Begley’s website extols his stardom, lifestyle, and environmental dogma. The actor is known for riding his bicycle to events, lives in a “sustainable” wind and solar-powered house, drives a subsidized electric car, and has won awards for supporting environmental causes. Meanwhile, he depends heavily on fossil fuels for his employment in energy-guzzling Hollywood and nearly every benefit he enjoys outside his home: restaurants, hospitals, air travel, the internet, and his website. That’s nice for him.
But what about the rest of America, where ordinary people must support their families on average wages, drive affordable gasoline-fueled cars, and use hydrocarbons to heat their homes and cook their food? “As environmental issues become more pressing,” Begley challenges them to “take action.” By that, he apparently means kill the jobs, economy, and fossil fuels that enhance and safeguard our lives.
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Never mind that petroleum has been the one bright spot in the US economic recovery, putting millions of Americans back to work and generating hundreds of billions of dollars for investment portfolios and local, state, and federal treasuries. In fact, according to IHS Global Insights, unconventional oil and gas production – in conjunction with chemicals manufacturing and other hydrocarbon feed stock and energy-dependent industries – have contributed more than 2.5% per year to America’s GDP. They’ve created 2.5 million new direct and indirect jobs, with the prospect of an additional 3.9 million jobs by 2025!
With economic growth averaging a pitiful 2.2% annually over the past four years, that means the nation’s growth would have been in negative territory all those years, were it not for fracking – instead of only during the first quarter of 2014 (when it contracted by 1%). At the state level, the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business says a statewide fracking ban would kill 68,000 jobs and cost the state’s economy $8 billion over the ensuing five years.
On a related topic, recall that only computer models and politicized pseudo-science have been able to find the dangerous manmade global warming and climate disruption that Begley, Hemingway, Tickell, and other Big Green activists use to justify anti-fracking and anti-coal policies.
And what about impoverished Third World countries? Begley is dismissive of their needs. In 2002, he told me and other environmental journalists that he opposes building power plants in Africa, saying “It’s much cheaper for everybody in Africa to have electricity where they need it – solar panels on their huts.”
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This is truly the super-rich 0.01% versus the 99.99% of merely well-off, middle class, poor and minority Americans, and the truly destitute people struggling daily just to survive in developing countries, amid malnutrition, diseases, and energy deprivation unheard of in the USA, Canada, or Europe.
Meantime, don’t forget the ironies in all of this. Were it not for fracking, US carbon dioxide emissions would not have declined 11% since 2005. Largely because of climate change, renewable energy, and anti-fracking hysteria, European countries are rapidly expanding their coal-based electricity generation (and greenhouse gas emissions), while asking the USA to sell them natural gas. Contrary to recent stories in “mainstream” media outlets like Reuters, the UK Guardian, and USA Today, China has no intention of putting a “hard cap” on its CO2 emissions. Nor do India and other emerging markets. They need that energy to modernize their economies, lift billions out of poverty, and avoid riots and revolutions.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.