Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Greening of Blacks

There is now a national Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change. The rationale is that because Blacks are believed to be more concentrated in urban environments, and statistics indicate less affluent Blacks are willing to forego environmentally-friendly policies in return for a paycheck, the need therefore exists to get this demographic/economic group into a Green-collar economy: a sense of responsibility for the planet, manifest through the economic choices that are made.

One tactic is by characterizing the Global Warming issue as a moral responsibility—with protection of the environment being positioned as “creation care,” with focus being concentrated in black churches. Personally, I have several issues with this entire premise.

Number one—it is offensive to stereotype Blacks as being any less-sensitive to this issue than people who are yellow, brown, red, white or purple.
I’m surprised Al Sharpton hasn’t been screaming and jumping up and down about this…has anyone hired Quannell X to protest about this one, yet?

Secondly—this entire global warming theory is not the point: There is plenty of doubt—credible doubt—that the theory is flawed, and the so-called effects of global warming are in fact manifestations of natural cycles in global temperature changes that have always existed. We’re not any smarter about noticing these changes—we just have better instrumentation to note the differences, and a deeper database of historic measurements against which to compare things than we did 100-years ago. But in the grand scheme of things, our little slice of history is but a flash of time, and not a good point of reference.

Third—the true benefit of any conservation efforts will be the emergence of true energy independence. It is incredibly arrogant for we mere mortals to presume we have the power to alter planetary cycles that have been in place for thousands of years. Yes, there are more people around, but there are still some fundamental cycles that are unalterable.

The point of this is: The less we use of a limited commodity, the more independent of its providers we will become. The less demand we place on fuel sources—like oil—the lower the cost will be. If you don’t believe me, look at the price of gasoline at the pump—which is being directly attributed to reduced demand and increased supply.

Higher energy prices are just as onerous to Blacks as they are to Whites; higher fuel prices are no less of an economic deterrent to yellow people than they are to brown people.
Oh, there is the argument that more affluent sectors of society can better afford to pay for expensive power than the poor.

Granted. Still, I don’t think Bill Cosby is any happier about it than some burger flipper at Burger King.

But the true success of any policy agenda to alter the way we create, store, consume, and dispose of energy and energy by-products will be measured most precisely in terms of economic costs and benefits. Certainly a reduction in pollutants will be a happy by-product…but the best way to get people on board, regardless of skin color or wallet thickness, will be by demonstrating the economic benefits…which will be universal across all groups of people.

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