Look Before You Leap

More from the excellent pen, or keyboard, of Viv Forbes. Point 16 alone shows the utterly vain tokenism of the whole hysterical exercise.

“Look before you Leap” — A Submission to “Climate Smart 2050” by The Carbon Coalition, June 2007

“Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st Century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections, combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age”.

— Professor Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This submission is presented on behalf of future generations of Queensland consumers and taxpayers by “The Carbon Coalition”. A summary of our key responses to the policy proposals are presented below. Supporting material is contained in the linked/appended report “Carbon Sense”.

1. Earth’s climate is changing and always has been changing – it is the norm, not the exception. This is well documented in historical records and is obvious even by casual observation. Current conditions are warm and benign but not unusual or extreme. It is tragic that people with no apparent knowledge of earth’s climate history are filling our children with fear and our adults with guilt for a perfectly natural phenomenon.

2. All life forms have carbon at their core. Hydrocarbons, carbohydrates, protein, coal, oil, gas, meat, milk, grain, wool and cotton – all are all compounds of carbon. It is the most important element to life on earth. All life processes, all food and natural fibre and most of our energy are based on carbon. More than any other element, carbon has lifted mankind from the Stone Age.

3. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the crucial recycler of all organic matter. It is via carbon dioxide that carbon emissions return to the oceans, the soil and all plants to rejoin the cycle of life. Current levels are neither extreme nor dangerous. All life on earth depends on the carbon dioxide extracted by plants from the atmosphere, and all plants will benefit from increased levels of this “Food of Life”.

4. Carbon dioxide is a colourless, odourless, non toxic gas and its role in the atmosphere (even at significantly higher concentrations) is totally beneficial to plants, wildlife and humans. It is not a pollutant.

5. Carbon dioxide does play a role in affecting the surface temperature of the earth. However, there is no evidence that it is the key driver, or even a significant driver of temperature. And there is no evidence whatsoever that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will cause or increase other climate catastrophes such as droughts, floods, cyclones or the spread of malaria. Attributing every storm, flood or drought to man’s emissions of carbon dioxide is scaremongering driven by ignorance, or other agendas. (But I expect that the recent record breaking cold in several areas of Queensland will somehow be morphed into yet another example of the relentless march of global warming).

6. Determining trends in temperature depends on the start and end point chosen and the period covered. For example, based on the same ice core data, it could be concluded that earth’s temperature has been:
● In a warming trend for the last 16,000 years
● In a cooling trend for the last 10,000 years
● In a flat trend for the last 700 years
● In an uptrend for the last 100 years
● Level or falling for the last several years

7. The burning of ANY carbon fuel (coal, oil, petrol, diesel, natural gas, coal seam gas, ethanol, bagasse, macadamia shells, grass, biomass, wood or litter in National Parks) produces two main emissions – water vapour and carbon dioxide. Both gases have a Greenhouse effect, and water vapour is approximately 100 times more abundant in the atmosphere. Should we thus panic about adding more water to the atmosphere? (Combustion of carbon fuels also produces the visible “smoke” which is the dirty bit. Smoke comprises particles of ash and unburnt carbon, plus other gases of sulphur, chlorine, nitrogen etc. These are collected in modern power stations but obsolete or dirty plants, bush fires or open fires do pollute the air.)

8. The whole global warming scare from the IPCC is based on forecasts of future temperature produced by computer models. The output of a complex computer simulation of the atmosphere is not “evidence”. It is a fluttering flag of forecasts, hung on a slim flagpole of theory, resting on a leaky raft of assumptions, which is drifting without the rudder of evidence, in cross currents of ideology emotion and bias, on the wide, deep and restless ocean of the unknown.

Climate is a complex chaotic system and there is little hope that models and equations will ever simulate all the factors involved. Computer models cannot forecast the weather for next weekend, nor can they predict the path of a cyclone from hour to hour, yet we are asked to slash our industry and move towards a peasant life style on the sole basis of some computer forecasts of temperature for decades ahead. We are entitled to remain sceptical. As the old saying goes: ”Give me four parameters and I can make an elephant. Give me five, and I can make it’s trunk wiggle.”

9. Prophecies of doom are a common feature of human existence. The following have been reported:
● Medieval man (and modern man) blamed weather catastrophes on the wickedness of man.
● In the 1800’s Malthus produced an impeccable mathematical model which said that mass starvation was inevitable (just before the energy and enterprise unleashed by the industrial revolution and the American revolution abolished famine in the western world.)
● The weird weather of 1816 (caused by the explosion of Mt Tambora in 1815) was blamed on new fangled lightning rods.
● In the 19th Century, both de-afforestation and re-afforestation were blamed for falling water levels in rivers.
● At about 1900, the US secretary of the Interior predicted that petroleum supplies would be exhausted in 20 years. The Club of Rome ran out similar forecasts of resource exhaustion based on more complex models in the 1960’s.
● In the early 1900’s, a mathematical projection showed that the streets of New York would soon be buried deep in horse manure. Henry Ford made garbage of that forecast.
● During World War I, gunfire was blamed for wet summers.
● The boom in radio transmission saw this blamed for weird weather.
● 1924 saw “signs of a new ice age”.
● 1933 had reports of the “longest warm spell since 1776”.
● 1974: “A major cooling is widely considered to be inevitable”.
● Aircraft vapour trails were blamed for either droughts or floods (can’t remember which).
● 1970’s: Rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will cause runaway Global Warming.
● 2002: “A new Ice Age?”, Discover Magazine, Sept 2002.
● 2005: “There are few reasons to relax about new warming”
● 2007: Nicholas Stern warns in apocalyptic tones that global warming could lead to a global catastrophe “on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the great depression.”
● Now, as doubts arise as to whether we are in a warming phase or a cooling phase right now, more canny seers are having an each way bet, and man’s wicked emissions from fossil fuels are said to be the cause of “Global Climate Change”.

