Thursday, April 19, 2007

Another thanks to Vlado for this feed. Keep your antennas up out there. You guys do a good job of keeping me busy...

Ever wonder how the Hollywood elites justify their lavish carbon-laden lifestyles while condemning us underlings for our environmentally-unfriendly ways? Well, here you go.

This is a brilliant article from TIME magazine written by Charles Krauthammer. Here is a sample...

Written without a hint of irony--if only your neighborhood dry cleaner sent his employees home by hybrid limousine--this front-page dispatch captured perfectly the eco-pretensions of the rich and the stupefying gullibility with which they are received.

Remember the Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore global-warming pitch at the Academy Awards? Before they spoke, the screen at the back of the stage flashed not-so-subliminal messages about how to save the planet. My personal favorite was "Ride mass transit." This to a conclave of Hollywood plutocrats who have not seen the inside of a subway since the moon landing and for whom mass transit means a stretch limo seating no fewer than 10.

Leo and Al then portentously announced that for the first time ever, the Academy Awards ceremony had gone green. What did that mean? Solar panels in the designer gowns? It turns out that the Academy neutralized the evening's "carbon footprint" by buying carbon credits....

What's happening appears to be the building of a new social caste system where the rich continue their ungreen ways while buying their right to continue these ways from the not-so-rich. Does this sound like a good idea to anyone? Seems like if I wanted to profit from this then I'd build the foulest most polluting factory possible then take bids from Hollywood to close it down. Can anyone say scam? How about hypocrisy?

Once again, if Al Gore wants to convince me that global warming is real, then this is not the way to do it. As long as he continues to pollute, then so will I. After all, if global warming's most vocal messenger can get away with this stuff then why should I bother listening?


Anonymous said...

Al Gore is such a fool. This is reminiscent of the story which exposed Gore as using, what? 30 times more energy than the average US citizen. That would be fine, if he wasn't telling us how awful we all were at the same time.

Al Gore in one word? Hypocrite.

Dan Trabue said...

But what of we who are calling for responsible behavior who AREN'T hypocrites? Who do walk, bike, bus?

Will you ignore personal responsibility because of someone else's hypocrisy?

Anonymous said...

I think it's great you do all that. But I feel no guilt for driving. Is it really "personal" responsibility and is it really right to force enviromental protection on others? Keyword: force. I'll leave you alone and in turn you leave me alone. You ride the bike, I'll drive my car. No need for any governmental regulations.

Dan Trabue said...

Aaah, but you're NOT leaving me alone. And we're not leaving others alone.

All of us who drive ARE forcing our toxins into the air and the air of those who don't drive, whether they like it or not. Those who drive a lot are putting a lot of toxins in our common air.

Additionally, drivers are costing the rest of us B-B-Billions of dollars a year (if not trillions) from wrecks, injuries and pollution-related illnesses, in addition to the degradation of our streams and ground.

It's like George Carlin says about smoking: Having a smoke-free zone in a restaurant is like having a pee-free zone in a swimming pool.

You are absolutely correct that it comes down to a matter of force.

You want to be free to drive? Design it in such a way as to not force your dangers, costs and toxins on those who don't want it or who are trying to ease these costs. Until then, I've got a helluva lot of reasons to protest.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean any disrespect, but that's very twisted. I mean really. You're saying that it's not okay for me to drive my car because that somehow hurts your liberties, but it is okay for you to say I can't drive it and that's not hurting my liberties?

Don't you think it's a little strange to tell me that I have to walk/bike approximatly 15 miles to school, in a Maine winter no less, each year or else I'm trampling on your liberties? Be serious.

Dan Trabue said...

My riding a bike does not hurt your liberties. You alone driving a car doesn't hurt my liberties. A billion people driving cars DOES hurt my liberties.

I'm not currently telling you that you have to walk/bike 15 miles, but you currently ARE telling me I have to suck your toxins.

