01 May GreenReboot: What’s our Deal?
GreenReboot-Why we think it is needed
The ‘word’ GreenReboot, at the top of this website is intended to have two different meanings.
Meaning No. 1: Let’s all rethink our lives and try to get greener
The first meaning of GreenReboot references our lives and the decisions we make and the way we think. This website wants us all, including GreenReboot’s own authors, to redouble our efforts and our passion for making our own lives greener and more environmentally-friendly and to step up our support for people who have figured out ways of doing this in an organized fashion.
Meaning No. 2: Let’s rethink some of the standard political and economic approaches that have been used so long by the Green Left that they are now routinely taken for granted by all sides in every environmental debate
The second meaning involves a different ask of the website visitor. It is directed mostly toward the environmental movement and environmental activists but actually to anyone who has ever had even a passing concern for the environment. We’re asking us all to do a ‘
!’ That is reexamine all the basic attitudes and political positions we tend to take for granted and routinely label as Green. In the opinion of this website, some of these positions aren’t actually doing the real-world environment any favors. I will list some of these attitudes and positions in this essay, but first let’s get back to Meaning No.1.
Meaning No. 1: See the left side column of the homepage!
In the spirit of the first definition of GreenReboot, the left side of the homepage has listed a series of links to organizations that are up and running and GreenReboot believes are doing a wonderful job saving Nature and helping people in the process. For example, The International Crane Foundation, headquartered in South Dakota, works around the world to solve the problems faced by declining and endangered species of Cranes. Like other successful green organizations, they don’t go to critical habitats and try to tell people what to do but help local officials and activists with resources and other support and that might not otherwise be available. Sometimes working to save Nature can be deadly dangerous, in fact, it has become so all over the world in the 2020s. One organization, Global Witness, spotlights the repression of the rights of poor and indigenous people as well as reporters and activists who struggle in the political arena to defend their homelands and remnant forests and habitats from destruction in places like Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines, Indonesia. The list of organizations that GreenReboot hopes people will support is intended to be a long one-we are thankful that it is–and we invite people to support some of them or perhaps even all of them.
Meaning No. 2: Look at the right side of the homepage: What GreenReboot doesn’t like!
There are many things that GreenReboot does not like about the current environmental agenda. But a good place to start is ethanol.
Probably no single mistake has had more devastating consequences for the environment than the original position (original sin?) taken by many mainstream environmental organizations in support of biofuel, which took the form of ethanol in the US. The Archer Daniels Midland company launched a campaign coinciding with 2006 Olympics to get people to “Think Green, Act Yellow,” which was as disingenuous a campaign as its slogan was mindless. Unfortunately, green groups fell in line like zombies. The campaign worked like a charm for the big ag corporations. Ethanol was installed into the American landscape with the creation of the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) mandating that buyers of gasoline had to accept the blending of ethanol in their gasoline. It apparently didn’t seem strange to green leaders to posit that the way out of climate change was to burn something. Here is the link to GreenReboot’s position on Ethanol and Biofuel. (COMING SOON)
Inadequate mea culpas
Many environmental organizations have since put out rather mild mea culpas. The National Wildlife Federations report on Ethanol from 2016 may have been the best, but most now admit that burning ethanol is “worse than gasoline” for the environment (The Nature Conservancy).
But this opposition has not filtered down to the public or the journalists, partly because most green organizations continue to accept the underlying notion that we need to burn some kind of biofuel of some kind. It first became fashionable to push for a change from corn-biofuel (ethanol) to “cellulosics,” which thankfully have not gained steam or “algae-based biofuel,” and now the latest rage which has been deforesting the US Southeast, “Biomass.
But the other reason the new understanding that ethanol is worse than gasoline to burn has not filtered down to the reporters or the public is that green organizations simply are keeping mum on the subject, except in Europe where they have doubled down, resulting in the deforestation of Borneo and Malaysia among other places.
Perhaps Green organizations are corrupt. The thought has crossed my mind. But more likely, the massive political advantages of supporting ethanol have simply overwhelmed green organizations actual concern for the world’s environment. Most green organizations especially at the moment I am writing this (end of April, 2020), are desperate to get Democrats in power and defeat Republicans, and Iowa is and may always be the key state that unlocks the door to the White House. This website shares a current predilection for Dems at this extreme point in US history but we resist the general notion of political partisanship. Environmental organizations must stand up for what is right for the environment and not engage in complex “what-if” calculations that weigh the imagined political implications that taking various positions might have for candidates running for office.
Reducing all environmental problems to a single issue
There is an insidious notion that has been creeping into environmentalism for years now. It is the conflation of the phrase “environmental problems” with “climate change.”
