Friday, September 21, 2007

Global warming's agenda of fear

Few policies can be quite as bizarrely dreamt up as carbon trading at the purely national level by a small, export dependent economy, which faces highly subsidised and protected competition from around the world. We all know that if New Zealand became uninhabited tomorrow, that it would make not one iota of difference to global warming -it is similar to someone with a bach on Lake Taupo deciding that they better not pee in the lake.
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The hyperbole about global warming is wrapped up in the armageddon complex that has had its previous incarnations in fear of nuclear holocaust (which was eased by the surrender of the Soviet Union - not by the bleetings of the peace movement which treated both sides of the Cold War as being morally equivalent), ozone depletion (eased by a technological solution, albeit agreed by global treaty), acid rain (never really a problem anyway, and partly cleared up by the end of the Cold War shutting down filthy communist era factories) and the coming ice age (yes in the 1970s that was the fear). Of course there have always been "end of the world" nutcases claiming mankind is doomed, driven either by eternal pessimists who are so bleak and depressed with their own lives they want everyone else to feel the same, or more importantly by the irrepressible human urge to judge and damn.
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In the UK you can see it in those who engage in school prefect like finger pointing against those who don't recycle as much as they could, those who drive big cars, those who fly, even those not buying (heavily subsidised and sometimes more carbon intensively produced) local food. It has become a national obsession by some media (BBC, ITV, The Independent) to the point that it is akin to the days when people finger pointed at couples who lived together unmarried, or single men in their 40s and up who seemed to have male "companions", or women who got pregnant without a husband. I've encountered a handful of people who seem to get off on criticising people for what they do with their own money and property, because that - fundamentally - is what this is about. The Liberal Democrats are the biggest cheerleaders for this, but Labour and the Tories have joined in.
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The Greens of course love it, Sue Kedgley is the pin up big sister who if she had half a chance would want to raid your kitchen and your home, police your parenting (ala Cindy Kiro) and tell you what choices you should be making. It is the new puritanism.
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Now I don't mind choosing myself when to switch off lights, appliances and the like because it saves me a little money. Recycling would be a worthwhile activity if:
- It happens to be a commercial viable way of recovering basic commodities for reuse. It is for metals used in motor vehicles and aircraft, it isn't for plastic bottles;
- Councils privatised landfills and rubbish disposal so that people paid a realistic price for waste disposal. In other words, stop subsidising the act of throwing away rubbish and recycling might stand up on its own.
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Recycling has always happened, it's just now an obsession. I can proudly say I virtually never recycle, because the apartment block I live in has no such facilities. I am proud of it because it is a big "fuck off" to the people who want to tell me what to do, and it makes no difference.
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I buy food from wherever I want to, and I tend to prefer buying it from outside the EU because of the vast economic (and environmental) nightmare caused by the Common Agricultural Policy. Food miles are (of course) bullshit.
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I like flying, it is one of the most remarkable achievement of humanity in the past century, it is cleaner and more fuel efficient than it has ever been, and it would be more efficient if it weren't for governments propping up inefficient airlines (Alitalia, Olympic Airways), or engaging in protectionism (virtually every country barring NZ, Singapore and a handful of others).
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I like driving too. However, governments own almost all roads, in the case of the UK and USA they often get poorly maintained, increasing fuel consumption. Moreover, governments strangle road building and don't properly price the roads to smooth demand, which would reduce congestion and significantly improve fuel efficiency. Roads are congested because they are operated effectively as public domain.
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Carbon dioxide is not a "pollutant", if you're that concerned about it slit your wrist now, you'll produce more of that than you will any bodily fluids or gases in your life. Don't have kids either, because they'll breathe, drive, fly, use electricity. If humanity is contributing to climate change then ask yourself this - what are the solutions put forward by those who claim to care?
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If the solutions are new and innovative technologoes, then ask yourself whether there are wider benefits to these? Such advocates at least appreciate science, although there is a risk they are engineering bound.
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If the solutions are government stopping the protection and subsidy of carbon intensive activities, or the taxation and regulation of carbon neutral activities, then they are being advocated with the desire for more freedom, and to let choices to be made on an economically neutral basis.
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If the solutions are to subsidise "green" initiatives with little clear evidence that the initiatives actually are "green", then they are probably bandwagons - a bit like recycling fanatics.
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If the solutions are to call for you to restrict your behaviour, move around less, punish you for owning or using things you bought yourself and involve widespread setting of rules and judging those who fail to follow them, then call their bluff - these people are little Hitlers, tell them to fuck off and get a life.
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It's about time more people told the environmental nazis of our day to leave us alone - maybe they might care about the child slaves of North Korea instead of whether I drive or catch the bus - but then most North Koreans throw out little rubbish, don't own cars and never fly anywhere - and most environmentalists seem to care less about human beings that are tortured and enslaved than animals. The proof is in the Greens.

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