As a free nation, a democratic nation, and a global superpower, America’s fate, today more than ever, is to midwife and manage the emergence of the first world generation. Not an easy task, as technology and globalization make every surviving cultural tradition anywhere suddenly replaced or confronted by every other on this shrinking planet, and our polity grapples with it all. It would be surprising indeed if America were not also considered a troubled nation, inflicting and incurring heartbreaking trauma every day in this imperfect world. But America’s fate is also a stroke of exceptional luck and opportunity.
The message for Americans to send the modernizing, globalizing peoples of the world, through thick and thin, is how bad things were, and how good things have gotten, and how we are on the brink of the best things ever. Despite lip service, sometimes effective agents of political change in America focus only on the worst possible end of things – endless war, imminent environmental apocalypse. But the enduring agents of exponential change in the world are technology and democracy, and these are forces of incredible good, that have brought unprecedented prosperity and opportunity to humanity. In only fighting demons, America risks losing what makes her most great. If dwelling on averting catastrophe replaces optimism and independent enterprise, America’s promise is at risk; her uniqueness, her gift to humanity. Optimism and independent enterprise has driven America, draws people to America, defines America. And like the flow of the river, optimism and enterprise cannot be kept down. Complaining is no way to get up every morning. Optimism, can-do, is America’s message to the world.
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|Paddling towards pluralism.
Global environmentalism, despite a veneer of exhuberance and a facade of hope, today is mostly about doom and gloom. Extreme environmentalists, more powerful today than ever, at root are complainers, they are indignant, they are doomsayers, and they are dominant today for reasons that ought to be challenged. Perhaps the world is going to come to an end if we don’t all do exactly what they say. And perhaps it will not. In many cases environmentalism, and the policies to enforce it, already constitute the most regressive hidden tax in history, and global warming alarm will catapult these hidden taxes into the stratosphere of economic stagnation. With carbon trading and carbon taxes and carbon offsets set to eclipse rational environmental policy, our economy and our way of life are what is in peril, not our planetary icecaps, and only financial traders, professional accountants, attorneys, credentialed consultants, academic experts, corporate cartels and the public sector will benefit. The temple of ecological green will fill with the changers of the financial green, and common sense will be coopted and coerced by the color of money, no matter how the game is called, or how the rules are set. With global warming alarmist policy, we will rob from the poor and give to the rich as never before.
There is a lot of junk science out there on both sides of the environmental debate, as always with all debates, but extreme environmentalist junk science seems to be carrying the day, so that is where we most appropriately ought to shine our scrutiny. Daunting, to put it mildly, is the stupifying volume of all these authoritative and ostensibly terrifying studies. Example – yet another recent (and highly publicized) report reviewed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) called for additional and significant new regulations and levies. Citing “expert” studies, the report projected approximately 300 additional deaths in California due to additional pollution over the next few decades, unless massive corrective actions are not immediately undertaken. Despite its portentious tone, such a study is not an imperative, rationally compelling us to move towards a socialist police state, because it rests on utterly unimpressive projections – 300 deaths within a population of nearly 40 million is a statistically trivial outcome. There are infinite and totally unforseeable random outcomes, from infinite conceivable causes, that could reduce a population of tens of millions by a few hundred lives over a few decades.
The idea that anyone or any study can project economic or demographic results so far into the future with details so specific and fine is simply ridiculous. Equally absurd is that such fluff might suffice to justify transformative economic policies. If the California Air Resources Board takes something like this seriously, perhaps the entire agency should be eliminated and replaced with people who care about air pollution, not climate speculation and draconian policies that follow from such exercises of counting angels on the point of a needle. Yet whether it is 15 score additional dead over decades, or catastrophic collapse of every global ecosystem in the world within the same brief span, extreme environmentalists carry the public scene today, preaching like the saviours in Salem, burning witches and pressing life out of the truth with relentless stones of rhetoric both formidable in craft and terrifying in content.
We need environmentalists, of course we do, but we need environmentalists who care about the difference between a million and a billion, or a thousand and a million, and who make judgements accordingly. For informed citizens anywhere to leave both local and global environmental policy to a coterie of fanatics and their powerful opportunistic bedfellows – who hide behind opaque clouds of science as they unleash relentless media torrents, the sleet of indignation and the hailstones of fear – is tragic folly. Anyone who has formed an opinion on any environmental issue needs to think for themselves what passes the smell test, what provides an acceptable cost/benefit, absolutely reject reflexive, unexamined demonization of anyone who disagrees, and demand access to better data, unfiltered and unbiased.
America is a lucky, lucky nation and perhaps cursed as well with troubles so huge, but complaining and doomsaying will not make the world better as fast as optimism and unfettered enterprise. Setting people free to compete, nurturing meritocracy, sustainably improving entitlements everywhere, encouraging building and development – and letting green resume its place within the dazzling full spectrum of reality – will help optimize economic growth and tolerance for pluralism; will help create the next step in the ascent of man.