Follow the Yellow Brick Road

With all the talk of the precautionary principle and Earth Day, climate change, etc, I am posting my FICTIONAL look at what can happen when we forge ahead without adequate thought of consequences.  This appeared on my web page (The Accidental Conservationist)  in 2011.

2011—the 21st century and a great time to be alive.  In 2006, Al Gore produced “An Inconvenient Truth” warning us in no uncertain terms that our prosperity was killing the planet.  All those malls, autos, huge homes (well, not ALL the huge homes—Gore had a huge home) were bound to cause massive global warming—climate change, I mean, leaving the Earth as barren as Venus, our twin planet that lost its atmosphere due to runaway global warming.  Al Gore showed us what he believed would happen if we did nothing.  Let’s take a look at what could happen if we embrace the climate change prescription:

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

America, along with large segments of the industrial world, embarked on a “save the planet” campaign, stated to be necessary due to the effects humans were having on the planet using fossil fuels and increasing CO2 levels.  All fossil fuels were labeled evil and environmentalists began breaking into and protesting all the vile methods humans use to deface and damage the planet.

At first, much hope for the future was placed on wind and solar.  Billions of dollars were spent on government grants and giveaways to erect the 400 foot turbines all over the country.  Reports of “wind turbine syndrome” were derided as sour grapes on the part of those who dared argue against saving the planet.  These were the same people who protested Love Canal and chemicals and were enraged when people doubted them.  Only those who had always championed the earth were worth listening to—not capitalists out to poison the planet and make millions.  So the vibration and noise were ignored by the government and developers.  Eventually, it became necessary for the government to mandate the turbines and panels go up due to many malcontents too short sighted to understand the urgent needs of the planet.

The news media feeding a constant stream of stories about how wrong energy consumption was pretty much insured the people elected would vote to remove any CO2 emitting fuel plants.  All the money went to the turbines, solar panels and public education programs espousing the “less is best” theme.

In time, there was so much spending on renewables that coal plants were left to crumble in place.  Coal comprised 21% of the nation’s energy production which was lost as plants closed.  Over time, natural gas plants replaced some of the lost production, but such plants were limited due to carbon emissions.   The loss of coal and about a fifth of the electricity previously produced was a blow to the country.  Wind and solar made up some of the loss when the sun shown and the wind was blowing.  Storage system had been designed for wind and solar, but at the cost of billions for a few small projects, storage was quickly abandoned.  As electrical service declined, so did the economy.  For a while, this helped stabilize CO2 emissions due to the lack of demand.  As people adapted, business picked up and so did CO2 emissions. 

Round 2 of a proposed government mandate never actually had to be passed into law.  A movie on the Japanese earthquake 2011 nuclear holocaust was sufficient to spark massive nuclear plant closings.

Energy output fell the full 20% that nuclear provided in the U.S.  More impact was felt—energy was now rationed.  It was impossible, even with multiple movies and TV specials, to convince Americans to voluntarily give up their plasma TV’s, WII games, computers, freezers, waterbeds—whatever it took to cut 20% of their electricity usage.

Closing nuclear power plants had already reduced Germany and Switzerland to third world status, much as Australia was lost to carbon tax and England to carbon and renewables.  At this point, wars began to break out as people’s food and housing supplies dried up. Manufacturing continued in China and India, as neither country had phased out coal or natural gas plants.  But the dark economies in Europe, North America, and South America began to impact the Chinese and Indian economies.  Countries had no money to import merchandise and people struggled just to stay warm and eat.  Small farms produced vegetables when possible.  Game animals were reduced to less than half their pre-CO2 savings level.  Cattle had been outlawed early on—too much methane.  So wildlife became the only source of food—deer, elk, moose all harvested at a rapid rate.

Land that remained between turbines and solar panels was farmed, though with oxen and no chemicals.  All chemical factories closed with the first round of electricity decreases except those for medicines.  Malls closed, too.  Electricity remained to light hospitals, schools, etc., plus to manufacture essential medications, plants for processing some foods and so on.  Then with the closing of nuclear plants, there was barely enough electricity for food, hospitals and other vital services.

The need for petroleum dropped to 5% of previous usage.  The Middle East had sold to China and India, but as the world economies collapsed, so did Middle East oil.  Instead of being the Godsend Americans had envisioned, with no money coming in from oil sales, the Middle East heated up.  They had no means to produce food in a desert country and began raiding southern Europe.  Wars and skirmishes were common.  Europe could produce some food, but without chemicals, harvests became smaller and smaller.  Meat was from game there as well and as the supply dwindled, mass extinction of species followed.

Early reductions in cattle, pig and sheep production lead to mass cuttings of rainforests as peoples in these nations began raising livestock to fill demands no longer filled by America or Europe.  Nearly 80% of the rainforests were cut before the world economy collapsed to the point people could not afford to pay for the livestock.  Farmers then turned to subsistence farming and continued to cut rainforests for wood for trading with other nations and subsistence farming.

The world became a dark place with famines and wars widespread.  Energy production fell to pre-industrial levels.  Without reliable energy, only variable, it because impossible to produce turbines and solar panels.  Lights went out all over the planet.

