In my state, there is a free monthly magazine that circulates entitled Indiana Living Green. It is a magazine dedicated to everything environmentally friendly, or so they would claim. To my surprise, this month, two articles side-by-side were “Beyond Coal: Indiana’s Best Eco-Movement” and an article entitled “Making Nikola proud: The Tesla all-electric car”. These articles being paired together points out one of the greatest ironies of the modern environmentalist movement- they loudly denounce fuels that require combustion, but at the same time, quietly reap the rewards of cheap energy from sources like coal. It’s classical white liberal activism, the concept that it’s perfectly fine to use something as long as you are protesting it, the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality.
Whether these environmentalists like it or not, their use of smart cars is probably putting more carbon into the atmosphere than my minivan. That electricity that they are using to power their car didn’t randomly appear: it came from somewhere, and, in my home region of the Midwest, it likely came from a coal power plant. While we have solar power and windmills here, solar power has a very limited presence. Likewise, the windmills are a result of subsidies and wouldn’t hold up to the rigors of the market.
How these environmentalists can both denounce coal power and praise electric cars that run on such power still eludes me. Do they presume that as soon as coal is gone, somehow wind and solar power will automatically be viable to produce the amount of energy an affluent society needs? Or are they doing what Hayek warned against: only thinking about the short-term and ignoring the larger picture about what will happen in the long-term when energy is no longer cheap enough to maintain the viability of smart cars?
I harbor no malice towards smart cars, they’re a great innovation. However, I think that if someone is going to be an environmentalist, they should take their ideology to the logical extreme. Concepts of “sustainability” will produce amounts of carbon, no matter what. Windmills are made of metal, and thus must be forged with some type of heat and then transported long distances by massive flat-bed semi-trucks and wide load police escorts.
Time immemorial, there has been no way man could survive without the production of some type of carbon, whether he was building a fire or cooking meat. Yet, this element (the 4th most abundant in the universe) is a boogeyman to environmentalists who fail to see it as a chemical that is not only given off in reactions, but vital to life as well.
I pose a challenge to environmentalists: be ideologically pure. If you’re going to denounce cheap fuels, stop using them. That’s all I ask. Oh, and you can start by selling your Prius.