There is a great piece of bumper sticker humor: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Unless one has been living under a rock, this statement is widely recognized as an ironic warning of sorts – if you hear these words, count your money, lock up your kids and pray for your property, business and/or job. A funny way of saying when the government tries to solve a problem, things often go from bad to worse.
It should not surprise anyone to learn that the same is true for government environmental efforts as well.
Recently, more evidence, both from Europe, and here in the U.S., of the disconnect between government’s good intentions and its flawed results have come to light. For instance, in the U.S., which has yet to sign on to an international treaty or domestic legislation to strictly limit greenhouse gas emissions, such emission have fallen by 450 million tons as the shale gas revolution has taken hold (despite environmentalists ongoing efforts to shut it down). Market incentives to increase efficiency are leading the U.S. to use the least expensive resource for energy production – all absent government mandates or intervention – and the environment is benefitting. By contrast, in Europe, which has pledged to cut emissions, environmentalists have torqued the government into closing down the cleanest form of reliable energy, nuclear power, are preventing them from developing the 2nd greenest reliable energy source, natural gas, with the result that Germany is switching to coal – the fuel environmentalist fear the most.
And China, cashing in on the Western demands for inefficient, expensive so called “green” energy technologies (while developing its own energy resources as fast as it can) is ripping up grasslands and draining water to mine coal and produce associated germanium. Couldn’t get away with it without central government control or backing.
And closer to home, in the U.S., the federal government punishes ranchers who fight wildfires on public land in an attempt to halt it before it gets out of control. In addition, the government, in mandating the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), put public health at risk from ultraviolet rays (not emitted, by the way, by good old incandescent bulbs) which could damage skin cells and cause eye damage. Use the new government required bulbs and get skin cancer – isn’t that special.