10.Truth in scientific matters is never determined by “consensus”. Moreover, there is no consensus on the climate forecast models, even among well qualified scientists.
”Consensus” usually comprises an aggressive majority trying to intimidate a group of dissenters. The truth is usually recognised first by one maverick individual. A few other sceptics with open logical minds start to join him. If they survive the scorn and abuse, the tide will start to turn. Suddenly, it will be impossible to find anyone who believed in the wacky theory in the first place.

11.Evidence of past surface temperature exists in direct satellite and thermometer measurements, and in ice cores, tree rings and ocean sediment cores. These records show that temperatures vary in close correlation with output from the sun and maybe other cycles in the solar system. Carbon dioxide levels vary in a similar pattern, but the turning points in carbon dioxide lag those in the temperature record ie carbon dioxide does not drive temperature, but the reverse may be true.
The most recent trend of rising temperature started about 1800, and has been steady or lower since the 1990’s. In many rural areas, away from urban heat, temperatures show no rising trend for decades.

12.Turning to the specifics of “Climate Smart 2050” (CS50), we find it unbelievable that the government of Queensland, a state which has always depended on the production and export of carbon based agricultural and energy products, can support a policy based on “a low carbon future” when there is no credible EVIDENCE (projections from dubious computer models is not evidence) that man’s emissions of carbon dioxide are significant in driving climate. This policy will herald a lower standard of living for all Queenslanders, many of whom will live in poverty should a low carbon future be forced upon us.

13.Queenslanders are entitled to expect that, before their representatives in Parliament force such draconian policies on them, supporting evidence would be presented.

However:
● There is no evidence that man’s emissions are causing a significant rise in surface temperature
● Even if climate is in a warming phase right now, history and biology suggest that this may be an overall benefit for life on earth.
● There is no attempt to quantify costs and benefits.

14. Queensland is famed for three carbon products – coal, cattle and cane. Coal is the main target of the “Carbon Killers”, but they also have cattle, sheep, fishing, cement making, land management and forestry in their gun-sights. (Al Gore, the prophet of the Global Warming religion, would not stop there – he looks forward to the complete elimination of the internal combustion engine, and his local disciple, Bob Brown, wants all coal power stations closed within 5 years .Other red-green disciples look forward to epidemics to eliminate most of those other people.)

Do the policies of CS50 aim to turn Queensland into one big National Park surrounded by a million peasant-sized vegie gardens or will this be just another “unexpected consequence”? We would expect that governments would reject and dissociate themselves from such extremist nonsense.

15.The CS50 document proposes to meet a “greenhouse reduction target of 60% below 2000 levels by 2050”. We need to examine what these targets could mean. Suppose that the Queensland population grows by, say, 2% per year. By 2050 it will grow to 269% of 2000 levels. That larger population is supposed to exist on 40% of the level of carbon emissions in the year 2000. This indicates emissions per person are mandated to fall to 15% of 2000 levels – a reduction of 85%! If this occurs, by the year 2050 Queenslanders will be living like Tibetan monks, and showering once a week in tepid water from a canvas bucket shower hung under the mango tree. The dream of the levellers will be achieved – equality of emissions per person.

16.We also need to retain a sense of perspective:
● Carbon dioxide comprises a minute component of the atmosphere – 0.038%.
● Carbon dioxide comprises only 3-4% of greenhouse gases.
● Man’s emissions of carbon dioxide are about 5% of total emissions.
● Australia’s emissions are about 1.4% of the world emissions. (I suspect this figure is inflated by the silly practice of counting carbon products exported by Australia and used overseas as part of our emissions!)
● Over the 100 years ending in the year 2000, the century of coal, steel, electricity, the internal combustion engine, jet planes, two world wars and a population explosion, the average surface temperature rose by only 0.6 deg, and seems to be falling now.

Thus, even if Australia stopped every engine, closed every coal mine and power station, shot all farm animals (they fart a lot) and all held our breath, it would reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 1.4% of 5% of 4% or 0.0028%. Even if greenhouse gases were the sole factor affecting surface temperature, Australia may thus unilaterally reduce the growth in temperature over the next century by 0.0028% of 0.6 deg, or nothing at all.

For the Queensland Government to bet our future against odds like this is an exercise in futile, reckless and ill informed speculation.

