The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Under the Bus: A Pack of Pouting Greens

Those who truly loathe and despise the environmental movement will enjoy this New York Times account of green activists squirming in impotent fury over President Obama’s latest “betrayal,” last week’s decision to stiff environmentalists over promised plans to tighten nationwide ozone emissions standards.

The question for environmentalists became, what to do next? ‘There is shock and chaos here,’ Mr. Walke [the clean air director of the Natural Resources Defense Council] said, ‘so I do not know. I can’t answer that question.’ But he added that his group would resume a smog lawsuit against the government that it had dropped because it had been lulled into believing that this administration would enact tougher regulations without being forced to do so by the courts.

Political analysts watching the Obama administration’s pullback from the environmental agenda this past month say that in the current climate there is little chance that environmentalists or their allies will ever side with the Republicans. After all, the Republican-led House of Representatives has been aggressively moving to curtail protections for endangered species and regulations for clean air and water, and most of the Republican presidential candidates have been intensely critical of any government effort to address climate change.

Still, they say, the president could face political repercussions in subtler but nevertheless corrosive ways: from losing volunteer enthusiasm to tying up his allies in fights with him instead of with his enemies.

As green leaders choke on their locally sourced, organic heirloom vegetables in impotent rage and ponder writing really, really angry letters to NPR, it is interesting to reflect on the political dead end into which they have been driven.  Two years ago they thought they were on the verge of sweeping global climate treaty that would enshrine their pet climate change remedies into international law.  Wrong: the treaty process collapsed of its own weight into the most embarrassing international fiasco since the Kellogg Briand Pact outlawed war.

Next they were certain that the most liberal Democratic majority in American history would cooperate with the Obama White House  to advance sweeping climate and environmental regulations.  Wrong again: cap and trade died as moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats deserted the cause despite all the compromises and pork barrel blandishments with which increasingly desperate greens larded the increasingly weak and despicable bill.

Well, no matter, said the often defeated but never reflective green leadership as it wiped more egg off its face.  There is always the EPA.  The Obama administration had staffed the agency with reliable green cadres who were sure to come out with such aggressive regulations that fundamental changes in environmental policy would be made without the inconvenience of an actual congressional vote.  This administration’s extraordinarily active EPA delivered, but once the White House processed the actual economic costs involved, it dropped the greens like a hot brick.

Now that those plans have been dashed, greens contemplate a run to the courts. This will also fail; if the courts interpret the laws in ways that mandate economically ruinous policy changes, Congress will rewrite the laws as a wave of anti-green populism sweeps a job-hungry land — and in the current political climate Congress will take advantage of the opportunity to kill some of the environmentalists’ favorite provisions.

Snail darters beware: green political cluelessness is about to rock your world.

The United States and the world need a strong and intelligent environmental movement.  We won’t get one until and unless the press stops flattering and indulging the pack of incompetents who currently lead it.  Good (but poorly conceptualized) intentions linked to terminally stupid ideas and self defeating methods are a terrible curse.  They steadily discredit environmentalism and push those who care about the environment away from real influence.  I don’t actually enjoy tweaking the greens — but until the mainstream press gets on the case, somebody has to point the way.

Published on September 6, 2011 11:27 pm
  • TwoDogs

    I fear the Greens way,way more than I do the Evangelicals. The E’s want to take away your abortions, the G’s want to take away your electricity and gasoline. I can do without the former, if necessary. But the G’s are, I hope, doomed by their own clueless enthusiasm.

  • Toni

    For too many greens, their cause serves as either their religion or an adjunct to it. Rational thought demurs to belief.

  • Theo

    There ought to be a law! (LOL)

  • Che

    But … Science! Sciencey science says you’re wrong! I am sooo gonna buy a fair-traded ironic t-shirt that makes fun of you, and when I wear it to our next liberal chick meat market, er, enviroconfest, people WILL SCORN YOU!

  • bob sykes

    I taught environmental engineering and science at the university/college level for 37 years. There is a huge difference between these disciplines and environmentalism. Environmentalism is part of the Romantic movement and is ideologically anti-reason and anti-science. It is part of the New Age movement.

    There is also the very disturbing resonance between environmentalism and naziism. And many heros of the environmental movement, like Garret Hardin, Barry Commoner and Paul Erhlich have obvious nazi predilections.. Environmentalists (e.g., Greenpeace, FOE, EFL) are extremely violent and dangerous.

    Many engineers and scientist working on environmental problems are obtuse regarding the ideological content of environmentalism and ignorantly sign on to various environmentalist projects.

  • Jeff77450

    I’ve written about this before (in this forum) but no meaningful improvement will come to the environoment until human population numbers start on a glide-path downwards.

    The proximate (immediate) cause(s) of pollution are things like cars, factories and fossil-fuel power-plants. The ultimate (preceding & root) cause is people, more-and-more people each-and-every day. For several decades there has been a school-of-thought that, long-term, the Earth can support about one-billion people. I believe this to be true.

