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The Environmental Apocalypse

Early in the morning, while most are still sleeping, groups of elderly Chinese women spread out across city streets. They tear open trash bags, pick through the litter and sort out bottles and cans that come with a deposit. And then they bring them to the local supermarket to a machine that scans and evaluates each can, accepting and rejecting them one by one, and finally printing out a receipt.

The interaction between the elderly immigrant who speaks broken English or the homeless man who is barely holding it together... and the machine is a stark contrast between what the new smart clean green economy pretends to be and what it actually is.

The machine, like so much else that we design, is impressive, but its existence depends on someone digging through the trash with their hands for much less than minimum wage to extract a generally useless item.

The entire bottle economy, which has more than a passing resemblance to the trash sorting operations in the Third World carried out by despised and persecuted minorities, like the Zabbaleen in Egypt, is artificial. The United States is not so poor that it actually needs to recycle. It recycles not under the impulse of economic imperatives, but of government mandates.

The elderly Chinese women dig through the trash because politicians decided to impose a tax on us and an incentive for them in the form of a deposit. All those useless 1980s laws created a strange underground economy of marginalized people digging through the trash.

Every time politicians celebrate a recycling target met and show off some shiny new machine, hiding behind the curtain are the dirty weary people dragging through the streets at the crack of dawn, donning rubber gloves and tearing apart trash bags. They are the unglamorous low-tech reality of environmentalism.

These are the Green Jobs that aren't much talked about. They pay below minimum wage and have no workplace safety regulations. They are the Third World reality behind the First World ecology tripe. It's not that the people who plan and run the system don't know about them. But they don't like to talk about them because they come too close to revealing the unsavory truth about where environmentalism is really going.

Environmentalism, like every liberal notion, is sold to the masses as modern and progressive. It's the exact opposite. It's every bit as modern and progressive as those sacks of cans being hauled by hand through the streets to the machine.

Prince Charles, that avid idiot and environmentalist, visited a Mumbai slum a few years ago and said that it had some lessons to teach the West.

“When you enter what looks from the outside like an immense mound of plastic and rubbish, you immediately come upon an intricate network of streets with miniature shops, houses and workshops, each one made out of any material that comes to hand,” Prince Charles wrote in his book, Harmony.

The Prince of Wales is quite the author. In addition to Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, he has written Shelter: Human Habitats from Around the World, The Prince's Speech: On the Future of Food and The Illustrated Guide to Chickens: How to Choose Them, How to Keep Them.

One might be forgiven for assuming that the royal brain twitching behind those watery eyes is preparing for some sort of apocalypse. And it is. The apocalypse is environmentalism. Or from the point of view of the environmentalists, who spare some time from their public appearances and their mansions to pen tomes on the future of food and how to choose chickens, the apocalypse is prosperity.

People of that sort think that instead of getting the slum dwellers of Mumbai into apartments, we ought to be figuring out how to build shelters out of random garbage. Think of it as the recycling can solution as applied to your entire life.

“The people of Dharavi manage to separate all their waste at home and it gets recycled without any official collection facilities at all," a marveling Charles, who probably never took out the trash once in his life, wrote. It's easy to get people to recycle without any mandates or collection facilities at all. All it takes is grinding poverty so miserable that you either make the most of every last thing you can get your hands on or you die.

That is the sort of lifestyle that environmentalists think of as sustainable. Or as Hobbes put it, "In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth... no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society." That is the natural state to which environmentalists would return us to.

More recently another deep thinker, Peter Buffett, Warren Buffett's son, took to the editorial pages of the New York Times to denounce Third World philanthropy.

"Microlending and financial literacy — what is this really about?" Buffett asks. "People will certainly learn how to integrate into our system of debt and repayment with interest. People will rise above making $2 a day to enter our world of goods and services so they can buy more. But doesn’t all this just feed the beast?"

To the slum dwellers, the beast isn't capitalism, it's that gnawing feeling in your stomach when you haven't eaten for a day. But Peter Buffett, who lives a life almost as privileged as Prince Charles, bemoans the idea of getting people to the point where they aren't worried about where their next meal is coming from because it just turns them into capitalists and consumers. And before you know it, they're buying big screen televisions and writing op-eds in the New York Times on the futility of philanthropy.

