Germany’s Green Party wants to ban industrial farming to help fight climate change. The Daily Telegraph warns that “the proposal is likely to stoke up debate over whether the Greens are still Germany’s Verbotspartei (prohibition party), a nickname they gained in 2013 due to a misjudged plan to introduce a weekly ‘veggie day’.” But to be fair any practical proposal to get rid of many or most CO2 emissions (“Net zero” being the latest cool trend) won’t require prohibiting much consumption because there won’t be much to consume.
ThinkProgress begs to differ, crowing that “Renewables are winning the economics battle against new coal and gas, stunning study shows. By 2030, wind and solar will ‘undercut existing coal and gas almost everywhere.’” But we’ll believe it when we see them spreading without subsidies (and yes, governments should get out of the business of subsidizing fossil fuels too). If wind and solar really work better, we won’t need to be pushed into switching. And if they don’t, we’ll pay a terrible price for being shoved, something Germany and Australia are already learning in quite an unpleasant manner.
As are people far from both nations because, as Paul Driessen rightly reminds us, “there’s nothing clean, green, renewable or sustainable about wind, solar or battery power. Those technologies require enormous amounts of land, concrete, steel and other raw materials – and many of their most critical materials are extracted and processed using child labor and near-slave wages for adults, with few or no workplace safety rules, and with horrific impacts on land, air and water quality.” That we don’t have to watch all this suffering and pollution overseas doesn’t make it better. (There’s also a major unaddressed issue with the footprint of wind and solar.)
An overall inability to understand where wealth comes from or what it is seems to afflict climate alarmists as it has afflicted radicals down through the generations, undermining their credibility even when they had some valid points to make about drawbacks in how we have been conducting our affairs. Indeed we concede that the German Greens may have legitimate concerns about some of the processes, and results, of running farms as though they were factories, from the treatment of animals to the overuse of antibiotics to the scale of the effluents to the fact that the meat tastes like cardboard. But the solution is to target specific problems, not get rid of meat. And above all don’t promise that once we take your meat away, or at least your affordable meat, you’ll be happier, healthier and grateful. Admit we’ll lose something.
Thus we wonder in passing, with such a huge bet on the about-to-appear effectiveness of alternative energy, whether this is the best time to be pushing for affirmative action rather than proven effectiveness in energy research. Or what the point is in New York State passing what the New York Times hails as “one of the most ambitious climate targets by a legislature anywhere in the world” when, the Times goes on to concede, “New York reduced its emissions only 8 percent from 1990 to 2015, according to the most recent state inventory.” The havoc required to get to zero emissions by 2050 may or may not be unimaginable, but clearly these legislators and their cheerleaders have not imagined it.
The core point people like the German Greens seem unable to grasp is that when you take aggressive measures to stop a free market economy from selling people things they want at prices they can afford, people get fewer things they want and pay more for them. That they, and others including Canadian big- and small-g Greens, also have so little understanding either of government or of economics that they almost certainly couldn’t do any of these things if elected is secondary. What really matters is that they are asking for enormous sacrifices and don’t even know it.