I've been following the debate amongst the Left in regards to climate change with an open mind for many years now. I have no incentive to knee-jerk reject climate alarmism, quite to the contrary. If there is actionable scientific proof that changes in behavior today can greatly reduce human suffering in the future, then I think we ought to take heed of such advice. Yet I have repeatedly noticed some very serious errors regarding the Left's interpretation of the science. And many of the political solutions proposed seem, according to sound analysis, to be both ineffective in combating the perceived problem and, more seriously, threaten serious harm to human welfare.
Considering I have an open mind, I am encouraging the environmentalist Left on these forums to assuage my concerns and try to give satisfactory answers to the questions and comments I will pose.
The climate change/global warming political movement has existed in its current form since the late 1980s or early 1990s, so we have a good twenty five years or so to consider the veracity of the predictions made and judge the merits of the climate models that have been used to inform political action. What we have found is that the climate models have been shockingly inaccurate in their prediction of future climate. There are plenty of statistics I can inundate you with, and a laundry list of past predictions and claims made by prominent environmentalists that have proven completely wrong, but I don't want to limit my argument to a trading of data and studies. First, these don't convince anyone because every person can find a scientist, a particular data point, or an empirical study that backs up their ideology. That doesn't usually foster any discussion about the bigger picture.
Proponents of catestrophic anthopogenic climate change usually limit their presentations to a long list of the supposed effects of climate change. The polar ice caps have melted, storms have been getting more severe, there are more droughts, etc.
The most important statistic we need to concern ourselves with is whether or not human caused climate change is making the climate more or less livable for human beings.
If we care about human life, then we must care about industrial progress which allows humans to avoid climate-related deaths, escape poverty and permits societies to grow prosperous. Of course, this doesn't mean we don't care about the pollution that a given energy source does emit, in so far as it causes demonstrable harm, but we shouldn't impugn the most effective and efficient energy sources for their imperfections given the overwhelming benefit cheap, scalable energy has to human flourishing.
I believe any artificial privileges States grant to oil companies should be removed and companies should bear full liability costs for the negative externalities of their energy production.
If laws are passed that limit worldwide CO2 emmisions by as much as climate change activists say is necessary to avoid "catastrophe", that means that many millions of people around the world, particularly in poor and developing nations that desparately need cheap energy sources to grow into the first world, with a middle class and productive capacity, will be consigned to extreme poverty or death.
This could be avoided if there were an abundent, scalable, efficient alternative energy source that could be used as a viable replacement. It would have to be able to fully replace the fossil fuel energy that will be cut AND be able to greatly grow in the coming decades as developing nations increase their industrial production in a bid to become prosperous like us in the West.
Yet the alternative energy source we are told we must rely on, Wind and Solar, are wholly incapable of providing the reliable, cheap, abundent and scalable energy that is needed. There are many reasons this is so, but one is that these technologies are intermittant. They rely on particular weather patterns to generate their energy production. In almost every case, they need to be backed up by a fossil fuel based source which will kick in when the wind and solar source is not provided the needed energy. These are, now and in the near future, unreliable and unserious sources of energy which cannot replace fossil fuel based energy.
If Wind, Solar or some future energy source is invented which will be able to provide cheap, effective, scalable energy in abundence which improves upon fossil fuel technologies regarding pollution, I would be the first to stand up and cheer the development.
But the very fact that environmental activists require government subsidization of Wind and Solar and legislation which limits fossil fuel energy gives the game away. What we ought to do is cut ALL government subsidies and privileges to any form of energy and allow entrepreneurs to compete in the market. This is how we can determine the best source of energy.
The ONLY form of energy that is non-CO2 emitting which is scalable, reliable and efficient enough to fully compensate for fossil fuel sources is Nuclear energy. Yet there are virtually no climate change activists that I am aware of that are pushing Nuclear energy as a replacement for fossil fuels. Climate activists also tend to oppose hydro-electric power.
I am concerned that environmental activists are not really aware of the extent of human suffering will result if fossil fuel energy production is limited worldwide to the extent that is proposed.
Why don't members of the Green movement eschew political activism, pool their resources and enter the market as entrepreneurs by developing alternative energy sources and convinces consumers to purchase a superior, cleaner form of energy?
Even if every single prediction of the most alarmist climate activist is true, it does not imply that political action is the best remedy. In fact, States are by their nature slow, lumbering, inefficient behemeths with perverse incentive structures. It is incredibly unlikely that politicians and politically-motivated special interest subsidization will actually solve the problem.
Worse, you're going to have to deal with Republican presidents and Congresses at least 50% of the time over the next several decades. What would make you think that political authorities that don't agree with you won't simply cut funding or sabatoge your carefully constructed political solutions to climate change which will, after all, take decades to reap tangible benefits?
When, ever, have politicians and government employees, insulated from the market feedback mechanism of profit and loss, had low time preferences needed to plan responsibly for decades into the future?
Privately funded efforts, on the other hand, can be managed by experts who truly believe in the effort that is being pursued without the threat of petty politics sabotaging the effort. You don't have to worry about either Green cronies or Oil cronies getting in bed with government to manipulate the economy and the law in their favor.
If alternative energy sources are "ready for primetime", as is being claimed, then go into the market and prove it. It is morally wrong to use force to prevent free people from producing and/or using the best, most reliable source of energy they have access to, as consumers on the market have chosen.
I fucking hate how politics destroys civility. If you have a worthy cause, then invest your own time and money into a project, and use persuasion to convince other people to change their behavior. If an oil company, an individual or group of people are acting in a way which is causing demonstrable harm to the person or property of others, then you should take them to court and force them to stop. But you have to demonstrate clearly the harm an individual actor has caused before force can legitimately be used to provide just compensation to the victim and enforce an injunction to prevent him or her from continuing their rights-violating behavior.
However, "emitting CO2" does not, according to the data, seem to be an actionable offense. The data shows an inverse correlation between CO2 emissions and constantly lower and lower climate-related human deaths, longer lifespans, less disease, and higher standards of living all around.
Here is a handy graph to illustrate this point:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the primary reason we are supposed to be alarmed about future climate change and continuing CO2 emissions because this change in climate will cause injury and suffering? Then why has the preponderance of data over the past century shown precisely the opposite?
What WILL absolutely cause human death and suffering is a lack of access to cheap, abundent energy that is required to produce food, build and maintain hospitals, heat homes and manufacture goods and services which makes human lives sustainable and, hopefully, comfortable.
So artificially limiting access to cheap energy will certainly cause massive human suffering. But speculated human suffering caused by rising CO2 emissions don't seem to be correlated by the data.
I am trying to look at this objectively, from a humanitarian perspective. If we can develop cleaner and more environmentally friendly energy sources that are cheap enough and scalable enough to take over from fossil fuels, I would be ecstatic. I certainly think this is possible, but it won't happen through politics. It will happen in the market, by entrepreneurs risking private capital and risking private losses. That is where your energy should be spent if you are passionate about this issue.