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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6600/the-solution-to-the-global-warming-problem/

The solution to the global warming problem?

May 7, 2007 by

Now, here is a famous environmental activist who is serious about the global warming problem.

“We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion…. We need to stop burning fossil fuels and utilize only wind, water, and solar power with all generation of power coming from individual or small community units like windmills, waterwheels, and solar panels. Sea transportation should be by sail…. Air transportation should be by solar powered blimps when air transportation is necessary. All consumption should be local. No food products need to be transported over hundreds of miles to market. All commercial fishing should be abolished. If local communities need to fish the fish should be caught individually by hand. Preferably vegan and vegetarian diets can be adopted…. We need to remove and destroy all fences and barriers that bar wildlife from moving freely across the land…. We need to stop flying, stop driving cars, and jetting around on marine recreational vehicles…. Who should have children? Those who are responsible and completely dedicated to the responsibility which is actually a very small percentage of humans….”

Wow, quite an agenda!

“It won’t be easy but then it’s better than the alternative.”

Sadly, only a handful of us would remain to enjoy the newly restored, and presumably cooler, planet.


corrigan May 7, 2007 at 11:45 am

“Curing a body of cancer requires radical and invasive therapy, and therefore, curing the biosphere of the human virus will also require a radical and invasive approach” – isn’t this sort of drivel considered by our political overlords to constitute a ‘hate crime’, these days – or does it only count if you insist on restricting your use of such a vein of description to your least favourite subsections of humanity, rather than including in it the whole job lot of us bipedal abominations who so defile the verdant temple precincts of Holy Mother Gaia?

DC May 7, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Thanks for the link!

That is quite a tall order; one of his demands is:

“We need an economic system that provides all people with educational, medical, security, and support systems without mass production and vast utilization of resources.”

It’s kind of like saying “we need a skyscraper but without all that steel and glass and machinery to build it with.”

Matt May 7, 2007 at 12:33 pm

That greenie should probably vote for this guy.

Simon May 7, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Who cares about medical stuff? it would help them keep the population lower!

These freaks are scary, they don’t even consider that humans invent stuff, or that there’s lots of untapped resources. As far as I can see not much of the sea is used for aquaculture or mined. And theres billions of people on the planet to think of amazing ways of using the resources that we can’t even imagine yet.

Michael May 7, 2007 at 12:37 pm

Hmm, that’s an interesting proposal. It’s sad however, that none of this would have any effect on the temperature of the earth. You can use all the C02 you want, and it won’t warm the earth.

I’ll try to explain this in as simple a way as possible. The sun is the only thing that affects the earth’s temperature. The reason that C02 levels have been rising is because the sun has been warming the ocean, and when water is warming, it releases more C02.

I’m sorry that you have been tricked by scientists who are attempting to present theories as facts, simply in order to recieve government funding, but hopefully you’ll be able to look up into the sky and see that only thing that can affect the earth’s temperature, the sun.

CRC May 7, 2007 at 1:11 pm

After reading that I need to take a shower. The utter contempt for humanity and human life is shocking and appalling. I feel sick.

This guy is suggesting the elimination of 85% of the world (human) population. Which is all “well and fine” until people like this realize it ain’t gonna happen voluntarily. Then…well…”It’s for the good of mankind!”

Eric May 7, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Some observations after glancing at the website:

First, HE HAS A WEBSITE! This would not be possible without electricity, computers, and all of the gadgetry invented by those horrible masses he wants to kill.

Second, the website shows a 30 or 40 foot metal boat with all the trappings a “scientist” could wish for. So much for the “we should all use sailboats” mantra. Does this fellow have any idea the diverse economy it took to build his aquatic dreamboat-come-true?

I guess a billion people could do all of this, too, but that leads to the whole question of which billion stay and which 4 billion go? The reason this is significant is because it seems, if they had the power(shudder), they would only keep like-minded environmentally friendly types. So their mentality would be the same as this fellow’s: economically clueless. Essentially, they would doom mankind faster than any extinction event.