  • Marke

    The most encouraging thing about this action is that President Obama has started to show some of the adaptive pragmatism in domestic issues that he has previously only demonstrated in foreign affairs. He needs to do more of this. Perhaps, he can still save his Presidency.

  • Jim.

    @Jeff:

    Getting from 7 billion to 1 billion people would not be a “glide path”. It would be a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, and attempting to pursue it would fail — all it would take is a couple of regions, or even just a couple of countries, who decided that it was not in their best interests. Boom, it all falls apart, and the world is inherited by those who bother to show up.

    No, our problem is the people who think of this one planet as all we’ve got. It’s not. We have the technology to expand humanity’s horizons. From a fuel / energy perspective, there is no reason a ticket to orbit should cost more than a trans-Pacific plane flight.

    This world cannot support 7 billion people at an American standard of living. Fortunately, this world is not all we’ve got — we just have to raise our sights.

  • Rob Crawford

    “For several decades there has been a school-of-thought that, long-term, the Earth can support about one-billion people. I believe this to be true.”

    You first. Live (or die) like you mean what you say.

  • crypticguise

    The beginning of the end of the Environmental Whacko Movement will be the day when Congress acts to take away the “standing” of so-called “Envirmentalist Groups” to SUE.

    This has been the most destructive legislation perpetrated by Congress. They literally gave up all legislative oversight responsibility to these Enviro-Nazis.

  • Gene

    Jeff77450, your comment encapsulates everything WRM has been saying about environmentalists … and now’s your chance to avoid making their same mistake. If I were to grant you–for sake of discussion–that your “1 billion carrying capacity” is accurate, the question then becomes one of policy, i.e., how do we get there? Give us a policy prescription that meets all of the criteria below, and we’ll take you seriously:

    1. Recognizes that affluent societies, not poor ones, are the ones most likely to shrink themselves; 2. Recognizes that people in poor societies should not, as a matter of justice and human rights, be prevented from attempting to better their lot in life; and 3. Eschews any violent, totalitarian, authoritarian or undemocratic methods.

  • Michael

    Jeff77450, I assume you graciously volunteering to be one of the lucky 1 billion

  • Arch

    The United States and the world needs a strong and intelligent environmental movement Democratic Party. We won’t get one until and unless the press stops flattering and indulging the pack of incompetents who currently lead it. Good (but poorly conceptualized) intentions linked to terminally stupid ideas and self defeating methods are a terrible curse.

  • Steve Billingsley

    So, Jeff77450
    Is suicide the only responsible environmental policy?

    thanks for summarizing the nature of the modern Green movement in one disturbing comment.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . the Earth can support about one-billion people.”

    At some point in the Upper Paleolithic Era, a man gazed across the savannah and saw someone else’s cookfire miles and miles away. He grunted in disgust that the land simply couldn’t support yet another family, and headed off with his spears to kill them all “for the sake of The Earth”. He was lying, too. He simply didn’t want to share.

    “The Earth” is a big rock spinning its way around space on several axes. It can “support” as many people or things as can be packed onto its surface, because it’s round.

    Limitations on the number of people that can be kept alive on the surface of the Earth are a function of human ability, not of any quality inherent in the Earth. These limitations recede as our technological prowess expands. Pollution is one factor that stimulates the growth of our technological prowess.

    In a rational world, the only behaviors consistent with a belief that the Earth “cannot support more people” are murder and suicide. Jeff77450, (yeah, right, PaulE, just get over it and use your real name), you’re still alive, so I assume you’ve picked the other? Then you’ve declared yourself as my enemy, and I am justified in killing you in self-defense.

  • werbaz neutron

    ….What Bob Sykes says. From one University Professor to another: agreement.

  • Tblakely

    If there was an enviromentally safe way to eliminate most of the human population, Jeff and his ilk would embrace it…. as long as they were exempt of course being proper stewards of Gia.

  • mikee

    Duck and deer hunters have done more for environmental protection and species conservation than the vast majority of “environmentalists.”

    I invite Jeff77450 immediately to implement his strategy of reducing the number of humans on earth, starting with himself. If he is unwilling to do so for the creation of a sustainable human population, then to hell with him and his inanity.

  • JohnSmith

    To Jeff77450:

    Assuming that you wish to remain as one of the selected one billion, and that you do not wish to summarily execute the remaining six billion, I would like to remind you that the rest of us will still need to eat/have shelter/work, etc., for quite a long time. By itself, this fact makes your comment ridiculous.

    As the author points out, environmentalism is being severely harmed by such magical thinking. So, the question for you is whether you are really in favor of doing everything you can to help preserve the environment (realistically), or if you just simply hate other people to the point of being in favor of genocide.

  • Henry Bowman

    The United States and the world need a strong and intelligent environmental movement.

    I am extremely skeptical that such is the case, but it probably doesn’t matter, as intelligence has never been associated with the environmental movement. Rather, totalitarianism continues to be its trademark, and I see nothing to indicate that it is about to change.

  • JeffC

    Jeff77450 … this “school of thought” you speak of … its obviously a special needs school, right ?

