A Savanna Life in a Technological World

Ditches and Green New Deals, Part II

Ditches and Green New Deals, Part II

No one knows the best, most efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations while still making the average person better off. How do I know? Because no one has ever done it. This includes us eco-grazers, by the way. But it especially includes the central planners that are designing the various schemes collectively called “The Green New Deal.”

First I will bang out the week. I don’t have much to say about it. I did holiday stuff. When I worked I stared at the computer trying to solve the big problems of my business. We had a lot of rain that came kind of close to flooding everything in the pastures, but with the new big tide structure the water drains out really fast. Now of course we just need to clean out the ditches that get the water to that tide structure, see last week for more on that. I don’t know if it is related but I have been seeing quite a bit of clover and ryegrass at much lower elevations this year. Could also be related to mowing. But Abel says his favorite grass is Manna grass, which, interestingly, is growing at much higher elevations than before. We kept a close eye out for mannagrass while Abel and I moved the thirty calves that we still have. Besides manna grass, Abel is still exclusively interested in primates, so he spent the rest of the time musing about the nuances between Decken’s, Verreaux’s, and Coquerel’s Sifakas. Cattle arrive in California in one week, so things are about to be very different. Looking at the little picture makes me claustrophobic so let’s get back to big things that we have no control over.

For a minute, try to forget about the nineteenth century book club debate that now stands in for political thought. Instead try to mimic the way nature creates survival strategies. Nature creates successful strategies for survival not through a central plan that is designed and enforced from on high. Nature creates successful strategies by rewarding organisms that are paying the closest attention and performing behaviors that are effectively use the resources available. This has resulted in a world where there are a huge number of organisms that increasingly good at surviving. It has also resulted in organisms that quickly feel intense pain when they are doing a poor job of surviving.

If your going to go down the road at 80 mph, you probably want to be the driver. If someone else is going to drive, than you want them to have twenty years of driving experience, great senses and wits, quick reflexes, and a strong, strong desire to live. The Green New Deal gets you someone who has never driven before. They may or may not have good wits or senses, who knows. They may or may not want to live, but one way or the other, it’s not as important to them because they are driving the car by remote, from a thousand miles away. The economic transition required to lower CO2 concentrations will be like driving a car at 80 miles per hour. It won’t be that hard, we all drive like that all the time. But it is fraught with peril and we need to learn the pedals and the steering wheel first. The Green New Deal is a not a good way of doing that.

Let’s use another scenario. Take something that people actually care about, their phones for instance. Our phones are so badass because people who intimately knew their stuff had a cleaar vision. Their desire to make these phones was so strong that they went through the hell required to get something amazing done. Those who didn’t do a very good job felt the intense sting of defeat. Some of those people vowed to themselves to never feel that again, and they did what was necessary to live up to their vow. For that they were fantastically rewarded. And… nobody ever said, “my phone is really important to me, therefore I will only buy a phone that is made by the U.S. government.”

This is what I don’t understand. On the left, the only argument offered for why we need a Green New Deal is that the problem is very big and very serious. This is a Red Herring. Computers are big and serious. Feeding the world is big and serious. Creating shelter for people is big and serious. Yet fortunately we still remember enough history that we don’t (in general) use that as a reason for the government to seize control of those sectors of the economy. If climate change is as serious as we say it is, shouldn’t we set up a system where people feel deep pain when they fail to solve the problem, and great success when they secede. Isn’t it too important to leave in the hands of the central planners? 

Next Week I will come after you guys on the right. The only argument you hear against a Green New Deal is party dogma, global warming isn’t real or important. What happened to conservativism being about individuals solving problems through free enterprise?


1 thought on “Ditches and Green New Deals, Part II”

  • Hi Nate – Thanks for this article. I can appreciate the frustration around needing to clean ditches, especially if folks want to take advantage of new infrastructure like your tide gate. As a result, a group of partners worked together to craft a new channel maintenance bill that was enacted by the Oregon State Legislature in 2019 (HB 2437). The rules for the program are still being drafted but ODA hopes to roll out the new program, starting in the Willamette Valley, in summer of 2020. At this time, the current program is focused on dry ditches and wouldn’t apply to the tidally influenced ditches of Winter Lake. But there is a provision in HB 2437 that requires the state to commence a process to try to figure out the maintenance of tidally influenced locations. I hope this provides you with some helpful information. Cheers!

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