If his vision comes to fruition(which gives me a 1-in-5 chance of surviving), I predict a steady decline in the population – which by the time it gets to only a half million or so people left they will be saying things like “To heck with this tree, I need a fire! And some of that whale oil would be really good for reading at night, too.”

It is an understatement to refer to these people as misanthropic. But, until a better word presents itself, I’ll go with it.

Brad May 7, 2007 at 3:09 pm

***…curing the biosphere of the human virus will also require a radical and invasive approach.***

I agree wholeheartedly! Visionaries like this come once or twice a generation. There must be a resolution to all of mankinds brutality. A Final Solution, to coin a phrase. But what to do with all the corpses? Can’t just burn ‘em up like in times of yore, all that icky ash all over the place. Plowing 4+ Billion corpses into the ground all at once might be overtaxing to our beneficent host. Can’t dump at sea, Thor forbid. Maybe I should read the bumps on my head again to see if I can devine anything.

I guess it’ll just have to be forced labor to establish the New Order, so that the death toll is staggered somewhat, along with forced sterilization of the untermensch in conjunction with said servitude. This, with a healthy Watson Youth program, and we’ll be well on our way to a Million Year Realm.

I encourage all to join http://www.nazi.org/nazi/national_socialism/ .
A little weak kneed at the moment, but merging the party with a Prophet like Mr. Watson, and voila!

Jim Morse May 7, 2007 at 4:05 pm

All consumption should be local. No food products need to be transported over hundreds of miles to market.

What? No coffee? Is this guy truly nuts?

Nick Bradley May 7, 2007 at 4:11 pm


Thanks for putting it in such simple terms. It explains in a logical manner why CO2 levels LAG temperature levels.

George Gaskell May 7, 2007 at 4:25 pm

It is an understatement to refer to these people as misanthropic. But, until a better word presents itself, I’ll go with it.

I’d go with “genocidal.” Or “totalitarian.”

The Owner May 7, 2007 at 6:02 pm

World population has increased more than five fold in the last 2 centuries, this is a good thing, can anyone suppose that this would not alter the environment somehow?

Brad May 7, 2007 at 9:58 pm

Should we involuntarily commit this guy to a mental institution? He sounds like a mass murderer. Is it not mass murder when you kill 5 billion humans to supposedly fix a non-problem (scientific evidence shows conclusively that the sun causes global warming, not humans)?

Why is it that governments don’t go after environmentalists that are promoting mass murder? They go after far less harmful things.

TokyoTom May 7, 2007 at 10:09 pm

Jeff, this post is fundamentally unserious and a waste of Austrian insight.

Paul Watson runs through a litany of problems – problems that Austrian analysis show clearly stem from a lack of fundamental institutional protections for open-access resources – that you completely ignore.

Surely we can strongly deplore and dismiss his proposed “solutions”, but does painting Watson as a misanthrope really shed any light on the alleged problems, much less add to any kind of solution?

If you content to use your position simply to “will” the public goods/lack of effective property rights problems away, by attacking the messenger instead of the problem, then I have a proposition for you – why don’t you join the new club that Dr. Reisman and I are founding – the Dino-Misesans?!

Your kind of approach (that ignores Misesan insights about the lack of catallaxy when resources are not effectively owned or protected and about struggles to use government for rent-seeking) is exactly what Dr. Reisman and I need in our campaign to make sure that our shared environment remains open to plunder worldwide. After all, isn’t the best way to end the “tragedy of the commons” globally simply to hasten the destruction of all commons? And isn’t it a great tactic towards that end to distract attention to the loss of important public goods by simply pointing to the increasing histrionics of the greenie left?



TokyoTom May 7, 2007 at 10:30 pm

Michael and Nick, I give you Jim Manzi at “PLanet Gore” on National Review Online: http://planetgore.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MWY4N2FlY2U1MGNiYjJmMGUwNTM0ZjE0MDlmZjkxMGQ=.