  • megapotamus

    Clearly the snail darter and the delta smelt, not to mention air that is 100% oxygen and other helpful things are sincerely loved by the Green Left. However the programs and policies crafted to make this love flesh were sold to the moderates (and even some so-called Conservatives, like Romney) as at least fiscally neutral though in the last few elections they have had the audacity to assert that the Green Economy would be obviously superior to our musty, dusty Grey Economy. That has proven to be untrue. Can anyone dispute that? So far from blaming Obama (at least the man, as opposed to The Movement) I recognize that he is in a quite unenviable position: Speaking Truth to Sour. It has fallen to Obama to explain, from the most dire necessity, that no Virginia, the sun does not shine at night and the wind does not blow at our command. There is ALWAYS some arsenic in your drinking water as there is ALWAYS some ozone in your breathin’ air. As far as pleas to restrict or reduce global human population, these must be satisfied by volunteers, at least at first. If you wonder how you can efficiently, painlessly and with a minimal carbon footprint lead by example in this field I have one word for you. One word.
    Gravity.

  • Warren Bonesteel

    </facepalm.

    "locally sourced, organic heirloom vegetables"

    A bit overblown and over-generalised, donchya think? A lot of very conservative people in flyover country plant heirloom veggies and fruits, and buy and trade locally, hoping to impove their local economies.

    Quit spluttering and wipe the spittle off your face and think before you type…please.

  • Koblog

    Love the “As green leaders choke on their locally sourced, organic heirloom vegetables in impotent rage….”

    If greens had any basis in reality, they would throw the main circuit breakers and disconnect from the grid then destroy/recycle (not sell) their car(s) immediately.

    But they, like scamster Al Gore, won’t. They will go on burning megawatts of power and driving cars or using some other form of transportation that consumes energy.

    If they really want to be the Luddites they want the rest of us to be, they should walk everywhere, grow their own food without pesticides and artificial irrigation and certainly do without electricity.

  • Tim

    Jeff77450 says:

    For several decades there has been a school-of-thought that, long-term, the Earth can support about one-billion people. I believe this to be true.

    Could you tell us more about this school? Exactly who decided this, and how did they come to this determination?

  • Quaestor

    Jeff77450 wrote “For several decades there has been a school-of-thought that, long-term, the Earth can support about one-billion people.”

    More than several, try about twenty decades. The school-of-thought you refer to is called Malthusianism, and it’s been since 1798, and it’s been a discredited idea almost as long. (Should I have put school-of-thought in ironic quotes? It seems to me the school hasn’t contained any thinkers in a while)

    What is it with you enviro-weenies? None of you has a original thought in your brains, and nothing that you do think hasn’t been already thought more powerfully and clearly by some long-dead figure of 19th century Romanticism. The last time I checked it’s the 21st century. It’s high time you guys caught up with 200 years worth of advancements in science and philosophy.

  • snork

    They can still beat up Gibson guitars.

  • Perry

    “Good (but poorly conceptualized) intentions linked to terminally stupid ideas and self defeating methods are a terrible curse. They steadily discredit environmentalism and push those who care about the environment away from real influence. ”

    That’s a fact, Jack.

  • http://www.apte.com Pierre

    The problem with the environazis, and the rest of the left, is that they totally fail to understand two things: economics and human nature. In addition, they only wage a zero sum game. Because they have no compromise or balance possible in their brains, they are constantly are doomed to lose. They are also useful idiots in a larger global movement to even out everything on the planet, economically, not by raising up the standard of living in poorer peoples and countries, but by tearing down successful peoples and countries. I am so sick of saying this over and over, both to my self and my liberal friends!

  • Jim

    Jeff, I believe that if people are the problem, then some alternative must be found. As pie in the sky as it may sound, if Earth can’t support all the humans, we may need to change another planet (Mars, most likely) so that it can.

    Actually, they’ve been doing interesting things bioengineering bacteria for just such a science fiction-like premise.

  • http://abriefhistory.org Mike_K

    Tom Clancy wrote a novel about people like Jeff77450. It’s titled Rainbow Six and deals with an environmentalist plan to wipe out most of the human race to preserve the planet. Clancy was prescient in some of his novels, like using a 747 to attack the Capitol and Palestinians making a nuclear bomb. Jeff shows us that Clancy was right again.

  • Victor Erimita

    The chief problem with the “environmental” movement, is not that its leaders are “incompetent.” It is that they often are dishonest about the scientific underpinning of their positions. That dishonesty is driven sometimes by the pure greed of empire building and fundraising, accomplished with extreme rhetoric and wild claims. And sometimes it is driven by some kind of zealotry that has little to do with the conservation and stewardship philosophy that gave birth to the environmental movement. Many “greens” are anti-capitalist, anti-industry Marxists thinly disguised. Others are anti-human religionists, driven by a Calvinist-derived dire view of mankind’s place on Earth.