GreenReboot doesn’t minimize the danger and existence of climate change—The dangers to our world can hardly be overstated by anyone. But if we see climate change as the only danger we are facing, we might think it’s an excellent idea to dam every remaining free river to get “renewable” energy. We might—and we have—set up solar plants in the desert that attract insects and then incinerate the Swallows and Swifts that come to forage. We might—and we have—plan to put wind turbines on the shore of Lake Erie, ready to destroy the greatest spectacle of biodiversity in the country, the congregation of migrating Warblers and other birds that descend into Magee Marsh north of Toledo, Ohio every spring. And we would certainly be willing to burn the remaining forests for “renewable” energy for biomass or cellulosic biofuels.
It’s so ironic and sad that grassroots environmental organizations around the country and world are put in the position of having to fight against the political detritus of bad environmental policies, such as ethanol plants and terribly-situated windfarms, that are the result of laws passed by their own movement.
Falling for complex solutions that the bad guys can always game
In what is so complicated that we all may have to defer judgement, but which appears to GreenReboot to be another mental error, greens have tended to give their blessings to “Cap and Trade” schemes. Again, politics enters in. Cap and Trade sounds so much prettier on the Nightly News than the phrase “Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax.” But many greens, and many a reporter has called cap and trade a “market approach,” when it is nothing of the sort. It is a complex maze of government-imposed rules and regulations that actually gifts polluters with a legally defensible ownership of the right to pollute. Plus it always comes with various offsets that involve definitions such as “renewable.” The word “renewable” is sometimes a back door for the Devil.
Underemphasizing the devastation caused by the Toro
Many green organizations work tirelessly to get homeowners to quit mowing so much of their land and they deserve a huge round of applause for this. But the degree to which the Extinction Crisis is actually an over-mowing crisis has been understated regularly by the green movement. There is a great desire among activists to blame big corporations or capitalists or capitalism or Republicans but the reality is that it is people’s own aesthetic choices that is driving much of the extinction in the US. When the Dept. of Agriculture recently told farmers that they had to destroy all the habitat aound their fields in an effort to fight Salmonella and other pathogens, it left the whole country with practically no where a young Monarch Butterfly could grow up to be an adult. Yet there are many acres devoted to residences, and Monarchs would be ok if they were at all welcome in the residential zone. But they are not; every inch is mowed, to engage in a little GreenReboot hyperbole that is sadly close to the truth.
Understandably, environmentalists do not want to sound accusatory. But a truly green agenda also promises deliverance from the incessant noise and wasted work of constant mowing and raking, which has given way to leaf-blowing that makes even more noise. It’s time for people to quit wasting their lives destroying habitat.
Not seeing the Property Tax for what it is: a regressive discrimination against Nature
A problem that greens share with the left is a failure to properly vilify the property tax: it deserves it. The fact that property taxes are probably the most regressive of all taxes is camouflaged by their name and their history. Originally promulgated as pure wealth taxes, property taxes in the 1800s mostly began in a wave of progressivism, espoused by the reformer Henry George and the left-populist William Jennings Bryant. But two things have happened since then, one is the wealthy have moved the bulk of their wealth from property to portfolio assets, and two, most all states have given up the pretense of measuring the taxpayer’s wealth and simply redefined the tax to include only land and “improvements” on the land, which are very easy to assess.
This leaves us with a tax that distorts the market against the poor and against nature. Against the poor because they pay a high percentage, usually, of their income on property (in the form of rents: Landlords pass on the property tax). Secondly property tax places a disparate burden on wealth held in the form of natural lands. A person who holds $200,000 worth of natural land must pay taxes every year on the value of the land. A person who holds $200,000 worth of stocks on the other hand escapes taxes as long as the stocks don’t pay dividends, which is income and which deserves to be taxed under the rules of the income tax.
The result of this is to distort the economy and essentially make it nearly or completely impossible for the “land-rich poor” to hold and save the land they love. It simply doesn’t make sense to pay the taxes that come like a hammer blow every year.
Not being helpful or intentional as the private parkland industry struggles to get on its feet.
One of the articles about the effects of the Covid 19 epidemic on NPR recently featured a woman from Tennessee with AirBnB cabins on 100 acres of wooded land in Tennessee. She was struggling, but hopeful. We must understand that this woman represents a phenomenon that we must attempt to nurture: the private parkland industry. It doesn’t seem strange to anyone that private golf courses exist, so why aren’t there a multitude of private parks that will charge us to hike, birdwatch, or in some cases hunt? Well, there are a multitude, but not the order of multitude there should be because entrepreneurs in this business face obstacles that have been carefully removed for golf-course owners: reasonable protection from liability. Nobody who was 20 acres wants to charge a $5 entrance fee if it could mean a $3 mn liability judgment if a branch falls at the wrong moment. Waivers must be encouraged by law to be allowed to mean something, as they already do for Golf-course owners. Green organizations should highlight every effort by landowners to cater to this industry, which in places like SE Texas, the King Ranch, already offers crucial protection for endangered habitat but needs every ounce of support it can get.