Mathieu Bédard May 8, 2007 at 3:08 am

These guys should try to be coherent and honest, and embrace Hitler as a pionneer…

David Veksler May 8, 2007 at 4:26 am

It’s interesting to consider what a non-industrial, anti-trade world of 1 billion people would look like. Without the benefits of global or even national division of labor, industrial machinery, or agricultural chemicals, farm yields would be at least an order or more less productive, as they were before the industrial revolution. Without chemical fertilizers, a large proportion of the land would lie barren while recovering from nutrient depletion. Instead of being redistributed and recycled, human and animal waste products would pile up wherever they were created, and inevitably find their way into water sources. No doubt much of the desperate population would try to allay the constant famines through mass hunting and fishing. I doubt many of them will be concerned with the environmental impact of their actions, especially since commercial exploitation of animal life would presumably be severely restricted, and few people will be concerned with the fate of future generations.

In short, entirely aside from the human costs, it is questionable that the natural world would benefit from such a policy.

Niels van der Linden May 8, 2007 at 4:31 am

Doesn’t this activist guy hold one human life in his hands?

I mean, if we’re gonna talk consistency..

Two Words May 8, 2007 at 5:31 am

Profound Villainy.

TLWP Sam May 8, 2007 at 5:40 am

In other words this guy should lead by example?

Dino Misian May 8, 2007 at 5:55 am

Matt said:
“That greenie should probably vote for this guy.

I went and watched this, expecting the same kind of trash as the link in the main article… but I actually found myself liking this guy and agreeing with alot of what he had to say.

If you ignore the venom, he’s basically just adressing the flaw in the system of unconditional majority rule.

Best quote:
“If I get elected…”
“They will be terrified.”
“I myself will be terrified.”

This guy might be the first honest politician!

(go check it out… you should at least laugh)

jeffrey May 8, 2007 at 7:36 am

I wondered whether ToykoTom would comment on this thread. He offers that it is an unserious post. Interesting, because the guy I link to is merely carrying the applied ethics of environmentalism to its logical result, in the same way that Stalin and Mao carried socialism to its logical result. Western socialists used similarly used to claim it is unserious and unseemly to point to the Gulag.

Also, thank you David for your excellent analysis.

Robert Brazil May 8, 2007 at 9:00 am

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that environmentalism is the number one threat to liberty and prosperity today? The “War on Terror” is growing less popular by the day, thanks in large part to the Iraq war. But the War on Climate Change is really ramping up and is now supported by both wings of the establishment.

A lot of people, including scientists and consultants, are already making a living out of Global Warming. Now big business sees the opportunity to win subsidies at the taxpayers’ expense and have government-enforced hurdles (regulations) placed in the way of smaller competitors. Once the gravy train gets going, all the momentum is in one direction.

Furthermore, listening to NPR (state radio) on my way home from work, as well as observing the news in general, I’ve noticed that the Global Warming rhetoric has reached a fever pitch. Constantly running stories about human efforts to curb climate change has the effect of convincing the ignorant that there is no debate over the causes of climate change, or of the effectiveness, morality, and ultimate consequences of government “solutions.”

They want to tell us which lightbulbs we can use, what cars we can drive and how often, how many children we can have. Where does it end? I fear we are witnessing the beginning of a whole new class of “carbon crimes,” every bit as totalitarian as the “economic crimes” of socialist regimes (many of which we are also adopting).

I hope the Mises Institute can provide leadership in attacking this problem, perhaps with more articles explaining how and why the War on Climate Change will not be any more successful than the wars on drugs, poverty, illiteracy, terror, etc., but WILL be at least as detrimental to our freedom and prosperity as have been those wars.

I could be wrong, but I really worry that rampant statism has found a second wind in the environmentalist movement.

