Every society, every human being, every organization has unquestioned assumptions. These unquestioned assumptions, called paradigms, create problems precisely because they are unquestioned. Indeed, frequently these assumptions are unquestionable. Those who question the orthodoxy are not dealt with kindly.
One of the current paradigms of contemporary society is that global warming is caused by human beings increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through the process of burning fossil fuels.
On 3/21/07 former vice president Al Gore spoke before Congress and said that the world faces “a true planetary emergency.” The emergency required “a ban on any new coal-burning power plants.”
What if cycles in temperatures were a natural part of earth’s history? What if the variations in the activity of the Sun were the primary driver in climatic changes? What if causation was reversed and global warming caused increases in carbon dioxide.
I am not a climatologist, yet when I watch the British documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle I am struck by the hubris of scientists and politicians who claim it is a proven fact that human beings have caused global warming. Full of hubris they advocate dangerous policies and show little tolerance for dialogue on the issue.
The great English philosopher Karl Popper wrote: “There are no ultimate sources of knowledge. Every source, every suggestion, is welcome; and every source, every suggestion, is open to critical examination.” It is indisputable that when a society forgets this they are heading for trouble.
I would never defend poisoning our atmosphere, but yet I know that many of those who are most adamant that global warming is caused by human beings are also most adamant about advocating controls that will visibly hurt the poor third world countries of the world.
As this video argues using less fossil fuels has the “unintended consequence of stifling development in the third world, and prolonging endemic poverty and disease.” Al Gore has been in the forefront of the movement to use less fossil fuel. His book Earth in the Balance and movie An Inconvenient Truth has been hugely popular.
Yet good intentions are not enough. Al Gore’s home, “located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES)”. See http://www.tennesseepolicy.org/main/article.php?article_id=367
Seeing your children grow-up malnourished, uneducated and without prospects for a better life is the real every day emergency faced by billions on this planet. This poverty breeds wars. And while the causes of this poverty is far more than the lack of cheap energy, controls that increase the price of energy will prevent solutions from being reached.
Some may imagine living on a bucolic farm in Vermont as an ideal existence. Admittedly there are many benefits of doing so. However, there is nothing romantic about living on subsistence farm in the third world without adequate food, shelter, energy or even a legal system that protects your property rights. This is something particularly vicious about those who have so much condemning others to lifelong poverty.
1/3 of the world’s population does not have electricity. Their lives are frequently short and filled with hardship. Some will argue let “them” use solar energy. For the third world solar energy is not a viable alternative. The documentary asks: If the third world cannot even afford conventional electricity how can they afford the more expensive solar alternative?
Here is the ultimate irony. Those who scream the loudest about man-made global warming inevitably embrace more government planning and control. Such planning and controls gives us heavily subsidized government fuels such as ethanol, which in turn results in a whole set of intended and intended consequences. Not the least of these consequences is the taxpayer subsidizing large corporations such as Archer Daniels Midland. Read this Cato Institute study for an eye-opening report on what ADM gains in subsidies.
There is ultimately a finite amount of capital available to develop new energy sources. Those who would plan and control make less capital available to entrepreneurs who will one day develop viable solar energy systems or other alternative energy sources.
Controls postpone the day that mankind no longer burns fossil fuels and in the meantime helps to prolong misery for many.