The reason it sounds twisted is because we've so bought in to our "right" to drive that we fail to see how it takes away liberties from others, just as it gives liberties to many. The difference being is that the liberties it gives (convenience, speed, comfort) don't compare well to the liberties it takes away (health, environment, lives, families).

And I am quite serious.

Now, understand, I'm not calling for a ban on cars. Just a bit of personal responsibility and ownership in the problem. A change of policies. An end to the gov't support of the personal auto. Car drivers paying their own way - gas costs reflecting actual costs. That sort of thing.

You know, personal responsibility.

Why would you think it acceptable for you to impose your toxins on me but it's not okay for me to ask for responsibility on your part?

Dan Trabue said...

I think I've posted this analogy here, but maybe you haven't read it: Suppose you're my neighbor and I ask that you don't infringe upon my right to get rid of my trash wherever I want to. This is America and I don't want anyone telling me where I can and can't throw my old 2x4s and refrigerators and the dirty oil from my car.

So I throw it in your yard.

Do you complain or do you support my "right" to dispose of my stuff how I want?

There is a difference, of course: If I'm throwing junk in your yard, it's at least not likely to kill you. Our auto exhausts and one ton cars ARE killing people.

I'm assuming you don't support my "right" to throw garbage in your yard. But why would you support laws banning one (litter) but not policies regulating the other to decrease the poisoning of and danger to your neighbor?

John Washburn said...

Dan, your argument may have some merit if there was overwhelming scientific evidence supporting it, which there is not. It's based on a theory that is not yet proven and is contested by many prominent scientists. Just because you believe a certain set of evidence doesn't mean that we all have to conform to that belief. In our eyes, it is not irresponsible to drive a car unless you want to make the argument that it supports fundamentalist Islam. Prove to me that driving cars causes extensive environmental damage and I'll join your cause. Right now, all I see in the environmentalists is hypocrisy and calls for scientific and economic regression. This violates all laws of life, including Darwin's own theories, and is not something I'm willing to conform to unless I see substantial evidence supporting it.

Anonymous said...

Dan, please. You cannot seriously believe that because I drive I am killing people and doing something akin to throwing trash in people's yards.

What studies are you using to back this up anyway? I'm guessing it's some report that says auto emmissions might lead to a higher increase in cancer or some such. If not please give me a report of mass deaths due to auto-emissions. I haven't been able to find any so perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place. However, I think it's more likely that those stories don't exist.

There's also this, you say it's all the cars, and not just mine. Therefore, I personally am not hurting you by driving my little Honda around. Therefore, you have no right to infringe on my personal property rights.

And if you really believe cars are causing these problems, you should be advocating banning them. Because either you know they kill and you don't care, or you know it's not a big enough threat to be taken seriously. I don't think you're a bad guy, so I'm going to say it's the latter.

Libertarians have something called the non-agression axiom. I won't tell you how to live, think, or speak. But in return, you can't tell me how to either. If you want to believe that cars are deadly, that's fine. But there's no serious proof that cars cause any of these so-called problems, or that they are problems that infringe on your personal liberties. Therefore, you have no right to take my property based on your perceptions or biases. It's that simple.

In short, even though I dislike it when people bike on government roads and get in the way of the vehicles they were built for, I'm not going to tell you not to ride your bike on them. I'm just going to have an opinion and let you do what you want even though I don't agree with it. In return, don't tell me not to drive my car okay?

We can get along in this country without infringing on each other's liberties. We don't need laws or the government to do it for us. All we need to do is follow the motto "live and let live."

Dan Trabue said...

We can get along in this country without infringing on each other's liberties. We don't need laws or the government to do it for us. All we need to do is follow the motto "live and let live."

I don't think that you're getting that you're not allowing us to "live and let live."

I don't advocate a ban because
1. I don't think bans tend to work well and,
2. It's not necessary to do away with cars, just use them responsibly - which we're not currently doing.

