Wednesday, January 08, 2014
There is an interesting profile of AGW skeptic Richard Lindzen in the Weekly
Standard which includes the following contention on his part:
Lindzen also says that the "consensus"--the oft-heard contention that "virtually all" climate scientists believe in catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming--is overblown, primarily for structural reasons. "When you have an issue that is somewhat bogus, the opposition is always scattered and without resources," he explains. "But the environmental movement is highly organized. There are hundreds of NGOs. To coordinate these hundreds, they quickly organized the Climate Action Network, the central body on climate. There would be, I think, actual meetings to tell them what the party line is for the year, and so on." Skeptics, on the other hand, are more scattered across disciplines and continents. As such, they have a much harder time getting their message across.There are hints about what "structural reasons" might be at play throughout the article. The primary one Lindzen himself has in mind is the fact that most scientists, funded as they are by the state, have a strong incentive to fan hysteria as a means of continuing to see their work funded.
There are others, a major one (although not the fundamental one) being the fact that we live in a mixed ecomomy. This becomes more obvious when the practical consequences of the anti-AGW politial agenda are considered.
Assuming that AGW is a real threat for the sake of argument, what is the one thing all the proposed energy use regulations, emissions "markets", government-gun-backed "incentives", and taxes -- anything but capitalism -- have in common? All involve the use of government force -- in violation of individual rights -- to enforce orders against individuals who would otherwise act on their own best judgement towards their best interests. Unlike legitimate cases of the government pursuing actual criminals or foreign belligerents, these acts would be justified based on what might happen in the future. This sets too a strong precedent for the government issuing orders to individuals (versus making it possible for them to act freely) for busybodies of any stripe to resist.
We currently already live in a mixed economy, where the government runs all manner of things without the propriety of that state of affairs being questioned often enough. This fact makes the goal of the government running practically everything much more realistic to all the little dictators out there than it would be under laissez-faire capitalism. Busibodies thus have a real chance of success motivating them to organize. (As for those who want to mind their own business, many are some combination of (1) too busy doing just that and (2) oblivious to the threat the mixed economy represents to bother organizing around a political goal.)