The administration of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has blocked a new power plant from being built, despite looming energy shortages, because, like virtually all power plants, it will emit carbon dioxide(CO2). GOP legislators are upset about this.
This action sets a dangerous precedent for Kansas farmers and the state’s economy. That’s because agriculture creates greenhouse gases, such as methane from cows, that are far more powerful than the CO2 emitted by power plants or motor vehicles. As The Los Angeles Times notes, livestock alone “are responsible” for more greenhouse gas emissions “than all the planes, trains, and automobiles on the planet.”
Unless you are willing to give up the omnivorous diet that humans have enjoyed even during the Stone Age, and limit your diet to a narrow range of grains and vegetables, you can’t live without giving off substantial amounts of carbon dioxide. As the Times observes, “cutting out red meat would do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than trading in a gas guzzler for a hybrid car.” While adults can get by on a meatless diet, it is often a recipe for stunted child growth and inadequate child nutrition. Humans are bioengineered to eat meat.
Nuclear power plants, by contrast, don’t emit much carbon dioxide, but rather than being happy with that fact, environmentalists have done everything they can to block such plants, which are rare in the U.S. but common in other Western countries like France. They oppose non-nuclear plants like the one blocked in Kansas based on their carbon dioxide emissions, and oppose nuclear plants based on exaggerated fears about small amounts of radioactive material. To them, the only good power plant is a power plant that’s been shut down. Left unanswered is how the world is supposed to generate enough power to meet growing power demands without building any new power plants.
If the U.S. does not build new power plants, and lacks reliable sources of power as a result, industries that rely on such power may respond by moving to countries like China, which show less concern for the environment, countries where industrial pollution does not involve just odorless CO2, but also classically stinky, toxic pollutants that foul the air and cause cancer and serious respiratory ailments. The net result will be increased mortality and reduced economic growth.