Since I wrote about the overblown approach some environmentalists have been taking, I may as well post about it again because two stories have caught my eye today.
Firstly the nuclear thing. Today’s announcement from the government is probably the best news for the environment for years.
Nuclear power is, after all, carbon-free (well, carbon-low anyway, as Tim Worstall points out). Increased nuclear power will reduce the high carbon emissions that arise as a result of coal and gas. Meanwhile, the technology needed to make renewable energy cost-effective is not there yet.
As such, for the medium term at least, nuclear power is the only viable, vaguely environmentally-friendly solution to the current energy conundrum. Greens ought to be cock-a-hoop. Of course, environmentalists are never happy, and they are complaining about the government’s announcement.
I’m with Niall at Mushkush here:
I am nominally a Green voter (I think my membership may even still be valid) but I’m also pro nuclear. Not necessarily because it’s a cure all – it’s not – but because it’s a necessary evil… Simply put it’s not possible to do what appears to be necessary without some nuclear in the interim.
The only reason environmentalists could be opposed to nuclear power as a medium-term solution is if they actually wanted there to be either:
- More carbon emissions
- No electricity
Sometimes I think some environmentalists really would prefer it if people had a standard of living that was more akin to that of the middle ages. Which brings me on to the other story that caught my eye.
Tata Motors have unveiled the world’s cheapest car, on sale for 100,000 rupees — £1,277 to you and me. It’s a breakthrough that is sure to transform the lives of people in developing countries for the better. But environmentalists are calling it a disaster.
It is not an environmental disaster. The Tata Nano must be one of the most efficient, resource-saving methods of travelling that has ever been accessible to people in a developing country like India (it wouldn’t be so cheap if it wasn’t). It will surely have a part to play in improving the standards of living of many Indians.
So what is the message environmentalists are trying to tell people in developing countries? “Sorry, but only we westerners are allowed to have cars”?
If environmentalists are really concerned about the earth’s resources, they ought to be applauding Tata’s breakthroughs in the realm of resource-efficiency.
This isn’t to say that compromises have to be made in order to tackle climate change. The solution to the problem of carbon emissions is simple and well-known: a Pigovian tax. Simply make people pay for emitting carbon.
That way there is no need for outbreaks of bansturbation or inefficient regulation (which only results in people meeting their quotas, not actively aiming to reduce emissions). A simple tax would incentivise people to reduce emissions themselves with the minimum of fuss.