Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Can't afford clean technology

I heard something the other day about Bush saying that if we make regulations that require industries to produce less pollution, it will cripple our economy, and we can't afford to do things like that.

But that doesn,'t make sense to me. When it comes to a war, everyone always says it's "good for the economy" because it increases orders for all sorts of stuff. Money is being spent, jobs are being created, the economy is humming. However, war is a means by which we produce a lot of equipment in order to destroy things--other people's infrastructure, but also a lot of airplanes and tanks and hummers and other equipment. So we've "helped the economy" by ordering things at taxpayers expense and then destroying them. Wow.

On the other hand, tighter emission standards, for example, would also require spending a lot of money. But spending money is *good* for the economy, remember? And in this case, instead of spending it to bomb and kill and destroy stuff, we would be spending it to keep our own environment cleaner, healthier, more productive. How can that not be a net gain?

If I lived in a city where people threw their garbage and chamberpots out the window (Europe in 1500, say), then sure, sewers and garbage collection would cost a lot more--at least at first! But in the long run, look what that investment (spending) on infrastructure produced--not only cleaner, more pleasant cities, but new jobs, longer, healthier lives, and an overall improvement in the standard of living. Only a moron would prefer to foul the streets with sewage. And yet, if it's the air that is being filled with diesel particles, or CO2, we suddenly can't afford it. The huddles masses of Europe felt they couldn't afford to do anything but throw their feces into the gutter, too--but when they stopped doing that, they also stopped dying of dysentery! Thus a huge jump in productivity.

China is currently growing its economy while pouring life-threatening quantities of pollution into the air. They also think they can't afford to keep the air clean, but they pay with their lives for this savings. Of course, what happens, what always happened, is that the poor pay with their lungs while the rich get the "savings." (Though a city like Beijing is pretty miserable for rich as well as poor.)

No comments: