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This blog post is a rebuttal to an alarmingly fact-free video made by Professor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, he is one—I can’t make this stuff up. I’d suggest you watch the video by clicking here because it will help put the liberal use of the word “bullsh*t” into proper context. I’ll address his claims below.
Arnold: 7 million people die every year worldwide because of pollution-related illnesses. It’s more than from car accidents, more from suicides, homicides and wars and all of those things together.
Isaac: These people don’t live in the United States, or other developed countries, they are living in poor areas of the world like sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia.
Additionally, most of these pollution-related deaths are the result of these people not having access to proper water sanitation or electricity, and cutting down on the use of fossil fuels in the developed world isn’t going to change that one single iota.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates 2.5 billion people (35 percent of the world’s population) live without access to improved sanitation. The regions with the lowest access to clean water were sub-Saharan Africa (31%), Southern Asia (33%) and Eastern Asia (65%). This lack of sanitation contributes to the deaths of an estimated 801,000 children younger than 5 years of age who perish from diarrhea each year, mostly in developing countries.
Water, sanitation and hygiene has the potential to prevent at least 9.1% of the global disease burden and 6.3% of all deaths. If we truly want to help these people, we would be better served to bring them clean water and reliable electricity, rather than cutting our use of fossil fuels.
For example, according to a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), mortality rates in the US fell more rapidly during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries than any other period in American history largely because of improved water sanitation technologies such as filtration and chlorination.
NBER found that clean water was responsible for nearly half of the total mortality reduction in major cities, three-quarters of the infant mortality reduction, and nearly two-thirds of the child mortality reduction.
Water sanitation is important, but so is having access to adequate electricity. Not having access to electricity is called energy poverty, and it’s deadly.
Globally, 1.2 billion people, 17 percent of the population, don’t have electricity. And 2.7 billion don’t have access to clean cooking areas because they use wood and animal dung for heating and cooking. Again, most of these people live in poor areas like Africa and developing Asia.
Bottom line is this, if we’re serious about fighting pollution-related illnesses in the developing world, we would be better off investing in clean water technologies and providing reliable electricity so they don’t have to burn animal dung.
Isaac: Yes, sometimes these people do burn bullshit… He’s a bull alright.
Burning bullshit is why people living in developing countries have higher rates of air pollution than advanced countries (see the map below.)
Isaac: The air in developed nations is much cleaner than the air in poorer nations. Additionally, air quality in the United States is getting better and better all the time.
These graphs from the Environmental Protection Agency show that despite economic and population growth, air pollution is lower in the U.S. now than it has been for decades.
Carbon Monoxide is down 84 percent since 1980.
Lead pollution has decreased by 99 percent in that timeframe.
Nitrogen dioxide is down 59 percent.
Ozone is down 32 percent.
Sulfur dioxide is down 84 percent.
And small particulates are down 39 percent, and are far below the national standards.
Arnold: We are told that fighting pollution means harsh regulations that will cripple business.
Politicians they say, “It’s too costly to fix.”
Imagine, how absurd for a politician in Washington to talk about “too costly.” They love to spend money!
Isaac: The Governator sure loves the word bullsh*t, but it seems he has a fundamental misunderstanding of economics. Money doesn’t come from the government, it comes from taxpayers.
This is why, despite Arnold’s claim about how politicians love to spend money, it won’t actually be the politicians who are ultimately left footing the bill for these high-cost regulations.
When the government increases regulations, it makes it more expensive for businesses to operate. To make up for these added costs, businesses raise the prices on the products and services they provide for consumers. As a result, everyday people get stuck footing the very-large bill.
Look at what happened in Germany. Politicians enacted regulations to increase the amount renewable energy and cut down on carbon dioxide emissions.
You know what happened? Carbon dioxide emissions have actually increased since the regulations were enacted in 2009. Additionally, German citizens now pay about three times more for their electricity than Americans do.
According to the Energy Information Administration: “…Retail price for residential consumption in Germany was about 35 cents/kWh, while the average residential retail price in the United States was about 13 cents/kWh. Along with Denmark, Germany has among the highest residential electricity prices in Europe.”
So, imagine your power bill tripling in size for no conceivable environmental gain. That might be affordable for a rich movie star, but for Americans struggling to get by, it means they have less money for things everyday things, like Turboman dolls.
And Germany still relies on fossil fuels for about 80 percent of their energy. So how can anyone really argue that it’s been worth it?
Speaking of CO2 emissions, Arnold said he’d like to take some politicians who want to shut down EPA’s ability to regulated carbon, strap their mouth to the exhaust pipe of a truck, turn on the engine, and see how long it would take them to tap out.
There’s a lot of toxic stuff coming out of that tailpipe, like carbon monoxide, benzene, mono-nitrogen oxides, ozone and particulate matter, but carbon dioxide isn’t toxic. Arnold, CO2 is the hot air coming out of your mouth, not the air from the tailpipe going into it.
Carbon dioxide emissions have fallen more in the United States than any other country in the world. Emissions from energy have fallen by 12 percent since 2005.
And this isn’t because of regulations or renewable energy, it’s because fracking has made it possible to switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation. Overall, the fuel-use changes in the power sector have accounted for 68% of the total energy-related CO2 reductions from 2005 to 2015.
Arnold: In California we’ve shown that you can do both, protect the environment, and the economy at the same time. After California passed strict climate change laws, the state’s economy grew by 12.4 percent.
California has even outpaced Texas since 2011 21 percent to 17 percent.
If the biggest economy in the country, which California is, can thrive under the strictest environmental laws, that means we can do the same thing as a nation.
Isaac: This is kind of a bait and switch. Arnold says the economy grew after this law was passed, but the law hasn’t even come into full effect yet. That’s like bragging that the cost of health insurance under Obamacare didn’t increase in the year it passed, when we all know the cost of insurance has skyrocketed since its gone into effect.
Arnold: And move away from the fossil fuels. Let’s go and save the environment.
Isaac: Fossil fuels are an important part of saving the environment. They provide us with the energy we need, while helping us preserve natural areas, like Yosemite National Park.We cut down fewer trees, and in the process, preserve the environment.
On top of that, fossil fuel extraction is getting safer and safer all the time as technology gets better. Just like cars have gotten safer.
Plus, we get more than 80 percent of our energy from fossil fuels.
We get about .4 percent of our energy from solar and 1.8 percent of all of our energy from wind. I really doubt many people want to live like Conan the Barbarian.
Arnold: Share this video if you think its time for politicians to fight for clean energy.
Isaac: Hear me now, and believe me later, the air is actually getting a lot cleaner, and fossil fuels are helping to make that happen.
Share this blog post if you’re tired of Hollywood celebrities misleading you about the impact of human activities on the environment.