"There are people working hard at showing examples of other ways to live in a functioning society that truly creates greater prosperity for all (and I don’t mean more people getting to have more stuff)," Peter Buffett wrote, probably unaware that he was sniffing down the same trail that a thousand communes had gone. But the experimental farm is old hat. The new model is the Third World.

Instead of helping the Third World live like us, the perverse children of the rich dream of making us live like the Third World.

Those working hard to make our society function like Charlie's favorite slum aren't moving to their own collective farms. Instead they are transforming our society into the collective farm while pretending that their calculated destruction of our prosperity is smart and modern.

The Soviet Union pretended that its plans for the country were a modern step forward. In reality, the Commissars took the farmers back to feudalism and then turned much of the country into peasants, coping with harvest labor problems by forcing urban populations to come and pick the crops. And those were the good times. In the bad times, highways and other large projects were built through mass slave labor no different than the way that ancient Egypt built the pyramids.

Communist modernism was a Potemkin village, a cheap tacky curtain and behind it, the sweating slave and the stench of Babylon. The modernism of the progressive is the same facade covered in sociology textbooks, New York Times op-eds and teleprompter speeches. Behind it lie the ruins of Detroit, tribal violence in the slums of every major city and an economy in which there is no more room for the middle class except as clerks in the government bureaucracy. And it doesn't end there.

The elderly Chinese woman picking through the trash in search of empty beer bottles isn't the past. She's the future. Recycling is big business because the government and its affiliated liberal elites decided it should be. It's just one example of an artificial economy and it's small stuff compared to the coming carbon crackdown in which every human activity will be monetized and taxed somewhere down the road according to its carbon footprint.

The ultimate dream of the sort of people who can't sleep at night because they worry that children in India might be able to grow up making more than two dollars a day, is to take away our prosperity for our own good through the total regulation of every area of our lives under the pretext of an imminent environmental crisis.

The Global Warming hysteria is about absolute power over every man, woman and child on earth.

"I strongly believe that the West has much to learn from societies and places which, while sometimes poorer in material terms are infinitely richer in the ways in which they live and organize themselves as communities," Prince Charles said.

It goes without saying that the Prince of Wales is not about to take personal advantage of these infinite spiritual riches of living in a house made of garbage, drinking contaminated water and dying before thirty. What he is saying is that while he personally is a little too attached to his lifestyle, he thinks that we as a society would be better off giving up on the materialism of living on more than two dollars a day and embracing the infinite social and spiritual riches that rich people imagine are accessible only to impoverished Third Worlders.

Environmentalism is wealth redistribution on a global scale. The goal isn't even to lift all boats, but to stop the tide of materialism from making too many people too comfortable.

The liberal billionaire who clamors about sustainability likes progress. What he dislikes is the middle class with its mass produced cars and homes, cheap restaurants full of fatty foods and television sets and daily deliveries of cardboard boxes full of stuff and shopping malls. He thinks, in all sincerity, that they would be happier and more spiritually fulfilled as peasants. It's not an original idea.

The Industrial Revolution had hardly begun revolving when the 'Back to Nature' crowd began insisting that it was time to learn a more harmonious way of life by going back to the farm. Centuries later the only new idea that they have come up with is threatening an environmental apocalypse if the middle class doesn't change its mass producing ways. Even its adoration of the Noble Savage is older than the American Revolution.

The modern environmentalism jettisons the idea of moving to a dilapidated farmhouse to spend time being bored while trying to make artisanal rocking chairs to sell to someone, It's done its time searching for the noble savage within through drugs and degradation decades ago. Now it's our turn to tap into the infinity of spiritual riches that comes from just barely getting by.

The sustainable logic of the slum that makes us better people by making us more miserable.

The Soviet idea of progress was feudalism dressed up in Socialist red. Environmentalism dresses up feudalism in Green. It seeks to reverse all the progress that we have made in the name of progress. Environmentalism is as sophisticated as a Soviet collective farm, as modern as the homeless people dragging bags of cans along on sticks to feed the machine and as smart as a slum made of trash.