17.There is no salvation in “alternative” energy sources. All they offer is feel- good, higher cost energy and no capacity to supply reliable base load power. And to cover landscapes of land with solar panels or monstrous windmills is no gift to the environment. People should be free to use, develop or invest in their favoured alternate energy, and to put whatever they like on their own land, but no one is entitled to assume we can supply the base load power for a modern industrial society on any alternative energy available now.

18.The Carbon Coalition is not promoting nuclear power. However, it is obvious to us that in the time horizon of most politicians (the next election), nuclear energy is the only real alternative to coal for base load power. Thus, those who peddle fear and loathing about carbon are promoting nuclear whether they planned to so or not.

19.The artificial force-feeding of the ethanol industry is mis-directed. Ethanol production is not environment friendly, has a poor energy balance, and it will push up the costs of food products as diverse as sugar, grain, beef, pork, chicken, eggs and dairy. This is no benefit to the great majority of Australians.

20.Portable fuel for transport and machinery (currently diesel, petrol and gas) is essential for the survival of the human race (unless a dramatic reduction in numbers or living standards is planned). The price of oil is high, many of the big producing countries are political powder kegs and there are huge barriers to further exploration. If government has money to waste on “Climate Change” it would be better spent improving access to land for oil and gas exploration or clearing all obstacles to the production of portable fuel from our abundant coal, from oil shale or from new technologies.

21.The term “clean coal technology” is a distraction and a deception. Burning a lump of coal is no more dangerous than burning a lump of wood. Modern power station technology removes soot, dirt and the minor constituents such as nitrogen, sulphur and chlorine, leaving only the clean combustion products of water vapour and carbon dioxide. Neither of these gases is “un-clean” – thus there is nothing left to clean.

22.The suggestion that we remove carbon dioxide from man’s emissions and bury it in carbon graves would have no measurable effect on future temperature or anything else, but would be enormously costly to implement. Geo-sequestration aims to prevent carbon dioxide from getting back into the carbon cycle of life, thus depressing plant growth and human food supplies. It is an anti-life anti-human policy.

23.It is impossible to have “Zero Emissions” from the combustion of any carbon fuel or food. All that is possible would be to collect the emissions, hence the invention of geo-sequestration. In certain circumstances it may be sensible to pump carbon dioxide into oil bearing strata in order to drive out the oil. If this makes economic sense, it will be done. But to talk of locating future coal power stations near sites suitable for geo-sequestration, rather than in the lowest cost location (beside the coal mine), would be an exercise in economic stupidity. If there is to be Truth in Labelling, “Zero Emissions” should be re-labelled “Costly Power Policies”.

24.Nothing in this submission should be taken to suggest that The Carbon Coalition supports or condones pollution, which is “the transfer of harmful or annoying matter or energy to another’s property without his permission”. We do not support the unchecked emission of particulates (smoke), unusual gases or metals, polluted water or unwelcome noise or light. Carbon dioxide dissipated into the atmosphere is not a pollutant – it is a beneficial nutrient.

25. The uncritical worship of trees is a threat to the livelihood of future Queenslanders. Trees are becoming like cows on the streets of Delhi – untouchable. This is destroying other land industries such as forestry, grazing and farming. There is a need for some locked up bushland, and our Parks and Nature reserves are serving this need. But to subsidise or legislate the replacement of productive farms and grasslands by a sterile monoculture of woody-weed eucalypts is a policy with no benefits. It will reduce food production, increase the risk of fire and feral pests, and in the long run, does nothing to extract carbon dioxide – growing trees extract carbon, and then as they die and rot, they give it all back. (National parks give it all back in one day when the inevitable bushfire sweeps thru them.) Trees are only useful as carbon harvesters if mature trees are logged and their carbon stored in houses, poles and fence posts.

26. Well managed grasslands have an enormous capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, both for the growing plants on the surface and the microbe life in a healthy soil. Providing the grasses are removed by grazing animals or human harvesting, carbon is “fixed” and removed in the grazing products.

27.Queensland’s water crisis is not caused by man-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is the inevitable result of several factors:
● A drought of severe but not unique duration.
● Drought subsidies that encourage overstocking.
● Rising urban population and living standards.
● Underpricing and waste of water.
● Insufficient recycling of city waste water.
● No dams or pipelines built for decades.
● Continual change and uncertainty regarding ownership of water.

28.The Carbon Coalition is opposed to all laws which mandate market shares to particular energy sources, and also to taxes, subsidies or emission caps which discriminate for or against any fuel or technology. No one should be allowed to pollute (carbon dioxide is not a pollutant) but otherwise the market should be left to discover the best technology, the cheapest fuel and the best location.

29.The Carbon Coalition thus believes that the $1.3 billion of taxpayer funds to be spent by the Queensland Government on “Climate Change” should be put to better use such as dams, pipelines, roads, railways, ports, city infrastructure or tax reduction.

30.Achieving an 85% cut in carbon emissions per person by 2050 will not be achieved by fiddling with light bulbs and the seals of fridge doors. Even if alternative fuels, clean coal technology and geo-sequestration were all successful, such deep cuts could not be achieved without either nuclear power, or the sudden discovery and development of a completely new power source, or deep cuts in energy used.

