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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4830/the-environmentalists-are-trying-to-frighten-the-natives/

The Environmentalists Are Trying to Frighten the Natives

March 25, 2006 by

In a manner reminiscent of witch doctors urging primitive people to sacrifice their sheep and goats in order to mollify the wrath of the gods, today’s environmentalists and their shills in the media and academe repeatedly urge the people of the United States and the rest of the modern world to sacrifice their use of energy and their standard of living in order to avoid the wrath of the Earth and its atmosphere. That wrath will allegedly take one form or another: a new ice age (recall the predictions of Paul Ehrlich) or, if not a new ice age, then global warming and a resulting rise in sea levels. And if global warming and a rise in sea levels of 1 to 3 feet over the next 100 to 150 years is not sufficiently frightening, then a rise in sea levels of 13 to 20 feet over centuries lying still further in the future is projected. Both of these sea-level results are supposed to proceed from a projected rise in average global temperature of 4 degrees, and of average temperature in the Arctic specifically of 5 to 8 degrees. (See “Melting Ice Threatens Sea-Level Rise” and “Climate Data Hint at Irreversible Rise in Seas” in today’s [March 25, 2006] New York Times.)

None of these predictions is based on any kind of scientific experiment. Nor could they be. A scientific experiment would require a laboratory somewhere that contained two identical planets, Earth 1 and Earth 2. There would be just one difference between them. The human population of Earth 1 achieves an Industrial Revolution and rises to the level of energy use and standard of living of our own present-day Earth and its likely level of energy use within the next century. In contrast, the human population of Earth 2 fails to advance beyond the energy use of the Dark Ages or pre-industrial modern times. And then the scientists in the laboratory observe that the average temperature of Earth 1 comes to exceed the average temperature of Earth 2 by 4 degrees, and that of its Arctic region by 5 to 8 degrees, and that its sea level proceeds to rise by the number of feet described, while the sea level of Earth 2 remains unchanged.

Obviously, this is not how such temperature and sea-level projections are arrived at. They are reached on the basis of combining various bits and pieces of actual scientific knowledge with various arbitrary assumptions, which combinations are then fed into computers and come out as the results of “computer models.” Different assumptions produce different results. The choice of which bits and pieces of scientific knowledge to include also produces different results. The process is very similar to an individual with a spreadsheet combining various financial formulas with various assumptions about rates of return, periods of time, tax rates, and so forth, and then coming out with projections of his retirement income.

Imaging being a member of a jury, charged with deciding the guilt or innocence of a defendant on the basis of such computer models. Would it then be even remotely possible to render a verdict that met the standard of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Yet this is the caliber of the evidence on the basis of which the environmentalist prosecutors/persecutors of Industrial Civilization want us to convict it and condemn it to death. Yes, the death of the Industrial Revolution and Industrial Civilization. That is what is meant by such statements as, “`we will have to commit soon to a major effort to stop most emissions of carbon to the atmosphere,’” i.e., to stop the consumption of most or all oil, coal, and natural gas, and thus throw the world back to the pre-Industrial ages. (This particular statement was made by Dr. Jonathan T. Overpeck of the University of Arizona, one of the “scientists” referred to in The Times’ articles. Its meaning is supported by major segments of the environmental movement with little or no opposition from the rest of the movement.)

Industrial Civilization is not a disembodied concept. It is the foundation of the material well-being and of the very lives of the great majority of the 6 billion or more people now living. It’s destruction would mean the collapse of the production of food and medicine and literally result in worldwide famines and plagues. This is a result that would be of great satisfaction to those environmentalists who believe that the pre-Industrial World’s population limit of about a billion people was somehow more desirable than the subsequent growth in population to its present size. But it would not be of any comfort or joy to those who had to suffer and die in the process and who saw their loved ones suffer and die. Nor would it be of any comfort or joy to the survivors, who would have to live lives of abject poverty and misery.

There are juries that bring in verdicts in defiance of all reason. The question is, is the jury of contemporary public opinion in the developed world in general and in the United States in particular so simple minded and irrational as to bring in a totally unjustified death-penalty verdict not only against modern Industrial Civilization, but against most of the human race at the very same time?

This article is copyright © 2006, by George Reisman. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute it electronically and in print, other than as part of a book and provided that mention of the author’s web site www.capitalism.net is included. (Email notification is requested.) All other rights reserved.

