Bubble Bursts, Perhaps for Now

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rich Lowry pens a column to the effect that the global warming bubble has burst and illustrates at the very same time why, if he is correct, something else will quickly replace global warming as an excuse to limit the freedom of Americans.

Before I begin, I will note that I don't regard the global warming bubble as having burst just because the Senate ceased debating national fuel rationing for now -- nor will I even if such a cap never comes to pass. Let's see a new oil refinery or two get built and some offshore drilling first. And then let's toss in some significant repeals of environmental regulation. My point is that -- as is the case with socialized medicine, which has been foisted on us incrementally for decades -- freedom needn't be slain in dramatic "up or down" fashion. A slow death by poisoning will make it (and us) just as dead.

Furthermore, "climate change" is merely the latest marketing gimmick of many used by statists (from both the left and the right) to push for greater government control over our lives. If the idea that man has rights and its corollary, that the government's sole proper function is to protect them, do not eventually win the day, their opposites will -- whether starving children, "racism", or the weather provides the excuse.

Just look at these excerpts from Lowry's column to see what I mean:

  1. The cost-benefit analysis of battling global warming is never going to make sense for Americans.
  2. We should feel a moral obligation to aid Bangladesh and similar places with mitigation measures, when (and, again, if) the time comes. Until then, our consciences should rest easy, given the $20 billion annually we spend on development assistance, including billions of dollars fighting AIDS, malaria, and other diseases affecting people whose suffering isn't theoretical.
  3. If we can't get China to quit jailing dissidents and arming a genocidal Sudan, what hope is there of getting it to stop something -- rapid economic development -- that's otherwise unobjectionable? With hundreds of millions of Chinese people living in abject poverty, the country's economic growth is one of the world's most important initiatives against human misery.
  4. Finally, there's the global-cooling spell. The world hasn't been warming since 1998, and an article in the journal Nature says warming won't pick up again until 2015. Since global warming is a long-term trend, a decade-long or more stall in temperatures doesn't mean much -- except that environmentalists have banked so much politically on whipping up hysteria based on imminent catastrophe. [bold added]
Lowry's account for the demise of the fuel ration (for now?) amounts to saying that the abstract goal of the global warming alarmists -- American self-sacrifice -- is noble, but that it is impractical: Americans would be willing to fulfill their alleged moral obligations (2), but not willing to misdirect those efforts (1), or see them so easily undercut (3) or wasted on a manufactured crisis (4).

And now that I've lain these four points out, I see a part of the global warming puzzle that has been partially obscure for me all along. I have maintained for quite awhile that the scientific debate over whether there is warming (and why) should not be confounded with the political one over what (if anything) ought to be done about it. Nevertheless, it has struck me as odd that more opponents of global warming hysteria haven't caught on.

Yes, there is widespread intellectual confusion over the nature of government today, but there is also widespread support for altruism and its collectivist expression in politics. The only question for most people is merely about whose will is to be imposed on everyone else.

This is why, for example, fundamentalists who are well aware of left wing propaganda being promulgated in our public education system don't seek the repeal of socialized education, but fight for prayer in the schools -- to take that system over for themselves. Most people today are altruists and have no moral objection to collectivism as such. They merely oppose manifestations they find distasteful. Or, to put it another way, they all like different flavors of Kool-Aid.

And this is why we have a conservative, a supposed champion of free enterprise, heaving a mild sigh of relief about China's unwillingness to go along with fuel rationing. Americans have just as much right to burn the fuel we need as the Chinese, and man's life is an end in itself. If more people understood and accepted those ideas to begin with, there would never have been a global warming bubble in the first place. And we'd have no other similar shams to look forward to in the future.

We have the right to live our own lives. Real Americans don't wring their hands and then say, "I'm off the hook because of China."

-- CAV


z said...

I'm in the middle of reading Sparrowhawk: Hugh Kenrick and its giving me perspective I've never had. Its really concretizing the struggle which was fought to gain these freedoms and this country. Unfortunately, the enemies of freedom have grown strong, all thinking they will be crowned the new king and rule. Its maddening, especially when you think about how all those brave men fought to shed the king.

Gus Van Horn said...

The phenomenon of people thinking that tyranny will automatically correlate with THEIR whims I nicknamed "the dictator fantasy" some time ago.

Notice how those who understand the role of reason in living life do not make this mistake while those who don't are astoundingly complaisant about it.