On the day after marchers clogged downtown NYC to protest America’s lack of a real response to catastrophic man made climate change I take a moment to set down, in my aggravatingly simplistic Devil’s advocate way, why the status quo makes perfect sense. In the process you will no doubt see the folly of protesters who lack the economic clout trying to get serious attention from a government run by the private dollars, speaking loudly and freely, of those who do.
Let’s look at this from the point of view of the industry that produces and sells the amazingly lucrative products that result in the pumping of carbon into the atmosphere. It may be true that carbon emitted by millions of cars, trucks, trains and airplanes increases the greenhouse gases that are warming the earth and already creating great climate disturbance. May well be true, though those great climate disturbances may also just be part of a natural cycle or the wrath of a vengeful God. It may also be true that an industry based on extracting an ever decreasing natural resource from deep inside the earth is a bad long-term business model. Let’s also admit that could probably be the case, eventually, though you must also admit you don’t have a viable alternative plan at the moment.
Now look at it from an economic point of view in the here and now, from the perspective of the Oil and Gas Industry and those whose vast fortunes are based on its ongoing prosperity. The internal combustion engine, powered by fossil fuel, made most of human progress in the last hundred years, a time of unprecedented human progress, possible. We transport things from coast to coast, around the globe, fly airplanes everywhere, commute long distances to jobs, travel in gas powered vehicles to beautiful places for holidays. Our economy depends on this wonderful engine, which is powered by the transformed and processed remains of dinosaurs. Industries related to automobile and other gasoline powered transportation employ literally tens of millions.
Let’s take a quick look at the bottom line and we’ll evaluate who is the foolish party in this debate over whether man is really destroying his home by allowing carbon to flow freely from smokestacks and exhaust pipes. From the dawn of the automobile the oil business has been a gold mine. Billions and billions in profit are made every year from the production and sale of this liquid gold. As the supply gets smaller and smaller, and demand rises, the price only goes up. The immutable law of economics. Talk about a business model! If you were an executive in an oil company, or an investor, rich beyond your millionaire father’s wildest dreams, with a product whose supply is ever diminishing and whose price has tripled in the last decade, would it not behoove you to spend however many millions it took to convince people that those who march in protest of the unfettered use of this miraculous product are misguided idiots, at best?
They hate our freedom, you will say, and it will certainly be true that they hate yours. They gullibly and blindly believe the vast majority of scientists who have studied the climate and are constantly issuing alarming findings about ice caps melting, sea levels rising, droughts, floods, murderous super storms, raging wild fires. What do you call someone who is alarmed by supposedly alarming news? That’s right, an Alarmist. These are Climate Alarmists, freedom haters. If you had to use one word it might be Communists. You see, if they had their way, free enterprise would be ended and we’d all be back to using horse drawn carts. It is far wiser to be skeptical when so much is at stake. After all, we have scientists too who will tell you this is all ideologically driven liberal alarmism. They will say, with no equivocation, that carbon produced by human activity has nothing to do with the natural cycles of climate or the wrath of God. And the wrath of God will surely be upon those who hate freedom.
If a kid has a genius idea for a website he sells for a billion dollars, the pressing question on the minds of the business community is– how will he make even more money for his invention? How will he keep it relevant, monetize it more efficiently, keep it moving forward, dynamic, maximize its profitability? A billion dollars may look good on a balance sheet, or in a headline, but what is this bright 27 year-old’s next move? The pressure is on the young man now, you see. The engine of our economy does not rest on making a fortune and living a life of good works, doing what you love, living on your fortune. The engine of our economy does not rest– it drives ever forward, onward, upward. And the engine it drives is powered by gasoline– and never being satisfied to have merely enough.