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Technological fixes for the environment are evil!

About two decades ago, I gave a talk to an audience that included some devout environmentalists. In one of my answers to one of these persons, I said that if a technological fix could be found for, say, the hole in the ozone layer (a big topic in those days), by e.g. sending a rocket up into the hole and shovelling ozone out into the hole, thereby mending it, that would mean that we could be a little more relaxed about causing the hole to get big in the first place. In general, I argued, technologically fixable problems are less of a worry than technologically unfixable ones.

It was if I had said that, on account of a new kind of metal cleaner recently invented, it had become less of a problem if people broke into churches and pissed on crucifixes. It was, I was told in shocked tones, the very idea that problems could be solved with technology that was at the heart of the evil that humanity was facing.

So, I have long understood that environmentalism is a religion, and that the purpose of proclaiming the existence of environmental problems is absolutely not that they should be fixed, but they should be instruments to accomplish the transformation of people and how they live from what people actually are and how they actually live, to … something else. Technological fixes are evil. The worst evil of all.

Which means that Dominic Lawson is entirely right to say that plausible technological fixes for the allegedly huge environmental problems that we allegedly face now will cause rage rather than rejoicing among all the true believers of the Church of Mother Earth. Technological fixes will deprive that church’s devotees of their excuse to bully the rest of us into living different and less – in their eyes – sinful lives.

Even so, I enjoyed reading Lawson’s piece, with its sensationally unequal comparison between how much the current measures now being put in place by the world’s politicians to solve the alleged enviro-crisis, which are calculatedly and deliberately very hurtful to the world economy, compared to how absurdly cheap such technological fixes might be.

The significance of the ideas Dominic Lawson reports on (which are among those contained in this book) lies not in their ingenuity or in their political relevance in any immediately imaginable near-future. It is their irreverence – their sacrilegiousness – that is significant.

30 comments to Technological fixes for the environment are evil!

  • Laird

    Environmental zealots are like middle-ages monks, wearing hair shirts and flagellating themselves to demonstrate their piety. The principal difference is that today’s zealots want to flagellate the rest of us, too, so we can all be pious together in our worship of Gaia. Sorry; not interested. Go back to your hermitage and leave me alone.

  • Jacob

    I’m pretty sure that the figure of 10m$ annually, that they mention – the cost of spraying significant quantities of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere – is a wild underestimate. It is also not proven that it would work, and have no other harmful side effects.
    It is an implausible speculation. In other words – probably nonsense.

    But it is true that greens are Luddites and technophobic.
    And there is a technology that is proven, and works, and the greens fiercely oppose it: nuclear power.

  • You are absolutely right, and like any religion its members will form bitter schisms that will weaken it substantially.

    As the global warming/climate change green bubble bursts it will force adherents into a most amusing and gratifying spiral of irrelevance.

    Jacob above has nailed the basic point of contention, the elephant in the green room; nuclear energy…

  • Nuke Gray

    you know, if we just got rid of this ‘environment’ thing, we wouldn’t be bothered by environmentalists! What’s the problem?

  • Vinegar Joe

    We just need to hang Druids.

  • Bubba Thudd

    Priest: “Our town is swimming in filth and sewage, we are suffering from cholera and dysentery – God is punishing us for our sins! We must pray for forgiveness!”

    Peasant: “Perhaps we should build sewers, water treatment plants and indoor plumbing?”

    Priest “HERETIC!!”

  • Diogenes

    Jacob is almost certainly correct that the proposed solution would not work. However that misses the rhetorical beauty of the suggested solution.

    In order to explain away the cooling between c.1940 and c.1975 the climate modellers needed to find a factor that could have countered the constantly increasing CO2. Sulphur dioxide was that solution, it was attributed a huge cooling effect to counter the vast warming effect attributed to CO2.

    Consequently the warmists cannot easily deny the efficacy of the monster hose without invalidating the prognostications of the GCMs upon which they rely.

  • AK

    So how do you differentiate between people who Believe in the Green, and those who are afraid that technological fixes will have their own unforeseen consequences on the environment?

    Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.

    Lisa: But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?

    Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.

    Lisa: But aren’t the snakes even worse?

    Skinner: Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.

    Lisa: But then we’re stuck with gorillas!

    Skinner: No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

  • That’s the beauty of innovation, you see. As a solution looks like it might have its own problems, people innovate solutions that mitigates those problems. And so on and so forth.