Michael Wagner May 8, 2007 at 9:01 am

Fantastic solution to a spectacular non-problem. I agree with the earlier post regarding solar activity warming the oceans and releasing CO2, although, as stated it is a drastic oversimplification.
Here are a few more nails for the global warming coffin:
E-G Beck has collected data from around the world dating back to 1812 which show chemical analysis of the air prior to the development of the spectragraph. These data clearly show that CO2 levels have been significantly HIGHER than today at various times in the last 180 years. CO2 was at least 470 PPM in the 1820′s and 420 PPM in the 1940′s, significantly higher that today’s 379 PPM. Why was there no runaway greenhouse effect then? (The IPCC knew about these data and deliberately excluded them from its reports. In other words, the IPCC lied about CO2 levels for the last 180 years.)
Also, very recent research in Denmark has revealed a connection between cosmic rays and cloud formation. The IPCC has argued that changes in solar output have not been large enough to generate changes in the Earth’s temperature. This new research shows that it is changes in the sun’s magnetic field that alter the volume of cosmic ray particles reaching the Earth. This in turn causes significant changes in cloud formation and that is what drives climate. CO2 simply has nothing to do with it. CO2 is a reaction to climate change, not the driver of it.

Artisan May 8, 2007 at 9:29 am

Too much hype. Too much panic. So what’s new?

“We need Government regulation to save the planet. Government representatives will know what is better to do.” they say.

I hear all the environmentalists talk in 30 years…: “see, we avoided a catastrophe” and while nobody will be able to prove there has been any improvement in our condition, nobody will be able to deny it would have been worse, without strong government action.

Government cannot prove today what the exact amount of air pollution is caused by exactly what causes though. So what’s the amount of governmental intervention we need?

This missing relation is the flaw that doesn’t need to be discussed much more than the principle of paying taxes…

mike May 8, 2007 at 12:27 pm


I’m currently a Master’s student in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at a large University. As you can imagine, a large majority of the professors in this department are hard core environmentalists who spend their days immersed in issues of environmental ethics and its logical conclusions. I can assure you their views are much more in line with Mr. Watson that with, say, my girlfriend who thinks there would be great improvements to the environment if we recycled, turned of the lights when not using them, and drove a more fuel efficient car.

I don’t think the average joes who support environmental causes just to feel good about themselves have a clue what those behind the environmental movement really believe or want.

mike May 8, 2007 at 12:31 pm

apologies for misspelling your name, jeffrey

P.M.Lawrence May 8, 2007 at 10:26 pm

There’s some overreaction going on here. For instance, that simpler economy would be capable of supporting as many people as today’s – they would be worse off, but able to survive (not counting any mismanaged transition, that is). And, Paul Watson’s website wouldn’t be wanted if everybody used simpler methods. That is, his using one isn’t a breach of principle but is just fighting fire with fire (it could easily slip into a breach of principle though). You shouldn’t let Paul Watson provoke you into asserting too much.

TLWP Sam May 8, 2007 at 11:20 pm

Why does talking about being environmently friendly be a backwards looking perspective? It’s like looking at the type of Deflation which indicates at shrinking floundering economy versus the preferred Deflation where the economy is becoming more efficient generally meaning more goods at lower prices. Why can’t people theorise about greater-efficiency, non-polluting technology? I mean should there be no qualms about an electric car that is just powerful, long range and cost effective as a petrol car? If electricity can be extracted with geo-thermal plants, solar panels, wind turbines, etc., for the same cost or less then is it a big deal?

Francisco Torres May 8, 2007 at 11:36 pm

Paul Watson runs through a litany of problems – problems that Austrian analysis show clearly stem from a lack of fundamental institutional protections for open-access resources – that you completely ignore.

Tokyo Tom commits the fallacy of “Missing the point”.

The point is NOT that Paul Watson is describing a series of environmental problems. The point is that some of those solutions he offers reek of collectivism of the worst kind, in comments like:

“We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion.” Did you catch the perverse tone of this “suggestion”, TT? Who will volunteer to lower radically reduce his or her number from the human population? You? Me? The author? Most likely, he is not thinking of HIM, but of the human populations that he does not fancy.

“Sea transportation should be by sail. The big clippers were the finest ships ever built and sufficient to our needs.” If they were “sufficient”, then not one would have built steam vessels. The irrationality of his comment about sailing ships makes anyone that is sound of mind question the sanity of the author. Did you?

