Government Enforced Morality

Over the weekend Ann Althouse linked to an editorial by Mike Tidwell, published by the Washington Post, that exhibited a frightening attitude. Tidwell makes an impassioned plea for people to stop voluntarily going green. Why is that? Because it is a distraction from what is really needed–government mandates, laws and regulations.

As President Obama heads to Copenhagen next week for global warming talks, there’s one simple step Americans back home can take to help out: Stop “going green.” Just stop it. No more compact fluorescent light bulbs. No more green wedding planning. No more organic toothpicks for holiday hors d’oeuvres.

I find it hard to pick which parts of Tidwell’s piece to quote as I disagree with almost every sentence. He pours on the imagery in the beginning and then heads straight into lunacy.

As America joins the rest of the world in finally fighting global warming, we need to bring our battle plan up to scale. If you believe that astronauts have been to the moon and that the world is not flat, then you probably believe the satellite photos showing the Greenland ice sheet in full-on meltdown. Much of Manhattan and the Eastern Shore of Maryland may join the Atlantic Ocean in our lifetimes. Entire Pacific island nations will disappear. Hurricanes will bring untold destruction. Rising sea levels and crippling droughts will decimate crops and cause widespread famine. People will go hungry, and people will die.

Morally, this is sort of a big deal. It would be wrong to let all this happen when we have the power to prevent the worst of it by adopting clean-energy policies.

All who appreciate the enormity of the climate crisis still have a responsibility to make every change possible in their personal lives. I have, from the solar panels on my roof to the Prius in my driveway to my low-carbon-footprint vegetarian diet. But surveys show that very few people are willing to make significant voluntary changes, and those of us who do create the false impression of mass progress as the media hypes our actions.

Instead, most people want carbon reductions to be mandated by laws that will allow us to share both the responsibilities and the benefits of change. Ours is a nation of laws; if we want to alter our practices in a deep and lasting way, this is where we must start. After years of delay and denial and green half-measures, we must legislate a stop to the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.Where to begin?

In the first paragraph, Tidwell depicts a looming future that would make the producers of the Day After Tomorrow and 2012 proud. There’s no doubt in his mind that death and destruction is coming on a massive scale and it is arriving tomorrow. There’s no mention of any doubt, any conflicting scientific data. Like a good soldier, Tidwell considers the science settled.

Next, we learn that stopping climate change is an moral imperative. But–and this is rather important–he feels that people themselves won’t make these moral choices. We need the government to regulate and make them for us.

After that, Tidwell goes off the deep end. After letting us know of his smug superiority–he has solar panels, a Prius, and a low carbon-footprint-vegetarian diet–he calls for a legislative ban on the burning of all coal, oil, and natural gas.

Let that sink in for a second.

Just how would the world’s energy requirements be met? Environmentalists like Tidwell are typically against nuclear power, so that’s out. Today’s solar panels lack the efficiency needed to replace all the energy gained from fossil fuels. Wind? Tidal power? Geothermal? I guess we are all suppose to huddle in our community living centers, eating our vegetarian gruel under candle light–all forced by the caring boot of the federal government. Tidwell wants to jump in the deep end of the pool without seeing if there is any water there. This is just like the decision to ban incandescent bulbs before suitable alternatives are available but on a much more massive scale. It is emotional, not scientific, and not even remotely rational.

And it is scary as hell. If Tidwell is begging for government mandated morality on climate change, just what other moral decisions would he want the government to make for us? To be honest I’d rather not know.

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