    The only issue you will have is when you have a “Hole in the bucket”* kinda guy. The simple solution is to shoot him (or at least kick kim in the groin), and then solve the problem yourself.

    * This references an old song about a couple, Eliza and Henry; Eliza wants Henry to get some water, and Henry’s busy thinking up reasons why he can’t do it. He cleverly manages to make it into a circular problem.

  • Heretic

    Suppose I was to play devil’s advocate and substitute the Market for the Environment:

    Obama’s Stimulus is a technological fix for the Market. All this squealing about that fix just proves that the Libertarian Right don’t really want to solve the problems. In fact they keep saying that this sort of technological intervention is the root of the problem. So therefore Libertarianism is just a dogmatic religion that believes the Market should be left in some kind of ‘natural state’.

    Not saying I believe it, just food for thought.

  • I’m fairly convinced that, in the fullness of time, the Deeper greens will find themselves (and their obviously more succulent children) being hunted, killed and cooked and eaten. This is unfair on their children clearly: but GreeNazis did – once, far back in the 1960s – like the German Nation in 1933, have a choice. And it was a real choice.

    The Germans of 1933 were faced with an array of largely unelectable and impotent politicians with no solutions, plus a clever and driven and wicked mountebank who also had no solutions, and by contrast with the others knew exactly what he was doing and how to get what he wanted. The Germans, while being arguably one of the most highly-educated and most “civilised” of Western nations, inexplicably chose evil over “less evil” and the survivors ended up grubbing for rotting cabbage-stalks among a billion tons of rubble, having lost…4 million dead? (Who knows?)

    The GreeNazis do still, while there is time, have a choice. They can choose good over evil, still, even now. So they can go along with (SO2-sprayers excepted) proper, well-understood, reliable _old technology_ such as Nuclear Electricity, coal (harmless), oils and gas (also harmless) and engineered variation of vital crops to make them even better, and the like.

    Or they can choose evil, which has to be a deliberate choice. This is because we (few who see through them still armed with the Unperverted Lights Of Science) and they (many, who believe what they do because they _want_ a post-apocalyptic future with them as The Lords and the rest of surviving humanity as the helots) know that they believe what they say they do, _because_ it will cause the very destruction of humanity’s prospects, and not _in spite of_ that.

    They are deliberately-murdering, apocalyptic, neo-pastoral milennarians. To save liberty, they will have to be eaten in the extremis of our desperation, along with their children as the delicate “hors-d’oeuvres” – in that case quite literally – if we fail.

  • …..And….before anybody goes on here to lynch me, please note that I am not a cruel man! not naturally, no. I have two children myself. I cry when watching “The Dam Busters” or “The Cruel Sea”.

    And I simply can’t bear to endure contemporary peak-evening-Docu-Telly, with sad cubase-VST music all over fat parents crying on camera for the young-Scottich-accent-lady-narrator-(as SFX presenter, off-camera) about their mortally-ill-child being fixed in some hospital or other. (Anyone recognise the genre?)

    And I don’t want Greens to eat my children, if it can possibly be prevented…indeed, I try to make them eat up all their greens…

  • jdm

    Obama’s Stimulus is a technological fix for the Market.

    It is? Please. Explain.

  • john east

    I’ve had an identical response in the past when suggesting that managed de-population might provide part of the answer. Such a notion is even more evil to the faithful than technology. They much prefer to await natural (and chaotic) species die off, which is a biological certainty afflicting all life that fully exploits it’s niche and exhausts it’s environmental resources.

  • Laird

    John, that last observation doesn’t square with the environmentalists’ other pet obsession: the preservation of every existing animal and plant species now on the planet (other than humans, of course). Extinction is a natural part of the planet’s life cycle (more terran animal species are extinct than are presently living), and an ecology is in a constant state of striving for equilibrium (sort of like an economy). Species which are “endangered” have already been rendered inconsequential by an ecology which has moved on to a new equilibrium. Yet we are told that we have to “save the snail darters”, or whatever, even at substantial economic cost, because we can’t bear to see any species become extinct, however “natural” that might be.

  • Steven Rockwell

    Can we get a clear definition on what a technological fix for the environment constitutes? Do dikes to hold back the sea constitute an evil fix? How about irrigation for farmland that somehow threatens a small gamefish? Everything people create alters their environment. I need a log cabin, I have to cut down a bunch of trees. I put up a windmill farm to keep from burning coal or using nuclear power and birds fly into the windmills. I need to eat and turn a plain into a farm. I’ve used technology to fix the environment to something more my liking in each case.

