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August 11, 2022

The Morning Rant: Minimalist Edition


America (and the rest of the West) should be proud of the incredible work that we have done over the last two generations to clean up our mess. We didn't pay much attention to pollution: in the air, in the water, on the land, and then in the 1970s our country noticed something...we were breathing dirty air and looking at garbage-strewn landscapes and oil-slicked rivers.

And we did something about it. America is far cleaner than it was 50 years ago, yet our standard of living has improved, and our consumption of the very things that caused that pollution has skyrocketed. How can that be?

We drill for oil and gas with minimal disruption of the ecosystem, and even in less enlightened parts of the world the technology is from the West, so it is reasonably clean.

Yet the insanity of the politically-inspired push for a "green" earth has unintended consequences that may dwarf those of the beginnings of the fossil fuel revolution. Consequences that are not just ecological, but geopolitical.

Report: China Destroying Myanmar with Rare Earth Mining for 'Green' Energy

Chinese-owned companies in Myanmar are allegedly responsible for illegal mining operations that are destroying the natural landscape of Myanmar's border region with China, local miners of dysprosium and terbium -- two heavy rare earth minerals used in clean energy products and smart electronics -- told the organization Global Witness for a report published on Tuesday.

Giving the evil regime that currently controls China a near monopoly on "vital" raw materials is politically insane, but it isn't even being driven by market pressures, rather it is a top-down push that eliminate the natural progression of new technologies. That pretty much guarantees sub-optimal results, as products are rushed to market without the risk of failure that a robust market economy injects into the rollout of every new product.

Couple that with the catastrophic damage to our environment caused by things like destructive mining for rare materials and the looming problems with the inability to recycle the huge quantities of battery waste, wind farm waste, and all of the other technologies associated with the "Green Revolution," and we have the distinct possibility that the earth is going to be a much dirtier place in another generation.

I'll take an oil pipeline running past my house any day over a bird-killing wind farm that is loud and ugly. I'll take an automobile powered with an internal combustion engine -- that burns amazingly clean -- any day over an electric vehicle with much less range, much more long-term maintenance costs, and the uncertainty of dealing with the significant amount of pollution it creates during manufacture and at the end of its service life.

If a free market economy, with the invisible hand of millions of decisions each day, decides that this vaunted "green revolution" is a good idea, then let it work its magic and create one. But doing this by government fiat is a guarantee that we will get the worst of all possible options.

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posted by CBD at 11:00 AM

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