    It is the pursuit of these other agendas, money, power, zealotry that have driven out the noble conservation and stewardship aims of the original environmental movement, a movement that has become unworthy of its name because “the environment” has simply become an inappropriate label for agendas that have little to do with the real envirnoment.

    If they are “incompetent,” then, as with Obama’s incompetence, that’s a good thing, or they would have caused even more damage than they already have. The real problem is that the “greens” are following other, destructive, agendas and must be called out for it, delegitimized and driven to the fringes of public debate where they belong.

  • ed

    While I believe Jeff77450′s assertions vis-a-vis the earth’s population to be utter nonsense, I don’t see anything in them to indicate he is in favor of killing living people to achieve reductions in the human population.

    Jeff…explain.

  • Black Sabbath

    Limbaugh was right years ago when he said watch as Communism fell and the former Communists all ran to the environmental movement. Environmentalist wackos: Green on the outside, red on the inside.

  • Kris

    For shame, Team Mead! Since you already moderate these comments, why did you allow Warren Bonesteel’s comment (#22)? Surely it is not very Christian of you to allow such content-free drivel to be attached to his name because of a hopefully momentary fit of indignant condescension on his part!

    Warren, your one factual statement is: “A lot of very conservative people in flyover country plant heirloom veggies and fruits, and buy and trade locally, hoping to impove their local economies.” Does this in any way whatsoever contradict what Dr Mead wrote?

    Regarding the glide path to one billion: there tends to be a strong correlation between belief in that idea and advocacy for the “Blue State” model. Exercise: what would be the effect of the former, especially on Blue State ideals such as Social Security and pensions?

  • John

    It always cracks me up when the greens declare that “we need to consume less for the sake of the planet.”

    And by “we” they mean “you”.

    My fondest wish is that the planet could give the greens everything they want on earth for just one month: Shut down all energy production, mining, foresting, fishing, industrial agriculture and manufacturing capacity of any kind. Then lets see how things go for them.

  • http://www.dougsanto.com Doug Santo

    I consider myself an environmentalist. I was a member of the Sierra Club. I love the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California in the same deep way I love our country. I quit the Sierra Club because of their extreme policies on the environment. There has to be a common sense balance between maintaining a healthy environment and allowing human growth and development. There are many means to achieve this balance and the ingenuity and skill of local community officials and local developers/businessmen are the best means to strike this balance. They know what development can mean to the growth and comfort of a small community and can weigh these factors against environmental concerns better than any other parties.

    Extreme environmental policies that could not be passed through the normal political process have been forced on the people of California by the environmental lobby and activist courts. These policies have caused hundreds of acres of the most productive farmland in the world to lie fallow. Caused thousands to be out of work. Caused the unemployment rate for some central California communities to skyrocket. Caused a tumbledown effect on local economies. Caused a rising crime rate in affected communities. All to save a small fish about 2 inches long that may or may not be endangered by previous water use.

    This is insane.

    To say the environmental movement has not been successful is false. They have been all too successful. The pendulum has swung all the way over to the left and people don’t like the result. A significant backlash is brewing.

    Doug Santo
    Pasadena, CA

  • Canthisbe

    Just when you think accusing the green environmentalist wackos of being like Nazis is over the top along comes Jeff and he suggests we eliminate several billion undesirable people.

  • John

    Tim said: “Could you tell us more about this school? Exactly who decided this, and how did they come to this determination?”

    Cut it out. You know he has no evidence, but none is needed.

    Because when you’re a lefty, wishing something was true and it actually being true are the same thing. All one need do is make an assertion and it is ipso facto true.

    Witness global warming: hard winters are caused by warmth.

    Or social welfare: Paying people to do nothing makes them get jobs and become productive citizens.

    See?

  • gbm


    Jeff77450 says:
    September 7, 2011 at 9:22 am

    I’ve written about this before (in this forum) but no meaningful improvement will come to the environoment until human population numbers start on a glide-path downwards.

    The proximate (immediate) cause(s) of pollution are things like cars, factories and fossil-fuel power-plants. The ultimate (preceding & root) cause is people, more-and-more people each-and-every day. For several decades there has been a school-of-thought that, long-term, the Earth can support about one-billion people. I believe this to be true.

    Then please act on your beliefs. Go to Canada–find a female polar bear with cubs–kick one of the cubs, let nature take its course.

  • Nathan

    And what, by your lights, would be a strong and intelligent green movement? One that didn’t eat locally sourced food, didn’t seek to address climate change through law, and supported more wars?

  • http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/ M. Simon

    The United States and the world need a strong and intelligent environmental movement. We won’t get one until and unless the press stops flattering and indulging the pack of incompetents who currently lead it.

    No one of significance in the press does science. Your hope is in vain.

  • http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/ M. Simon

    Jeff77450,

    A billion? Wrong. 2,000. Tops. And you will not be one of them. You are required to volunteer to Save The Earth. Do it early and avoid the rush.

  • Christy

    Bob Sykes, above, nails it. The agendas of the environmental leaders have always been suspect.

    Caveat: I’ve been out of the industry for a decade, so things may have changed from my experience.