During this time, small groups of people had formed cooperatives and began developing energy resources similar to those that had been outlawed.  Methane was easy to produce from garbage.  Since the ability monitor violations in the air quality codes had vanished, no one could tell these groups had returned to CO2 producing energy sources.  While environmentalists continued to espouse the belief that the current dark ages had saved the planet from a fate like that of Venus, a growing number of individuals started questioning whether the current situation was all that much superior to Venus’s fate.  Yes, the human race still existed but over 75% had perished in the wars and famines.  Fifty percent of the species of the animals were driven to extinction and 90% of the rainforest was gone.  Not the paradise on Earth predicted by the climate change pushers.

Looking back, some did understand how humans arrived at this state.  Bowing down to those who predicted an apocalypse resulted in an apocalypse of its own.  “We have to something—a crisis is coming” lead to massive loss of life and habitat.  “Follow the Yellow brick road” did not lead to a wizard, just a fate that was really almost as bad as the one predicted if we failed to take action.

Worse yet, no one would ever know if doing nothing would actually have caused an apocalypse.  But doing “something” because this was serious and needed action did lead to a very bad outcome.   People would recover, but they would not soon forget that actions have consequences and we need to understand those before running into the fray.  


11 comments on “Follow the Yellow Brick Road

  1. Gail Combs says:

    A nice piece of fiction. This piece of fiction goes along with it quite nicely:

    With hindsight, it was the late 1990’s and the first decade of the 21st Century when farming went into irreversible decline as it lurched and staggered like a perpetual drunkard from crisis to disaster. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy was followed by the grossly mishandled Foot and Mouth Epidemic of 2001 and another isolated, but financially damaging, outbreak in 2007, and these in turn were pursued by Bluetongue Disease. In spite of the best of efforts of cattle and sheep farmers to vaccinate their charges, ultimately this last all but wiped out sheep farming in Britain. Commodity food production was stifled by the illogical and inexplicable decision of the European Union to ban most of the crop sprays used in Britain, resulting in an immediate cut in production of arable, fruit and vegetable crops of around one third. Coupled with the predatory pricing practices of the major supermarkets, this led to many livestock farmers over the following decade simply giving up the unequal struggle for survival. The signs should have been seen during the mass exodus from pig production in the years 2008 – 2012….

  2. -snip- (I clearly stated this is finished.)

  3. Reality, once again you are completely distorting what I actually said.

    your post is a fictional description of what “might happen”. My objection is that there is no credible reason to consider that possibility as in any way realistic.
    your supplying one instance of a policy that COULD lead to a negative economic consequence because the science MIGHT be inadequate does not constitue evidence that your scenario has any validity whatsoever.

    The differnce between fiction and a fictional scenario is to some extent one of reasonability. Interestingly Close Encounters pretty much reinforces my point as it described a somewhat palusible scenario IF a specific event happened. My objection is that you are presenting a scenario where series after series of impalusible events have to happen with no counter reaction in order to lead to your terrible ending. Close Encouters is in some respects plausible, since there is a reasonable possibility that extraterrestrail intelligneces can exist and that they could contact the earth. It is ONE fantasitcal element that is added and then realistic portrayals of subsequent events are then presented.
    What you have done is almost exactly the opposite. You stated a premise that there would be a Save the Planet campaign, which is certainly a very reasonable premise, and then you project an ideologically fanatic extrapolation that requires actions that are historically untenable to entertain, WITHOUT that ideological premise. It has no reality component based on how actual environmentalists are likely to react to the subsequent consequences of the described actions, and then TOTALLY ignores the likely reactions of the vast majorioty of all populations on the effects on those consequences. this has to happen over and over again in order for your scenario to play out.
    I noted other examples of the same time of propaganda, including Margaret Atwoods. With the caveat that Atwoods has the distinction of having actual historical precedent that supports the possibility. Even in her case however her fiction ignores the likely realistic resposnes that would very likely prevent her scenario from occurring in the US.

    Your assertion that Obama “got away” with blaming Benghazi on a youtube video is a distorting blatant propaganda as well. it presents an ideological fiction by ignoring actual political reality and ignoring the full facts of the situation. I am happy to discuss this issue, but it is a seperate case, and has nothing to do with what we are discussing

    • What part of FICTION do you not understand? What part of POSSIBLE versus PROBABLE do you not understand?
      I am finished with this. If you cannot understand the word fiction and what it entails, it’s pointless.

  4. Reality,
    so a proposed plan that is based on guesses about rising sea level, that includes community consultation indicates an irrational insistance on polices that will destroy the economy? Even if this is completely wrong and they are not basing this on real science, can you seriously contend that this sort of thing would be continued to the point that modern civilization is basically destroyed? YOu think the 99+% of people that I contend would prevent this sort of thing getting totally out of hand are just going to let it happen?
    And what if, you may find it hard to believe, what if the water level DOES increase and the costs of not dealing with it end up being much higher?