{ 42 comments }

David C March 26, 2006 at 12:42 pm

Of all the issues out there, enviromentalisim is the one that I find the most difficult to argue the “libertarian” case. The environmentalists out slogan libertarians 10 to 1. I often find my self fusterated that anyone who doesn’t whole heartedly embrace Marxist enviromentalist view is automatically written off an anti environment. I also find it fusterating that people want to have an equivalance relationship between enviromental “rights” and individual rights. Of course they never say slogans like “we should trade 5 human lives for 5 acres of rain-forest”, but that’s what it boils down to if you accept the premise. Even if I could accept that humans are drastically altering the planet in a bad way, which is a big if, then they want me to accept that the only possible rational solution is to have massive government microregulation at every level of individual and commercial life.

Recently I’ve become a lot more cynical about the enviromental movement. All those enviroment regulations on auto emmisions, are really about forcing used cars out of the market place to force the purchase of new expensive cars. All those enviroment regulations on “smoke stack” industries, are really about upping the barriers to entry for new clean efficient comeptitors. All those complaints you hear about cell-phones and batteries, are really about justifing new taxes and regulations to line enviro-bureauocrat pockets. What really amazes me is all this enviromental “research” that absolutely must be done at taxpayers expense. I wonder how easy it is to get funding if your research might imply that the enviroment is OK?

Living in CA, I’ve herd plenty about water and electricity conservation. (to help the uh, enviroment) Of course, if you want to conserve things – you raise prices, but not in CA. Am I really conserving to save the enviroment, or am I conserving to save bureauocrats from the consequences of failing to respect free markets?

The Crawling Chaos March 26, 2006 at 3:51 pm
The Economist March 26, 2006 at 5:28 pm

“Even if I could accept that humans are drastically altering the planet in a bad way, which is a big if, then they want me to accept that the only possible rational solution is to have massive government microregulation at every level of individual and commercial life.”

The best argument against that is to point out how difficult and often impossible it is to control people. Use economic theory to explain why this kind of microregulation would result in an even worse environmental catastrophe.

Agree with them on the premise, that humans are destroying the Earth and all of existence. Only argue on what can or cannot be done. Environmental dictatorship will result only in massive corruption and environmental devastation. The solution must come from universal laws and rights.

David White March 26, 2006 at 6:14 pm

As a free-market environmentalist, the term I use for the environmental movement, as such, is “watermelon”: i.e., it members are green on the outside but red on the inside.

As for Global Warming, I predict it will go the way that Global Cooling did thirty years ago, the politics of the former soon to be overwhelmed by the collapse of the American empire and the disaster that its excesses have wrought.

Historically, we live in the “knee” of two asymptotic and completely divergent curves: one, government fiat currencies that are going down in flames; the other, technology that is soaring to infinity.

Buy gold and hang on.

Peter March 26, 2006 at 7:20 pm

CMB: the answer to the first is “possibly” (there’s no real evidence either way), to the second is “no” (actually, warming would be good), and to the third is “absolutely not”. And what do you mean “because of the amount of CO2 we have released and continue to release into the atmosphere”? Natural volcanic activity puts far more CO2 (and worse) into the atmosphere than humans do. (E.g, I’m told Mt. Pinatubo put out more CO2 than humans have throughout our existence). As for all the disaster nonsense: the earth has been considerably warmer in the past without wiping out half the earth, etc.

Walt D. March 26, 2006 at 8:23 pm

Global Warming is junk science with a political agenda. The time since the industrial revolution is an infinitesimal fraction of the age of the earth. Going back to the Jurassic period CO2 levels were around 1800ppm and the average temperature of the earth was 21 Celsius. Today CO2 levels are 377ppm, the average global temperatures is about 11 Celsius. Human activity has been held responsible for a 3ppm per year increase, and, according to the “Chicken Little” environmentalists, as a result, the sky is falling. (Or more accurately, the sea is rising!)

There is no doubt that global warming is taking place – it has been since the last ice age. Currently on a geological time scale, CO2 levels and global temperatures are very low. Life on earth has flourished at much higher temperatures. Rather than getting hysterical about global warming due to human activity, we should ask ourselves what we should be doing to prepare for the much larger changes in temperature, either up or down, that can, and inevitably will, occur naturally, due to variations in solar activity, the earth’s magnetic field, clouds, underwater volcanoes, and a host of other factors that the environmental climatologists choose to ignore.

Two metaphors: La Fontaine’s “La Coche et La Mouche” tells a parable about a coach being pulled up a steep hill by a team of horses. A fly bites horses and attributes the fact that horses are pulling the coach to his biting them, and demands to be paid for his service!
More on topic, the Anglo-Saxon King Canute, who thought he was so powerful that he ordered his men to carry his throne down to the beach, where he commanded the incoming tide to retreat!

