Firefighters battle the Coastal Fire in Laguna Niguel, California on May 11, 2022. (Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Capitalism's 'Practicality' While We Bake to Death

During one of the hottest summers ever, we're weirdly blasé.…

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum / And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see them." --"Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell.

Many of us are old enough to remember a time when triple digit temperatures outside of Death Valley was considered freakish and a threat to the long term prospects of humanity.

Subsidizing clean energy unfairly punishes fossil fuels that got us where we are today. It's better to be 'fair' than to breathe clean air.

These days, 111 degrees in Lawton, Okla., or 110 degrees in Abilene, Tx., or 104 degrees in London is the price of maintaining a robust economy.

While a fossil fuels-based economy always privileges profits over people and nature, most Americans go along because gas prices are the ultimate determiner of happiness. We have to be practical even as we're baking to death. If we're not mindful of the importance of markets in imposing reasonable limits on industry excess, the climate alarmists and the liberals will win.

Even conservatives who grudgingly concede that a carbon neutral economy would be ideal for humanity and nature in the long run find themselves balking as soon as they see the bill. In the end, it's better to do nothing than disrupt the exquisite machinations of the Invisible Hand. Intervention is socialism and we can't have that. We're Americans.

The U.S. Supreme Court agrees with this logic and has limited the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the greenhouse emissions of states. It doesn't matter what the conditions are on the ground or in the air--an 18th century document that spells out the limitations of 21st century reform in every area of life hath spoken.

Because the Constitution doesn't specifically mention or provide a remedy for the problem of global warming or climate change, the dominant mentality in Washington is that we really should let industry-compromised pols like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., hammer out an acceptable piece of legislation with other environmental bandits and despoilers of nature.

Sen. Manchin knows exactly what coal ash can do to rivers and smothered West Virginia towns, so why not make him the nation's point man on the environment? Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

If the apocalypse overtakes us with rising sea levels that wipe out coastal cities, then it behooves everyone in those cities to learn how to swim. You don't see people in Venice whining about it. They invented gondolas centuries ago and got to work building an enviable tourist industry. That's the American way!

Meanwhile, innocent taxpayers shouldn't be compelled to bear the cost to avoid a future full of gondolas in Miami, New Orleans and Manhattan.

We shouldn't be taxed for our addiction to fossil fuels or forced to use solar, wind or electric vehicles for the sake of the future. Subsidizing clean energy unfairly punishes fossil fuels that got us where we are today. It's better to be 'fair' than to breathe clean air.

If perpetually burning fires across the land also lay waste to exurbs and suburbs, then homeowners in those combustible areas should be compelled to use their own funds to install flame-proof roofs and floors. Fair is fair.

Every generation has to do its part to advance the human species and the economy, but a livable planet shouldn't come at the cost of this generation's right to make a buck. That's always been the American way. What would you rather have--buffalos roaming wild across the American plains or hundreds of thousands of strip malls?

Being bad stewards of nature is the Faustian deal we struck when we were exiled from the Garden. It keeps the cash registers ka-chinging and the shareholders happy. It produces millionaires and billionaires and treats everything in nature as a commodity because that's the way God planned it.

No less a theologian and environmentalist than former Sen. Rick Santorum railed against the Obama administration's climate agenda a decade ago as "phony theology" and "a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can't take those resources because we're going to harm the Earth."

Skeptics of climate change have only gotten more cavalier in their dismissal. It is a rare rightwing pundit who doesn't resort to snarkiness when reflecting on record snowfalls by quipping "hey, we could use a little of that global warming about now."

Purposely conflating weather with climate is an old tactic that continues to bear fruit with those who would rather fight than switch to world-saving technologies. It would be tempting to give up on the fight if the stakes weren't so high.

We expect our elected leaders to either be corrupt or ill-informed about the existential threat of global warming, but it would be great if there were countervailing voices in popular culture to challenge the status quo. It barely crosses the lips of pop artists today, so there's very little evidence they even realize what's happening.

I know I'm an old boomer ranting on and on about how relatively enlightened the music was when I was growing up. That's because it was. In 1971, Marvin Gaye's "Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)" was on every radio station. The year before, Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" raised our environmental awareness.

Fifty-two years ago in "Big Yellow Taxi," Joni Mitchell commented on the ecological folly of her day in lyrics that have permanently etched themselves in our collective memories: "Don't it always seem to go / that you don't know what you got 'till it's gone / They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

It was true then and it doubles as prophecy now. But our response to such utopian finger wagging is to shout "drill, baby, drill" because we know better! Even as the day of our extinction approaches, we're mostly convinced that we're here to dominate the Earth and exploit its resources "until Jesus comes." After all, the Bible and the U.S. Constitution agree that everything under the sun was made for man, not the other way around. We're just doing God's will by destroying it.

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