The Risk-Monger

Environmentalism is a luxury for the rich and a burden for the poor. Not a burden in the sense of the global injustice of environmental effects that the Copenhagenistas had been arguing. No, the injustice is that the poor cannot afford the benefits of environmental solutions but are expected to pay the price.

Most environmentalists in the developed nations are decidedly middle class, pretend to be educated on the issues and don’t hesitate to lecture others about how things should be. They can afford to buy organic and argue that we all should (not realising that the poorest 20% of the population already cannot afford the five daily servings of fruit and veg needed to protect the body against cancers). They call to close factories and industries since they do not understand what it means to a working class person to need a job. They argue for the end of the carbon-based economy because they can afford to buy electric cars.

The most obscene economic injustice is renewable energy. For example, the main Belgian energy provider, Eandis, has just announced that it needs to raise electricity bills by an average of 20% in order to cover the cost of all of the eco-credits given to people to install solar panels (and the premiums they’ll enjoy when selling energy back onto the grid). Yes, solar panels … IN BELGIUM! Ironically, Belgium has enough nuclear energy to provide a secure, cheap source if only people could think straight. Who could afford to buy solar panels and avail of the generous subsidies? The wealthy, environmentally concerned part of the population. Their energy bills will go down (they may actually make money by reselling energy on the grid if only they didn’t have so many gadgets). So the poorer part of the Belgian population is forced to pay 20% more for their energy so their well-off neighbours (OK, they don’t live next to each other) can enjoy free energy and sanctimoniously display their green self-importance. Somebody give me a rock.

I have written elsewhere that there is something seriously wrong with the GE-Jeremy Rifken plan to introduce a smart grid for a renewable-based world. Such a grid would ration and price energy according to the supply produced by domestic rooftop micro-generators. It would imply that energy would become a luxury item (not a right) priced according to availability. Rich neighbourhoods (with their subsidised eco-pods) would then have abundant energy while poorer neighbourhoods would have to deal with scheduled brown-outs and the economic disadvantages they would impose. These intentions may be pure, but such reasoning is badly flawed and quite obscene.

This has to stop. If we subsidise our conscience with eco-solutions that tax the poor, then we had better find another way to balance the economic injustice we are causing. The answer is obvious: put a tax on environmentalists.

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  1. Well written and thoughtful. I lived in Belgium for three years and saw new solar panels being constructed in the “good” neighbourghoods. Even though average number of sunlit hours is between 6 – 7 in the summer months. How is that possible? Gov’t subsidies…

  2. I also recall Jeremy Rifkin’s book (and series of lectures) on the hydrogen world… After the smart grid, what’s the next techno / sustainability fad on which he will jump?

    His book on ‘The European dream’ has more lasting value. Although parts of it sounded a bit naive (and it got many more readers in Europe than elsewhere!), it did convey a vision that one can still read years later.


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