Why, they might make a profit

The green extreme likes to put a smiley face on its feel-good-about-yourself-while-saving-the-planet rhetoric. But every once in a while, one of its foot soldiers slips up and reveals the disturbing philosophy that drives the far-left environmental lobby and so many of its "progressive" peers.

Right now, the greens are all about renewable energy. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's National Clean Energy Summit, held this week at UNLV, was a manifestation of the politics that prop up calls for "retooling" America's economy, which is powered by carbon-based fuels.

The fact that few can afford the expensive, inefficient technology required to generate minimal amounts of "green" power -- even with massive taxpayer subsidies -- is irrelevant to the greens. Environmentalists warn that carbon emissions cause global warming, and that global warming is already causing planetary catastrophe, making costs irrelevant to the debate. We must act now to accelerate a transition to green energy, no matter the cost, because the cost to the human race of failing to act could be incalculable, they claim.

But the only way to carry out that "retooling" is through massive government intervention -- at the cost of our freedoms, economic opportunity and quality of life. The private sector is just too self-interested to move fast enough to placate the greens.

Take NV Energy, the state's biggest electrical utility. It's trying mightily to meet legislative mandates to increase its renewable portfolio. But the recession has dampened residential and business demand for solar panels. Chief Executive Officer Michael Yackira pointed out at Sen. Reid's conference that even with tax credits and utility rebates, a homeowner must expect to pay about $22,000 out of pocket for rooftop generation panels, and that it takes about 22 years to recover that "investment" through energy savings.

But greens don't want to wait for the economy to recover. They don't care that NV Energy needs to remain profitable to be able to continue delivering increasing amounts of power to the state.

"They're in it to make a profit," sneered Peggy Maze Johnson of the environmental justice organization Citizen Alert. "I believe essential services should be not for profit."

Wow. What industries that provide "essential services" would Ms. Maze Johnson have us nationalize next? Health care? Housing providers? Clothing manufacturers? Grocery stores? Telecommunication services? Transportation? Toilet paper producers?

Never mind that in the history of the world the profit motive has been responsible for generating more wealth among more people than any government intervention. The state must compel everyone by the force of law to pay for what the environmentalists say we need, and no one must realize any monetary gain.

Indeed, at President Obama's Tuesday town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., on health care reform, his supporters waved signs that said "Insure people, not profits."

Ms. Maze Johnson's comment brings to mind remarks from Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, on the real agenda of the global warming alarmists: expand government power at the expense of individual and economic liberty -- a threat he and his people are familiar with.

"The biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st century is not communism or its various softer variants," Mr. Klaus said. "Communism was replaced by the threat of ambitious environmentalism."