    Do regulations no longer include a cost/benefit analysis when published? How in perdition did the latest ozone regs make it to the brink of implementation? If Obama has pulled them back because of the devastating economic impact bound to occur before 2012 elections (rolling blackouts next summer?,) how did they pass the cost/benefit standard in the first place? Is that entire system now corrupted?

    In my experience EPA is so narrowly focused that they do not see any big pictures. I was involved (before 9/11 btw) in a utility project that identified juicy targets for terrorists, huge tanks of hazardous chemicals for example. A report went to the EPA which identified the vulnerabilities, delineated how we were protecting them, and detailed the recovery plan involving first responders. EPA planned to publish these reports! No amount of arguing could dissuade the EPA. At that point we (an industry group) approached the FBI, easily enough convinced them that these reports were a road map for terrorists, and the FBI succeeded where reason could not in keeping these reports under wraps.

    You will never convince me the EPA wants to protect the great mass of people. They use environmental concerns to beat up on those they do not like.

  • Jay

    Re #6 Jeff77450
    “the Earth can support about one-billion people. I believe this to be true.”

    Thank you! You have just demonstrated WRM’s point in this article brilliantly!

    Because you “believe” you are willing to countenance the reduction (we call it killing) of 6 billion people, the destruction of the modern economy, and the collapse of society. For your “belief”. Do you have any actual evidence to support your fervent belief other than your echo chamber of green cretins and falsified ‘hide the decline’ research papers?

    Also, do you plan to be among the privileged 1 billion living in harmony with Gaia after you ship us off to the camps? Or are you willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save Mother Earth yourself? Please use a non-toxic means of self-reduction so we can use your remains as dog food.

    PS do YOU have kids?

  • BobB

    Response to John,
    My fondest wish is that the planet could give the greens everything they want on earth for just one month: Shut down all energy production, mining, foresting, fishing, industrial agriculture and manufacturing capacity of any kind. Then lets see how things go for them.

    I think it was called 2010, for me at least.

  • Jay

    “The United States and the world need a strong and intelligent environmental movement.”

    No. Environmentalism is anti-humanity and nihilist. We need them like we need gangrene.

    We need a strong Preservation movement.

    Example: groups working prevent overfishing not by banning fishing, but by doing honest research into how to preserve the fish populations for our children and grandchildren while maximizing our present use.

    Deer hunters do this already.

    I heard Teddy Roosevelt, who set aside national parks, used to hunt wild animals on them. That’s the idea.

    “locally sourced, organic heirloom vegetables”
    Nothing wrong with that! Local means fresher, which means more nutritious. Heirloom means not genetically modified to maximize Monsanto’s profits. And everyone knows vegetables are good for you, Mrs. Obama says so (though no one has ever seen her eat them unless they are in a burrito).

  • Jeff77450

    There is no way that anyone could read my original comment (#6) objectively and conclude that I was endorsing genocide. I certainly am not.

    By a glide-path downwards I simply meant a replacement rate of 2.0-or-less. Supposedly for a population to remain level the replacement rate has to be 2.1 children per couple since about 5% of the population doesn’t reproduce.

    @John: I’m not a “lefty,” I’ve voted Republican in every national election since 1980, except for 1998 when I moved to a new city and didn’t get registered to vote in time. What I wouldn’t give to have Ronald Reagan back!

    @bobby b: I don’t know who PaulE is. I have always used the name Jeff77450 in this forum.

    All of you who said something to the effect of “Fine, Jeff, kill yourself first” are stupid. (See my 2nd paragraph). I got a vesectomy 4.5 years ago.

  • TheOldMan

    @Jeff77450: here’s an easy solution to your 1B population target – just stop production of any pharmaceutical product. Instead of antibiotics, for example, try green tea. Leukemia? I hear holistic hands-on touch therapy works for that. Painful labor and delivery? Just breath deeply and repeat your mantra. Post-delivery bleeding? Maybe some arugula will help. Meditation works wonders for diabetes and measles. With all these return-to-nature, Gaia-friendly methods, I predict a return to < 1B population in a few generations.

  • Choey

    It’s interesting to note that the air quality today is the best it’s ever been since they started tracking it in the ’60s and is still improving. During that time the population has gone up, up and up some more. Interesting…

    (BTW You can fit the entire population of the world inside Texas with plenty of room per person).

  • Knuckle Dragger

    I sincerely invite who think most humanity should go away to join “The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement” http://www.vhemt.org/

    Y’all wipe yourself out, I’ll watch to see how it works out for you and I promise to write a scientific paper on it after your gone.

  • Robert Speirs

    The works of Man are far more beautiful and useful than the works of Nature alone. Of course, Man and all his works are also part of Nature, the part that greenies can’t see and don’t appreciate, but demand a share of for all their political allies.

    Now can someone explain to me, what IS the “environment”, anyway? Does anyone really know?

  • A. Reasoner

    Environuts = typical hypocritical evangelists who won’t live up to their core belief of totalitarian nihilism.