“We need to lower populations of domestic housecats and dogs.” Really? So the author wants to go after cats and dogs? Are they consuming fossil fuels as well?

“We need to stop flying, stop driving cars, and jetting around on marine recreational vehicles. The Amish survive without cars and so can the rest of us.”

Indeed, they can survive without cars because the REST of us have cars, allowing us to trade over long distances, lowering the population density in the process. Again, the author is only showing his irrationality, and romanticism.

“Who should have children? Those who are responsible and completely dedicated to the responsibility which is actually a very small percentage of humans. Being a parent should be a career.” This begs the question as to who would decide which career a person is to pursue, if that of engineer, scientist, or parent. A centrally planned population growth?

So, basically, whereas you prefer to focus on the unimportant, we as lovers of freedom and humankind look at what is evident, that this guy is purely nuts.

TokyoTom May 8, 2007 at 11:40 pm

Jeffrey, while I greatly welcome your attention in this area, I have to say that I am more than a little bit disappointed. Rather than choosing to shed light on underlying causes, you choose to focus on symptons such as the dangers posed by the enviros’ failure to understand either such causes or appropriate policy responses. Accordingly, I stand behind both my serious comments and my lampooning.

You can be serious at attacking underlying problems or you can be a member of Dino-Mises club.

Perhaps a little more reading will help? There is of course a ton of useful literature; here are a few indicative links that you might find productive:




TokyoTom May 8, 2007 at 11:58 pm

Francisco, many thanks for your remarks.

Let’s get this straight – I absolutely condemn Watson’s suggestions, and I completely agree that you, Jeffrey and others are right to be alarmed by them, as well as by many, many suggestions by enviros that may be well-intended, but in practice would be not only coercive but counterproductive to the very aims of the enviros themseleves.

But this focus, while important, begs the real question – are there real problems that “environmentalists” are worried about? And, if so, how should those problems be addressed?

By focussing solely on the messenger and ignoring the message, Austrian thinkers become simply another voice hurling ad hominems and invective, while failing to inform the debate with useful Austrian insights about the how environmental problems flow from the failure of clear and enforceable private/group property rights and from government mismanagement and abusive rent-seeking.

To the extent Austrians fail to contribute productively, they are surrendering the debate to others. I view that as a profound waste, both of time and of insight. You wanna be that way, then go ahead. But I refuse to be happy about it, precisely because it is the single BEST way to end up with BAD solutions to real problems.

Geoffrey Allan Plauche May 9, 2007 at 12:29 am

TT does make at least one good point: More Austrians ought to tackle the GW issue from a politico-economic policy perspective. Critique statist measures and offer free market alternatives. Cato does this to some degree, but not from a uniquely Austrian perspective. We could always use more voices in this debate. I have other more pressing commitments at the moment – moving, writing my dissertation, getting published – but some established Austrian economists could dive in.

TokyoTom May 9, 2007 at 3:47 am

Geoff, thanks for the support for my nefarious agenda of asking Austrians to critique environmental issues broadly (not only climate change) from a politico-economic policy perspective, instead of contenting themselves with attacking the motives of enviro-loonies or with trying to argue away problems on scientific grounds. It has always been my desire to get Austrians to bring their strongest analytical arguments to bear.

While there are many different environmental issues (see the litany raised by Robert Watson linked to by Jeffrey Tucker), there certainly now appears to be real political momentum in the US for federal action with respect to climate change – the new “USCAP” pressure group boasts corporate membership with “total revenues of $1.7 trillion, a collective workforce of more than 2 million and operations in all 50 states; … [and] a combined market capitalization of more than $1.9 trillion” http://www.us-cap.org/media/release_050807.pdf – so someone may wish to pick up the baton that Dr. Reisman has carried on this topic while he changes focus to energy-saving light bulbs.



jeffrey May 9, 2007 at 7:52 am

TT, Austrians have dealt with environmental issues at length, so there is just no point in continuing to claim that they haven’t; nor is there is any point in pretending that you will come around on the environmental question if just the right article were written for you.