Beneath all the empty chatter about social riches and sustainability is that need to impose progressive misery.

Beneath the glossy surface of environmentalism is a vision of the American middle class learning to dig through bags of garbage, the detritus of their consumerism for which they must be punished, to become better people. 


  1. Anonymous24/4/14

    Great article. But wasn't this posted many months ago? I have read this somewhere months ago.

  2. Anonymous24/4/14

    So the West has two retro enemies: islam and the left/environmentalists. Hitler, of similar mindset, had 'drand nach osten'. These two have drang nach mud.
    Mike R

  3. Anonymous24/4/14

    This is certainly an interesting article.

    But if I may be allowed to disagree somewhat. I believe in certain environmental causes : causes such as water and air pollution and the degradation (through misuse or over use) of land.

    That said, I have no time for the junk~science being spewed out by the Leftists and their pseudo scientist allies via the IPCC & the United Nations. The world has enough potentially serious environmental problems without having to invent fake ones such as Man-Made Co2 'pollution'.

    As regards to recycling and the image of poor people scurrying around collecting bottles : well in my opinion : its not that cut and dry.

    Yes it is demeaning to the old, the frail, the poor and the 'gleaners'. Yes it is the underbelly of so many environmentalist distopias' : but at the same time, it also gives the most oppressed individuals in our societies as small modicum of 'income' that they would otherwise not be able to have. So in effect, it is also an opportunity.

    The state of Australia, that I live in, has paid 'bottle and Carton' recycling. It has had so, for more than 20 years.

    For every bottle collected, the poor get 10c a bottle or 10c a carton. Some : (not all of course) manage to earn up to $20 to $30 per hour. And it is often undeclared and tax free income.

    The side benefit to this is that our city streets are remarkably clean. Other states do not have this legislation in place & their parks and roads are filled with broken bottles and the rivers and creeks are often chocked with junk.

    While I agree, that it may not seem to be 'appropriate' work for the poor or for those forced by circumstances to indulge in this type of work, : many these same people would otherwise go without that extra small boost to their income. Besides, (at least in my state) this collecting of bottles etc is done by individuals who have their own personal reasons for collecting 'junk' and recycling'. So, like I said from the outset, it is all not so cut and dry as one would imagine it to be.

    The irony is (in effect) that in the end, such 'recyclers' are effectively part of a' grass-roots' 'capitalist system' as much as a potentially socialist one.

    Many capitalists as well as left wingers would argue that there is not such thing as a free lunch.

    Can collecting and recycling be all that bad ?

    Remember how our governments had 'public campaigns' during WW2 to collect aluminum and steel etc to recycle for the war effort against Nazism which in of itself promoted a form of socialist supremacist environmentalism.


    Aqua Fyre

  4. Very, very well said. That one's a keeper.

    One quibble, though... it's now thought that the ancient Egyptians didn't use slave labor to build their pyramids. That means they are morally superior to communists... but then almost everyone is.

  5. Anonymous24/4/14

    I think it go's much deeper for the "Royals" . Once the super rich were god kings, everyone else was a serf. Property to be bought and sold with the land. Who built their hovels from the discarded refuse rejected by their "betters" and eating whatever scraps the "high borne" rejected. Forbidden on pain of death from owning "finery" or "advancing above their station". They believed that they were "God Ordained masters of all things" and THEY STILL DO. Hence by diminishing their "lessors" they enrich themselves, and if they can trick us into believing it is "for our own good" so much the better. ---Ray

  6. Anonymous24/4/14

    Excellent article but I hope you have overstated your case. Too depressing if true. Oops, gotta go... my Amazon order just arrived. Ha!

  7. Anonymous24/4/14

    sooner or later the value of the stuff in land fills will be such that people will mine them as we mine iron ore today so in a way the more stuff we put in a landfill the better for our dicendants! your friend truckwilkins

  8. Anonymous24/4/14

    I saw a "Modern Marvels" show on the History Channel on Potato Chips. Manufacturers of potato chips have a sorting machine which carries multitudes of cut chips along a belt only to jump them across a laser sensor. The laser sensor, in milliseconds, identifies bad chips by dark spots and instantly directs a jet of air to blow a particular bad chip out of the flow of good chips in the midst of a mid-air jump of inches from belt to belt.

