Think first, recycle second by Anonymous

Today’s article of the day comes from yesterday’s Union Leader in New Hampshire on Earth Day:

Today is Earth Day, the fake holiday on which the government attempts to guilt us into “saving the planet.” This year the guilt trip is more tedious because President Obama has made it his mission to change our energy consumption habits by force of law.

Of course, wasting energy is a dumb idea. It’s not dumb because it’s somehow harmful to Mother Nature, but because leaving the light on in the living room when you are eating dinner in the dining room wastes money. And recycling is good (as long as it’s more cost-effective than dumping) for the same reason. Throwing away something that has cash value is the same as throwing away money.

That said, Earth Day takes these common-sense behaviors to absurd levels. Reducing, reusing and recycling really are about economics, not morality. If we use more energy to recycle something than to make a new one, we’ve done more harm than good. If we install “environmentally friendly” toilets that use less water, only to have to flush twice, thus using more water, we’ve done more harm than good.

So when President Obama says we have to pay hundreds of billions of dollars to reduce carbon emissions right away, the correct response is to ask whether it is cost-effective. Burning fossil fuels emits only 3.27 percent of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a report by Drew Thornley of the Manhattan Institute. Is the payoff really worth the price?

Every transaction involves tradeoffs. Environmental policy is not exempt from that rule. Before cheering for certain policies just because politicians call them “green,” stop to make sure the benefits are worth the cost. Otherwise, you might hurt the environment instead of help it.

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Published in: on April 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] The Public Choice Capitalist placed an observative post today on Think first, recycle second by AnonymousHere’s a quick excerptToday’s article of the day comes from yesterday’s Union Leader in New Hampshire on Earth Day: Today is Earth Day, the fake holiday on which the government attempts to guilt us into “saving the planet.” This year the guilt trip is more tedious because President Obama has made it his mission to change our energy consumption habits by force of law. Of course, wasting energy is a dumb idea. It’s not dumb because it’s somehow harmful to Mother Nature, but because leaving the light on in the li […]


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