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Environmentalism: Earth First, People Last

When it comes to environmental policies, the poorest among us always pay the price.

As someone who is neither a climate change denier nor a believer in impending apocalyptic climate change, I haven't been particularly keen to address the issue of emissions knowing I would face the wrath of both groups. However, in light of President Trump's decision to leave the Paris Accord, American energy policy has come under scrutiny, and I believe that an approach is needed, though currently lacking, that takes into account both the present state of the American people and the future of our planet's atmosphere.

As I've written before, I was no supporter of the Paris Accord. It was estimated that, should the US have kept its pledge to reduce emissions, millions (yes, millions) of American jobs would have been lost. By the Accord's own predictions (the accuracy of which, like any climate predictions, are very questionable), this enormous economic sacrifice would have prevented a temperature increase of a mere fraction of a degree by the end of the century. Though environmentalists have since denounced Trump as the harbinger of our planet's doom, his administration believed the cost of this Accord was too high for the American people, a decision with which I wholeheartedly agree.

Something that has always frustrated me about much of the environmental lobby is its predilection toward overlooking the human costs of green policy proposals. Although I do care about the environment and worry about pollution, I think it's glaringly obvious that those who would argue for the elimination of millions of jobs in order to prevent an estimated temperature increase of a fraction of a degree (over several generations!) are most likely speaking from a place of abundance and privilege.

Environmentalists often wax poetic about the survival of our species, and our planet, over many generations and the next few centuries. For all too many Americans, however, and for billions of people in the developing world, the struggle of survival isn't a question of centuries, but rather years, months, and yes, perhaps even days. As much as it might frustrate environmentalists, the fact is that when given the choice, people will not prioritize the long-term future of this planet over the short-term survival of themselves and their family. And I don't blame them for that.

The hard truth is that, like all things, environmentalism has its costs. More than just the billions of dollars that must go into clean, renewable energy sources to make them competitive and viable on a large scale, green policies also usually carry huge cuts for those in fields that produce the most emissions (and incidentally, fields whose products we're still entirely dependent on, like oil and coal). This hurt extends beyond the ever-slighted modern-day coal miner and his family though, as those that depend on the cheap, plentiful energy he produces are inevitably punished as well.

It would be great if we were a nation entirely comprised of upper-middle class families who could absorb the high costs of environmental initiatives like the Paris Accord without a second thought. Alas, however, families who are struggling to get by and who depend on energy jobs and the affordable power they produce exist too. The President does have a responsibility to ensure the US follows smart energy policies, but not at the expense of millions of people's livelihoods.

If environmentalists really are serious about implementing earth-friendly legislation, they need to do two things. First, they need to give all the climate hysteria a rest. Hyperbole does the environmental lobby no favors, and when people hear horror stories of the earth's fast-approaching heat-death, only to find out that we're talking about imperceptible increases, it weakens the credibility of all anti-global warming activists (Al Gore, we're looking at you).

Second, environmentalists must understand that people will always care more about their providing for their families than they do for the environment. That's just how people are. It's a pretty common principle in negotiations that you can't ask for more than what your opponent has to give. Policies that inflict crippling restrictions on economies will always be hard, or downright impossible to sell to a population in tough financial circumstances.

Instead, environmental activists should work with people's self-interest in order to make real progress in lowering emissions. Companies that limit waste save on costs while reducing their carbon footprint. Climate permitting, properties that install solar panels save on energy bills in the long run. Individuals who choose to bike or take public transport for their commutes spend less money on gas and lessen the number of vehicles on the road. Additionally, instead of pouring funds into unprofitable energy sources like wind, why not fight to reduce regulations on nuclear power? It's clean, safer than it's ever been, has the potential to be extremely abundant, plus, it doesn't have the finiteness of oil.

I'm sure I'll be denounced as a pollution-loving, big oil-funded, climate change-denying shill because of this, but I really do care about the environment. I just happen to care about people as well.

This environmental nonsense is never tackled at a practical level. Usually people that push this agenda are also proponents of dramatic wage increase and universal health care, both of which hurt the economy of any nation.

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I can see your point, but letting climate change persist unchecked has its costs, too. It doesn't matter whether you believe it or not. Sure, modern people would rather put bread on the table because they've forgotten what virtue is. A man cannot live by bread alone. In ancient Pagan Greece or Rome, the rulers would've demanded that everyone work together to save the planet.

I never understood the conservative tendency to see avarice as a virtue, while condemning those who fight for any important issue that doesn't pander to self-interest. Yes, there will be costs but people will be okay. They can always find new work but we can't move to another planet. We cannot be prosperous if our planet is destroyed to the point where its ecosystems become unstable. I believe that the people who undervalue environmental protection are also coming from a place of privilege. Unlike people in Africa, they have access to clean water and don't die from dehydration so they take it for granted. I think it's great that we live in a country where environmentalist movements have done so much good that people are accustomed to healthy living conditions. However, I also thing we should realistic about this and realize that if we care about ourselves and our families then protecting the environment from significant threats like climate change is paramount. We don't need to stop fighting for the health and survival of our planet and species just because there happens to be an abundance of people too shortsighted or uneducated about science to realize the long-term impact of environmental neglect.

