Duck and Cover Environmentalism Part 1: Carbon Credits
March 23, 2007
by William P. Meyers

Just in case you don't remember the "duck and cover" era, because you weren't born then or succeeded in forgetting:

In the early 1960's, especially during the Cuban Missile Crisis, children in the United States of America were trained how to survive a nuclear war. I lived in Florida during that era, within range of those missiles; both my home and my school were about halfway between two good targets, a naval base and a naval air station. In case of atomic explosions we practiced putting our book bags over our heads and seeking shelter under the tiny writing ledges of our desks. Hence "duck and cover."

Of course, if Fidel Castro had some extra bombs and lobbed them at residential areas, much like the U.S. did with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, my book bag and desk would have been vaporized along with me. Only in the case where we were exactly the right distance from the blast that the building would be jarred just enough for a few small bits of ceiling to fall harmlessly on the desk ledge would "duck and cover" make any sense. But even then survival would have been unlikely: unlike Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two of the Democratic Parties greatest war crimes, there would have been mushroom clouds popping up all over and radioactive decay falling in think layers that would be detectable a hundred million years from now.

Duck and Cover Environmentalism is about making people feel okay about a situation that isn't okay. It has been the way the major environmental groups have been playing the game for decades. It is beloved by Democratic Party politicians, who want to appear Green without pissing off the donors they need to win elections. The attitude of Duck and Cover Environmentalism is the single greatest threat to the earth, nature, and humanity: nothing meaningful will get fixed while we play this game of denial.

Let's look at the current vogue, or perhaps rogue: Carbon Credits. Big picture Carbon Credits are also called Cap and Trade. I'll come back to that in a later blog. I want you to take a critical look at the consumer version: buying carbon credits as penance for burning carbon fuel. While there are a variety of versions of this, the best known is for flying on commercial airlines. When you fly you greatly increase your ecological footprint because of the distances and the inefficiency of flying. But organizations and companies now exist to assuage (or exploit) that guilt. Pay them some cash and they promise (do you believe that? How do you really know?) to do one thing or another to soak up the carbon dioxide you put into the sky. Like planting trees or manufacturing coca-cola or bubbly waters.

Has no one besides myself noticed something wrong here? Actually, two big things wrong. Recall that to decrease the rate of global warming we (the big We in this case) need to put less carbon dioxide and other green house gasses into the atmosphere. To be really successful we would need to go to pre-industrial revolution levels of carbon dioxide emissions. For those of you who a bit vague on history, their were no jetliners before the industrial revolution, and there were a lot more trees in the world. We need to plant trees regardless of whether you fly or not. And we just basically need to stop flying, or dramatically decrease it. How about capping the right to travel for pleasure? Say the equivalent of three roundtrips from New York to Paris in a lifetime. How about capping business travel? What is the Internet for if not to put an end to most business travel?

But hey, my critics will point out, I'm talking about what actually needs to be done, not what is practical in a nation filled with Democrats and Republicans.

There is one Cap and Trade system that might work to save the environment without wrecking the economy. In the next 50 years we need to reduce the world's population by about two-thirds, to 2 billion people. That could be equitably achieved with a Baby Credit trading system. Everyone would get credit for .5 children. That way a couple could get together and have one child and be income neutral. If they want a second child, they would have to buy credits from people who decided not to use them. Members of propagation crazy religious groups would have to spend all their money buying child credits. Now that you have the idea, I'll let you imagine the details.

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