Peter March 26, 2006 at 10:07 pm

Walt D: The Danish (not Anglo-Saxon) king Cnut/Canute didn’t think he so powerful. The commanding-back-the-sea episode was a demonstration intended to prove to his followers that he wasn’t that powerful.

Peter March 26, 2006 at 10:13 pm
Felix Benner March 27, 2006 at 5:15 am

There are statistics that say that people who live beneath a street with high traffic tend to have substancially higher risk of lung cancer. I therefore take it for proven that exhaust causes cancer. Since you don’t stop your exhaust where my property begins, you’re violating my property rights with driving a car and you’re doing me physical harm. As far as I understand austrian economics there is no way to justify this. Same argument holds for polluting water. If you don’t stop the pollutants before my property begins you’re violating my property rights when polluting a river our ground water that flows through my property. I would make the same argument on destroying the ozon layer since you’re increasing the radiation on my property.

Horatio March 27, 2006 at 6:10 am

There certainly are problems with the science behind anthropogenic global warming, but Austrians should spend their time studying the science rather than making assumptions about its quality. Sometimes they come to the wrong conclusions, like the creationists who still do not understand entropy.

Keith March 27, 2006 at 7:29 am

Quote for David C: “Of all the issues out there, enviromentalisim is the one that I find the most difficult to argue the “libertarian” case. The environmentalists out slogan libertarians 10 to 1. I often find my self fusterated that anyone who doesn’t whole heartedly embrace Marxist enviromentalist view is automatically written off an anti environment. I also find it fusterating that people want to have an equivalance relationship between enviromental “rights” and individual rights. Of course they never say slogans like “we should trade 5 human lives for 5 acres of rain-forest”, but that’s what it boils down to if you accept the premise.”

I think David C pins down that this whole issue has become political and the science virtually irrelavant. I was watching “This Week” yesterday and George Will was pointing out the inconsistencies in the facts of the global warming view and Fareed Zacharia responded with the statement “I’m not going to argue the physics”. The environmentalists and their supporting mob view this as some sort of political debate that is voted on and the majority get to decide what is “true”. Everytime there’s some sort of debate on the issue, you’ll always hear somebody say “majority of scientists agree” of “mainstream scientists agree” or something similar, as if its an election.

The best we can hope for is to block or slow the radical proposals and in 10 years or so. The world won’t end and people will get tired of hearing about it.

Marcus Epstein March 27, 2006 at 8:55 am

I agree with Chicken Little. Perhaps environmentalists are overreacting, but what if they’re not?

Yes, these computer models may be inaccurate, but what would it take to satisfy Dr. Reisman or other libertarians that environmental catastrophe’s could happen. My guess is even if the ice caps end up melting and destroy cities, they would still say we can’t blame it on global warming.

I honestly haven’t made up my mind on the issue, but I can’t see how pumping billions of tons of CO2 into the air is a good thing.

Dan Mahoney March 27, 2006 at 9:28 am

I believe the issue with these computer models
isn’t so much their inaccuracy, but the fact
that so many of the input parameters (and their
various relations) are simply not known or
understood, therefore the actual choice of
numerical values inputted to these models
(needed for real simulations) are essentially arbitrary. So, the output of these models
can be justifiably called into questions for
reasons that have nothing to do with lack of
computing power, etc.

Dan

David J. Heinrich March 27, 2006 at 10:48 am

CMB,

Well, since they can’t prove their claims, and these claims rest on the assumptions they’re feeding into computer models, why should we believe them regarding public policy? Let me put it this way: is it conceivable that a jury in a court of law could rule that Global Warming is actually occuring beyond a reasonable doubt?

Regarding scientists conspiring, no conspiracy is necessary: we have a State. All that need happen is State-selection in terms of who gets funding.

Polimom March 27, 2006 at 12:10 pm

CMB said:

“Well, since they can’t prove their claims, and these claims rest on the assumptions they’re feeding into computer models, why should we believe them regarding public policy? Let me put it this way: is it conceivable that a jury in a court of law could rule that Global Warming is actually occuring beyond a reasonable doubt?”

That sounds remarkably like the Intelligent Design vs. Evolution debate – arguably another inconclusive scientific theory. Some might consider that argument to be just ever-so-slightly flawed.

Brad Dexter March 27, 2006 at 12:26 pm

All I need to know at this point is that the majority of this debate “in the street” is from newspaper articles, which come from press releases from the Fill-In-The-Blank Institute, which summarizes their findings from “scientific research”. But when those scientists are called before committess, their language is extremely more conditional than the hard, black and white, of the newspapers, which leave the impression that it is proven fact. But of course I have yet to see the scientists clamor to make sure people are perfectly aware of the conditional nature of these findings.