31.The imposition of carbon caps, carbon taxes, carbon emissions trading, and carbon offsets will have many effects, none of them beneficial to the great majority of Queenslanders. Here is a fictional scenario of developments if these proposals are implemented and followed through:
● A new make-believe electronic trading industry will be created.
● A large bureaucracy will be set up to regulate it.
● A cadre of accountants will specialise in auditing it.
● Large profits will accrue to merchant banks, traders and loophole seekers.
● The media (not the auditors) will have fun uncovering the corruption.
● Costs will rise for all energy, food and building materials.
● Productive farms and grazing land will be covered in forests of woody weed eucalypts.
● Feral pests and weeds will flourish in these neglected badlands.
● Bush fires will regularly destroy these neglected scrubs and forests.
● Motorists will be forced to use the flood of ethanol produced in subsidized plants.
● Food prices will rise steeply.
● Energy intensive industries will relocate to more sensible countries.
● Queensland will be designated a low income area by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
● Surface temperature will fall as the next (probably cooler) sun cycle kicks in.
● Politicians will point proudly to the falling temperature as evidence of the great success of their policies.
● Cold and homeless people will infiltrate the badlands, poaching wildlife for food and wood for home heating.
● As the cold intensifies, the lone coal power station still operating will be blamed for causing Global Cooling.

32. To create real economic destruction and hardship, in the vain hope that a policy of carbon rationing will affect the earth’s vast and ever changing climate, is a poor choice. It is time someone shouted loudly : Hey, the Emperor has no Clothes”.

33. Finally, on a personal note, I am writing this, at 5 a.m. in my downstairs office at Rosevale. I keep feeding logs of wood into my wood burning stove, in a futile attempt to warm even the inside of our house. This morning, I have managed to get the temperature to 19 deg while just outside the door, and for miles in all directions, nature insists on a temperature of 5 degrees on the hills and maybe one degree in the valleys. I and the shivering lambs and everyone else must wait for the welcome sun to warm everything. Then suddenly, it will be too hot inside, the fire will be closed down and the doors opened to allow fresh air in. Yet many politicians and other delusionists still insist that it is my puny fire, writ large, not that huge nuclear fire in the sky that controls surface temperature on the earth.

My tiny world here, multiplied by many millions, is the real world. Every human has the same feeling of man’s impotence when he comes face to face at his own back door with one of nature’s heat waves, sand storms, bush fires, droughts, floods, frosts, snow storms, blizzards, hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes or tsunamis. Why do we all believe that the bigger world is somehow different from the small reality we see around us every day?

34. Here is another small reality check suggesting that the sun may indeed be a strong influence on surface temperature trends. I have a friend, Helmut Lang, who breeds sheep in the foothills of the Rockies in British Colombia. His comment this morning was (his native tongue is German): “I remember the 23 March of 1966 (spring). I was out for the first time after winter to walk in to the bush. It was the first time I could feel the sun on my skin. This year (2007), the sun was strong on 23 January (mid winter), way stronger than at the end of March in 1966. I would say twice as strong.”

Helmut, the observant sheepman, is supported by Professor Sami Solanki, director of the Max Planck Institute for solar research in Germany. Dr Solanski headed a team of scientists in 2004 who reconstructed the sun’s activity since the last Ice Age. One of their conclusions: “The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures”.

35. For those who would like to read just one of the many articles on the sun’s dominant influence on earth’s temperature, I suggest this article (follow link):

36.If climate is indeed changing (and that is the normal condition on earth), what can we do? Adapt, adapt, adapt.
Every person on earth today is the last in a long line of survivors. Every one of them survived by adapting to whatever nature threw at them. Being adaptable and innovative allowed them to survive ice sheets that covered continents, blizzards that buried the mammoths, floods of Biblical proportions, volcanoes more violent than Krakatau, storms bigger than Katrina, seas that drowned Atlantis, earthquakes that leveled Jericho, droughts that created the Sahara, plagues, locusts and wars for living space. They were not shackled by an irrational fear of carbon – theirs was always a battle FOR carbon (for protein and energy).

37. In closing, the strong recommendation from The Carbon Coalition to the Government of Queensland (the State where Carbon is now King) is to: “Look before you leap”.

We believe that the draft policy proposal “Climate Smart, 2050” should be withdrawn and replaced with a policy that reflects good science, maximizes the value of Queensland’s natural resources, does not needlessly destroy useful skills plant and infrastructure (including electric stoves and hot water systems) and serves the long term interests of all Queenslanders.

This policy should also resist the demands of vested interests for special deals for things such as ethanol production, gas utilisation, farm forestry or emissions trading. All carbon businesses should compete for investment funds and consumer support on an equal basis. Governments are there not to deliver windfalls to sectional interests but to represent ordinary tax paying consumers.

We would be happy to participate in helping to draw up such a policy.

Viv Forbes
Chairman
The Carbon Coalition
22 June 2007
Web: http://www.carbon-sense.com
Email: info@carbon-sense.com

All members of the Carbon Coalition, and other supporters unwilling to have their names publicised, have seen this document. I acknowledge their support and assistance with information, references, comments and suggestions.