As to your questions about studies, no problem.

Go to the World Health Organization, you can see that the number of auto-wreck related deaths is +1 million/year. The number of air pollution deaths is ~3 million/year. That air pollution is not just from cars, but cars do contribute to the negative quality of our air.

I can provide all manner of data for this, but are y'all really unaware of the damage done by automobiles?

A couple of sources:

Read up. In the meantime, I'll quit trying to infringe upon your "right" to drive when you quit trying to push your toxins in my air. Fair enough?

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by "use a car responsibly?" How are people not dong that? My car is my trasportation. I am using it as such. How is that not responsible? I really do not understand what you mean by that phrase.

Now, to the issue about deaths. I have never crashed. Therefore, I have never hurt anyone by driving, therefore I am justified in driving. As for pollution, I personally am not making enough pollution to harm anyone, so I am not personally responsible for anyone's death, so I have no obligation not to drive.

I would also like to know what percentage of "air pollution deaths" are caused bey cars. If there aren't any concrete facts involved, I really can't justify not using my car.

I read your links, and honestly I don't know what they prove. I'm no scientest, but it seems to me that while I already knew my car puts out pollutents, I didn't see anywhere that my car personally put out enough to kill anyone. If my car isn't putting out enough toxins to kill or hurt or infringe on anyone, I don't have any obligation to stop using it. Therefore others would be the first agressors, by infringing on my right to property.

In short: The air isn't yours or mine or anyone else's. The car, however, is mine. So the one infringing on rights is anyone who tries to take my car, not someone "polluting" air no one owns. I mean let's be honest, which is truley a bigger infringement. Me putting out a tiny bit of pollution or someone taking my car?

And if it's the way you say, should we shut down power plants, factories and shipping in the US? There's a choice to be made here, and I think it's pretty obvious which is more realistic and more fair.

Dan Trabue said...

"As for pollution, I personally am not making enough pollution to harm anyone, so I am not personally responsible for anyone's death, so I have no obligation not to drive."

No single rain drop believes it's responsible for the flood, either, but to argue "I'm not responsible" because we're part of a group that IS causing problems is just wrong.

Out of time...

Anonymous said...

I don't care about the group. Never have. I can't be held liable for the so-called sins of a group. I'm only concerned with what I am supposedly doing wrong, and me driving isn't hurting anyone, so I really can't worry about everyone else now can I?

Dan Trabue said...

This gets to the heart of our differences, then. It seems (correct me if I'm wrong) then, by this definition, that if 1000 people walking up and down your street every day each throw a gum wrapper or bottle down, and they then accumulate in your yard, you're okay with it.

What's a gum wrapper, after all?

IF everyone assumes, "It's not MY driving that's causing 1 million + deaths a year, the degradation of our air and water, that's costing society hundreds of billions of dollars, it's everyone else's driving that's causing the problem," then the problem only gets worse. Right?

I have to be honest, I don't understand this shrugging off of responsibility of the whole.

What of the situation where a person is being attacked in an alley and 100 neighbors watch but do nothing? "After all," they say, "it was someone else's responsibility to help, not mine - it would be too much of a risk or an inconvenience for me to do something, someone else should have..."

You wouldn't agree with that sort of thinking, would you? How is shrugging off personal responsibilty on the group level any different?

Dan Trabue said...

"The air isn't yours or mine or anyone else's."

Right. It's not YOURS or mine to pollute. If you want to construct your own bubble where the pollutants stay within YOUR air, then that's okay with me.

When you pollute our common air, then there's a problem.

What of a river? It doesn't belong to anyone, it's in the public domain. So, it's all right then, by this logic, if I use the river as my personal dumping ground, right?

Dan Trabue said...

"And if it's the way you say, should we shut down power plants, factories and shipping in the US? There's a choice to be made here, and I think it's pretty obvious which is more realistic and more fair."

