Occupy Wall Street is a chaotic collection of people with conflicting messages. According to the New York Times, they represent “A feeling of mass injustice.” They want to:
· make banks safer, and let them fail,
· name and shame fat cat salarymen,
· free legislators from special interests, and
· change the United States’ two-party system.
One sign seems to cancel out another. Some, like “End the Fed,” could be seen at a Ron Paul or Tea Party rally. Some, like “unf*#@ the world,” are vague. Others, like, “Smash Capitalism, Liberate the Planet,” represent an underlying mindset.
It would be easy to write them off as a group of kooks who will go away after they have had their ten minutes of fame. However, what began as an apparent grassroots movement may have been high-jacked. Commenting on Occupy Wall Street, Nancy Pelosi said “God bless them.” According to the Washington Post, “Prominent House Democrats are embracing the Occupy Wall Street protests” and CNN reports that labor unions have pledged their support: “Wall Street protests swelled Wednesday to their largest numbers yet, after local unions pledged support to a third week of demonstrations against income inequality, corporate greed, corruption and a list of other social ills.” Rush Limbaugh believes George Soros money is behind the protests.
What if they do not go away? What if they were to get their way?
Because they don’t have a unified message, it is difficult to predict what kind of utopia the effort would produce, but we can make some educated guesses that I suggest need to be incorporated into the news cycle and private conversations.
It is clear that “corporations” are the villains—broadly represented by “capitalism,” specifically “banks.” Somehow, they believe that if we could “Smash Capitalism,” we would “Liberate the Planet.” If I were a newscaster amongst the demonstrators camping out in Zuccotti Park, I’d ask them, “Do you think the world would be a better place if corporate America was in charge or if environmentalists were in charge?”
I can picture the on-camera scene. A demonstrator dressed like a “corporate zombie” would scoff at the very question. “Environmentalists!” would be the quick response.
OccupyWallStreet.org states that there is no official list of demands, yet a list of 13 “demands” remains on their website—posted by “Anonymous.” Number five is: “Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil-fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative-energy economy up to energy demand.”
There is widespread belief that oil, gas, and coal—all fossil fuels—are at the base of much of the world’s ills. Demand seven includes “decommissioning of all of America's nuclear power plants.”
So what the world look like if just these energy-related demands could come true with the wave of a magic wand; if the environmentalists were in charge?
The foundation of my new book, Energy Freedom, is an in-depth study of environmental groups’ websites’ goals as they relate to energy. In short, they want to “kill,” “block,” and “deny.” The only thing they want to expand is moratoriums.
Here’s a sampling of what could happen to four major aspects of American life if the environmentalists were in charge.
Most Americans have the freedom to come and go in their individual cars as they choose. A 2006 survey found that 91% of Americans consider their cars to be a necessity, not a luxury. Yet environmental extremists are actively working to stop or prevent drilling for oil and gas. They also aim to shut down coal-fueled power plants and oppose nuclear energy. With a reduced capacity for electricity and transportation, our lifestyle, as we know it, ceases to exist.
The same survey found that most Americans consider things like microwaves, air conditioning and heating, computers, and cell phones to be a necessity. However, in a limited-fuel, environmentally controlled society, these items would have to go. They all require electricity—as do electric cars. Additionally, each of these “necessities” is made from plastic and plastic is typically made from hydrocarbons.
Like modern conveniences, our health is heavily dependent on both energy and plastics. If you have been in a doctor’s office or hospital lately, you know that even taking your temperature requires electricity and plastics. Today’s extreme regulations could have an adverse impact on our health.
Without abundant electricity to purify water and pump it into your home and remove and process waste matter, you couldn’t live there. You’d need to move to a location near a fresh water source. Additionally, many environmental groups want to block the cutting of trees—making the construction of new homes near a potential fresh water source virtually impossible.
We all want clean air, fresh water, and a safe food supply, but stopping, opposing, denying, and blocking are not the ways to get it.
Huge strides have been made since the dawn of the industrial revolution. Despite increases in the typical activities that produce pollution, America is much cleaner now than it was twenty years ago. Since 1970, our population has increased and our energy consumption has gone up. We drive more miles each year. At the same time, our American ingenuity has been at work generating an increase in our Gross National Product. If you listen to Occupy Wall Street, you’d assume that pollution has also increased. However, the truth is that, despite this growth, our aggregate emissions are approximately half of what they were.
Michael Economides, author of Energy and Climate Wars says, “The US is certainly one of the cleanest, more environmentally responsible nations in the world. Virtually no European country can boast cleaner waters, more pristine rural landscapes or air quality.”
We need exploration and innovation in America. We need to tap into energy sources currently or in the process of being made off limits in America by the Endangered Species Act or by plans to lock up resources under the guise of a national monument. When you think about it, energy makes America great—and we do it in a manner cleaner and safer than anywhere else on the planet.