On your point about public goods, Holcombe gets to the heart of the matter.

Dennis May 9, 2007 at 8:34 am

I believe that one issue in this discussion needs to be clarified: whether or not global warming exists and, if it does, to what degree, and whether or not man’s CO2 emissions are materially contributing to any possible global warming are questions that can only be answered by the natural sciences. The social sciences and humanities, including economics, ethics, and political science, have nothing to say regarding these issues.

What the social sciences and humanities can shed light on is if the natural sciences demonstrate that anthropogenic global warming does exist, these disciplines can analyze the various methods of approaching the issue, including the monetary costs and benefits. In addition, the social sciences and humanities can analyze various institutional and personal influences that could cause one to question the objectivity and veracity of the research in the natural sciences.

TokyoTom May 9, 2007 at 9:03 am

Jeffrey, where have I “continued to claim” that Austrians have NOT “dealt with environmental issues”? Haven’t I indeed spent a fair part of the last year quoting from them?

What I have done, consistently, is to hold my admittedly limited understanding of Austrian principles up to you and your colleagues and fellow posters on and ask you how your dismisals, mockery and fevered hand-wringing over vile and ignorant commie/Nazi “enviros” – enviros that seem to encompass the universe – actually are consistent with Austrian understandings of environmental problems as struggles over resources with respect to which the market may work rather poorly (if at all) due to a lack of clear and enfoceable property rights (or other dispute resolution mechanism).

Nor have I “pretend[ed] that you will come around on the environmental question if just the right article were written for you”. I “came around” sympathetically to Austrian views nigh on thirty years ago. But what I see here, unlike the free market environmentalists in Bozeman (Baden, Anderson, Leal etc.), is a general reluctance by people to get their hands dirty on natural resource issues – except to wave a few words around about property rights and rent-seeking, but then to beat a hasty retreat to name-calling and to denying that problems exist.

I guess I was wrong to expect or hope for a greater willingness here to explore with sympathetic audience where and how the wheel hits the road, and to roll out the product to a country and world looking for solutions. My bad.

rob May 9, 2007 at 9:11 am

“Why does talking about being environmently friendly be a backwards looking perspective? …..Why can’t people theorise about greater-efficiency, non-polluting technology? I mean should there be no qualms about an electric car that is just powerful, long range and cost effective as a petrol car? If electricity can be extracted with geo-thermal plants, solar panels, wind turbines, etc., for the same cost or less then is it a big deal?”

I think we overlook the fact that this happens as a matter of course in the market. Cars today generate more power with less fuel than ever before (even discounting hybrids). This trend will continue as long as folks want automobiles. The fact that these increases in efficiency are incremental improvements of existing technology rather than radical new approaches does not invalidate them.

Geoffrey Allan Plauche May 9, 2007 at 9:40 am

Hey now, TT. I think we are justified in responding to you that there is insufficient proof that the problems associated with global warming will be significantly bad or even bad on balance. This is just the kind of alarmism I’ve objected to elsewhere.

Geoffrey Allan Plauche May 9, 2007 at 9:47 am


I don’t see how you’ve established that a free market and property rights can’t deal with whatever negative effects global warming will bring better than any other system could, particularly you haven’t done so without relying upon insufficiently supported alarmist claims that the negative effects will be really bad. Not all climate scientists are buying into the hype.

Rain Dog October 29, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Oh, this is just silliness. It’s amusing to see this kind of childish nonsense discussed at all by adults. Reminds me of things I might have said, attempting to appear smart and radical, in an attempt to impress girls when I was 16 years old. Luckily common sense usually prevailed even back then.

Did give me a chuckle, though. Thanks.

Hozac December 6, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Wow. Im all for saving the plant and fighting for a better way of life but what your suggesting is IMPOSSIBLE and CRAZY. People are not going to give up there everyday necessities just to help cool down the earths temperture. All we can do is try to develop cleaner energy and slowly stop using fossil fuels as energy. In order for anything that you suggested to happen, the whole world must go through and unthinkable disaster that would force us to go back to the “middle ages”.

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