    So you seem to completey misunderstand my objection to your post.
    I do not, and have never said, that there will be no actions or policies that will be destructive based on ACC. i have said your scenario is so far from any possible reality becuase it is based on the premis that there will be some sort of mass hysteria that will destroy the world economy beyond all the disasters that happened to it in the 20th and 21st century.
    Do you want me to find you cases of policy that ignored environmental issues and led to extremely foolish and economically disasterous consequences. If I find individual cases does that prove that a scenario of ignroing environmental imacts might lead to world devastation? I am happy to look for some if you would like. how many instance would you like to see? the first 5 are free, but if you need more I would expect to be paid a reasonable hourly rates. of course you never ask me to back up my assertions, as you so rarely provide reasonable substantiation for yours

    • You clearly do not understand fiction or examples. I did NOT say one incident would lead to the fictional battle. But all battles start somewhere. Remember the Boston Tea Party?

      You don’t understand my objection to your objection. This is FICTION. If I posted a passage from Close Encounters, would you rail on about how there are no aliens? Fiction.

      Actually, your last question would involve prediction at a level even computers do not currently have. You would have to be able to search for certain events (there are programs that do that–look for events that could trigger a world crisis–in use). Then you would need probability weighting on each event and all others that might be affected. This is the hard part. You might be able to weight the events, but tying in events that would occur in other countries that might cause a problem. We just don’t have that yet. Which is why we write FICTIONAL pieces about this.

      “Ou think the 99+% of people that I contend would prevent this sort of thing getting totally out of hand are just going to let it happen?” Obama got away with blaming Benghazi on a Ytube video and then just not answering any more questions. And people believed an embassy was bombed because of a video–some probably still do and think congress is picking on Obama. If people think a video can cause an embassy bombing, what do you suppose demolishing their homes would lead to?

      After the past 5 years, I don’t think people will prevent things from getting out of hand necessarily. I hope so. I do. However, it is historically proven that things get out of hand all the time. I’m sure it will happen again.

  5. Otter,

    could you pleae point to any specific policy that is being advocated that would result in the scenario depicted here?
    Of course on college campuses you get students who do not have a real understanding of economic political or social realities. I remember in college a classmate seriously suggesting we invade Canada and take over their natural resources because they were wasting them and we needed them. College students do not make policy, and many of them actually learn stufff as they gorw older. As I said I live in VT which probably has the highest concentraiton of environmentalists in the country. With probably a majority of state legislators that are environmentalsits and all three national legislators that are environmentalsists and none fo these people are proposing anything remotely like this.
    it is just propagands, as was Nivens book as was Crichtons book, as was a book by Orson Scott card on leftist ideologies taking over the coutnry. All very good wirters, who I enjoy greatly. The handmaid’s tale is a piece of progaganda by Margaret Atwood, with the distinction of being based on a much more realistic premise as there actually ARE millions of Americans who believe that we should have a country with law based on their very specific interpretation of the bible. And there are historical precendents as well as fundamentalist states following Islam, that have effectively created a comparable reality.

  6. Not everyone enjoys fiction it seems.

  7. One of the most bizarre pieces of fantasy and unrealiistic extrapolations I have ever read. I must say I thought I would never read anything as ridiculous as Larry Niven’s Fallen Angels. this idea that environmentalists are fanatic ideologues as extreme as Stalinists to the point that they would completely destroy the economy in order to save us from a runaway greenhouse effect like Venus.
    Yes there are a very very few extremists who are fanatical ideologues, but they form such a tiny fraction of the envirommental movement and have absolutely NO impact on policy, yet somehow they are going to taek over the govenrment and the 99.8fi of the people form just the extreme environemntalists to the socialists to the middle of the road democrats to the middle of the road republicans to the conservative republicans to the extrem radical conservaitces and libertaarians to the fanatic racist and conspiracy theorists are somehow going to let this happen is ludicrous.
    I did no tput much stock in the Handmaid’s tale when it came out, but that scenario is many orders of magnitude more likely than what you are propposing here.
    This is just such a sillly canard I hear over and over again> teh nut job environmentalists want to destroy industrial society so we can all live in some utpian fanatasy agrarian society. I am sure there are some fouteeen year old girls brought up by new age hipppies who beleie this.
    the problem “reality” is that i actually know many many environmentalists and the vast majrity are thoughtful pracitcal people who are actually interested in figureing out how to solve problems NOT in imposing their ideology regardless of the consequences. I live in VT, and it is CRAWLING with the suckers. Intelligent educated critical thinkers.
    You and Nivens and Crichton are inventing such a perverse caricature, that I really have to wonder how you make this stuff up.
    Gonna post this on my facebook page and see what people make of this.
    I honestly did not expect you to so completely make a mockery of your psuedoname.

    • Otter says:

      As I have argued against the religion of AGW elsewhere, I have had college students tell me that:

      Coal, oil and nuclear are ‘conservative’ ideas.

      Another one described a ‘utopia’ which sounds very much like what happens in the story above.

      I don’t think you realize how badly critical thinking has been compromised by radicals in the enviromental movement, in science, and in the classroom.

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