Perhaps it all has to do with the moneys flowing in from tax dollars, and other non-market forces, that would dry up. It has to be faced that, by and large, most scientists operate outside of market forces. It’s no surprise that most scientists see only a Statist, non-market, solution to whatever supposed problems exist.

And the argument that “well, what if it’s true” doesn’t fly (in fact in testimony given by a noted scientist, after many exhaustive labors, he fell back on this crutch in the end – he REALLY doesn’t know, he’s just afraid of the concept). I just may walk out of my house one these sweltering days, get incinerated by UV rays, and go directly to hell. But I don’t believe that it will happen.

And as for computer models, I’ve heard that there are just as many outcomes that show low increases even 100 years from now, but conveniently those never become part of the end story. Conspiracy? I guess when no one would give a damn if the story was “everything looks a – o.k”. So just as corporations use only those surveys that aid their advertising claims, so to models and data that show alarming increases are the ones that get press and continues the gravy train.

Brian Drum March 27, 2006 at 12:26 pm

with the models and data constantly tested in the wild…

How do you test a model that claims to make precise predictions of the state of one of the most complex systems in existence (climate/weather) very far into the future?? Come on, the local weatherguys have enough trouble predicting the weather tomorrow. And these models can be ‘tested’, since they aim @ predictions of tomorrow’s or at most next week’s weather. Surely there is a LONG way to go before someone can state what the weather is going to be in a hundred years. What am I missing?

D. Saul Weiner March 27, 2006 at 12:38 pm

“Since the US state is trying to kill all talk of global warming and is one of the few that rejected Kyoto, in what way does your comment not confirm what I just wrote?”

Kyoto is much more onerous for the U.S. than for many other industrial nations.

Paul Edwards March 27, 2006 at 12:50 pm

I would like to mention the recent event called the “little ice age” that occurred around the 1300′s. During that time in _recorded history_, the earth cooled, glaciers overtook communities, and agricultural patterns in the northern hemisphere were altered dramatically and for the worse.

Credible physicists attribute that little ice age to a supernova event:

“Global temperature is predominantly driven by variations in solar irradiance, the Earth’s and Sun’s magnetic field strength, coronal mass ejection and galactic cosmic ray flux rates. The Earth is presently experiencing a warming trend because we are coming out of the Little Ice Age that began in the early 1300′s caused by a nearby supernova event, RX J0852.0-4622.”

James A. Marusek
March 2004

On the question of the greenhouse effect of CO2, it has been argued convincingly, that the earth is cooled by water vapor that easily passes by CO2 into the outer atmosphere, where it gives off heat and condenses there. CO2 is making our plants grow faster, yes. Is it warming our planet in a significant and disastrous way? Not likely.

I think it is wiser to keep using resources to advance us technologically so that we are better prepared for the event of another ice age, than to stymie this activity, falsely in the name of the environment, and lessen our chances of dealing successfully with such changes which our simply out of our control.

David J. Heinrich March 27, 2006 at 12:51 pm

CMB,

Surely, you must be aware of the grave problems of data-mining (and other data-bias problems) when models are back-tested using historical data?

Saying that a model has been backtested using historical data hardly inspires much confidence in me, unless you can show that there wasn’t data-mining or other forms of data-bias.

David J. Heinrich March 27, 2006 at 12:52 pm

Also, just because the US rejected Kyoto doesn’t mean there aren’t significant forces in the State pushing for funding of green-science. The State is not homogenous.

Brian Drum March 27, 2006 at 12:59 pm

So basically there were thousands of busy body scientists running around a hundred years ago making rigorous measurements of atmospheric CO2 levels?

Brad Dexter March 27, 2006 at 1:09 pm

CMB,

Why does anyone who discounts what the scientists say are looking for a conspiracy? It’s just the way it is.

Look at it market terms, who is going to pay people to say everything is hunky-dory? Just like bureaucrats, their existence is dependent on something being wrong. Ergo, their data indicates something’s wrong.

Also, it IS the commonly held point of view, how many up and comers in the academic world, publish or perish ruling the day, are going to go against the catholic (i.e. general) institutional belief? One isn’t going to be around long with a contrarian point of view.

So to call it “conspiracy” belittles those who hold a contrary point of view. The whole subject is too ambigious to know for certain what is right, but when a whole governmento-environmenalist “industrial” complex has been created, the cozy relationships between governmental agencies and (presumably independent) institutions of higher learning, there are whole institutions of self serving bureaucrats and researchers whose livelihoods as they know them depend on there being a problem, it really is the fox guarding the hen-house.

