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Announcing the PL Green Weenie Award

So I’ve been giving out the coveted Power Line Enviro Loser of the Week Award for several weeks now, but I’ve decided to upgrade it to a new moniker.  But it’s really an old name that I’m surprised I didn’t think of before: the Green Weenie.  Actually, another blogger did: John, of the FollowFreedom blog out in Oregon, who offers the following account that tracks exactly what I was planning say before the obligatory Google search turned up that he’d got there first:

Back in the seventies and eighties, an obscure Christian satire magazine, The Wittenburg Door, awarded what it called “The Green Weenie” to some unsuspecting Christian (or not) whose public religious buffonery warranted special attention. I used to love that mag. Though I didn’t always agree theologically or philosophically, one had to respect a publication that regarded cancelled subscriptions as a badge of honor. Everyone loved the “The Door” (or at least the 30 or 40 “cool” Christians that read it) until it was your nose they were tweaking. And then the usual cancelled sub would come rolling in. Heh.

I’m appropriating the Green Weenie this time for a non-Christian purpose. Obviously it’s NOT the Earth that deserves an award but the Nitwits who subject Earth and Humans to a sky is falling mentality. I hope the editors of The Door don’t mind. If they do, let them give me one. (Wink)

Besides, what enviro-mentalist wouldn’t want a “green” award?

Indeed.  So, who are the nominees for this week’s first coveted Green Weenie?  Well, you’d have to think first of rapper/singer/whatever Will.I.Am, who flew to a climate change event at Oxford University in his private helicopter last week.  Even the Left-wing Guardian newspaper notes there’s a problem here: “The musician’s optimism is infectious, but can we make progress if green stars travel in vehicles that get one mile to the gallon?”

The UN’s moveable feast of climate talks will be a contender every week, of course.  The BBC is wringing its hands today that the current round of talks is “making no progress.”  I’m sure they’ll get their share of Green Weenies, especially next month when the UN’s 20th anniversary of the first Earth Summit convenes in Rio.  But wait just a moment: what’s this?  Among the “coalition of the unwilling” nations that are obstructing climate progress is . . . the United States!  I thought Obama would be all on board after the evil Bush had blocked progress for eight years.  Maybe Obama will get a coveted Green Weenie at some early point.

But this week’s Power Line Green Weenie goes to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), for their report last week entitled Killer Summer Heat, which argues that that higher temperatures from global warming could kill as many as 150,000 Americans over the course of the next century.

Now, you don’t need to be a climate skeptic at all to find this report to be another fatuous exercise in mindless enviro-hysteria.  First, the economic ignorance of environmentalists of course knows no bounds, so we should not be surprised that they have never heard of the concept of diminishing marginal utility.  Do they really sit around their conference tables and say out loud, with a straight face, “Hey—one more scary, world-to-end article on how climate change will kill us will certainly do the trick!  I’m sure if we just turn up the volume knob to 11, we’ll get through at last!  What’s that?  The volume knob is already at 11?  Oh.”  The last bit never happens, needless to say.  (See previous posts here, and repeated poll data, showing the public is totally bored with this mode of eco-doomism, and has long ago succumbed to apocalypse fatigue.  Event the media is bored to death with the subject.)

Second, let’s assume for the sake of discussion that the estimate of 150,000 heat deaths is completely correct!  The second major failing of environmentalists is the inability to weigh tradeoffs.  The 150,000 death estimate is roughly half as many as will be killed by a favorite environmental policy already on course: the CAFE standards requiring all cars to get much higher gas mileage.  Even the U.S. government admits this (you can find some of the most recent technical NHTSA papers here; the chart below shows one of the most simple approaches to the subject.  See also this older study.)  The mid-point estimate is that the new mileage standards, which will require smaller, lighter-weight cars to attain, will result in somewhere around 300,000 additional highway fatalities over the next century—twice as many as rising heat will supposedly cause.  So congratulations, enviros—just one of your preferred solutions to this problem will kill twice as many people as your program will save.

Powerpoint Slide from Recent NHTSA Workshop on CAFE

But the NRDC’s heat death estimate is preposterous, even if the temperature projection turns out to be true.  One of the most amazing premises of enviros is that human beings are stupid and never change or adapt to changing circumstances.  When there’s a major heat wave in Paris, or Chicago, the death rate indeed goes up.  On the other hand, these extraordinary temperatures are routine for American cities such as Dallas or Las Vegas, where heat related deaths are relatively low and have been falling for years.  How come?  Because people stay out of the heat, use air conditioning, wear hats, keep hydrated, etc.  Because human beings aren’t as stupid and mindless as cloistered environmentalists.

One certain way to keep the death rate up is to make electricity rates (and energy costs generally) more expensive.  Over in England, the death rate from cold weather has been rising, especially among the elderly who can’t afford to heat their homes adequately in the winter any more.  Overall more people die of cold weather than hot weather anyway, so if we do the arithmetic right, the 150,000 heat deaths the NRDC forecasts may well be offset by fewer winter cold deaths.  The tradeoff might even be positive.  But that would be politically incorrect to include in the assessment.  Doesn’t fit the narrative.

Of course, we know the enviros are palpably insincere about wanting to save human lives anyway, or they wouldn’t maintain an absolutist opposition to the use of DDT in high malaria areas of the world, where the DDT ban has contributed to millions of needless deaths, many of them children.  Even the New York Times editorial page was able to figure this out, calling years ago for lifting the DDT ban.

So the NRDC gets the first new PL Green Weenie Award for this week.  They may want to clear some space in their conference room.  I suspect they’ll earn a whole shelf of them before we retire the award.

By the way, it turns out there are green weenie t-shirts available.  But we’re not going that far.

And some other time I’ll dust off some of the greatest hits from the Wittenberg Door; I still have a few copies from the 1970s in a box somewhere.  It was great stuff.

Finally, your nominations for the PL Green Weenie are welcome.  Please email news tips and nominations to our comment line.

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