Friday, March 06, 2009

Being "Green" Right Now is Being Stupid

The wave of "greenness" covering the globe was questionable from the start, and is even more questionable in this economy.

Even in a good economy, the claimed benefits of "green initiatives" are as quirky and questionable as global warming and the end of the world in 2012.

Back in 2007 when, as a City Planner, I was asked to research the benefits of the City joining the green bandwagon, I couldn't find any - except the "good publicity" that might follow: the feel good feeling that comes when you follow a popular fad, however useless it might be. All the evidence pointed to the benefit of good public relations much more than any cost benefits.

As a college student 40 years ago, the teaching at that time was that good environmentalism will pay for itself. Much of the environmentailism being promoted today does not. It actually creates greater expense.

The Waste Management truck that picks up recycing materials just passed my house. Its' crew picked up clear plastic bags placed along the curb in front of each house. Each bag contained probably 20 or 30 empty used plastic containers. Most folks would probably consider this a great green program - recycling plastic bottles. What could be more American and Apple Pie? But consider the cost.

The four ton diesel garbage truck, the crew of two, the burning of the fuel, the wear of the streets, the processes for recycling the bottles, the meager value of recycled plastics. I will bet this is one program that does not pay its way. And there are hundreds just like it.

This type of government program is questionable in a good economy. In a bad economy it is unconscionable and stupid.

During the worst recession (possible depression) since the 1930's, why would we...

- Impose greater mileage restrictions on automobiles when two of our three manufactures cannot sell cars and are on the brink of bankruptcy.

- Impose greater emission standards on coal and other fossil fuels, when right now, they are the most cost-effective fuels we have and raising such costs will bankrupt hundreds of additional businesses at this stage of our economic meltdown.

- Impose a system of "carbon credits" when no US producer can afford their costs.

- Continue with the hundreds of other attempts to be environmentally sensitive when the lifecycle costs of such programs in fact demonstrate that most are more costly and more damaging to the environment than doing nothing. These programs are nothing but slipshod government manipulation of the free market without an understanding of all the costs and components impacted by a particular program.

This is not the time for our federal government to impose any environmental agenda. If anything, it is time to reverse the least effective and most costly environmental programs at least until those who pay for them - American business and American citizens - can get back on their feet to pay for them.

Talk about misplaced national priorities. Stabilize the boat before you let the mariachi band get on.

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