A distinct conspiracy? No, just Statism lumbering on apace.

Brad Dexter March 27, 2006 at 1:31 pm

***Again, paleoclimatologists don’t always agree, but such is science!***

Perhaps the earth is warming somewhat, even many libertarians are willing to concur, it is of course the WHY that is the question, and I think we’d better have some pretty strong evidence before we use Force against people to alter their behaviors. I guess that’s the root of the argument, being against those who are so prone to use Force as the answer to everything, as a product of their zeal, and those middle managers and scroungers who inhabit the insitiutions created to carry out the program (or pogrom as the case may be).

Brad Dexter March 27, 2006 at 2:29 pm

I would ask that you spend some time at the NOAA website, and NASA of course just swung behind global warming advocacy. These entities have direct ties with the world of academics through sub-agencies that basically have co-mingled funds behind them and their research, and suffice it to say the majority of these funds don’t come from paper routes and bake sales. I’ve taken some time in the past to study (as much as a layman can) the interweiving of the Feds and researchers, and the talent pool is pretty much interchangeable (except for those that come from the researchers in the military, some cross-over, but near exclusive), as I recall very close ties between the NOAA and Princeton.

And the NOAA is tucked under the Department of Commerce. Abuse of the Commerce Clause anyone? NOAA’s activities are at best tangential, and decidely pro man’s complicity in global warming, churning tax dollars all the while.

Not a conspiracy, just Statist mumbo-jumbo. There are those on the left who decry the cozy relationship between government and business (as they should) but give a pass on the similar coziness in the academic world, almost as if it is natural to have an Academicracy. There is a whole cascade of apparatchiki here that goes by unnoticed or fairly unchecked.

I guess at the end of the day, is it surprising that the prodigiousness of this data tracks with the rise of such entities as the NOAA? Statism breeds Statism, always has.

BTW, thank another Republican for expanding the State. You never here about Nixon in these contexts.

Brad Dexter March 27, 2006 at 2:39 pm

***Brad: Whether you’re a libertarian or librarian, what bearing does that have on whether you “concur” that the earth is heating up or not? Since you don’t believe in scientific models and don’t trust scientists, I don’t know what could count as “pretty strong evidence” for you.***

I’m more than willing to listen to an argument that is sustainable beyond models in the hands of the people who are proponents of their point of view, and who are getting free money to carry on their modeling. I guess it’s NOT a matter of faith, like so many people seem to have once the word “scientists” is busted out. I merely see the self serving actions of those who are proponents of man’s involvement in global warming, and the call to limit men from freely engaging in wealth building activities. There is just something inherently annoying in non-producers having a greater voice in the process of wealth building and production than those who produce. That really seems to be the reason for the existence of the State, to give power to the non-productive over the productive, and to control and reallocate the production based on their set of values.

Xellos March 27, 2006 at 3:05 pm

–”No, but looking at a graph of global temperature rises over the last 100 years or so is”

…an indication that we’re still on our way out of the little ice age? CMB, your posts would be much better if you stopped ignorning the substance of your opponents’ comments.

I will add that your focus on CO2 is annoying. It’s a major shortcoming among most voluable environmentalists I’ve encountered. I do wish you would all stop trying to present it as the only greenhouse gas. The slightly less dishonest settle for the major greenhouse gas, but are still incorrect (the main greenhouse gas is water vapor). Casually dropping the “main antropogenic” prefix that might lend them some credibility is a particular form of context dropping that perhaps deserves its own label.

In the same vein, however, I wonder if you’d care to address the Jurassic Period comment made by Walt D, which you seem to have missed.

–”Since you don’t believe in scientific models and don’t trust scientists”

I think you’re overstating things here. Models should not be trusted until empiraclly tested. Even then, a discrepancy between the model and observation will usually be an error in the model. They certainly have their uses, but one should be careful not to assume too much from their results.

The main models cited by environmentalists have known problems (especially in data selection; it’s interesting how much the results change if you vary the start and end points by a mere decade or so) that are never addressed in these kinds of debates. Anyone commenting on them gets shouted down as an unbeliever… excuse me, as someone who doesn’t trust scientific models. Responding to your opponent’s arguments with ad hominem attacks is generally taken as a signal that your arguments are on a very shaky foundation.

As far as trusting scientists goes, when a significant portion of the supports tack on the equivalent of “and if you approve my grant proposal I’ll study this further”, then yes, I do think their results have to be treated with skepticism. This applies to anyone with a financial interest in what they’re talking about.