    If recycling were actually economically worthwhile; don't you think sorting technology could more easily sort aluminum and plastic cans and bottles from generic trash better, faster, and more efficiently than millions of individuals doing their sorting at home?

    Nevertheless, millions tolerate recycling laws and volunteer to become slave labor for an un-proven recycling market. A recycling market based entirely on the free labor of millions of State-slaves and funding by taxes on those same slaves.

    The average recycler will protest, sans evidence, that recycling is "good" and economical. He will also deflect the slave labor argument by claiming that sorting recycling is "such a small thing, really," and that they're perfectly happy to do it because it is a "good" thing (which, again, there is no evidence for). Well, yes, it IS a small thing. But when an industry has a HUNDRED MILLION slaves doing its work for it, then each individual slave has damned little actual work to do. The fact that it is slave labor remains.

    Others recycle only out of fear of fines which, in some areas, can be as much as thousands of dollars for a single misplaced bottle or can. So, a simple mistake in a slave's State-imposed (admittedly light) workload can subject the slave to draconian financial punishment -- the proceeds of which go to reinforce this slave-labor-based industry.

    More than fines and penalties though, the slave market is primarily driven -- a la Orwell's 1984 -- by shame and hatred, and fear of same. Fear of being socially and culturally outcast. A pariah from the outer party.

    It is an entire industry which can only remain viable by government enforced slave labor, and by funding through taxes, fines, redistribution and "charity" extracted at the point of a gun that fires shame and untouchable caste status instead of bullets.

    This horror remains largely unrecognized and unopposed simply because the workload is spread across society entire.

  9. Daniel,

    Have you read Spengler's Decline of the West?

  10. Anonymous24/4/14

    Nothing new under the sun. The names and the players have changed but the desire of some men to have complete power and control over others never will change.


  11. Anonymous24/4/14

    As I read your columns, I find myself linking the issues related to the left coming down to one issue and that is all about individual and collective "insecurity." It wouldn't surprise me to do background checks on the Harry Reid's and Nancy Pelosi's of the world and find out that they were the outcasts in their younger days. As outcasts, they migrated to fringe causes and social careers where they could carve out a niche in spite of their personal faults or lack of appeal with the mainstream. And in doing so, we now have an entire group of politicians and bureaucrats who are doing a "Revenge of the Nerds." And now, having risen to positions of power, they are abuse their power to force the mainstream of America to do they command by unleashing their megalomaniac attributes. The best way to win people to your way of thinking is to demonstrate "walk-the-talk" attitude. They could more easily win people to whatever cause by showing a better way for others to follow. But there is the rub; allowing people the right, the opportunity, to make their own choice. For these politicians and bureaucrats, simply having some "market share" is not good enough. They crave monopoly, uniformity, domination because it means personal power for them. These are mean, little people. And to me that spells LOSERS.

    Liberals,for the most part, are unfulfilled and seek personal fulfillment by means of dominating others. It is not enough that they are left to live their own lives as they see fit, even with expanded government defined liberties, but they must rule over others to make themselves feel important and fulfilled, and thereby more secure. What they do not realize is that their insecurity cannot be dealt with successfully by the means they employ. History is full of lessons of small people who found a way to dominate many, if only for a short time, but at horrendous costs in lives and wealth. They can seek position, wealth, power, titles, recognition as a “wise” person, but recognition coming from sycophants is worthless.

    The environmentalism you talk about here is a perfect example. It isn't enough that we separate our recyclables at the curb (in America), now we constantly get the message that mankind is guilty of destroying mother earth in numerous, incalculable ways. Although science has a difficult time quantifying these assertions or proving their hypotheses, they just make things up and are satisfied to have reached a “concensus.” But when that message, ala "Global Warming" or "Climate Change" fails, then attention turns to the lowly bovine as a major source of flatulence that contributes to global warming. Really?? The solution .... eat less meat. I am not fooled by government programs (read Green Energy) to breed a cow that produces less flatulence, regardless of which end it comes from! How long before bread making is attacked as a source of CO2 (from fermenting yeast) or all the carbonated beverages consumed worldwide, just to name a few sources of carbon dioxide. Any number of "causes" will be created in order for one minority group of people to impose their will on the many.