PS. It is a little known fact that the famed Murphy once entered politics on a reformist policy. This era resulted in Murphy’s Law of Policy Change: “The Unintended effect of Policy Change is always bigger than the Intended effect.”

33 thoughts on “Look Before You Leap

  1. There is nothing quite like blind ignorance and prejudice to put you on the wrong path. Yes the climate has always changed – but it has never in all its 4 billion years changed at anything like the rate or speed it is changing now. Your “few tenths of a degree” change has already made the world’s weather patterns change faster than ever. Australia is in the worst drought in history, deserts are growing at an alarming rate, Icecaps are melting, people are already dieing due to increased weather severity. If the North Atlantic warms by just a few degrees the Gulf stream will simply turn off – measurements already show the flow is dramatically down. Not only will this mean a man-created ice age for Europe it will change the weather globally.

  2. I actually think this is a very good article. And wish they’d distribute this to primary schools like they do all the global warming alarmism. In fact when I was a kid, the only science I ever did at my below average primary school was a project on global warming.

    I especially like the way it mentions how when trees die and rot, all the CO2 will come back out again. So much for green energy.

    However, I know that this is supposed to be general and not overly scientific, but one of the things this and other sceptical articles don’t explicitly address is the rate of warming.
    Intelligent global warming alarmists will dismiss the fact that the earth had extreme temps in the past because they say that in the past the change was very gradual. They are concerned about an increased rate of change.

  3. Is Australia actually in the worst drought in history?
    It’s been raining a hell of a lot in Sth Australia lately.

    Have you ever heard of the El Nino and La Nina?

    Also, I’ve heard of that North Atlantic induced ice age theory, but I thought I read it in New Scientist. (a highly left wing publication). So that means it’s fairly new science and it is not accepted that it will happen. And even if true, it requires a few degrees rise like you say.

  4. This is actually the best point here:

    “Thus, even if Australia stopped every engine, closed every coal mine and power station, shot all farm animals (they fart a lot) and all held our breath, it would reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 1.4% of 5% of 4% or 0.0028%. Even if greenhouse gases were the sole factor affecting surface temperature, Australia may thus unilaterally reduce the growth in temperature over the next century by 0.0028% of 0.6 deg, or nothing at all.”

    On top of this, the Government subsidises dirty technology.

    Deregulate and slash taxes.

  5. Denying that global warming exists and that it is not going to be exceptionally bad for many places (e.g., Bangladesh, Netherlands) etc. makes you look like a bunch of crackpots. Some of the points here are ridiculous at best, and are basically meaningless in terms of the debate. If you feel obliged to put crackpot points in, I reccommend you stick them at the end (e.g., points 3 and 4 — I think most people know that CO2 places a role in plant growth — just like many other compounds toxic in excess do also, like nitrogen).

    The problem with all of this is that there might well be meaningful debates to be had about how to mitigate global warming etc., which whether you like it or not, is going to happen. Unfortunately, in general, no-one listens to anything crackpots say, no matter how reasonable the occasional comment might be.

  6. Conrad
    I’m afraid you’re going to have to do better than serve up a diet of evasion, misrepresentation and personal argument in order to avoid being publicly thrashed and humiliated.

    >Denying that global warming exists

    He didn’t deny it exists. Was your misrepresentation merely ignorant or dishonest? Answer please.

    >and that it is not going to be exceptionally bad for many places (e.g., Bangladesh, Netherlands)

    a) how would you know?
    b) What account have you taken of the places it’s going to be good for?
    c) How would you know?
    d) How have you assessed the balance?
    e) What account have you taken of the difference in individual cases?

    >etc. makes you look like a bunch of crackpots.

    Personal argument is off-topic, irrelevant, and fallacious.

    >Some of the points here are ridiculous at best, and are basically meaningless in terms of the debate.

    You have failed to give any reason one way or the other.

    >The problem with all of this is that there might well be meaningful debates to be had about how to mitigate global warming etc., which whether you like it or not, is going to happen. Unfortunately, in general, no-one listens to anything crackpots say, no matter how reasonable the occasional comment might be.

    The problem for you is, that you are incapable of showing a) that, or b) how you know what you would need to know, in order to know whether governmental action on global warming is justified. I challenge you to show it. (Be warned: you are going to be thrashed and humiliated if you try; and probably end by slinking out ignominiously like all the others who have foundered on this point. But go right ahead and try.)

    Note: your opening gambits, of personal argument, and appeal to absent authority, are fallacious. Try harder.)

    The fact is, you have no way of knowing how all the different advantages and disadvantages will pan out, and no way of knowing whether governmental action will make the situation better than worse. You also have no moral authority to say who should experience what disadvantage when, to favour who when, as a result of what action on global warming.

    That being so, you do not have reason on your side, and you can claim the crackpot label for your own. The mere fact that you may be in company with a fashionable crowd is irrelevant.

    Marden
    said:
    “There is nothing quite like blind ignorance and prejudice to put you on the wrong path. Yes the climate has always changed – but it has never in all its 4 billion years changed at anything like the rate or speed it is changing now.”

    Marden, HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?

    Does this mean that every time scientists come up with new data or models, the rights and freedoms of the whole world are going to be adversely affected by a fasionable desire to politically design and engineer society?