This was the smog in New York City in the 1970's. 10% of the city suffered negative health consequences from it and several people have had their lifespans shortened. Getting it taken care of was inconvenient on companies, and of course, they complained. But it needed to be done.

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"This environmental nonsense is never tackled at a practical level. Usually people that push this agenda are also proponents of dramatic wage increase and universal health care, both of which hurt the economy of any nation."

They're also generally the same people that are virulently anti-nuclear, despite it's overall great track record.

"I can see your point, but letting climate change persist unchecked has its costs, too. It doesn't matter whether you believe it or not."

Hey, aliens are going to invade the earth soon, but if the government gives me billions of dollars, I can stop this disaster from occurring! It doesn't matter whether you believe it or not. Think of the cost of not doing it!

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Well, RM, I respectfully disagree with you on this one, principally based on what seems to me an overly credulous acceptance of the output of a conservative think tank (Heritage Foundation???). Just because something takes human labor and investment, does that mean that it will destroy jobs? I don't believe that is the case. The human effort may be redirected, but to me, saying that jobs will be destroyed seems like it must be motivated reasoning. Does defense spending destroy jobs? I don't believe it does. Is there really a difference in kind, regarding effect on the economy, between defense spending and spending on the environment? I don't see it.

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I"m new to this, and I hit "enter" and it posted. I just wanted a new paragraph.

My second reason is that I feel that we are playing a dangerous game. There is so much that we don't know. I would have liked to see the process of the Paris Agreement continue with American support. I would rather that the US was at least doing its part and trying to encourage other nations to do the same. And I do support nuclear power. I also feel that some environmental activism is purely asinine, like Standing Rock. I guess those protesters would have rather seen the oil moved by train, so that we could have more oil train accidents, with resultant human fatalities. And I love how when Obama was president the protesters were this horrible impediment, but then Trump got elected and they were all cleared away, easy as can be. Also, there are already two other oil pipelines going under that lake, and they are buried much more shallow.

It seems more than likely that human CO2 emissions contribute to the extreme weather patterns that we are seeing across the world today. For 2016, we contributed 14.34% of the world's CO2 emissions, with 4.3% of the world's population. Other countries are bearing the cost of that disparity. Morally, we need to reduce our emissions irregardless of the Paris Agreement. The main question, is at what rate.As to the potential loss of jobs in those sectors due to the Paris Agreement, one critique of the NERA document which Trump cited for the job loss figures, was that the document admittedly did not look at the jobs that would be created. No one seems to point out how much lower the potential job loss would be with that into account. With the continuing advancement and maturity of alternate energy, some job loss would be inevitable; there's no stopping progress in a free market.

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As someone who leans on the left and disagrees with most your views on Feminism, Islam amd Trump, I still believe in not living in my own echo chamber and listening to other people's views. However I am sure i will be commenting on other posts but for now I must say i completely disagree with you on this blog. Just like you believe Environmentalists come from a place of privilege, i believe people with your viewpoint are. The simple fact is that Global Warming, directly linked to Climate change is destroying people's lives in developing countries. There is an increasing likelihood of draught and famine and they will die or become seriously ill. Furthermore fires are much more likely such as the forest fires in Australia which are destroying countless homes. Oceans are rising at an alarming rate amd this will affect you people in America by destroying whole cities even! This planet and atmosphere is fragile so a fraction of a degree can make huge difference and it is ridiculous to deny it. Finally, USA has one of the strongest growing economies in the world and it is not the you can't create jobs for people who would lose them under the PA but rather you won't as it is easier to pull out. Other Western first world countries will also have the same effects as the USA but have chosen to put their people before their laziness and ego. Thank you for reading ☺

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" A man cannot live by bread alone."

But without bread, that man, and his family die.

"They can always find new work"

Really? Always? Where do these magic jobs come from, because lots of people all over the world are unemployed but I don't hear about a lot of unfilled job vacancies.

"We don't need to stop fighting for the health and survival of our planet and species"

And that isn't what she suggests. She suggests that we fight for the health and survival of our planet and species with practical methods.

"There is an increasing likelihood of draught and famine"

But there isn't. The actual facts are that there has been less drought in recent years over the past and most famines are caused by political and logistic problems in getting food to where it is needed.

"Furthermore fires are much more likely"

And again the facts prove otherwise. The LOSSES due to fire have increased but that is because of more people living in vulnerable areas NOT because of more fires.

"Oceans are rising at an alarming rate"

Oceans are rising at the same rate as they have been for hundreds of years. And that rate is dwarfed by rates that were seen 8 to 10 thousand years ago.

"This planet and atmosphere is fragile"

Not really, because if it was the planet and/or atmosphere would have been destroyed at one of the numerous times in the past when temperatures and CO2 levels were much higher or lower than they are today.

"Other Western first world countries will also have the same effects as the USA but have chosen to put their people before their laziness and ego."

And some of those countries have seen people DIE because they lack the money to pay for heat in the winter months. Although I guess if you kill off your population it naturally leads to lower CO2 emissions.

