No, I’m Not Worried about Global Warming, and Neither Are You
September 29, 2014
I understand* that there was a big rally in New York City last Sunday. The creepily named People’s Climate March drew more than 300,000 people (according to organizers’ estimates) to spread “a message of alarm” and call for action (presumably government action to restrict carbon emissions).
I just want to make two points.
1 — As I’ve suggested before, I’ll take reducing carbon emissions seriously when the warm-mongers show by their actions that they take it seriously.
Alarmists talk as if the threat were both enormous and urgent; they predict the end of the world if we don’t stop filling the atmosphere with greenhouse gases now. The liberal Washington Post reported in 2006 that Al Gore was estimating we had ten years left:
. . . “Al is a funny guy.” But he is also a very serious guy who believes humans may have only 10 years left to save the planet from turning into a total frying pan.
But Al Gore won’t stop flying around on private jets, Leonardo DiCaprio lives in sprawling mansions (plural), and ordinary adherents continue to drive their cars and eat food shipped from hundreds of miles away. In general, people continue to live comfortable, middle-class lives. I think that’s fine—it’s their choice—but by their actions, people are admitting that they don’t really consider this a “crisis”, a matter of life and death for the whole planet and future generations.
If they thought the planet really couldn’t take it, wouldn’t they have to stop driving (and stop taking advantage of the rest of the benefits of a modern, fossil-fueled economy)? They could revert to subsistence farming—you really can if you want. It sounds extreme, but then, so is the danger if we don’t, according to them.
2 — If I bought into the warm-mongers’ premises, I would have trouble thinking straight, too.
A lot of conservatives seem to have bought into the liberal assumption that if (A) there is man-made global warming, then it necessarily follows that (B) the government must drastically curtail our liberty to reduce carbon emissions to avert catastrophic warming.
If I believed that, I would want to disbelieve in global warming, too.
I think it’s perfectly plausible that the world is getting warmer (though we appear to be in a twenty-year “pause” in actual average temperature increases) and that man has something to do with that, but as Wintery Knight (h/t Eternity Matters) suggests (link to original source now defunct), you don’t have to jump from “A” to “B”; there can be a whole progression of questions:
- Is the earth warming?
- If the earth is warming, is human activity (like carbon dioxide emissions) causing it?
- If the earth is warming, and we’re causing it, is that bad overall?
- If the earth is warming, we’re causing it, and that’s bad, would any of the proposed “solutions” (e.g., the Kyoto Protocol, legislative restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions) make any difference?
I would add at least another: Would the proposed responses do more good than harm?
I’m told that a century ago, people worried that cities would get filthier and filthier with the excrement of the horses that were used for transportation. Nowadays, we’ve forgotten all about that form of pollution; cars replaced horses, and solved the problem just like that.
Perhaps in a generation, cars will have been replaced by something we can’t now imagine, and our former worries about global warming will strike our children as quaint, even hilarious—from the point of view of the present, the past always looks inevitable. (Perhaps we’ll even go back to worrying that the world is due for another ice age, as people did a few decades ago, before fears of global warming really took off.)
I’m not saying that I’m sure that technologies will succeed each other fast enough before an accumulation of greenhouse gases causes permanent changes to the climate, but I am sure that
(a) liberals can’t be sure of the contrary,
and I’m sure that
(b) our economy currently depends on fossil fuels,
which means that
(c) the more the government interferes in the economy to restrict the use of fossil fuels, the more it will slow down that progression of technologies and so reduce the likelihood of the most likely solution to the problem it was trying to solve in the first place.
Or as Dan Mitchell puts it,
I believe that protecting the environment is both a good thing and a legitimate function of government.
But I’m rational. So while I want limits on pollution, such policies should be determined by cost-benefit analysis.
Banning automobiles doubtlessly would reduce pollution, for instance, but the economic cost would be catastrophic.
(Hyperlink in original.)
* Read others’ take:
— National Review Online, Katherine Timpf, “The Injustice of Environmental-Justice Laws”
— Reason, Jim Epstein & Kmele Foster, “What We Saw at the People’s Climate March”
— Hot Air, Noah Rothman, “Reason Magazine actually asked climate protesters what they want to do, and it’s hilarious”
— PJ Media, Bryan Preston, “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Wants to Jail Koch Brothers, Energy CEOs, Along with About 80 Million Americans”
— Applied Sentience: A Next Generation Humanist Thinkblog, “Humanists & Atheists Represent at People’s Climate March”
— Life’s a Game, “The People’s Climate March”
— International Liberty, “The Radical Environmental Agenda Should Be Rejected, even if Global Warming Is Real”
— Sense and Snarkability, “What have the industrial revolution and capitalism ever done for us?” (warning: language)
— According to Hoyt, “The Future Must Belong to Those Who Question”
— PUMA by Design, “People’s Climate Marchers Flood NYC Streets w Trash”
— Truth before Dishonor, “‘Hey @LeoDiCaprio you going to sweep up?’ Climate marchers leave behind piles of trash”
— Conservative Hideout 2.0,
“RFK Jr Wants a Law to Jail Climate Deniers, On His Carbon Footprint: Says He Doesn’t Need to Lead by Example: Must See Video”,
“#ClimateChange: #ClimateMarch Of The Goofy-Footed Alarmists”
— Polyprotic Amory, “The People’s Climate March”
Update (September 29th, 2014): Meant to link to Old Jarhead, who (I assume) is the originator of the expression, “if you’re greener than Gore, you’re green enough”:
I’m tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore’s, and if you’re greener than Gore, you’re green enough.
Update (September 29th, 2014): More others’ take:
— The Arcturus Project, “It’s Time to Control the Lives of Celebrities So They Can’t Control Us”
I mean, if he didn’t sell all his stuff, and instead just kept all his millions and his carbon footprint that’s forty-seven times larger than the average person, it’d make him a vicious-hypocrite. So you know he’ll do it, right?
— Policy Interns, Audrey Neilan, “Creating a National Dialogue About Sustainable Green House Gas Reduction”