    The science of climate change is only new. New information and conclusions are coming in all the time. I read an article by a natural scientist who in the late 1990s was commissioned to study climate change from core samples from Canadian lakes. He said their studies showed that climatic temperatures at one stage increased 6 degrees in two seasons. So much for ‘it’s never changed like this before’.

    “Your “few tenths of a degree” change has already made the world’s weather patterns change faster than ever.”

    HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?

    Has it ever occurred to you that the most knowledge you, or anyone, could ever have on the topic would still be woefully inadequate to the enormous complexity and uncertainty of the questions involved?

    “Australia is in the worst drought in history,”

    No it’s not, we’re in the middle of rain, floods and snowstorms.

    “deserts are growing at an alarming rate, Icecaps are melting, people are already dieing due to increased weather severity.”

    The sky is a-fallin!

    Marden, Al Gore recently called for a 90 percent cut, and the Australian Labor Party for a 50 percent cut in the ‘global warming pollution’ from the production of the energy that grows, transports and cooks our food, makes our medicines and lights our streets and homes, and runs your computer, your telephone, your children’s Playstation, and your hot bath.

    Just from the effect on food, housing and medicines alone, do you know how many people are going to die if these policies are carried out? Why should people have to die just so you can feel the satisfaction of socially engineering them, Marden? Or if they’re not going to die, why not?

    “If the North Atlantic warms by just a few degrees the Gulf stream will simply turn off”

    HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?

    “ – measurements already show the flow is dramatically down. Not only will this mean a man-created ice age for Europe it will change the weather globally.”

    ‘I am Sir Oracle, as who should ope his mouth, let no dog bark.’ (Shakespeare said that.)

    How can you possibly know how all the ecological and economic advantages at a macro-, ecosystem, and organismic level will pan out? You don’t, because you can’t.

    From what tremendous height do you look down on your fellow human beings, and decide who must be forced to sacrifice their life, or their health, or their happiness, and who should be the recipient instead, and when, where, and why?

    Admit that science does not supply the value judgments to justify the massive coercion of your fellow human beings that would be entailed by governmental action on climate change.

    Admit that, so far as the whole scheme is not a fraud, it is a blind and superstitious faith in the magical powers of government.

  7. I see we have some environmental teenyboppers.

    How would he know you ask? Because the scientist says so.

    Just like god told mothers to drown their babys, and god told the christians to attack the muslims etc. And like how Allah says to wipe out the infidels. And like how the KKK told us that black and gays were dirty and bad for society.

  8. Yes. When I asked the same question in a different forum, one guy actually answered how he would know all he needs to know, in order to know that governmental intervention is required, by saying ‘the scientists’ tell us so.

    What we are witnessing here is new-found religious nuttiness, with all its vanity and bombast. It’s like “I am so important: the future of the world depends on the wind blowing out my arse.”

  9. Wondering, Has Al Gore shotgunned another issue in his life? I have heard he likes to jump on bandwagons to be a part of something. But is Global Warming his only thing? Aside from Manbearpig of course.

  10. I have no idea why you think a single person will ever know the correct scientific interpretation of most complex things — this is why one uses a scientific consensus, hence individuals arguing (i.e., me) about this is almost pointless. Also, if you don’t thinking global warming will be harmful (whether caused by man, the sun, or aliens) to places like Bangladesh (90% of which is between 0-1 meter above sea level if I remember correctly), I’m a bit surprised. What do you think the betting odds would be?

    Why not substitute cigarette smoking, HIV, holes in the ozone layer or cancer for global warming. I’ll just call it “X”. Then you have a story this.

    1) I do X that is potentially harmful to myself and Y. Of the 1,000 specialists that I have seen about it, 995 tell me that, in the long term, X will harm my health and the harm of others. However there is something I can do about it, but unfortunately I need to do it soon. After all, cancer spreads, smoking causes emphasyema, HIV causes AIDS, holes in the ozone layer get bigger etc.

    2) Do I do something about this, or do I belive in the 5 specialists that tell me HIV doesn’t cause AIDs, smoking doesn’t cause cancer etc?

    The conclusion seems pretty simple to me, and I’m sorry to say, in this instance, to most other people too, who, via their authoritarian power, are going to make you do something about it whether you happen to like it or not. Maybe people don’t want to do anything no matter what the problem, as was the case with the Australian government (a very common human condition), but it seems pretty clear, things are going to happen now one way or the other. This is why I think the best strategy is to suggest meaningful ways of dealing with it (tax vs. trading etc.)

    ALso, off the topic, but your document would be much easier to read if broken it into meaningful categories and the points organized underneath them (there are clearly independent points one can agree/disagree with), like
    1) Global warming doesn’t exist [points here]
    2) Global warming exists but is not people’s fault [points here]
    3) Global warming won’t be harmful to all concerned anyway
    4) Australia shouldn’t do anything because small countries shouldn’t have to do anything.

    etc.

    I’m not sure where points like “plants use carbon dioxide” should fall.

  11. That is a really bad analogy imo.
    You will remember that smoking used to be awesomely cool and good for you, said the wider medical community. As the cigarette companies would employ them to say these things.