    This is where their real LOSER status shines. It is the tyrants who work in the shadows redefining everything and do away with all things traditional because those things remind them of their loser status. They seek to create a world where their self-esteem can be raised, where they can prove to everyone that they are someone of value, and if you do not agree, then you will be punished because they have the power now. Little people. Insecure. Unwilling to let others live their lives in peace. They are unwilling and unable to go somewhere else and risk striking out to build something of their own from the ground up. It is much easier to change or destroy something that already exists. They are losers.

  12. These are nothing but people under the pretense of wisdom, expressing their evil thinking and arrogance. Filled with self-absorbed thoughts and evil rationalizations. They want to force the populace back to heathenism.

  13. Anonymous24/4/14

    profound. (again)

    -- spanky

  14. repost from last June. I have not noticed this before.

  15. Why is it that these people never ever lead by example?

  16. Anonymous24/4/14

    When I learned about wilderness backpacking, the phrase "pack it in, pack it out" was part of the training. It was the lesson learned about being environmentally conscious and being a good steward of the beauty of the lands to be enjoyed. What sickens me is to follow exploits on mountains like Mt. Everest and see the trash dumps that climbers leave behind. Granted, there is probably some government malfeasance involved in fees collected from expeditions to do "clean up" but the money goes and no clean up ever is done.

    When I see images estimating the amount of space junk floating around the earth, I cringe at the thought of all that garbage being left behind. When I read about the oceans being used as garbage dumps by cruise lines and the shipping industry, I cringe at the destruction done. Maybe not all at once but over time it accumulates and the effects multiply.

    Why are organizations, or countries responsible for these atrocities, yes, I will call them atrocities, why are they not held accountable forcleaning up the messes they create? Yes, the exploits provide benefits to mankind, to industry, research, etc., but that does not mean they should not "pack it in, pack it out" to use a phrase!

    I'm sure someone at NASA has done a cost analysis of what it costs to track all the crap in space just to protect our satellites vs. the cost to clean up the mess we have left behind. And now, with commercial activities being green-lighted, ala Virgin Atlantic, the Chinese, Russians and more, I think there will come a time when it will become so dangerous to attempt atake trip into space that the commercial business will come to an end. However, that won't happen until someone has died and it has been linked to all the space junk floating around. Talk about pressure on the press to keep the truth from coming out!

    These are just a couple of the high visibility projects that I think should be the business of the world community, especially the US because of the space junk left behind. So, never mind their new charter of making Muslims feel good about themselves, get NASA to work cleaning up their playground so the world can have a cleaner future in the skies above!

  17. Anonymous25/4/14

    One man's trash is another man's treasure.
    Yes, I too have seen the workers of the night.
    Is grocery carts filled with tax free income such a bad thing?
    Think about it. That's one way of getting off the grid.

    They probably earn enough money to:
    1. Join a gym for the shower & locker facilities
    2. Have a nice breakfast & lunch after cleaning up
    3. Go the movies for some needed sleep
    4. Have a nice Early Bird Special Dinner...
    before the cycle of recycling begins again.

    Well, that's what I was thinking as I passed by the man and his cart on Second Ave.

  18. Anonymous25/4/14

    It is always interesting to watch a panel of enviros preach their doctrine, all the while sucking off plastic water bottles. They look like the infants they are..

    The simplest solution to a cleaner environment in places all over the world is birth control. The Big Brains should start there.


  19. Whenever I get the chance I ask the recycling advocate "where does it go?" I mean, we dutifully separate it and put it in the blue and orange bins and they collect it in different trucks...but then what? Even the most ardent advocate, in my experience, has no idea. They all just assume that goodness follows.I usually smile when they come up short and say "well, I'm sure this process, which very few seem to be aware of, is full of positives. Carry on."

