Monday, May 26, 2008
Glenn Reynolds reminds us that Google has, once again, ignored Memorial Day. Recall its recent and unfortunate commemoration of Earth Hour.
The New York Times sees Google's hypocrisy and raises them a carbon indulgence by featuring on its main page a link to a story about college kids who are incorporating "sustainability" into their daily lives without quite giving up all the carbon-dumping conveniences of modern life, or even taking a plunge into the dumpster:
Lucas Brown, a junior at Oberlin College here, was still wet from the shower the other morning as he entered his score on the neon green message board next to the bathroom sink: Three minutes, according to the plastic hourglass timer inside the shower. Two minutes faster than the morning before. One minute faster than two of his housemates.This brings to mind a recent piece by Keith Lockitch of the Ayn Rand Institute, who noted the candy-coated, but no less deadly premise behind Earth Hour:
Mr. Brown, a 21-year-old economics major, recalled the marathon runner who lived in the house last semester, saying: "He came out of the shower one morning and yelled out: 'Two minutes 18 seconds. Beat that, Lucas!' "
... [Earth Hour] sends the comforting-but-false message: Cutting off our use of fossil fuels would be easy and even fun! ...You will note from the image that the residents of Oberlin College's featured SEED (Student Experiment in Ecological Design) residence house illustrate Lockitch's point perfectly, if by accident, by means of the holier-than-thou note posted on the door of one of their refrigerators.
The participants of Earth Hour spent an enjoyable sixty minutes in the dark, but all the while they remained safe in the knowledge that the comforts and life-saving benefits of industrial civilization were just a light switch away. This bears no relation whatsoever to what our lives would actually be like under the sort of draconian carbon-reduction policies that global-warming activists are demanding: punishing carbon taxes, severe emissions caps, outright bans on the construction of power plants.
What is really needed is greater awareness of just how indispensable carbon-based energy is to human life. Forget one measly hour with just the lights off. How about Earth Month, without any form of fossil fuel energy? Let those who claim that we need to stop emitting carbon dioxide try spending a month shivering in the dark without heating, electricity, refrigeration; without power plants or generators; without any of the labor-saving, time-saving, and therefore life-saving products that industrial energy makes possible. Those who claim that we must cut off our carbon emissions to prevent an alleged global catastrophe need to learn the indisputable fact that cutting off our carbon emissions would be a global catastrophe.
DON'T PUT FOOD IN HERE! This fridge is not plugged in! Refrigerators are one of the top energy suckers in a household. We decided to turn ours off and share a fridge with the other side of the house.Why hasn't this "energy sucker" been removed from the premises and recycled -- along with that piece of paper -- by now?
At this point, most conservative commentators would be content to declare the case at Oberlin open and shut because of the blatant hypocrisy, which is underscored at the end of the article:
"Sometimes, [Brown] said, "on a Friday after a long week of finals, I have to have a bath and a beer."Yes, hypocrisy is a great moral flaw, but conservatives, like environmentalists, also espouse altruism, which conflicts with the requirements for human life. As altruists, the conservatives miss or evade the fact that the very conflict of a consistently-applied code of morality with life or with enjoying life -- Why isn't our boy, Lucas Brown, treating himself to a fast, bracing cold shower? -- should be cause to examine whether that moral code is correct and whether a better one actually compatible with life exists.
What about the shower timer? He laughed, sheepishly.
"I hide it on the floor," he said.
In failing to do those things, many nominally pro-capitalist conservatives fail to offer moral opposition to movements like environmentalism. Instead, they merely shout, "Hypocrisy!" -- which just challenges its adherents to commit suicide more rapidly, while making it appear to the rest of us that we must choose between morality and life. That is too bad.
As for me, after a half-day at work and some more moving preps, I plan to combine a commemoration of those who fought on the battlefield for the worthy cause of individual rights with a celebration I had to postpone this year: Life on Earth Day!
Have a happy Memorial Day! As I have said before, "Our fallen would have done so, and they would wish the same for you." A feast with your loved ones and a toast is exactly the right way to remember our defenders.