  12. Whether its a bad analogy or not, the observation is this:
    There are lots of instances in the history of science when people were wrong when they were really wrong (phlogistine, heliobacteria etc.), and lots of instances when they were really wrong, and it was harmful (e.g., titanic, numerous dams in multiple countries etc), and numerous instances where the old theory was an improvement, but not the be and end all of theories that explain everything (e.g., Newtonian physics)

    I take global warming theories as the third type, as I it appears the vast majority of people do. Given this, with respect to global warming, unless there is extremely good evidence for the first of these (which there isn’t), then I don’t see why you wouldn’t accept the current orthodoxy (of course, questioning it is fine). In case you have this evidence, then you should feel free to stick it in the scientific community for scrutiny, and in case it really is evidence against global warming, I’m sure most scientists will change their mind — they certainly have before on innumerate issues.

  13. True;
    Justin, if you are there you can go back and edit it in, or John might do it when he surfaces. I find it a bit irritating when I go back through the posts.

  14. I’m sorry about the editing. I’ve tried to fix it but I don’t know what I need to do. I go into edit mode, put the cursor where I want the break in the text to be, and then press… what?

  15. No Gerald. This is not the fastest the temperature has changed in 4 billion years. Where did you get such a nutty idea from?

    The temperature change has been pretty quick since the sun has been brighter then at any time for 1150 years and perhaps for 8000 years.

    Thats the only extraordinary factor going on here. And it cannot last so our problem will be with cooling and not with warming.

    There is no ignorance to be seen in the essay. Everything he says is perfectly right. But there is much ignorance to be found in your post.

  16. The more I learn, the less I know! Today’s “The Australian” has two columns about the show coming up on Thursday (The Great Global Warming Swindle), which contradict each other! Both scientists will be on the discussion panel afterwards. Will my TV survive the verbal tongue-lashings? Will I just be more befuddled?

  17. I was there when all the weather was caused by atom bombs
    Without stopping climate change we are all going to die!! I thought we were all going to die anyway!! The most basic wor.ld problem is over population. oil: there is hundreds of years suply of oil in Sauda Arabia. It may have to be pumped out rather than squirt out of its own accord.

  18. I’ve fixed the editing. If any other bloggers see bad editing, they should also feel free to fix it.

    I note that AGW denial has nothing to do with libertarian philosophy. Belief in various scientific theory has nothing to do with whether you have faith in markets or government, and various libertarians have very different opinions on the science.

    Personally, I can’t understand those who are tying their credibility to a certain scientific position. I hope that people don’t associate libertarianism with AGW denail. If the AGW mainstream is shown to be correct then this would be an unfortunate (and totally unnecessary) backward step for libertarianism in Australia.

  19. John – I don’t think any bloggers besides you can fix or edit articles except for their own.

  20. I have to agree with John on this. Well I don’t have to but I do.

    I feel that while there is an element of hysteria in the warming argument, there is an equal degree of it in the sceptic camp. I really feel that many arguments for and against are being made from an entrenched position rather than logic.

    I believe that there is a warming trend, some of which probably is caused by us, but this is not a ‘mia culpa’.

    My post of Viv’s press release was in the interest of information, not total agreement. While he has good arguments, his main interest is to try to counter the trend towards draconian legislation.

    I believe that instead of denial we should be looking more to common sense proposals that will not cause an increase in government power, and will not destroy the economy.

    Not long ago a proposal for a carbon tax that would only increase if the contribution to global warming did too was made here (maybe by Terje I am not sure. I felt it was a good start.

  21. “I’ve fixed the editing. If any other bloggers see bad editing, they should also feel free to fix it.”

    We don’t have access to edit other people’s posts (or I would have fixed it up as soon as I saw it).

  22. Thanks for fixing it up, John. I’ll try harder in future, promise.

    Now that my technological cluelessness has been exposed for all to see, I can only try weakly to uphold my end of the substantive discussion.

    Jim, the glaring defect in the arguments for governmental action is in jumping from the premise – anthropogenic global warming – to the conclusion that therefore governmental action is necessarily justified, and would make the case better than worse. Nobody has justified this argument, because nobody can.

    The reason is, because no-one is capable of knowing or showing what they would need to know, in order to know whether governmental action is justified: who is to suffer what deprivation when and why, in order to benefit who, where and why? Forget all the hot air and the great wodges of statistics: how are we to know that the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages? We don’t.

    In the final analysis the only critical difference that government can add to the equation is compulsion: the power to fine and imprison. But there is nothing in the nature of compulsion which confers this magical power that everyone hopes for from government, of being all-knowing and all-capable. It’s the other way around: compulsion usually greatly *reduces * the knowledge, innovation and responsiveness that is brought to bear on any issue.

    All the arguments for government that I have seen simply engage in circular argument of assuming what is in issue, or worse, they don’t even recognise the real issues, simply assuming that global warming is enough to justify any measure they dream up.

    In the vast subjects of the whole world’s economics, the whole world’s climate, and the whole world’s ecology in all continents, all gaps in knowledge, all questions of uncertainty and complexity, are met with a mere bald presumption in favour of the godlike wisdom and capacity of government, which all experience should have taught us to suspect and reject.

