Observing a recent debate over global warming, Princeton student Miriam Geronimus criticizes the debate as distracting from more important things:
Important issues remain to be settled — for example, whether 350 parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide or 450 ppm is the tipping point; what organisms are well adapted to survive climate change; and how nations should share the burden of mitigating climate change….
Any climate scientist who is skeptical can test alternative hypotheses, while those who conclude manmade climate change exists should be open to any refutations or modifications that come to light through scientific, not political, activities….
[But] engaging in debate with the likes of Singer is not productive. Rather, it draws energy and attention away from real challenges that need to be addressed.
For so many proponents of the climate change theory, the real issue is not whether anything should be done about global warming, only what things should be done, like how much CO2 should be permitted in the air, how existing laws will have to be altered, and what new restrictions will be needed to mitigate climate change.
In fact, climate change theory and more government control nearly always go hand in hand. Allegedly, in order to prevent catastrophic climate disruptions, people and corporations have to be forced to bear the heavy costs of prevention.
But is this truly the solution to any impending climate problems? Even if we accept some of the worst scenarios predicted in the climate change theory, such as super-hurricanes and ocean acidification, such government intervention would still not be justified and indeed, it just might be the worst thing we could do. As Dr. Keith Lockitch puts it in a paper published in the journal Energy and Environment,
But they [climate change proponents] ignore the fact that our susceptibility to climate-related threats depends on a lot more than what’s happening in the atmosphere. In particular, it depends on our political and economic conditions.
Industrial development under capitalism has actually made us safer from climate-related risks than ever before in human history; it is freedom and industrialization that keep us safe from natural disasters. So even if large-scale climate changes were to occur—whether man-made or not—the worst thing we could possibly do would be to adopt green policies that attack freedom and industrial development.
Putting aside any objections to climate change theory on scientific grounds, the prescribed political treatments, from the energy rationing of “cap-and-trade” to massive subsidies of untenable alternatives, would make us even more vulnerable to problems from climate change. The only way for us to successfully combat such challenges is to embrace an industrial society, and the freedom upon which it depends.
The Undercurrent is a magazine distributed at college campuses and communities across the country. We release a print edition once per semester, and in the interim, regularly post additional articles, blog entries, and campus media responses reports to our website.
The Undercurrent's cultural commentary is based on Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. Objectivism, which animates Ayn Rand's fiction, is a systematic philosophy of life. It holds that the universe is orderly and comprehensible, that man survives by reason, that his life and happiness comprise his highest moral purpose, and that he flourishes only in a society that protects his individual rights.
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