Sunday, June 8, 2008

Climate For Freedom In Peril, Update

The New York Times recently reported on the rapid demise of the Warner-Lieberman bill, or as it's better known in some circles: the Industrial Enslavement Act.

Unfortunately, that circle has an extremely small diameter, with only a few solid points surrounded by mostly thin fluid. As bad or worse, the demise is almost certainly temporary.

How Not To Argue For Freedom

There has been much commentary to the effect that the legislation would cost trillions, raise the price of gas to even higher levels, and so forth.

As the NYT very mildly put it:

The bill would cap the production of heat-trapping gases and force polluters to buy permits to emit carbon dioxide. Critics, including many Republican senators, said it would raise energy prices, including the cost of oil, at a time when Americans are struggling with record gasoline prices.

All true, but the Greens and their partners-in-crime in Congress will soon overcome these objections. When the dominant sentiment is (as Sen. Obama put it): “The future of our planet is at stake,” it won't be long before considerations of cost take a back seat and a similar sword of Damocles again hangs above our heads.

Some of the more pragmatic politicians (i.e. almost all of them) will make compromises to provide wiggle room to businesses. The provision to allow 'polluters' to buy indulgences from the Church of the Viros to expiate their CO2 sins is just one example already present in the bill. But even a watered-down version will still be tremendously damaging, and not only in monetary terms.

The basic vice in all such legislation is the implicit premise that is, sadly, shared by nearly everyone in the debate. To wit, that Congress is justified in attempting to reduce greenhouse gases.

It is not.

The state of current research on climate doesn't justify any of the proposals that advocates of the bill claim make it necessary.

"Global warming" is a very broad average. To the extent it can even be meaningfully defined, it has been modest over the past century. In any case, data from the past 10 years suggests it's over, at least for a while. (Even AGW advocates have recently backpedaled and assert that cooling, or at least stasis, for the next 10 years is more likely.)

But the most important point is this: businesses have a right to produce, and generating CO2 is inherent in that (at least for the foreseeable future). CO2 is not as is sometimes now claimed, a pollutant. A cap on CO2 output isn't just wildly impractical — though that would be bad enough. It violates the freedom of producers whose activities violate no one's rights.

Only when this right is recognized and accepted will the forces attempting to hold back the Green flood make any kind of permanent progress.

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