Thursday, September 19, 2013

P.J. O'Rourke On Climate Change

I'm currently reading O'Rourke's "Don't Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards," which, as might be surmised, is a book about gub'mint.  The book is in Mr. O'Rourke's inimitable style, which is to say truthful and funny as all get-out.  I'm gonna do sumthin' today I've never done before: publish an entire chapter out of a book.  So, as the post title notes, here's what Mr. O'Rourke has to say on the subject of climate change.
Climate Change 

There’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it. Maybe climate change is a threat, and maybe climate change has been tarted up by climatologists trolling for research grant cash. It doesn’t matter. There are 1.3 billion people in China, and they all want a Buick. Actually, if you go more than a mile or two outside China’s big cities, the wants are more basic. People want a hot plate and a piece of methane-emitting cow to cook on it. They want a carbon-belching moped, and some CO2-disgorging heat in their houses in the winter. And air-conditioning wouldn’t be considered an imposition, if you’ve ever been to China in the summer. 

Now, I want you to dress yourself in sturdy clothing and arm yourself however you like—a stiff shot of gin would be my recommendation—and I want you to go tell 1.3 billion Chinese they can never have a Buick. Then, assuming the Sierra Club helicopter has rescued you in time, I want you to go tell a billion people in India the same thing.
That's it... in its entirety... and he states the case perfectly.

19 comments:

  1. Loves me some P.J.! There was a paragraph in his Holidays in Hell that had me laughing so convulsively I thought I'd have to call 911. No kidding.

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    1. P.J. is THE best humorist on the right side of the aisle. No one else even comes close.

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  2. I think CM is a government scheme. I'm all for it by the way (the government scheme).

    Here's the deal: North America and Europe need something to scare them into CHANGING their thinking about spending their treasury on 12-lane roads with 14 tons of concrete per person to putter back and forth in their dinosaur powered Nazi inspired Henri Ford contraptions (my apologies to Hitler).

    Distilling oil is not that different from killing whales to fill Bible reading lanterns. Technology-wise it is moronic. But, people make millions from it, and it keeps North America and Europe in endless war. Canada now owns the Midwest states without even a treaty, and pushes farmers left and right to bury their pipeline to the gulf.

    Distilling oil to gasoline uses the most energy, diesel fuel is the cheapest to make, and you can make it from agriculture - especially if you use geothermal power. We should be sending agriculture barges to Iceland, and using their geothermal energy to distill its pressed oils into biodiesel fuel.

    Then too, algae feeds on CO2, there should be algae farms next to every fossil fuel power plant. Pressed algae oil is a highly viable biodiesel.

    The big problem in converting North America and Europe off of gasoline, is that it is highly subsidized. It has an artificially low price that keeps alternatives from the market. If the government stopped storing oil in the ground, and let prices go, we would probably be paying about $28 a gallon, and bio-fuels would then be cheap at $5 a gallon.

    I need a drink now, but just don't get me started! :-)

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    1. Well, now... THIS was a refreshing and rather unique sort o' rant for this neighborhood. Let me just say that we shall agree to disagree and be done with it. No, wait.

      What sort of subsidies are you talking about when it comes to gasoline, Christiane? I'd understand if you said ethanol is heavily subsidized (which it IS), but gasoline? There are certain tax breaks available to Big Oil, but nothing to the extent that would raise the price of gasoline by a factor of five or more (see here). As for ethanol, there's only one place on the planet where ethanol is viable: Brazil. And they produce their ethanol from sugar cane, rather than corn, like we do. Let me quote:

      One of the key reasons for the growth in ethanol production has been government subsidies for ethanol — $45 billion in tax credits giving 45 cents to ethanol producers for every gallon they produced between 1980 and 2011. This was a strange subsidy considering ethanol's inefficiency as a fuel, and given the fact that unlike other renewables, burning ethanol continues to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

      It's not like the farmers growing subsidized corn for ethanol production didn't already have a market for their produce. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones calls it "shoveling... ag welfare to a group of people who were already pretty rich."


      Finally... I think you and The Second Mrs. Pennington might get on famously, at least in this one rather limited area. TSMP had some sort of tree-hugger epiphany a couple o' years after she left me and that former good, conservative, Corvette-drivin', SUV-owning girl now putts around in a rather ratty eight-to-ten year old Honda Civic Hybrid (which she bought new).

      As for me? I'm a gearhead and I LOVE my car. So. We'll agree to disagree. ;-)

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    2. Oh. I shall now retire to the verandah for my second beer.

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    3. Not to mention the inflationary fact that taking 40% (mas o menos) of the nation's corn production off the food-supply market drives up the cost of food tremendously for everyone--on everything from corn-syrup sweeteners to tacos, but especially beef and pork..

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    4. This web page has a lot of links and references: http://priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies/

      Don't get me wrong, I love my car, but I would never buy a gasoline engine bigger than a lawn-mower. I'm a big fan of German diesels :-)

      I'm off to go EAT some corn, and sip my grapes...

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  3. PS: One of the most hilarious things I ever read by PJ was an article he wrote in Harpers circa the late 70s wherein he described a tour down the Volga he took with a bunch of aging American red-diaper types who were so obnoxiously obtuse that the Russian crew began to avoid them like the plague and ended up drinking with PJ at the other end of the boat/barge. (The USSR is the promised land but we're bringing our own toilet paper--those kind of lefties, lol)

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    1. P.J. is a frickin' National Treasure.

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  4. O'Rourke is one of the funniest sonsabitches on the planet, and as a bonus he often tells unvarnished truths. This selection showcases both.

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    1. The best humor always has the truth to back it up.
      It also usually involves some kind of pain, unfortunately.

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  5. Besides his political stuff, PJO sometimes writes a piece for one of my car mags (either R & T or Car and Driver) and they're always great. Like you say, he's a national treasure.

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    1. I love P.J.'s columns... he writes for National Review, too.

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  6. Really good my friend!
    I love that excerpt!

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    1. That was the entire chapter, Glenn.

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  7. Geez!
    I get a little busy and miss some really good stuff on the intertubes.

    Such is life.

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    1. Yeah, life does have a habit of intruding, eh?

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Just be polite... that's all I ask.