The logical consequences of Greening


Bestselling author, blogger and meatspace friend Michael Z. Williamson hit one out of the park with a post on MeWe yesterday.  I can’t link to it directly, because MeWe doesn’t provide that facility, but here it is.

One crisp winter morning in Sweden, a cute little girl named Greta woke up to a perfect world, one where there were no petroleum products ruining the earth. She tossed aside her cotton sheet and wool blanket and stepped out onto a dirt floor covered with willow bark that had been pulverized with rocks. “What’s this?” she asked.

“Pulverized willow bark,” replied her fairy godmother.

“What happened to the carpet?” she asked.

“The carpet was nylon, which is made from butadiene and hydrogen cyanide, both made from petroleum,” came the response.

Greta smiled, acknowledging that adjustments are necessary to save the planet, and moved to the sink to brush her teeth where instead of a toothbrush, she found a willow, mangled on one end to expose wood fibre bristles.

“Your old toothbrush?” noted her godmother, “Also nylon.”

“Where’s the water?” asked Greta.

“Down the road in the canal,” replied her godmother, ‘Just make sure you avoid water with cholera in it”

“Why’s there no running water?” Greta asked, becoming a little peevish.

“Well,” said her godmother, who happened to teach engineering at MIT, “Where do we begin?” There followed a long monologue about how sink valves need elastomer seats and how copper pipes contain copper, which has to be mined and how it’s impossible to make all-electric earth-moving equipment with no gear lubrication or tires and how ore has to be smelted to a make metal, and that’s tough to do with only electricity as a source of heat, and even if you use only electricity, the wires need insulation, which is petroleum-based, and though most of Sweden’s energy is produced in an environmentally friendly way because of hydro and nuclear, if you do a mass and energy balance around the whole system, you still need lots of petroleum products like lubricants and nylon and rubber for tires and asphalt for filling potholes and wax and iPhone plastic and elastic to hold your underwear up while operating a copper smelting furnace and . . .

“What’s for breakfast?” interjected Greta, whose head was hurting.

“Fresh, range-fed chicken eggs,” replied her godmother. “Raw.”

“How so, raw?” inquired Greta.

“Well, . . .” And once again, Greta was told about the need for petroleum products like transformer oil and scores of petroleum products essential for producing metals for frying pans and in the end was educated about how you can’t have a petroleum-free world and then cook eggs. Unless you rip your front fence up and start a fire and carefully cook your egg in an orange peel like you do in Boy Scouts. Not that you can find oranges in Sweden anymore.

“But I want poached eggs like my Aunt Tilda makes,” lamented Greta.

“Tilda died this morning,” the godmother explained. “Bacterial pneumonia.”

“What?!” interjected Greta. “No one dies of bacterial pneumonia! We have penicillin.”

“Not anymore,” explained godmother “The production of penicillin requires chemical extraction using isobutyl acetate, which, if you know your organic chemistry, is petroleum-based. Lots of people are dying, which is problematic because there’s not any easy way of disposing of the bodies since backhoes need hydraulic oil and crematoriums can’t really burn many bodies using as fuel Swedish fences and furniture, which are rapidly disappearing – being used on the black market for roasting eggs and staying warm.”

This represents only a fraction of Greta’s day, a day without microphones to exclaim into and a day without much food, and a day without carbon-fibre boats to sail in, but a day that will save the planet.

Tune in tomorrow when Greta needs a root canal and learns how Novocain is synthesized.

Uh . . . yeah!

Those who dream of a technology-free environmentally friendly Utopia never seem to take their visions to their logical conclusion.  To see what those are, all you have to do is read about human existence prior to the Industrial Revolution.  It wasn’t much fun, except to the nobility, and even they lived in squalor and deprivation compared to most residents of any First World country today.  Almost all of us have hot water on demand, a leakproof roof over our heads, clean air to breathe, and the ability to travel hundreds of miles every day in our personal, affordable conveyances.  We also have health care that beggars anything available even a century ago.  (Antibiotics first came into widespread use during and after World War II;  heart surgery from the 1960’s onward;  effective cancer treatments from the 1970’s and 1980’s.)  As a survivor of two heart attacks, plus a crippling injury that would probably have killed me slowly and painfully a century ago, I’m devoutly grateful for modern medicine!

Food for thought.



  1. Twelve years ago my blood pressure went through the roof on me. Two years later cancer came knocking. Without modern medicine I would not be commenting now.

  2. Then there is the fact that a large part of the world's population is dependent on food produced using chemical fertilizers and pesticides made using petroleum products. So how many people will starve to death from the greenies utopia?

  3. Nuke Road Warrior – remember killing off most of humanity is a feature not a bug to the real greenies. They openly talk of killing off 95% or more of the human race.

  4. SiGraybeard – yeah, Was forced to read "The Population Bomb" in the seventies for a college class.

  5. And that's not even accounting for Little Greta not being able to get a piece of bread because GMO – dwarf wheat, winter wheat, pesticides, harvesting equipment, grain drying equipment, storage, milling, baking etc…

    Really. The Green Revolution in the late 1960s and early 70s with high-yield low-grow species has saved the planet.


    Hunter-gatherer cultures are the most ecologically damaging of any. It's said that Desert Arabs exist because they make the desert. They move to a green spot in a potential desert area. They cut down trees to build, they cut down trees and bushes for firewood. They overgraze the surrounding area. When they run out of wood, they collect dung for fires, which means no more 'free' fertilizer for the grasses, which means no more pastures or grazing. So they move. And find a green spot, set up shop, kill everything, move, kill everything, move…

    Thus is the way of a normal hunter-gatherer culture. Move into area, deplete resources, leave, land slowly recovers and hopefully next time HG people come back, it's back to full productivity. But, of course, by that time the HG people have increased in number, or they've run into another HG people and have a little war and now there are a lot less HG people…

    And there are 'academics' that think Hunter-Gathers are so… 'noble' and it's the perfect way to live. Of course these same academics also think that 'Organic' farming (using legacy plants and no modern fertilizers or pesticides) is the only way to farm.

    Yeah… No…

  6. They'll issue themselves the appropriate indulgences.
    But we'll be ground underfoot.

    And that's the entire point.

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