    Years ago I read an article in an engineering journal (peer reviewed I'm sure) that concluded that recycling aluminum was about the only thing that made sense. Extracting aluminum from bauxite is so phenomenally energy intensive that almost any effort made to recover used aluminum was worth it. Everything else was either neutral or the effort to collect and recycle was more environmentally damaging than simply throwing it out.

    Any while Prince Charles might be ecstatic about some cherry picked 3rd world hovel made out of recycled junk, he must have missed the National Geographic article with pictures of slum dwellers melting lead solder off circuit boards in the same pans they use to cook dinner and children playing around alleyway fires burning the plastic insulation off copper wiring.

    But again, nobody really knows or cares what happens to our 'recyclables' once they leave the curb out front.

  20. Anonymous25/4/14

    When I read about the oceans being used as garbage dumps by cruise lines and the shipping industry, I cringe at the destruction done.

    The fish will enjoy the food.

  21. Anonymous25/4/14

    Years ago I read an article in an engineering journal (peer reviewed I'm sure) that concluded that recycling aluminum was about the only thing that made sense. Extracting aluminum from bauxite is so phenomenally energy intensive that almost any effort made to recover used aluminum was worth it. Everything else was either neutral or the effort to collect and recycle was more environmentally damaging than simply throwing it out.

    I would say any recycling that makes sense without government subsidy or force makes sense. If it makes sense economically in a free market, it makes sense. Copper, aluminum and steel make sense.

    I've recycled over 10 tons of steel. This was metal removed from my ranch, stuff my dad collected over the years. I recently put the effort on hold since the price has gone down. I'll continue to do it when the price goes up. It cleans up my ranch while earning some additional spending money.

  22. Anonymous30/4/14

    Impressively written and spot-on! Nice job.

  23. Well said, so called environmentalists are neo-feudalists.

  24. Anonymous7/9/14

    Fighting the destructive side of capitalist economies is not easy. So maybe the practices employed cause odd side-effects or don't pay as well as mining ores whose side effect is poisoning a town's water supply, but wouldn't you rather err on the side of caution for the sake of your kids and theirs when you're gone?

    I'm often shocked by the attitudes conservatives have about the unknowns of global warming when they are so adamantly sure of the unknown of the afterlife. If you are good in this life with the aim of securing a place in heaven, why would you jeopardize the ability of those who come after you to have a good life when it is their turn? Whether there is a heaven or not, you will be good in the chance of going there when your time has come. Whether fossil fuels, CO2 emissions, etc. cause global warming, wouldn't you rather reduce this risk than to find out it is the cause and that you attributed to it? It seems so insignificant that people would lose money when it's weighed against your grandchildren living without food when severe droughts and lack of clean water or power sources could threaten the food supply. It seems that doubting global warming is like playing Russian roulette because the odds are in your favor, never mind that pointing a gun at your head is a stupid idea.

  25. "Whether fossil fuels, CO2 emissions, etc. cause global warming, wouldn't you rather reduce this risk than to find out it is the cause and that you attributed to it? "

    Your argument relies too much on the Precautionary Principle. Using it, you have chosen fear of shortages as your religion. As such, you see it trumping all other considerations, including the most essential of America's promises to its posterity: defending individual liberties.

    Not that you'd acknowledge it, but conservatives and libertarians wish to protect individuals from all religious zealots, including such as yourself who "knows" what's good for everyone else and their posterity.

    Yours is a throwback to tyrannies that had all the rest of humanity in servitude of one form or another as emblemized by the broken chains at the feet of the Statue of Liberty.

    Indeed, your fears of shortages are even more primitive than that. It's tied to ancient human sacrificing Pagan religions that the Judeo-Christian ethos is the rebellion from.

    Your views are uninformed because those who taught you your dogma need you to stay ignorant. No poor anonymous: yours is NOT the moral high ground you pretend to stand upon. You are speaking from a pit of despair. And the actions you promote would throw the whole world back into chains so as to keep you company.

    Do yourself the favor and break the chains on your mind before you find yourself thrown in the new gulags by those who trained you to be their useful idiot.


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