I stole this now well-known quote from Kermit the Frog. I think his was social/cultural commentary on going through life as a talking frog puppet. I mean it in a very different context, though I admit I always thought living one’s life as a frog puppet might actually be a pretty happy existence.
Rewind the clock a week or so. I was listening to the radio on a news station and the reporter was interviewing someone, perhaps a building owner (I can’t recall), about their efforts to make their office building “green.” I had just recently visited someone’s office building and they took me on a tour to show me how “green” it was. I was feeling a bit nauseated by all this greenness so I changed my Facebook status to:
“Bruce Robertson doesn’t care how “green” your building is. In fact, I wonder how many hungry children could be fed in the world with the money you wasted making your building “green!”
Within 13 minutes of my posting that, an old friend replied “Really? Are you serious?” Her reply infers not only disagreement, but it suggests that I’m a lunatic for even thinking it, let alone posting my view for the whole world (or at least my FB friends) to see. As the evening wore on, I got a bunch of other folks “liking” my comment, but this kept gnawing at me. Was I a lunatic or was I onto something? Well, I decided to find out. Just as I was coming to this conclusion, I read in the paper about an 850,000 square foot building in Washington that was just being made “green” at a cost of $14.5 million. That’s about $17 per square foot to greenify a building. Hold that number in your head for just a moment.
I did some additional Internet research to round out the picture and here’s what I learned:
- In order to become a “green” building, you want to get the coveted LEED Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the United States Green Building Council.
- USGBC reports that, to date, they have certified 1.6 billion square feet of building space as “green.”
- I searched several websites to find out how much it costs to sponsor a poor hungry child in Africa (assuming Africa is a good surrogate for poor children in other parts of the developing world). The numbers ranged from about $12/month (Child Fund International) to $36/month (World Vision).
- I chose the approximate average of $25/month to feed and provide basic healthcare for an African child.
OK, now we have all the numbers we need to do the math. At $17/sqft to make 1.6 billion sqft of buildings “green” to date, the United States has spent $27.2 billion ($27,200,000,000) making buildings green. Now, the question we need to ask is “how many children could we have sponsored with that money?” Let’s assume that we start sponsoring the average child at birth and sponsor all the way to age 18 (18 total years). At $25/month, that works out to $5,400 to sponsor one child for 18 years.
Bear with me, we’re almost home. The last calculation is to find out how many African children’s food and healthcare we could have sponsored for the $27.2 billion we spent on making buildings green. The answer is to divide $27.2 billion by $5,400 (the cost of sponsoring one child for his/her entire childhood). The answer is 5 million. That’s right – for the money we’ve spent making buildings green, we could have provided food and healthcare to 5 million children in Africa or other developing nations. That’s a difference maker.
Folks, I’m not against the environment. Ask any of my friends how I used to honk my horn and scream at people who tossed their cigarettes out the window. I once saw a lady get out of her Jaguar and drop a cigarette in the parking lot. I picked it up and tried to hand it back to her and when she wouldn’t take it, I put it in the mouth of the Jaguar hood ornament. We all need to be smart about the environment. The introduction of the automotive catalytic converter and scrubbers on power plants have dramatically reduced emissions. That’s a good thing.
But, we have now hit a point of diminishing return where we have let a bogus religion of global warming (or global cooling or climate change or whatever the faux climate crisis de jour may be), that is completely devoid of sound scientific evidence, completely take over the international discussion. My math above may not be perfect and I’m sure we could debate the numbers. But, the point will not change. There has been a massive misallocation of scarce resources to making things green when there is real human suffering going on that is getting a fraction of that capital. I’m sure my liberal readers will contend that one could apply the same logic to the profits of Goldman Sachs. And, perhaps there might be a pony in that argument. However, without private enterprise, there is no money to do any of this stuff (see, Union, Soviet).
So, to my friend who asked me the question on my FB post, and anyone else inclined to listen, yes, I am serious. Deadly serious.