A Green-undation?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Australian news outlet discusses (HT: HBL) the role of the environmentalist movement -- drunk with illegitimate power over the economy -- in causing the recent disastrous flooding in the Australian state of Queensland.

Eco-catastrophists always cite the precautionary principle: if they are right and we don't reduce CO2 emissions, we face Armageddon. If they are wrong, all it costs is dollars.

But when money is allocated and attention prioritised to making contingency plans for vague hypothetical scenarios in the distant future, real priorities are neglected and real risks overlooked.

When leaders proclaim climate change as the greatest moral challenge, the entire machinery of government becomes preoccupied with the busy work of solving an imaginary problem. It is then easily blindsided by a real emergency. [hyperlink and emphasis added]
Miranda Devine's heart is in the right place, but the real problem isn't (assuming she is correct) that global warming is an "imaginary problem." The real problem is that the government is in the business of deciding whether dams get built in the first place and, once built, whether their operators can make room for floodwaters in their reservoirs. This is ultimately what allows the Greens power "well beyond their pay grade," as Devine puts it. Take government out of the real estate business and government approval out of the use-of-private-property loop (so long as that use doesn't infringe on the rights of others) and neither the foolishness of the Greens nor of anyone else will be able to cause such big, avoidable disasters again.

I don't know the entire background of this disaster, but many (if not most) dams throughout the world were originally built at the behest of the governments for such purposes as large-scale irrigation, power generation, and flood control. Government involvement, beyond such matters as ensuring protection of property rights for all affected by such projects or enforcing relevant legal agreements, is not only unnecessary, but, as this piece shows, undesirable. (Had the Wivenhoe dam been owned and operated by, say, a water supply corporation, a power company, or an insurance concern, I doubt the need to release water before the lake behind it was at 190% capacity would have gone unmet as it did here.)

It is interesting to consider how much money and property have been taken from private citizens for such purposes, and how many dams have been built that the economics of supply and demand would have prohibited in the first place. (The Three Gorges Dam in China, which required the relocation of over a million people, and has been built on a seismic fault, is one particularly thought-provoking example.)

Environmentalism is hardly the only reason massive public works projects created and operated by the government end up harming individual citizens long after their pockets have been picked to finance them, and global warming hysteria is not the first and will not be the last rationalization for mis-use of such facilities and mis-allocation of funds and effort.

Global warming hysteria is just one small part of the cause of this disaster. The larger problem is government control of the economy through government "oversight" of the infrastructure.

-- CAV


Vigilis said...

Gus, "government 'oversight' of the infrastructure" is a problem, but governmental commands for sacrifice to avert cyclical events has a more disconcerting historical precedents.

As commendable as environmental principles may be generally, the politicized hysteria over climate change does not suggest real social progress real by any means.

Gus Van Horn said...

I agree that global warming hysteria is essentially a call for human sacrifice.

I don't stop there, however. The environmentalist movement, which frames nature as intrinsically valuable, rather than seeing it as valuable only in relation to man's needs, is a call for human sacrifice.