    I get what the environmentalists are arguing, but it can be a slippery slope argument on what is an evil use of technology? Some moderate environmentalist might say using harsh chemicals and radically altering the landscape counts, but some truly insane environmentalist might argue that any human interaction beyond gathering berries and wearing fig leaves is evil.

  • llamas

    I am minded of those folks, in a past era, who opposed the use of anaesthetics in childbirth because, they said, God had ordained that women suffer that pain as a reminder of their part in the creation of Original Sin.

    Nowadays, of course, we have the ‘natural childbirth’ nutters who tell women to forswear the use of anaesthetics (and, indeed, any modern medical interventions at all) in order that they may have a more ‘authentic’ experience.

    Same nuttiness, just different nutters.

    The ‘green’ nutters simply make it more plain that they’re not so much for the “environment” (whatever that is) as they are against Man and all his works. They want us all to do penance for what they think are our sins, all of which is designed to return us to a standard of living which makes human life ‘nasty, brutish and short.’ No, Thank You. 99.987% of human existence has consisted of a desperate and often-unsuccessful struggle to wrest enough calories and enough BTU’s to sustain life from the tenacious grip of an ‘environment’ that was arrayed against our species in ways too numerous to count. And now that we finally got over on ‘the environment’ – they want us to go BACK? Well, f**k them.



  • Paul Marks

    People are being unfair to priests of past centuries by comparing them to Greens.

    In fact it was normally the heretics who were hostile to technology and material progress – the mainstream Roman Catholic Church (for all the faults of some of its members – including Popes) was very strongly in favour of such things (and was denounced by the poverty-is-good types for being in favour of new technology and material progress).

    As for theoretical science, normally (although not always) the Church was very pro that as well – although it did throw a fit (although partly because of the insulting way the idea was presented in a certain book) over the Earth goes round the Sun thing (but then so did some secular people – such as Francis Bacon, his “New Atlantis” regime would have banned discussion of the idea).

    Even in the early 19th century the “scientific parson” (Anglican in the case of England) was the main type of scientific researcher – it was only when secular people took over science that they worked to blacken the reputation of such people (with various absurd lies – such as the idea that the Church taught that the world was flat and so on) in order to take the mantle of science for themselves.

    Anyway – the Greens:

    One event really caught my attention.

    Some years ago some scientists (mistakenly) thought they had found a way to create “Cold Fusion” nuclear fusion simply and without fuss – energy without C02 emissions or other problems.

    The Greens should have been delighted – but they were horrified (it was obvious from looking at them and hearing them talk, that they were horrified). You see if the new idea worked then “this civilization” could continue.

    And it was clear that the Greens thought that the continuation of “this civilization” was a BAD THING.

    We should all return to a “pre industrial” civilization – indeed even this was wrong as even in the 18th century there was specialization and large scale international trade.

    The better educated Greens even knew that there was specialization and large scale international trade in the Middle Ages – and this was a BAD THING as well.

    In this the Greens resembled the various poverty-is-a-good-thing-down-with-possessions cults of heretics who opposed the mainstream Church (and the rest of mainstream society) in past centuries.

  • I think this sums up the green and other nutters like communists, religious/political attitude quite well or our resistance to it anyway:

    “sure as I know anything, I know this: they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people … better. And I do not hold to that.”

    You all know where that came from.

  • veryretired

    The Original Sin of Judeo/Christian theology is the attempt by human beings to decide good and evil—and therefore behave as gods.

    The Original Sin in green theology is that human beings act like they are—human beings.

    There is a depth of self-hatred in deep ecology, projected upon the whole of mankind, that I have rarely found anywhere else.

  • Stephan

    Heretic, your devils advocate observation is wrong for a couple different reasons:

    1. libertarians oppose the stimulus due to well reasoned factual arguments of cause and effect regarding how an economy effectively functions. The greens oppose technological fixes for reasons of what is essentially dogma.
    2. The greens oppose tech fixes, but do indeed consider the event that causes one to suggest them as a genuine danger. The libertarians oppose Obamas fix as a danger because it would interfere in something that they consider to be essentially good (a correction of unrealistic valuations)

  • Dishman

    It seems to me that over time, our wealth has become less and less physical.