David J. Heinrich March 27, 2006 at 3:06 pm

CMB,

Please explain to me how it’s possible these models — which are talking about changes of a few degrees over hundreds of years — can be forward tested? These models haven’t even existed for half a century.

The only way they could have been tested is by simulation using historical data, which is prone to all kinds of data-mining problems. This is not to say that it’s invalid per se, but you’d have to convince me that the back-testing done doesn’t engage in data-mining or other biases.

Temperature changes over the past century are not an open-and-closed book. As Crichton has pointed out (referring to original sources), there are numerous difficulties with our data on global temperatures over the past century. And even if you could show that the temperature over the last century has increased, that hardly proves that such increase is because of CO2 emissions increases.

I’d also note that if global warming is occuring, good. The Earth was significantly warmer in the middle ages — it wasn’t exactly a disaster. Greenland was actually green. All these environmentalist wackjobs should love global warming — certainly if it’s caused by CO2 as they postulate — as that’s good for plants.

Vince Daliessio March 27, 2006 at 3:46 pm

The problems, as I see them: 1) There is no way to distinguish natural from anthropomophically-caused warming; 2)The models are hideously complex (by necessity) and open to “spoofing” or other manipulation, and; 3) the presumptive remedy is basically a one-world regulatory regime, controlled by unaccountable persons.

If all the predictions are true (and I have my doubts), we are still faced with the fact that the only mitigative regime being put forth is a one-world carbon government. There is no room at all, in the world-view of the keepers of the theory, for a free-market solution.

quincunx March 27, 2006 at 3:55 pm

CMB, would you call the cooperation between environmentalists and big oil in restricting new refineries and nuclear power as a conspiracy or just something that makes plain sense?

Would you consider the fact that The Truth is funded by big tobacco as a deal with the states to hold up their cartel and tax their citizens heavily (which the state then invest in tobacco stocks) as a conspiracy or just something you’d expect to happen?

Would you consider western railroad and real estate owners in the late 19th century advocating and funding pro-forest eastern intellectuals as an excuse to raise their land prices as a conspiracy or just plain common sense?

How is this any different from the global warming question?

Brad Dexter March 27, 2006 at 4:29 pm

CMB,

Not to be the guy at the party that refuses to leave you alone (since you’ve ended our part of the discussion) but I still wish you’d drop the conspiracy talk. The issue is, again, grinding Statism of which the environmental cause is merely one tentacle. Is $2.8 TRILLION budgets a conspiracy? Is a $46 TRILLION accrual basis debt a conspiracy? I guess I tried to show the portion of the State Leviathan that is due to one sub-function, one sub-rationale, for expanding Statism. It is no more a “conspiracy” than any other Statist function with the cycle of “see how much good we’ve done!!!” between budgets and “look how bad things are” when the next budget window opens. The bad in this case is the impending apocolypse due to my gas mower.

It’s not a conspiracy, it is full fledged, in the light, Statism. Simply because people ignore it doesn’t make the naysayers conspiracy theorists likened to Elvis spotters or those that believe Kennedy’s brain is alive in a Taxes hospital.

Mark March 27, 2006 at 5:09 pm

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the earth is going to warm a few degrees and the sea level is going to rise 20 feet in the next few hundred years. What’s the big deal? Surely that’s plenty of time to build levees/dams/dikes around major sea level cities, and/or to move the population to higher ground and further north.

Adem Kupi March 27, 2006 at 5:41 pm

An interesting thing to think about is, if (for the sake of argument) global warming is being increased by human factors, how much of this is due to statist intervention?
The USSR was one of the most polluted places on earth, in spots where the Party wanted to industrialize.

If property was truly private, in the sense of being lockean/homesteading or usufruct/commons purchase based, these problems would be settled by now, because liability for air (and water) trespass and pre-arranged toll-road contracts would make it expensive to pollute.

Of course, this is assuming that there is a problem in the first place, which would be much easier to discern, and to what extent, in a laissez faire world.

quincunx March 27, 2006 at 5:54 pm

“I have no objection to your calling global warming theory a conspiracy”

I’m not. I gave you wild examples that were wide open in public debate (albeit not always mainstream). They are not conspiracies – just common sense state modus operandi. IMHO, conspiracies must always be fuzzy and known to a few people (common crimes fit the bill more often), but general knowledge of how government and special interst work has been studied to death for two thousand years, most noteably in the last two hundred.

CMB,
I can respect your position that people should be keenly aware of the possibility of the destruction by global warming. It would indeed be good for people to consider environmental concerns if it is desirable and affordable. The solution as I’m sure you agree is the market. The problem lies in the fact that the market is not so quick to jump to conclusions – and thus the market always looses the battle against rhetoric.

