s livelihoods, consumers’ freedom of choice: small sacrifices on the environmentalists’ altar. Maybe Mother Earth will thank us in a few million years.
Over at Forbes.com, Reihan Salam had something rather unexpected but very welcome to say about the CEO of a major corporation:
That the success of the Kindle is good news for Amazon should go without saying. But it represents a remarkable environmental advance as well. The publishing industry in the U.S. felled roughly 125 million trees and generated vast amounts of wastewater. And, of course, physical books have to be transported by trucks, which generate carbon emissions, exacerbate congestion, increase traffic fatalities and cause wear-and-tear on already overburdened roads. One assumes that Bezos didn’t have the environment foremost in mind when he pushed the Kindle concept forward, yet he’s arguably done more to fight climate change by threatening hardcovers and paperbacks with extinction than any number of environmental activists.
Salam goes on to argue that Amazon will ‘win the internet’ through the Kindle and its rapidly growing ebook sales. I don’t know about that. What does it mean to ‘win the internet’? He only considers Facebook as a rival. What about Google? Android and ChromeOS are poised to dominate the mobile phone and tablet pc markets, putting Google into direct competition with the Kindle. Then there’s Google Search, Books, Voice, Gmail, Docs, Maps, Chrome browser, TV, and so on and so forth.
But bravo to Salam for daring to recognize in public the (probably unintended) positive environmental externalities of business decisions and technological innovation driven by profit-seeking amidst market competition — indeed, for daring to rank them on par with or above that of ‘altruistic’ environmental activists.
Cross-posted at Is-Ought GAP.
From the Edmonton Journal comes news that some Greenpeace members rappelled off the top of Calgary Tower to hang a banner that read “Separate Oil and State.”
Scott Blasken got this shot from his office window Tuesday morning after Greenpeace unfurled a banner from the Calgary Tower.
Hey, I’m all in favor of separating oil and state. But that means no strategic oil reserves; no taxes, including carbon taxes; no cap-and-trade; no regulations; no moratoriums or bans on offshore or other drilling; no special protections of any kind, including caps on liability for actual damages to private property caused by oil companies;1 no eminent domain (ab)use; and no mercantilistic and imperialistic wars to make the world safe for domestic consumption of foreign oil. But somehow I don’t expect all of this is what the Greenpeace activists confusedly mean by “separate oil and state.” Alas and alack.
Cross-posted at Is-Ought GAP.