    Consider a wafer of polycarbonate. I’ve paid anywhere from 3 cents to $4k for a single wafer. Clearly the difference is not justified by the raw material differences between the wafers. It’s the non-physical differences that matter.

    Many of us have spent hours in worlds like Norrath or Azeroth, which lack any physical existence, yet their economies are (or have been) larger than some countries.

    My car was a significant expenditure for me. Of the purchase cost, less than 10% paid for raw materials. The rest was things like direct labor and even Intellectual Property.

    The further we move from subsistence, the less of our economy is physical, and the more we have in non-physical. We call this shift “innovation” and “technology”.

    Non-physical wealth does not pollute. Only the physical forms required to manifest it do.

    By seeking to stifle innovation and technology, the greens are actually making environmental problems worse.

    I think their stated objectives would be better served by seeking to maximize the ratio of non-physical to physical wealth.

  • Thanks, Dishman, that’s just the kind of irrefutable smackdown on growth-is-bad types that I like. I had to on my own blog.

  • Dennis

    Technological fixes are evil. The worst evil of all.

    Then we must immediately demolish all our wastewater treatment plants and cease the delivery of potable water to our cities.


    Technological fixes have been the crowning jewels of environmental and public health movement.

    Can we heat our homes by burning environmental whackos? I’d bet they aren’t smokeless.

  • I would also suggest that the Haber Process is just about the greatest technical fix of all time. It solved the problem that there was not enough nitrogen in our soils to produce enough food to feed the world’s population by allowing us to put more nitrogen in the soil artificially.

    Of course, the whole “organic” food movement is an objection to this technical fix, too.

  • Rob

    It isn’t simply technology they oppose, it is the entire idea of human progress. It is species-guilt.

  • Of course, the whole “organic” food movement is an objection to this technical fix, too.

    Even though organic growers themselves use all kinds of other technological fixes. To each their own, just leave other people alone.

  • Michael Staab

    My arguments are hardly original, however they seem to be in need of being re-stated here as they seem applicable.

    All technology was either discovered, created or improvised by man to obtain a desired end. It took the mind of a man (or woman) to bring to the rest of us the advantages obtained by the new discovery.
    The retreat into “simpler times” is at best a desire to negate the responsibility to use our minds. It is a deliberate avoidance of the reality of choice.

    It is choice that so paralyses these charlatans of environmentalism, not that choice exists, but that YOU rather than they make the choices.

    Those who wish to reject technological solutions without distinction must be shown as the anti-human advocates they are. There may be particular solutions offered where the benefits derived may be worse than the problems to begin with, and as such ought to be discarded, but to reject any solution because it is technological in nature is clearly an anti-mind mode of reasoning. The real and actual target of this mentality is to control. I leave it up to you to decide what it is they wish to control.

  • Paul Marks

    Obama’s plan:

    The “smart grid” – yet another massive bit of corporate welfare for General Electric (and a nice way of finding out what people do in their, once private, homes).

    And lots of subsidies for cooperatives and community groups – which turn out to have connections to the hundreds of groups that make up the ACORN confederation, and the Apollo project (dear old Jeff Jones – how is the bombing of the homes of policemen going these days?) and the Centre for American Progress (where Van Jones is hanging out) and……..

    “You sound like Glenn Beck”.

    Odd that just stating the facts ( i.e. that Obama taxpayer financed “green” projects are partly a way of subsidizing corporate people who backed him, and partly a way of subsidizing the Marxists that Obama has been associated with his whole life) can make one sound like Glenn Beck – he must be a good person to sound like.

    I wish someone would tell “capitalists” such as the head of General Electric the old V.I. Lenin quote:

    “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them”.

    But then old Jeff would just assume that he is much too clever for this to apply to him.

    Obama is mearly his puppet – and will never turn on him. And all the leftist groups that are getting subsidized are in no way dangerious (indeed they can be manipulated to serve corporate interests).

    “A lady went for a ride on a tiger…..”

  • I agree! Environmentalists have no logical consistency. They stopped us putting lead in our petrol, the fascists, just because it lowered the IQ of our children, as if that mattered, but at the same time they were worrying themselves silly about an all out nuclear war. They are so unscientific that they did not realise that all the lead in the air would have absorbed the radiation from the weapons, so we could have prevailed in a nuclear war with the Soviets.