Mark, CMB, etc… the real problem in avoiding global warming is obviously the state itself…with it’s restrictions on migration. The Netherlands will be ready with it’s levees/dams/dikes, but one cannot say the same thing about other areas. From their perspective it would be more practical to just migrate to better climates – if they were free to do so. There are actually many benefits to global warming – it’s just awful that people will have to die because of governments.

Paul Edwards March 27, 2006 at 7:03 pm

In respect to rising sea levels due to global warming: It is my contention that if the earth warms, sea levels will not necessarily rise, because there will be increased evaporation, and hence more precipitation. Furthermore, some of this increased precipitation will still occur over frozen regions and fall and remain in a frozen state. The earth is not going to thaw completely is it? Therefore, there is nothing certain about a correlation between a slightly warmer earth and rising sea levels.

From an empirical and historical perspective, is anyone aware of major sea level recessions that occurred at the arrival of the little ice age? I am unfamiliar with such stories, but it would be interesting to hear about them if they had occurred.

David C March 28, 2006 at 12:36 am

In all fairness, I seem to renember that before the 1st gulf war, Saddam Hussein set all oil wells on fire and to see what would happen everyone turned to computer models. Not only do I recall that they were all wrong, but the EPA models (that are also used to calculate global warming) turned out to be drastically wrong.

So today they spit out this new (improved) prediction, and still expect me to embrace trillions of dollars worth of micro-regulation of every aspect of industry and transportation based off of it. Well, I’m sorry. While computers are powerfull, they still can’t even drive a car safely arround the block and the bottom line is that the EPA and other orgs like it fund these studies based off of their criteria, and simply can’t be trusted to be unbiased because their government funding depends on the results.

Is global warming happening? It probably doesn’t matter. While global warming might be a roaring 2% per century, human technology is increasing at 2000% per century. I say just get the govt out of the way, and if or when it ever becomes a show-stopper, human technology and free markets will be more than up to the challange.

Yancey Ward March 28, 2006 at 10:52 am

A few up-front comments:

(1) I don’t think there is a lot of doubt that humans are warming the planet with increasing CO2 emissions and land clearing. However, I think that it cannot be concluded that the outcomes will be worse than the present.

(2) The science of global warming is polluted by politics on both sides. Many of the advocates of the “global warming is bad” view are clearly statists who advocate state control over society- one only need look at the proposed “solutions”. The advocates of the “global warming is not occurring” view are ignoring all of the solid work that has been done on this topic, and I can only conclude that they do so because they detest the state (as I do).

However, I think nothing should be done, and I am fairly certain nothing will be done to stop the use of fossil fuels. At this moment in time, there are no substitutes for energy production other than nuclear fission. Wind and solar simply cannot replace fossil fuels, and will only serve as supplements- in other words, they will only lower the rate of CO2 increase, not actually stop the increase. Unless we turn to nuclear fission, then only the depletion of such fossil fuels will stop CO2 increase in the absence of civilization’s collapse. If global warming has dire consequences, then I feel we will simply have to adapt to them.

Sione March 28, 2006 at 11:36 am

CMB writes: “Your average senior NASA scientist would earn much more in industry than by sticking around at NASA and trying to attact funds by making up wild stories about the end of the world!”

Then why don’t they go earn some more money and do some productive work in industry? Why choose to hang around NASA? Why continue to mulct the taxpaying public? No-one is forcing these wonderful men and women to stay there.

It clearly is in the interest of such “scientists” to do exactly as they are; suck up to the state teat and make up wild stories about the end of the world. I sure wouldn’t employ them to do any of this sort of thing. Who would? Oh yes. The state would.

They choose to do as they do. “It’s a living.”

What have we had from these turds so far this year:

Global Warming is coming to destroy us. It’ll be a disaster of unimaginable magnitude. Govt has to do something about it.

Bird Flu is coming to destroy us. It’ll be a disaster of unimaginable magnitude. Govt has to do something about it.

STDs are coming to destroy us. It’ll be a disaster of unimaginable magnitude, especially for the young. Govt has to do something about it.

Anti-biotic resistant diseases are coming to destroy us. It’ll be a disaster of unimaginable magnitude, especially for the young, the old and the infirm. Govt has to do something about it.

The population is aging. Too many old people will need looking after. Govt has to do something about it.

An energy crisis looms. Soon the oil will run out. Renewables and other alternative energy sources are required otherwise there’ll be a disaster of unimaginable magnitude. Govt has to do something about it.