    It is the failure to even understand the existence of the issue itself that is frightening about the new zealots. For example, Bob Brown had an article in The Australian today, the entire gist of which was to proceed from the premise (AGW) to the supposed conclusion: governmental action. No attempt to show how he knows what the real factual or ethical issues are, and who should be forced to forego what for whom, where, when and how, and why?

    And why should the solution be another tax, even if it is based on the temperature of the troposphere? (This if anything, only confirms in people’s minds the impression that the government is responsible for the temperature of the troposphere.)

    Why not a solution based on less, rather than more government? Why not a solution based on abolishing the government departments that are the biggest sponsors of pollution, the biggest subsidisers of greenhouse gases, the biggest consumers of paper and petrol, the biggest producers of feral pests, noxious weeds, and environmental bads, the biggest consumers of car travel, and air travel, and junketing conferences?

    Why this endless recourse to confiscating private property as the supposed solution to problems? Why this endless abracadabra of the magic of government?

    Others have an excuse: they are socialists. They believe that more, bigger, more powerful government with full arbitrary discretion to police everyone and everything, is the answer. They believe in the political design and engineering of society. They believe in the magic of compulsion.

    But we libertarians should be defending and asserting the principle of freedom. We should be thinking of how to answer the alarm over global warming by proposing solutions that are consistent with freedom and private property, not reflexively hostile to them as the socialists do.

    John, as to whether other people will think libertarians silly for not joining in the rush for governmental action over global warming, remember that the orthodoxy in our time is socialism: most people are socialists. They think liberty is unfeasible and dangerous. They think the very idea of liberty is silly. They have plenty of people to represent them. The way I see it, compromising liberty to represent their views is neither necessary or desirable.

  23. I was not arguing with you, Justin. I am far more concerned about what the government will do than I am about the possibility of anthropogenic global warming. Government is far more dangerous than climate change, and at this point more likely to affect us first on this issue. It will be ‘Necessary to save the world’.

    I think it is very significant that in the ABC report on reaction to the Great Global Warming Swindle one of the criticisms was as follows;

    Critics say the documentary damages the credibility of science because no scientist can make definitive claims about what will happen in the future.

    American scientist Carl Wunsch say the climate change debate is very complex and this documentary confuses the facts.

    “Anybody who tells you they know what is going to happen 20 years from now, 100 years from now, is not a good scientist,” he said.

    This can only be used as a criticism of the program if as was stated in it, that the global warming cause is driven by politics ahead of science.

    As to your ‘whys’, that is the nature of the state.
    “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. William Pitt.”

    John is not arguing that we will look silly for not joining in the rush for governmental action over global warming, he is arguing that we should not tie our credibility to a certain position, as for example the labor party have done with socialism.

  24. Recent press release from the Ayn Rand Institute. (not libertarian, but summarizes my concerns about environmentalism).

    Environmentalists Against “Buying Green”
    July 30, 2007

    Irvine, CA–With organic food in every grocery store and hybrid cars on every stretch of freeway, “green consumerism” has become commonplace. But a backlash against such allegedly “earth friendly” shopping is arising; critics within the environmentalist movement are condemning the trend as superficial and contradictory. Says one environmental activist: “green consumerism is an oxymoronic phrase.”

    “This criticism is extremely revealing about the true nature of environmentalism,” said Dr. Keith Lockitch, resident fellow of the Ayn Rand Institute. “For decades, many environmentalists have insisted that protecting the environment is not incompatible with industrial civilization. To make their ideology more palatable, they regularly promise that living ‘sustainably’ doesn’t have to come at too great an economic cost or personal hardship. But when people finally begin to come on board and make allegedly ‘pro-environment’ choices, they are condemned as ‘light greens’ and ‘eco-narcissists.’

    “The truth is that environmentalism is not compatible with human flourishing. It does demand economic destruction and unbearable hardship. The claim that its goal is to protect the environment for the sake of mankind is a Big Lie. Its goal is to protect nature, not for man, but from man–to preserve an untouched environment as an end in itself, no matter what cost or hardship that imposes on human beings.

    “Anyone who thinks that ‘eco-chic’ is consistent with the principles of environmentalism had better think harder about the true nature of the ideology they are trying to support. What environmentalism truly demands is sacrifice to nature–the rejection of our modern, industrial civilization in favor of the decidedly un-chic, unglamorous hardship of a primitive, pre-industrial, stone-age existence.”

  25. For further expansion on comment 29:
    http://www.intellectualactivist.com/php-bin/news/showArticle.php?id=1100#Byline%201

    “PURPA (public utilities regulatory policy act) plant contracts and renewable energy subsidies effectively burden California electricity users with a state tax of more than $2 billion per year—roughly one-third of the state’s wholesale electricity spending in 1999. The result: 8.5% of the state’s electricity is supplied by “alternative” energy”.

    So Californians are currently spending an extra $2 billion in taxes to have the “privilege” of buying a maximum of 8.5% of their energy requirements through renewable sources.

    I think this fits well into the “look before you leap” heading.

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