Failing to unite with fiscal conservatives.
The current euphoria on the Democratic side (I will vote Democratic this fall if I am alive. Case closed) for infrastructure funding scares me figuratively to death. The Army Corps of Engineers has done massive amounts to further the extinction crisis. Dams and river-diversion projects are devastating in many cases to eco-systems. Right now a dam on the Chehalis River to allow more building construction in the flood plain is scheduled now to cost $640 million. The beneficiaries could never afford this bill, it will be tossed onto the backs of the taxpayers, and there will be a few conservatives who object. But many left greens have let their fiscal conservative muscles atrophy. Without a track record for advocating reasonable fiscal restraint, it becomes impossible for greens to suddenly play that card. Ande yet reducing government expenditures, be they for highways, hatcheries, dams, river diversion or irrigation, is usually the single very best way to help the environment.
Failing to be as energetic as the NRA when the Constitution is on their side: Eminent Domain
The green left has fought the Keystone Pipeline for years, but rarely has it promoted the shocking fact that the Pipeline is Unconstitutional. You never would see that with the NRA. The second amendment leaves many people scratching their heads: “in order to maintain a well-regulated militia…” What the heck does that mean? But no matter, the NRA has driven home the idea that gun ownership is constitutionally-protected. They have done a very good job in driving this point home and my hat is off to them for that. Greens on the other hand have failed completely to make the same point about pipelines. The use of eminent domain to steal private land for private pipelines to transport climate-polluting gases is completely unconstitutional. The 5th amendment, in an even clearer statement than the second, states that eminent domain can only be used in cases of “public use.”
Public Use? The Keystone Pipeline is being built by a private company, foreign-owned at that and there is nothing public about it. The fact that a large amount of the public buys oil is irrelevant, the word in the Constitution is “public.” It is especially imperative that purveyors of popular products face the same rigors of the market as purveyors of less-popular products, that’s how markets work best. it’s plainly unconstitutional to force a Nebraska farmer to give up her land at a “willing-seller” prices to a private company in the hunt for private profits. If only Greens had half as much PR smarts as the NRA.
At the risk of being redundant, biomass is one of the newest and scariest threats to the environment. A description of Biomass and a well-argued case against it is made by this author, founder of this organization and three pages that lay Biomass to waste can be found at this site:
Supported the Per Mile Tax
Greens have inexplicably lined up with the Transportation bureaucracies around the country in their quest to scrap our carbon tax, AKA the gas tax, for a ”per mile” tax. The per mile tax is insensitive to carbon usage, so it would have the unintended (or intended?) effect of encouraging a switch to even worse gas-guzzlers than are on the road today, and would impede the switch to electric.
Failure to take responsibility for the widespread murder of indigenous land defenders in places like Brazil, Borneo and the Philippines.
1. As a corollary, Greens have supported Low Carbon Fuel Standards.
2. Greens have failed to ask simply to end the subsidies doled out to climate-polluting industries.
3. Greens have failed to understand how regressive and destructive to nature the property tax is.
4. Greens with many exceptions have failed to call for revenue-neutral shifting of taxation from regressive taxes of people to polluters.
5. Greens have failed to understand that eminent domain for fossil fuel producers is unconstitutional and a subsidy.
6. As a corollary, Greens have failed to push for rent from those who ship fossil fuels through our communities.
7. As another corollary, Greens hae failed political to push for reforms of eminent domain to at least change from a “Willing Seller” to an “unwilling seller” price scale.
8. Greens have failed to call for the development of private parks by reforming liability laws to allow for landowners to hike on their undeveloped land, with some protection similar to the protections that allow for people to own and develop golf courses.
9. Greens have succumbed to the allure of supporting legislation that contains meaningless promises, such as committing a state or nation or city to reducing greenhouse gases 25% by 2030.
10. Greens have confused increases in “sustainable” energy production with progress. Just because you see tons more wind turbines out there doesn’t mean we are making progress.
11. Greens fail to understand that markets will clear inventories. (Electricity consumers in central Washington have been diligent in improving the efficiency of their use of electricity, so total electricity use has been flat or falling in recent decades until the low prices BPA and the PUDs charge for electricity began attracting new buyers such as bitcoin manufacturers and indoor marijuana growers, which have resulted in a huge recent spike in electricity use in Central Washington. This is an example of markets clearing and shows the impossibility of reducing use in the absence of a
12. Have failed for the most part to understand that our profligate spending of taxpayer money on hatcheries may be exactly what’s killing salmon, plus have failed, perhaps understandably, to focus attention on human harvest.