Industry isn’t innovative enough. New technologies are required. Unless more spending is directed at scientific research the country will be left behind. It’ll be a disaster. Govt has to do something about it.

And so on. All variations on a theme. Here’s the process:

1/. Dream up a problem.
2/. Inflate it into a titanic disaster.
3/. Demand, propose or promote govt action.
4/. Get paid (or funded).
5/. Repeat.

Note that govt. action includes more funding for “scientists” to continue to “study” or “research” the problem. There’s a whole heap of self-interest mixed in there alright. Accomplish step 3 and you get to step 4.

Funny that none of them say anything like this:

Govt is harmful to individuals. There have been unmitigated disasters caused by govts. The evidence of the last 100 years is particularly compelling in this regard. Action needs to be taken to minimise (even banish) govt and eliminate it from the economy. Separation of economy and govt. This has to be done right now.

No money in that for the “scientists.”

As for me, I don’t give a toss about global warming. If it ever really does get to being a real problem I’ll be dead and gone and the kids can deal with it.

Righto! I’m off to light a fire. Then I’ll burn off a couple of hundred gallons of fuel in the boat. I might even do a few burn-outs in the car park.

Sione

Paul Edwards March 28, 2006 at 1:23 pm

Yancey,

“I don’t think there is a lot of doubt that humans are warming the planet with increasing CO2 emissions and land clearing.”

I agree with you that the planet is warming. And I agree that it is popularly held that it is CO2 produced by human activities that is the cause of this warming.

However, if we ask the scientists who don’t get heard much in the mainstream (Sione elaborates on why) there is indeed some doubt of the cause of the warming, to put it mildly. The fact is the physicists who don’t have a vested interest in the “human induced” global warming theory, argue two things: 1) that it is cosmic influences on how the sun’s rays hit the earth that has, by far, the most substantial influence on the earth’s temperature, and 2) CO2 cannot hinder a very significant cooling process the earth has which is warm water vapor rising easily past the CO2, giving off heat and cooling, condensing and falling again.

I’ll bet 99 of 100 people have never heard these basic arguments, or heard of the event of the little ice age of the 1300′s and its causes, let alone been exposed to a debate over these issues. And yet we are certain it is our CO2 generation that is warming the earth? There is certainly something fishy going on in the world of the global warming debate.

Brad Dexter March 28, 2006 at 1:27 pm

Sione,

I agree with most of what you say (we seem to be pulling the same side of the rope here) but I would say that some of the problems aren’t necessarily dreamed up, it is the notion that the government can actually do much about it. Certainly the government can try to do “something about it” in the case of an actual problem, but they will not likely solve it to any satisfactory degree, and likely create more problems and bureaucracy along the way. And of course any real inroads into problem A will only likely happen by quashing freedom in the process, freedom that likely won’t be doled out again any time soon.

Brad Dexter March 28, 2006 at 1:46 pm

***But over the last few years I think that enough has come up to suggest that it is certainly human-caused (or at least human-accelerated) and that the effects of it will be so bad that it is worth combatting.***

And where did this convincing information come from? And how were you finally convinced. Could it have anything to do with the fact that this environmental cause du jour has stayed around longer than a day? I recall acid rain was the next end of mankind, but the air went out of that balloon. The next Ice Age was coming, but evidently thats was wrong, and is “so three decades ago”. The ozone was actually getting more press than global warming a few years back (at least from what I recall) but that sure has taken a back seat. The seas losing life will lead to a Soylent Green existence here pretty quick. Deforestatation will end the world. ALL of these are secondary to the Mother, Global Warming, so it’s no suprise that your wall tumbled down.

Also, perhaps I wan’t perfectly clear, SOME of the scientists believe in their cause. But many, I deem, are living the bureaucratic life, following the relatively easy money to a job and copious benefits. I never under estimate mans’ ability to look for the path of least resistance.

Suffice it to say we’ll just disagree. I might buy into the fact that the globe has warmed somewhat. But much harder proofs are needed to prove that man has caused it, that temperatures will rise dramatically, and that catastrophic effects will be in the offing. Nobody really knows. We need much more direct proofs before we roll out Statist programs damaging supply and demand and the harm that is done to people thereby.

We’ve got a $46 trillion accrual basis debt to worry about first, so if there has to be much thought given to our well being, that’s where I’ll start first, because the razor thin likelihood that man’s end is a few hundred years off is of less import to me than the nightmare we are already living in. Now certainly is not the time to cripple the economy for esoteric reasons. We have little ability to pay the Statist bills coming due as is, hamstringing the economy is not the answer.

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