    They have taken good common sense ideas—to wit, clean water, clean air, and healthy soil are good for people—and managed to metastasize those ideas ad absurdum. Thus, they make enemies of those who would befriend their causes.

    The original sin of their religion of earth worship is being born. But since they are the one, true believers, and “eco-warriors”, they deserve to live while all others must die.

    Been here before: “All pigs are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others” – G. Orwell

  • Christy

    Nathan, the green movement I would like to see would take a less proscriptive and more scientific approach. For example, way back in the day the Clean Water Act demanded that city treatment plants remove a certain very high percentage of pollutants before discharge. And they must do it by adding these specific pieces of equipment. (The first source of green jobs.) Sounds like an excellent idea, doesn’t it? Only problem was that no exceptions were allowed. The discharge in Anchorage was already cleaner than clean. Still, they had to add the pricey equipment manufactured by friends of the Greens, and then add a pollutant stream so they could then reduce by the proper amount. That, of course, was long ago. I’ve no idea how it works now.

    Then there was the clean air act that both greens and coal companies endorsed. All coal plants had to add scrubbers to reduce sulfur. Which meant that everyone could now burn the cheaper dirty coal (high sulphur content) from West Virginia (Senator Byrd, anyone?) Funny thing, I just googled “dirty coal” to make sure I remembered correctly and apparently all coal is dirty coal in the 21st century lexicon.

    In fact, imho, the EPA discourages innovation by their approach. They do not say meet this goal of cleanliness, you figure out how and we will review it to make sure it works. No, they prescribe exactly what industry must do with little regard to how much it costs or how well it works in specific situations. The innovation stops at the point of regulation publication.

  • zok

    I’m certain someone as erudite and enlightened as Jeff77450 knows that outside of the U.S., all economically-advanced countries are already below replacement level. The only countries having children at a prolific rate are in the Muslim world. Jeff, best of luck proselytizing your heartfelt Environmental agenda to those folks.

    Doug Santo – after college, I was also a Sierra Club member. I quickly discovered that I was one of the few who had to get up and go to work in the morning – most were trust-funders. And laughably, many of those were beneficiaries of the Weyerhauser fortune. So they’d protest the cutting of trees gladly accepting money funelled into their bank accounts by a major paper company. And those SOBs bragged about it. Despicable.

    Luckily, I grew up in my mid-20′s and quit the movement. I’ve been a well-adjusted and happy person ever since.

  • RPD

    I find it interesting that Jeff77450 assumes that our polluting is getting worse. However, by every measure there is less air pollution, water pollution, and litter than there was just 40 years ago. Remember the frequent smog days of the era? I can’t recall the last time I heard about the smog index on the news. Perhaps the Cuyahoga river catching fire? You can swim in it now.
    The key to reducing pollution is not some mythic low population figure, but increasing wealth. One can easily see the difference between the moonscapes of the old soviet republics (when they fell) and the far wealthier west.

  • irright

    Headline should read: Obama gets drop with the pouting greens after a bad lie left him in the rough. Apparently, no more mulligans.

  • teapartydoc

    A billion? How about 144,000? Whatever the number the answer is the same. Jeff77450 is [operating out of a faith based belief system rather than a scientific one], and might as well start going door-to-door giving out [enviro-religious] tracts to anyone that will have them.

  • Porkov

    Re. Jeff @ 6 & Jim @ 8 – I highly recommend you check out a couple of Hans Rosling’s TED Talks. There’s lots of evidence that as technology improves families’ standard of living, the size of the family goes down.

  • Quaestor

    Jeff77450 wrote: “I don’t know who PaulE is.”

    PaulE is an obvious reference to Paul Ehrlich, author of “The Population Bomb” and a figure who works and opinions are foundational to the modern environmentalist movement. That you didn’t recognize the connection is indicative that you are not well read in the philosophy that you’ve adopted.

    Jeff77450 also wrote: “I got a vesectomy 4.5 years ago.”

    [exclamation of glee redacted]

  • Jim.

    Greens should support DARPA spending instead.

    This little aerospace company started out with a UAV project, and ended up with an engine redesign that (nearly) doubles the efficiency of any engine — so your Prius really can get 90 mpg. (A Ford truck can go from 11 to 20, too.)

    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2011/08/10/firestar-developing-device-to-radically-increase-auto-fuel-efficiency/

    Yep, once more, the engineers (Defense contractors, even!) get more done than the Green darlings. Who’d’ve thought?

  • oneof6billion

    um. My question for Jeff is “How long is ‘long term’? The lifetime of the second billion? The Earth has managed to carry more than 1 billion people since about 1800. More than 2 billion since 1925. If birth and death numbers had stabilized so no population growth had occurred after 1925, how many generations of the unsupportable second billion would have lived, ie. been supported?

  • Claude Hopper

    The earth can support 1 billion people. Quite true, since the combined population of China and India is around 2.5 billion people.

  • Mr Tall

    Comment 31 from Victor Erimita is superb; what a compact, convincing analysis of the descent from reasonable conservation to The One Holy Church of Gaia.

