There are many stupid things that emanate from the mouths and computer keyboards of the right-wing, global warming Do Nothings, but one of the stupidest is on full display this morning in an interview that one of the chief Do Nothings (a guy from the right-wing-controlled George Mason University named Patrick Michaels) did with the Locke Foundation.
“Kokai: So as people are making more of global warming than [they should], what do we do to change this situation, if anything?
Michaels: The best thing to do is to do nothing, because doing nothing is really doing something. Doing nothing means you don’t take people’s money away, give it to the government, [and] have the government throw it at stupid — and I use my words carefully — stupid things like solar energy and windmills and ethanol. Instead, you let people keep their money, and they will invest it in companies that they think produce things efficiently or produce efficient things. If you don’t believe that, take a look at the share price histories of Toyota and Honda versus General Motors, which eventually went bankrupt because they produced things inefficiently that were inefficient machines. People who invested in Toyota and Honda, they probably sent their kids to college.”
In many ways, this really captures the essence of what distinguishes thinking people from the market fundamentalists: The fundamentalists are so blinded by their ideology (and/or their funders) that they do not acknowledge (or, apparently, even grasp) the simple and obvious truth that humans can (and sometimes must) intentionally work to make the planet a better and healthier place.
Do you hear what this guy is saying? Think about the implications. He’s arguing that market forces will somehow, “naturally” produce better results for the environment than concerted public action.
But, of course, this is insane.
It is precisely because of selfish human behavior (what the fundamentalists call “rational”) that we have environmental crises in the first place. For an individual, it may be “rational” or “efficent” to drive a giant vehicle that spews a maximum amount of exhaust or, say, pour noxious chemicals into the sewer, but for the collective well-being it’s terrible. That’s one of the most important reasons we come together as a society — to curb our selfish instincts for the common good.
The global warming problem is no different; it’s just a hell of a lot larger problem. And it’s made a lot tougher by the fact that knuckleheads like Michaels get taken seriously in some circles.