Honestly, I don’t buy into the whole Global Warming or Climate Change scare. I don’t buy into a whole lot of environmental things that the green movement gets behind. The reason is that I actually care about the environment, and I want my kids to grow up healthy and strong in a clean environment, and the green movement is working to stop that.
What does it take to get a clean environment? Simply put, it takes profit. That is, the stuff that is left over after you’ve paid all your bills. With profit, there is money and time and energy to clean the environment and keep it clean. Without profit, people would be so busy trying to feed and clothe themselves they won’t have time or energy to keep the environment clean.
We see this pattern throughout history and we see it across the world.
That said, we must also not bury external costs. An external cost is a cost that is not obvious and often a cost that someone else has to pay. For instance, if I build a chemical plant and dump chemical waste into a river, I might not suffer for it since all the pollution and bad environmental effects are felt downstream. When other people bear external costs, or when they are hidden, people often make really bad choices — like dumping chemical waste into the environment. I do believe government has a role in this equation. Government should be where all the various parties meet together to ensure that external costs are internalized. IE, if a company wants to dump waste into a river, then they should pay the price of cleaning it up, either directly or indirectly. Either way, they need to have a financial incentive to produce less waste.
These two factors — profit and internalizing external costs — are all that is truly needed to keep the environment clean. When people have surplus time, energy, or money, they are going to spend it on things they want, like pristine environments. When companies bear the costs of their behavior, they choose the most profitable route by minimizing costs.
What does this have to do with the methanol plant? Simply put, the Chinese chose Tacoma to build the worlds most advanced, largest plant because it will result in the highest profit. Our job is to make sure that none of their external costs are ignored. I believe the people in this area, along with our government, can do just that, probably better than any other group of people in the world.
The net result of these two things — the profit and the internalization of external costs — will not only keep our environment clean here, but give us extra resources to make it even cleaner. It will give the Chinese extra money and resources as well, money and resources that no doubt they will likely spend cleaning up their environment. If there’s anyone in the world who needs help cleaning up the environment, it’s the Chinese.
As I’ve said before, we have the opportunity to show the world how they can join the first world and maintain a clean environment at the same time. This is our opportunity to shine and set an example for the world.
Now, those of you who do believe carbon dioxide is a pollutant, and that we’re destroying the planet by driving our cars, you will be happy to know that methanol manufactured in the way they are planning at Tacoma will dramatically reduce not only actual pollutants, but carbon dioxide as well. So rest assured that it will, on the whole, lower our carbon footprint, probably more than planting trees in the area would. (link)
So, in summary, if you care about the environment, then you care about internalizing external costs and increasing profits. You will support the methanol plant and at the same time, ensure that external costs are internalized by the plant. This will do more to help the environment, here in our area and over there in China, than anything else.