How do you respond to good news? I suppose the answer depends on whether you are a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person. What if I told you that scientists have discovered a way to generate electricity and subsequently remove any and all pollution that it might create, and to do so in a manner that is at least as cost-effective as the best electricity sources today?
One would imagine this would be cause for a huge celebration, as not only would our environments become cleaner, safer and more diverse, our ability to do work would be enhanced – life would get less expensive. Of course, we are right now on the cusp of these kinds of breakthroughs, and given my experience talking to folks on environmental and economic issues, I am going to make the following prediction. If and when we do see a breakthrough in energy and pollution abatement, it will not be celebrated by the people who are most worried about those things right now. No, it won’t. Rather, expect to see a great wailing unleashed upon is stupid masses. About what? Well, now that we have come to the precipice of clean, cheap, abundant energy, then “we will be able to go on with our grossly overconsumptive and people-exploitive ways.” In other words, there are folks who will see a future of clean energy abundance as yet another threat to, …, well, it can’t be a clean planet … maybe they think it will give us greater means to shape our environments in potentially destructive ways? No, what is far more likely is that we will have put 6-feet underground yet one more charge and argument that capitalism is evil and the only way to undo that evil is to create some sort of new social model – with the alarmistas of course leading it.
You watch – even minor successes today have the, … “but” … attached to them.