    As for living space for the Earth’s population, heck, you don’t need Texas — Connecticut would be enough! I figured that out years ago: Two square meter man.

  • Michael

    WRM may be correct, but to many of the other people on here all I have to say is: Sheesh. You make it sound like every so-called environmentalist is out to eat your children. Here’s the thing: some environmentalists are kooks. Some are not. Probably you’re just lumping many people into some preconceived category. A lot of us are interested in simply trying to ensure a decent world for our kids to grow up in-clean water, clean air, some cool animals, nice cities, not a lot of wars over oil or water or food. You may disagree about whether the EPA contributes to that (my personal opinion is that you’re always going to need regulation to keep companies from foisting their costs onto society–and that is an economic argument) but it seems like a lot of you have gone off the deep end. I might also submit that a lot of you base your worldviews on ignoring some of the ways the developed world has profited off the developing. That’s not nihilist–or about nature. That’s about owning up to our actions. “Environazis”–please, grow up.

  • sherparick

    I see lots of strawmen and folks who get their news about the environment and environmentalists from Rush Limbaugh in this thread. Gee, the stupid burns. Do you conservatives want to be compared to the most extreme and twisted types who claim to be conservatives.
    That said, WRM has a good point in that Village environmentalist groups made a strange decision to go all in with the Democratic Party in late seventies and early eighties. That made them just one more interest group in the post-New Deal McGovernized Democratic Party of Hippies, Blacks, Feminists, and Gays (the latter two groups having the most clout since they have the most $$$dough).

    Educate women, raise their standard of living, and give them economic opportunity and the birth rate takes care of itself – even in the Muslim world (see flatlining of births per woman in Iran and Egypt the last 20 years). So long term, I think population will take care of itself. However, I don’t why anyone would want to live in world where one has only 2 square meters of space per person. Don’t any of you people drive in traffic?

    One problem with my Environmentalist movement is that we do a terrible job talking about how great the laws and regulations have worked. We are truly brain dead in following the Bill McKibben prophet of doom mode of communication. For instance Lead, one of the worse pollutants, has almost been completely eliminated from the environment and this has had huge unforeseen benefits such as a vastly reduced crime rate (Google “lead” “crime rate” and read about how a Government environmental rule can generate huge unforseen benefits). The Clean Air Act has made the air around our cities 90% cleaner than they were in 1970s, when in the summer the sky of my Chicago youth was mostly brown. And this despite 50% more people and 100 million more cars and trucks. The Clean Water Act created a real recovery in the Great Lakes and many rivers and at least kept things from getting worse in the Chesapeake. Thousands of species of life, which I admit I enjoy just from the aesthithic of their existing have been preserved that would have gone extinct but for the Endangered Species Act.

    The Obama administration made a bad decision even on the economics issue. The continuing operation of these old, obsolete, polluting coal plants will be a drag on overall economy, causing thousands of premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of lost work days due to unnecessary respiratory illnesses. But politically, it was the easy decision to make given the Environmental movement’s abandonment of grass roots politics and lack of a positive vision for the future.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @sherparick: I know there are more people like you in the environmentalist movement; I hope you guys manage to turn this thing around. The public debate about issues like this is going to be contentious — how can it not be, given the stakes — but a focused, responsible and intellectually solid approach to key issues that as you say includes a positive vision for the future could do a lot to move things along. My own guess is that many heads on the right would start to cool if serious people could recapture control of the environmental message from the fringe.

  • Jeff77450

    Gosh, what a bunch of haters. Numerous posters here have felt the need to “educate” me. I’m amused. When I wrote my original post I wasn’t trying to write “War and Peace.”

    Yes, I know that pollution-levels are decreasing in certain parts of the world (and increasing in others, like China).

    Yes, I’ve been familiar with Paul Ehrlich for decades. From the context of bobby b’s remark I thought PaulE must be someone who posts here.

    Yes, I’m very aware that Japan, China, most-or-all of the nations of Europe and others have replacement levels below 2.1 and that if not for immigration, both legal & illegal, the U.S. would probably be below 2.1.

    Yes, I’m aware that the Earth has been supporting a population in excess of one-billion since about 1800. What is “long-term?” I don’t claim to know, time will tell.

    I’m aware of all these things and much more. But I don’t claim to know everything.

    @Quaester: *Not* sorry to disappoint you but I have two sons who have turned out well; finishing up college. They have no vices at all and other than a couple of reaffic-tickets have had no run-ins with the law. They’re both well on their way to being model-citizens straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. The parents of their girlfriends all-but-worship them–moral men seem to be in short supply–and are scheming to secure engagement-rings for their daughters.

    In my original post I said that more people means more pollution and some of you have pointed out that that isn’t necessarily true. Again, I was trying to keep it short. Instead of “more people means more pollution” a more accurate statement might be “more people means more degradation of the environment.”

