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Global Warming Math Does Not Add Up

It’s actually a relief to be writing about something else besides the election. Like the ongoing destruction of Western Civilization at the hands of hardcore socialists in the name of environmentalism.

Watermelons, people. Green on the outside, red on the inside.

Bill McKibben is a journalist and writer who essentially makes his living off of environmental activism. He is a darling of the enviro-left who has made a name for himself as a global warming alarmist climate change activist and has most recently become the head crusader against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Why should you care? Because his latest project is called “Do the Math” which is a nationwide tour of liberal cities and college towns where he pushes the “certainty” of climate change based on a handful of factoids which vastly oversimplify the issue. The upshot of all this is that if we don’t do something NOW! NOW! NOW! the world will burn, and, of course, evil capitalist Americans will be to blame.

The problem is that McKibben isn’t telling the story. What McKibben doesn’t talk about for a general audience these days, since he started focusing more on activism for wide audiences, are the specific ways that this “math” will affect the ordinary Americans who show up to his rallies.

What does this mean, specifically, for McKibben’s audience? Back in 1998, he once illustrated what happens when we try to slash fossil fuels before an efficient alternative is ready:

Say, just for argument’s sake, that we decided to cut world fossil-fuel use by 60 percent—the amount that the UN panel says would stabilize world climate. And then say that we shared the remaining fossil fuel equally. Each human being would get to produce 1.69 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually—which would allow you to drive an average American car nine miles a day. By the time the population increased to 8.5 billion, in about 2025, you’d be down to six miles a day. If you carpooled, you’d have about three pounds of CO2 left in your daily ration—enough to run a highly efficient refrigerator. Forget your computer, your TV, your stereo, your stove, your dishwasher, your water heater, your microwave, your water pump, your clock. Forget your light bulbs, compact fluorescent or not.

Unless we can replace more than three quarters of America’s energy with something at least as efficient, all those other things in your life are going to get much more expensive, even unavailable. In case anyone in Pennsylvania has any illusions about what this means for them, here’s McKibben again:

[I]n a humbler world, transportation might well wither, as people began to live closer not only to their work but to their food supply. Oranges all year round—oranges at any season in the northern latitudes—might prove ambitious beyond our means, just as the tropics might have to learn to do without apples.

And if you look at McKibben’s older work, or when he’s talking to smaller audiences, he’ll tell you this poverty is part of the plan:

Since environmentalists cannot alleviate poverty by increasing the amount of goods, one would logically expect them to advocate a drastic redistribution of wealth. The environmentally sane standard of living for a population our current size would probably be somewhere between that of the average Englishman and the average Ethiopian […] But this sort of talk would erode what support environmental concerns enjoy among the privileged.


A humble path, in which the rich world meets the poor world halfway, seems to me to allow for far more justice than an ever-growing supply of air conditioners.

He wrote the two quotes above in The End of Nature in 1989, when Ethiopia’s per-capita GDP was under $250, and the UK’s was just over $15,000 – less than a third of current US levels. And that was the “sane” standard of living for 5 billion people; there are 7 billion of us today.

McKibben has gradually learned not to talk like that to the “privileged.” He doesn’t tell his larger audiences things like, “I don’t think everyone can live a middle class American lifestyle all over the world, including middle class Americans.” When he’s writing in Rolling Stone or speaking to a packed theater, he talks about far-away things like gigatons of CO2 and Big Oil.

Which brings me to the “Do The Math” action plan: disinvestment from fossil fuel companies. Of course, that doesn’t slow down foreign state-owned petroleum industries like Iran and Venezuela, but it does give them an advantage over private, publicly traded companies. But again, that’s a feature, not a bug, in McKibben’s eyes, because it’s those domestic companies that are standing in the way of his political strategy:

“The reason that it’s so great that we’re occupying Wall Street is because Wall Street has been occupying the atmosphere. That’s why we can never do anything about global warming. Exxon gets in the way. Goldman Sachs gets in the way. The whole fossil fuel industry gets in the way.


“The problem is 20 blocks south of here. That’s where the empire lives. And we’ve got to figure out how to tame it and make it work for this planet or not work at all.”

Keep all of this in mind as you watch a newly emboldened environmental movement, led by people like Bill McKibben, try to move public policy in a “green” direction. And the next time you start a criticism of environmentalism with the phrase, “They mean well, but…” remember that many of them do not mean well. They mean to set human development back centuries in the name of fairness with themselves, of course, the sole arbiters of what is “fair”.

November 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm
1 comment »
  • December 3, 2012 at 9:43 pmBob

    The USA is cutting back on its CO2 emissions while China and India just roll along doing the same as always. They are the biggest source of pollution now, not the USA. Why do they keep their standards of pollution so low while we become the badboy for the damned environmentalists? Why don’t THEY make do with using mass transit systems, no AC in the summer and very little heat in the winter. After all they are also part of the problem.

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