For any climate change deniers or people who downplay the dangerous effects of climate changes- https://www.factretriever.com/global-warming-facts I am sorry but your ideology is so dangerous for this planet. If you learn from history you will understand that as industries close so do industries rise. Many people would say that the industrial revolution revolutionised this world for the better but as a result many people lost their jobs. No one seems to complain because we have seen an overall benefit and created other industries and jobs to employ people who became redundant. It is time to face the facts and save this planet!

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For any climate change alarmist, many of those 'facts' aren't and none of them prove that humans or CO2 are the cause of warming rather than a natural recovery from the last ice age, which has been going on for over 10,000 years. And yes old industries are replaced with new ones and it has been happening for centuries (just like global warming has been happening for centuries, long before CO2 increases) but those new industries have been improvements on the old and not worse. It is time to face facts

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"As someone who is neither a climate change denier nor a believer in impending apocalyptic climate change"... so you're a climate change denier.

There are a number of issues with this opinion piece.

The claim of millions of jobs being lost as a result of the Paris Climate Accord is totally inaccurate. Industries like coal have been in decline for a long time, and regardless of climate policy will continue to decline. The fact is that clean energy is not only safer but also more profitable. Companies have already invested billions in these sectors.

Your piece lacks source material, and the points you've made throughout have already been thoroughly debunked by reputable sources on both a global and national level.

You may not be a climate change denier, but you are clearly uneducated about this particular topic, I'd go as far as suggesting you read an article or two then wrote this.

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If I am to be blunt, on this issue and several others, you've been a Trump apologist. His decision to pull out of the Paris agreement was only the tip of the iceberg, since he's also cut funding to key EPA projects and major climate research projects going on, since any research that may conflict with Big Oil's narrative is supposedly a waste of the public's money. Additionally, I find your reliance on sources such as the Heritage Foundation deeply troubling, since they're a highly partisan conservative think-tank, and in fact are some of the key people responsible for pressuring Trump to withdraw from the Agreement. Not to mention that it was a completely voluntary and toothless agreement to boot, indicating to me that Trump is doing this not for the sake of the "poor American worker", but simply to throw some political weight around and reassert American supremacy in negotiations when it is imperative that all the global powers work together. To me, it is abundantly clear that this was a decision made out of a combination of arrogance, crony capitalism and spite, and your poorly sourced and uneducated take on the matter is not doing your followers any favors.

and what exactly is wrong with throwing American supremacy around...the rest of the world needs to be reminded, especially these western euro eunuchs, that we are stronger than them

The trouble with the environmental lobby is that the people behind its agenda aren't actually pro-environment, any more than Weinstein is pro-women's-rights. It's a facade to hide their real purpose behind. There's no coincidence behind the fact that every single recommendation and imperative they name amounts to quelling any production and curbing utilization of resources as governed by market economics. The goal isn't to protect the environment; it's to attack freedom. Particularly capitalism as a primary enabler of freedom. The reason the poorest are hardest hit by "environmentalist" policies is because they're quashing free enterprise as a primary (usually unspoken) goal. Their goal is to prevent freedom and the resource efficiency that capitalism brings from spreading, and curtailing it where it already exists. They're also quite greedy. Note how often their policies involve the government giving them massive loans or subsidies for their companies that produce nothing.

Okay reading this article and some of the comments, I must say that this subject is a pretty touchy, and there are a lot of fear mongering. So I will put forth a few facts that have been missed or ignored. First fact: The finding and predictions posted by the environmentalists have been proven to be inaccurate. Simply look around. The coastal areas that were predicted to be flooded are not, and we are still here. The predictions were made on models that were lacking many key facets of climate, including water vapor in the atmosphere, and cosmic radiation. Second Fact: the famed hockey stick graph used my the environmentalists is totally in accurate and does not show all of the variations that have been proven by core samples. Fact three: the head of the IPCC, the go to for the environmentalists as it is a U.N. agency, Has openly stated that its proposed rules and such are not for saving the environment, but to destroy the present economic model. Fact four: Hydrogen, while being proven to be a clean energy source that can be adapted to numerous applications has been ignored almost totally. In fact the messiah of global warming allowed the his chosen head of the Energy Department to cancel all research and defunded existing research. It has been proven that Hydrogen can be used in modern vehicles to propel them while dropping emissions drastically. Fact Five: every solution presented by the Gore crowd creates more hazardous waste. Curly que light bultb, Mercury in unsafe levels. Electric car batteries that are toxic waste and at the price of 7-8000 dollars require replacement ever 5 years. Diesel exhaust purification systems become toxic waste after so many miles. Real great planet destroying stuff. Fact Six: Supposed environmentalist icons are the most heavy users of energy and produce more pollution per person than most families or entire neighborhoods. Fact Seven: Environmentalist leaders are concerned with control over the rest of us and really could care less about saving the planet. Fact Eight. I believe in climate change, and am worried that we will not be able to adapt to the changes caused by nature because we are too busy dealing with power hungry people who are using trumped up claims to further their power and diminish our abilities to make things better for all. Also by reading these comments I see they have been successful in dividing us so badly that discussion is not a viable option.

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