Monday, March 14, 2011

Should Fact or Fiction Guide Our Energy Policy?

Sometimes my curiosity gets the better of me. I did a search for the term “global warming theory” and got over 1.5 million results. Then I did a search for “global warming postulate,” you know, a theory that’s been proven to be true.

I got 9 results.

Naturally, your mileage may vary. But that's a pretty big difference in results.

Now think of all the environmental rules and regulations that have been passed in the last twenty-five years or so. What have they been based upon?

A theory. An unproven theory. Not a postulate, a theory. Something might or might not be happening. It could be, but then again, it could just as easily not be. Could go either way. Tough to tell.

Kind of fills me with, um, well, I’m not really sure what it fills me with. It ain’t confidence, that’s for sure.

You see, I sort of expect people to automatically recognize what is true. Having spent my entire life in the manufacturing arena, I’ve dealt in absolutes: something either works or it doesn’t. When I made a part, it either passed or failed inspection. There was no in-between and no grey area. This was particularly important when making parts for the military, or the medical industry, or Space Shuttle flight hardware: someone’s life could very well depend on the part I made. Failure was not an option.

In fact, the term “true” applies as a principle in manufacturing. A round part is said to “run true” only if it doesn’t deviate from indicated zero. If that same round part rotates, it has to run true in order to be balanced and eliminate vibration.

If absolutes didn’t exist, nothing in our world could operate. Planes wouldn’t fly, autos wouldn’t run, and buildings wouldn’t stand. This simple fact of life also reveals the absurdity of postmodernism wherein no absolutes exist. Nothing could be further from the truth.

But I digress.

While I realize that the rest of the world doesn’t always deal in absolutes to quite the degree that engineering and manufacturing do, nonetheless the world must adhere to them. When it comes to human nature, not so much.

Now, let’s apply the notion of absolutes to politics and government. For generations, those in government were generally guided by absolutes, popularly known as the truth. Take our interstate highway system as a relatively recent example. The need for an efficient, high-speed network of roads across the country was met with a natural, common-sense response based on simple absolutes. This was how things once were.

However, today we have a much different method of operation when it comes to setting policy in Washington. Truth and absolutes have somehow taken a back seat to vagaries and possibilities, not actual outcomes. Gauzy thought and “what if” scenarios have replaced concrete results.

Nowhere is this more evident than in our national energy policy. Rather than examining our needs and meeting them with proven technology, we’re being forced to use so-called “green technology” that has yet to mature and cannot sustain itself except through large blocks of taxpayer money in the form of one-time grants. It causes further damage in the form of displaced jobs from traditional energy sectors.

All of this is based on a theory. That theory is called “man-made global warming.” It’s premise is that mankind’s actions are causing the climate of the entire world to change in the long term.

And it has yet to be proven true.

But that hasn’t stopped the supporters of this unproven theory from forcing their belief upon the rest of us. Look around you, the evidence is everywhere. From incandescent light bulbs that will soon be illegal, to aerosol propellants, to the reduced energy that our gasoline now has due to the mandated use of ethanol.

All based not on sound science, as we are told, but on a theory.

Now, before the rabid environmentalists begin their cry that BackwardsBoy wants us to have dirty air and water and we’re all gonna die, let me say for the record that I don’t want any of that. I’m all for reducing pollution within reason. But the argument that mankind has the capability to negatively affect the world’s climate is outrageous on its face, and is being taken to its absurd extreme by people who see an opportunity to gain power and to exert control over our lives.

Even the catastrophe in Japan is being blamed by some on this theory. Already, politicians on the left are marshaling their forces in an effort to eliminate nuclear energy. Is nuclear energy dangerous? As we’re seeing in Japan, there are natural forces that can destroy the most well designed reactors. But as a result, we now have more information that will enable us to design new and better reactors, so even this unfortunate event can provide us with better nuclear technology than we had before. That, my friends, is real progress.

But even though energy production is dangerous, we've been doing it safely for quite a while. There is also another tendency for those on the left to shrink from any endeavor due to danger. This attitude is effeminate in nature, and is not conducive to the advancement of technology, or life, for that matter. Just because something is dangerous is no excuse not to do it. Danger can be contained.

My point is that environmentalism has been fundamentally transformed from a common-sense effort to curb excessive pollution into a political excuse to impose an ever more intrusive government on a people who don’t want or need it. For too long, our politicians have blindly accepted this theory as truth, and legislated badly as a result. Instead of exercising a healthy skepticism, they have swallowed every prediction and believed every doomsday scenario forwarded by these environmental zealots. Let’s forget about the large sums of money that environmental groups pour into the campaign coffers of these pols for a moment and focus on the truth of their premise.

Year after year of increasingly stringent pollution regulations aren’t enough to satisfy them, even though our air and water are cleaner than ever. Nothing is ever enough, and the continued push for more restrictions on our energy supplies should tell you something else is at work. We’ve passed the point of merely curbing unhealthy pollution and have moved into an area where we are being told that by simply living our lives, we’re causing devastation on a helpless planet. This guilt allows unscrupulous politicians to do things that, once upon a time, would’ve been considered far outside the realm of politics. But now, they have what seems (to them) to be the perfect excuse and they use it often.

“How can you be for pollution?” they ask. “Don’t you care about the effect of pollution on people’s lives? What about the children?” Invariably, big corporations are targeted too. In their mind, everyone is guilty of wanting to kill the planet just by being born. Only they have the necessary morals and high purpose to “care” enough to do something about it, just ask them.

It’s time for us to put aside this national notion of mankind as some parasite on Earth. As we’ve seen in Japan, the planet is far more powerful than man is, and can confound and destroy anything that we’ve done.

It’s time to dispense with the theories and start basing our national decisions on the cold, hard facts.

In other words, it's time to get real about our energy policy.

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