    It’s my understanding that the Amazon rain-forest is experiencing a net-loss. One source says that fifty years ago there were as many as 500,000 lions in Africa and now there may be as few as 16,000. Something like that. It’s my understanding that there are something like 3,000 tigers remaining in the wild in India.

    I’m 52 and based on my parents & grandparents I probably have 30-35 years to go. The thought of seeing the last lion in the wild die saddens me, it really does. And all so that the “Hutus and Tutsis” have more maneuver room to slaughter each other. (Not meant literally).

    In my original post I didn’t state that that one-billion figure was an established fact or even met the definition of *theory*. It probably qualifies as a hypothesis. My education includes a b.a. in geography, which included studies in demography & environmental-science, and based on a lifetime of formal & informal study and travel to seven third-world countries I consider it likely that that one-billion figure is going to be proven to be true. If the real figure is 1.5 or 2 billion the principle is essentially the same.

    To all the haters on this forum: you’ve all been added to my list of people that I regret having gone to war to defend. “Take that!!”

  • Jeff77450

    @Michael and sherparick: Well said. You both hit a number of nails on the head. I can only hope that you don’t get hated-on like I did (for trying to convey essentially the same sentiments).

  • JWo

    This blog is a joke, the writer contradicts himself and resorts to snide instead of offering up anything useful.

    It’s scary to think people like Bob Sykes teach at universities. Environmentalism and naziism? Really?

    It’s because of environmentalists that we have any air and water pollution laws at all. It kills me how people who benefit every day from the victories that enacted pollution protection.

    Walter, you trot out a scorn piece with the typical canned humor (organic food and so on) but you completely fail to say anything of substance. All you do is point to things that failed (no [scatological profanities deleted -- ed]?) but don’t dare try to pick apart why.

    The climate bill got through the House and had a MAJORITY of support in the Senate. That’s pretty damn good job. But the filibuster rule has made the Senate dysfunctional and undemocratic.

    There are plenty of polls to demonstrate that Americans supported the bill. Since the author didn’t bother to support any of his arguments though, I’m not going to waste my time.

    If you paid any attention, you would have noticed that the enviros were, if anything, too focused on the positive, feel good message during the climate campaign. All that was talked about was green jobs and national security.

    There definitely needs to be reflection, and hand-wringing doesn’t help, but beating up the environmental movement for the failures of our political system is BS.

  • JWo

    What a tired piece.

    Instead of borrowing the old schtick of sneering “commentary” (tag words: organic, prius, etc), try actually making an argument and offering solutions.

    What is the point of the article?

    The climate bill failed because the Senate is dysfunctional, and a minority block, heavily lobbied by the fossil fuel industry was able to use the threat of the filibuster to thwart it. Recall that it did pass the House and it had a MAJORITY support in the Senate. Also, Obama negotiated poorly.

    You heap scorn on those that have been doing the lifting to try and offer a MARKET-FRIENDLY political solution to climate change and don’t have the ideas to try and suggest what should have been done instead. Yes, Obama has decided he can sacrifice environmental support. Clearly, many are trying to figure out what to do next.

    But get real. A “positive vision for the future” is what these groups lack? Have you been under a rock blasted from a West Virginia mountaintop? Have you never heard the clean energy jobs/national security message?

    And please, please, commenter trolls, respond and say that clean energy jobs aren’t real. I invite you.

    For a celebrated academic, you sure fail to deliver a coherent argument here.

  • Jerome

    One can only hope that the Green zealots will eat a large, steaming bowl of locally sourced, organic poo.

  • richard40

    The problem is the environmental movement got taken over by the socialists, and no longer includes people who actually make a living off the land. These socialists dont really give a hoot about the environment, they are just using it as an excuse to advance their socialist goals. In the movements early days, they had hunters, fishermen, farmers, and plenty of others who actualy lived out on the land, rather than a bunch of idiot leftists in LA or NYC, and wanted sustainable clean development, and not some socialist one world burocracy.

    I agree that the environmental movement will never restore its credibility until these idiot socialists are purged from the movement, and the people who actually love and live on, and off of, the land get back into the saddle.

  • Console

    Environmentalism suffers from the same problem that affects all special interests. Memory. Get rid of lead, acid rain, and smog and 20 years later all you get is bunch of whiny entitled brats that think the EPA is useless.
    You see the same thing with abortion. People love to hem and haw, and show how pragmatic they are… then when we go from being abstractly pro-life to implementing laws, people remember why the pro-choice position is the status quo in the first place.
    Hell, you can become a senator and bad mouth the 1964 civil rights act nowadays.

    Perhaps the greens haven’t done a good enough job showing the REAL economic cost of forgoing environmental regulation. But then again, we live in a media environment where a candidate is allowed to BS about global warming… while his state is LITERALLY ON FIRE. The field may be a bit stacked.

  • Kris

    “Environmentalism suffers from the same problem that affects all special interests.”

    True, that. Once they achieve their quite justified initial goals, their zeal does not flag, and they continue pursuing ever smaller benefits at ever increasing costs. While whining at an ever less appreciative public: “Don’t you realize everything we’ve done for you?!”