I don't know what choice you think there is, but the choice to me is between expecting individuals and corporations to live responsibly or not. Right now, we have some expectations but don't expect total responsibility.

Companies can't dump mercury straight into streams by the gallon, true, but they can and do put out toxins aplenty, just at a level that we've deemed "not too dangerous."

Here's another link with some more info on the costs of autos to society:

It states, among other things, that injuries incurred from wrecks worldwide cost us all somewhere near $100 billion (I've heard much higher). That's only injuries, in that study. That's not talking about the costs of those 1 million who are dying in wrecks, nor the 3 million who are dying from air pollution.

It's not counting the cost of poisoned streams, ground and air. Many streams in my state of Kentucky are not safe to fish in. What does that cost to Kentucky tourism? And who's paying?

Do you think it fair to expect everyone to pay the trillions of dollars of pollution-related costs that we polluters are handing out to us all? OR, do you think that personal resposibility demands that we at least pay our own way? If my driving foists 5 tons of pollutants in the air, ought that be included in what I pay for driving?

I'm saying personal responsibility demands it. Otherwise, we're just more parasites clinging to the teat of government.

More info:

Dan Trabue said...

John said earlier:

"Prove to me that driving cars causes extensive environmental damage and I'll join your cause."

Again I ask: Do you seriously doubt that driving cars causes extensive damage to the environment and to society? Read the above links...I don't think there's really any dispute as to the costs and damage incurred by cars.

The only debate in the matter that I've seen is whether it matters - ought it be okay to continue polluting regardless of the damage out of "personal liberty" arguments or ought we seek to implement policies that hold people accountable and make them pay for the damage being done.

Again, for me this is fundamentally a conservative personal responsibility issue as much as anything. Drivers are subsidized by the gov't and society and I'm calling for personal ownership in the costs. If driving is costing us $1 trillion/year in the US, then divide the cost amongst drivers and send them a bill, based on miles driven.

What could be more fair?

Dan Trabue said...

Very last comment for now...

With many of my sources, one could make the charge that they're coming from a group with an agenda, so I thought I'd provide a pretty unbiased one, in addition to the others (NOTE: that the other sources might have an agenda doesn't mean that their facts are in dispute).

Every year the KY State Police issues their annual Collisons report. According to them ( here's the 2003 report), for the ~900 deaths and the ~6000 incapacitating injuries and other associated costs with wrecks (property damage, etc), it costs Kentucky alone between $2 billion and $6 billion.

This does not even begin to estimate environmental damage to our air, water and land, the costs of military defense of "our" oil, road costs (which are partially but not fully covered by gas taxes), costs associated with people being sick from pollution, etc.

The costs of the personal auto are HUGE and go way beyond what individual drivers are paying.

Anonymous said...

That's a lot of material Dan. How about if I just restate my thesis. It's a property rights issue. No one owns the air. I own my property, including my land and car. People trashing my personal land is not akin to "trashing" the air. The analogy is flawed. And my car is also my property, so the gov't has no right to take it or restrict my driving.

Dan Trabue said...

And I disagree. Trashing the air is very much like someone trashing your property, except worse because people get sick and die because of air pollution more than they do from litter.

But let's set that aside for a minute: What of the just common notion that motorists ought to pay their own way instead of expecting gov't subsidies?

Knowing you to be a reasonable and responsible person, I bet at the least, that IF you thought it were true that others were subsidizing your driving, you might reconsider, but you're not really thinking that's the case - despite what the evidence shows. Am I right?

What of the other analogy - is it okay then if I start dumping my motor oil in the river, since it "belongs" to no one?

John Washburn said...

"motorists ought to pay their own way instead of expecting gov't subsidies"

Sounds fine to me as long as we can apply the same principle to health care, retirement, education, job training, child care, school lunches, prescription drugs and anything else the gov't subsidizes for those who aren't doing for themselves.

It sucks when you do the "right thing" and the gov't rewards those who don't with subsidies and entitlements, doesn't it?