Did you ever ponder the contradictory wishes of many in the “green jobs” community? One of the virtues of pursuing a green energy agenda is that “the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs — but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment.” How’s that for a homonym?
In other words, getting really clean and stable energy sources is great because it is a labor intensive process. Never mind that perhaps the single most important driver of progress in all of human history has been our relentless efforts to reduce how much effort we need to put forth in order to get what we want. I am sure a farmer would much rather plow his fields by hand, or milk his cows by hand, than taking advantage of capital equipment that can save his back and increase his output by many large multiples over what he could do on his own. I am sure a seamstress is much happier putting a pair of jeans together by hand than without the aid of a sewing machine.
I just don’t understand where it is seen as a virtue to have to employ more labor to secure a given unit of energy. Why is, say, the installation of a wind farm valuable if it produces 1MW of power and employs 200 people, but the drilling of a natural gas well that can produce 1MW of power and employ 10 people deemed less valuable? Ignore costs and environmental impacts for the sake of my question. Isn’t it a virtue to get energy for less effort? In future posts I’ll attach some real figures to this hypothetical to make the point much clearer. Not only would the wind in this example employ more people to get the same amount of energy, it would also cost more and it is not even clear that it would be good for the environment.
OK, here is the paradox. Many folks who would style themselves “green” have also argued vociferously that profit-seeking corporations waste resources, use too much energy, use too much packaging, use too much steel, and so on. How, then, can it be the case that using excessive amounts of one kind of input to the production process (labor) is a terrific thing, but that using excessive amounts of other kinds of inputs (capital and raw materials) is deemed irresponsible? Either economizing on all inputs makes sense or it doesn’t. You don’t get to pick or choose. The “green” position on modern conservation is a mess.
Here is more evidence that private, profit-seeking corporations are massive wasters of resources and have no incentive whatsoever to reduce the amount of energy and materials they use to make their products (overlook the little ditty if you can):